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The Evolution of Prospecting

The industry “best practices” of today could be woefully inadequate tomorrow.

As someone who got into the business of generating predictable leads for independent financial advisory firms over a decade ago, it’s safe to say that my job is changing on a regular basis. The industry “best practices” of today could be woefully inadequate tomorrow—to say nothing of how out-of-date things will feel as another six months goes by.

Just the other day, I was in a meeting with a client and we were discussing the idea of financial advisor prospecting—or at least, the current state of it. He was frustrated because recently, it seems like there’s no “one right technique” that he can use to get quality predictable leads. What works for some people generates no response from others. Digital seems to have created more best practices to follow, he told me, not less, and that was frustrating him.

Now, I’d like to tell you exactly what I told him:

That’s absolutely right… and it’s a good thing.

Yes, financial advisor prospecting has evolved enormously over the last few years, but what some people see as “more work” I see as “more opportunities.” In fact, there are a number of top financial advisor prospecting strategies and tactics that you can start using immediately. When taken together, they add up to something far more powerful than any one “sure-fire method” could be on its own.

The right approach demands perspective

By far, the most important asset you have available to your advisory firm when it comes to financial advisor prospecting is perspective. If you go in with the appropriate set of expectations, you’ll be able to act accordingly and capitalize on them. If you don’t truly understand the situation you’re facing, however, you’ll find yourself making costly mistakes before you know it. At that point, generating leads becomes the least of your concerns.

For effective prospecting, you’re trying to create as many genuine opportunities as possible through a series of inbound and outbound marketing tactics. You’re trying to get your sales department to the point where, instead of spending time trying to figure out whether or not someone is qualified to begin with, they can devote the maximum amount of their attention to those prospects that have already been qualified.

Because of this, the most important thing to remember is that digital marketing is like traditional marketing—you are going to get a lot of “no’s” when compared to “yes’s”. You are going to get a lot more opens or views than clicks. It isn’t personal—it’s just business, after all, but that is perfectly okay. Don’t fear the “no”—crave the “yes.” You have to wade through the former to get to the latter but if you can do that, you’ll have your pipeline filled with quality leads for the foreseeable future.

The power of content

If you’re looking for a way to reach as many people as possible as a part of your financial advisor prospecting efforts, content marketing would be the way to do it. Not only does it help significantly increase your business’ level of exposure beyond something like old-fashioned cold calling, but every successful blog post you publish on your site also stands to increase your primary domain’s ranking—thus helping you out in other areas like SEO, too.

According to one recent study conducted by the experts at The Economist Group, 71% of buyers say that they actually get turned off by content that just seems like a sales pitch. This means that a lot of potential clients see this as little more than a sales technique, not too far from cold calling. But when you write a piece of content that takes the time to actually offer prospective clients something meaningful, they will absolutely sit up and start paying attention.

In other words, don’t create 10 different pieces of content that just sell your services in 10 different ways. In fact, you probably shouldn’t lean very heavily on your services at all—just a passing mention will do. Instead, shed insight into important financial industry topics and devote time to answering key questions that your audience members have. If you devote all of your effort to providing content that is truly valuable and relevant to their needs, everything else will quickly take care of itself. Not only will the content itself quickly begin to generate new leads, but higher quality pieces are also far more likely to be shared on things like social media, too.

Go “all in” on email marketing

Email marketing has always been an effective way to reach a core group of people with the right message at the right time. In terms of your financial advisor prospecting efforts, there are a few essential techniques you can use to help make things easier, as well.

First, understand that if you haven’t already invested in an email automation solution, now would be the time to do just that. Email automation is perfect for allowing you to create specific, niche messages based on audience behaviors that can also be sent automatically when certain milestones are met.

Likewise, you need to be as personal as possible in your email messages. To make this easier, segment your email lists down into a series of smaller lists on prospective clients with a more specific, niche focus for each. Don’t just create one ideal client profile—create many.

This will not only allow you to create campaign triggers based on more precise events, but you’ll be able to craft more intimate, relatable messages as well.

The virtues of SEO

According to the experts at Search Engine Journal, over 90% of all online experiences still begin with a search engine. This means that for digital-centric financial advisor prospecting strategies, SEO still needs to be where you devote a significant amount of your attention.

When you double down on your SEO efforts, however, understand that local searches should be your primary focus. Resist the urge to get as “big” as possible and instead, go small. Never forget that, according to the marketing experts at Hubspot, about 72% of people who conduct a local search will visit a business’ location if it’s within five miles of their home.

Your social media efforts will also positively impact your SEO, so make sure you’re sharing that compelling content you’re creating with all of your followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other sites, too.

Write guest posts as often as possible

Another great way to aid in your financial advisor prospecting efforts involves partnering with someone who already has the attention of your target audience and using that fact to your advantage.

Influencer marketing has become incredibly popular over the last few years in just about every industry that you can think of – including financial services. This means that if there is one particular blog or website that your prospects are already paying close attention to, don’t be afraid to reach out and offer to write a blog post or even a series of blogs for them.

Have everything ready to truly “sell yourself” – make sure you’re clear about what you want to write about, why it matters and why YOU should be the one to cover this topic. When you guest blog post like this, you’re essentially tapping into an audience that is similar to your own, but NOT your own. This not only helps you raise awareness for your brand significantly – it also helps find those qualified leads who may be ready to make a purchase but just weren’t sure where to begin.

Consider hiring an appropriate digital agency to help lead the way

By now, you’ve realized that financial advisor prospecting is an enormous amount of work – and you may have even come to the conclusion that this isn’t something you want to do alone. That’s perfectly okay – hiring a digital agency to help with your financial advisor prospecting strategy is a completely viable option. You just need to make sure you’re hiring the right digital agency in the first place.

By enlisting the services of a digital agency that ONLY works with independent RIAs like yourself, you’re putting yourself in a better position to leverage someone else’s years of experience to your advantage. They’ll have an intimate knowledge of not just your industry, but what your customers are actually looking for. They’ll be able to help you create better collateral with more effective messaging, thus arriving at the easiest way to both generate leads and keep that pipeline filled for the long haul.


Christopher P. Wendt is president of Midstream Marketing, a digital agency that generates predictable leads for independent financial advisory firms. Over the past 10 years, he’s spent hundreds of hours applying the LeadGen Formula, a proven method helping financial advisors generate more leads. You can reach him at [email protected].

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