By Tamara Bohlig
Many financial advisors don’t see the value in investing in marketing and communications, or suspect the resources required to build a marketing program would outweigh the potential benefits. But, just as advisors develop robust plans to meet their clients’ short- and long-term financial goals, developing a marketing plan can provide a clear path and measurable goals toward business growth.
Effective marketing plans help raise awareness and build brands, which can have long-term, positive impacts on the growth of a financial advisor’s business. Without a strategic marketing plan in place, advisors risk stunting their professional growth and that of their firm by missing out on opportunities to develop brand recognition and reach new audiences. Yet, many advisors struggle—and even resist—implementing a marketing plan as many don’t have a background in marketing and don’t know how to get started. Often advisors will approach me and start the conversation with, “I don’t know a lot about marketing, but here’s an idea for you.” They start their idea with a disclaimer; this shows that while advisors may lack confidence, they intuitively know how to market themselves and their companies because, after all, it comes down to knowing who you are, what you do and where you want your business to go.
The first step is to figure out who you are, who you want to serve and what you want to say. Make sure this positioning and your values are clearly articulated on your website and in client communications. This will make it easier to create effective and consistent messaging that will accurately convey your mission, strengthen your brand, increase client loyalty and generate new clients. At the same time, look externally to understand who your target audience is—or who it should be—to be able to create tailored messaging that resonates with current and prospective clients.
After developing your core messaging and position, own it and align it with your clients’ expectations. Client surveys can uncover what your investors really value and take your messaging to the next level. Simply asking your clients: “Why did you decide to work with us?” Or starting every client meeting by asking, “What can I do better?” can make clients feel understood and appreciated. You’ll also learn what messages resonate, on which channels and at what frequency. Once you have a pulse of your clients’ needs, prioritize your responses. Doing so can be a powerful way to drive client trust and engagement.
Once you’ve developed your core messaging, build a marketing plan for six months to one year by answering the following questions: Who is your target audience? How frequently do you want to push your messages? What channels will you try? Then experiment! Be patient and shift your perspective to the long term; client engagement, like wealth, builds over time. Repetition is key. Think of yourself as a top 10 hit waiting to happen. The first time your audience hears you, they may like your tune, but they don’t know the words yet. Like song writing, a strong marketing strategy uses repetition to make the words memorable; over time, your clients will be singing your tune.
Marketing should be an integral part of any financial advisor’s work. Though it takes time to create a thoughtful marketing plan, it has the power to elevate your brand and grow your business. The key to unlocking the potential of marketing is to start. Begin talking to your team and your clients, get a feel for what they’re hoping to achieve, figure out how those goals fit with your values, put a plan together and go for it.
Tamara Bohlig is chief marketing officer at AssetMark Inc., an investment advisor registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.