Social media may be all the rage, but traditional media plays a more important role in wealth managers’ marketing plans for high net worth clients.
“Print, radio and television can play a tremendous role in marketing, and it’s really not that difficult to utilize them on an unpaid basis,” said Jerry Lezynski, director of marketing and communications for the SEI Advisor Network, which has released a white paper on marketing tips for 2011.
Wealth managers should leverage local media outlets to create market visibility, according to the study, and the current flood of news stories about the global economy and finance offer a golden opportunity for financial advisors to do just that, Lezynski said.
“Being an informed commentator on events in the news is particularly relevant in this environment,” Lezynski said. “ In a 24/7 news cycle, and with so much news coming from the Mideast, Japan and Washington that have financial implications, local media outlets are looking for as much expert opinion as possible.”
Lezynski also advised advisors and wealth managers to conduct surveys in their communities on newsworthy events that can be easily picked up by local media. “You want to be sure that the media has open access to you as a local resource,” he said. “Demand is high now, but you want to maintain the relationship on a continuing basis.”
Philanthropy is also an effective way to get unpaid coverage in local media, according to Marla Bace, a partner and chief marketing officer for Brinton Eaton Wealth Advisors in Madison, N.J.
On May 1, Brinton Eaton will sponsor of a 5K race that will raise funds for the Madison Education Foundation, and the firm has already received coverage in local papers and websites, with TV coverage expected as well, according to Bace.
“The key for this kind of marketing is to make sure it’s the right niche,” Bace said. “You have to ask ‘Does this support what we do as a business?’ Since the core of what we do is financial education, supporting an educational foundation makes sense for us.”
Advertising Critical For Large Firms
While unpaid traditional media is seen as an effective marketing tactic for local firms, paid advertising in newspapers, magazine and on television remain critical for large national wealth management firms.
“A lot of people, especially baby boomers, draw conclusions about the strength of brands from traditional print and broadcast ads,” said Dave Swanson, founder and managing principal of SwanDog Strategic Marketing, a Chicago-based advertising and marketing firm. ‘The old brand conventions haven’t gone away, which is that something that is branded is better than something that is not. And if you’re using traditional print and broadcast ads, you’re controlling the message and reaching a larger number of people than you could have otherwise.”
Leading wealth management firms such as Merrill Lynch and Northern Trust agree.
Merrill, in fact, is about to embark on a $15 million to $20 million campaign next month using the theme “Power of the Right Advisor.” The campaign is designed to both highlight “the union of the financial advisor and the client” and serve as a recruiting tool for the firm, said Justine Metz, head of marketing for Bank of America Global Wealth & Investment Management.
To create awareness for the Merrill brand, the campaign will be spread across “every channel that our clients are likely to engage,” including TV, print and digital, Metz said. Ads will run in such traditional media outlets as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times and on network television. For potential U.S. Trust clients, Metz is also producing video ads for PlumTV, a new network geared to a high and ultra-high net worth audience.
Northern Trust: ‘Expertise Matters’
Northern Trust is also launching a new advertising campaign, designed around the theme “Expertise Matters,” said Carl Uetz, senior vice president and director of advertising and creative services for the firm. The campaign is designed to highlight Northern’s expertise in different areas of business, Uetz said.
While Northern’s use of digital and social media is increasing, traditional print and broadcast outlets are still “the most consistent way to raise awareness of the brand,” according to Uetz. “It’s the highest level of conveying familiarity with the brand and knowledge about all the services you are in.”
But to reach Northern’s target market of affluent prospects, the firm takes great pains to be “very selective about what properties we use,” Uetz said. Newspapers include The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times, magazines include The Economist and the firm’s television ads usually appear on prestigious Sunday morning public affairs programs and golf tournaments. “It’s very important to be in the right environment for this type of marketing,” he said.