The intent of this article is to filter through the noise of lead gen, conversion optimizing, click through rates, likes, shares and all the other buzzwords that convolute the end goal: acquiring clients.
The idea of Growth Driven Positioning (GDP) is not new, it's a methodology I've researched based on a variety of time-tested marketing principles that the savviest of Brand Gurus have used to dominate markets and grow their client's firms to new levels for decades.
Given the advent of all things digital, one Google search will provide financial advisors with thousands of ways to market their services.
While there are fundamental elements to a successful campaign, the core principals of marketing are often overlooked and the predictable result is, well, poor or no results.
Here's a dose of honesty: Even marketers struggle with marketing.
No different than doctors who struggle with their own health.
Or financial advisors who struggle to follow their own investment advice.
When it comes to marketing, "The struggle is real", is an understatement.
It's not that campaigns aren't well organized or that tools are ineffective. It's often the strategy, or lack thereof, is violating the principles of marketing that do lead to consistent conversions.
For example, a car is only as effective as the skill, understanding, and goal of the user. Would anyone be surprised that using a car as a boat would net disastrous results?
No. Failure is built into the premise that a car can double as a boat.
Many marketing campaigns, unfortunately, have failure built-in at the onset, leaving both marketer and client frustrated over the wasted resources and lack-luster conversions, if any.
The aftermath is the client goes on an Indiana Jones-style search of the next agency, guru or decides to DIY, in the hopes that the holy grail of marketing is discovered - cheap, easy, quick conversions.
Here's another dose of honesty: Everybody knows marketing has never been cheap, easy or quick. Going viral is an outlier, not the norm.
Now that all the social media outlets have figured out to monetize their platforms, expect digital marketing costs to increase year after year, as is typical for the advertising industry.
Check out AdAge's article on the cost for a Superbowl commercial.
In 1967 each second cost $1,333
In 2017 each second cost $168,333
Digital is no different. As competition increase for keywords, search engine rankings and targeted audiences, so does the marketing costs.
Procrastinating on developing a marketing strategy has a steep price.
Add to rising costs, the fact that expectations on how long growth should take are out of sync with actual timelines when it comes to growing a pipeline of business.
Harvard Business Review provides a realistic view on growth.
Now that we have some context, here's why Growth Driven Positioning is a better way to approach the topic of how to strategically grow.
But first, here are two things Growth Driven Positioning (GDP) is NOT:
- A marketing tactic (i.e. SEO, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn Ads, Blogs, Email, Google Adwords, or Landing Pages). Although tactics are essential, it's the proverbial cart before the horse.
- A fad. Growth Driven Positioning has been successfully used by top global brands for years, while the rest of us have been sold on the latest hacks, which net results for just a few early adopters.
In marketing, there's an inverse relationship between effectiveness and usage.
As more people use a particular marketing tactic, it loses effectiveness (email newsletters, automated social posts, Facebook boosts, etc). Usually, it's the early implementers that profit from the latest tactical wave.
Now here's what Growth Driven Positioning (GDP) is:
- A strategy with a focused product/service and a highly targeted audience.
- A long-term growth direction, that once set should rarely be altered after success is achieved.
- The ultimate way to broadcast your unique selling proposition, value-add, and differentiating factor.
- Easy to mess up.
- A simpler way of determining which marketing tactics you should, and more importantly, should not implement.
- A way to bridge the common disconnect between sales and marketing.
- Works with human nature, not against it.
Now, let's look at several principles of
Growth Driven Positioning
Countless businesses see marketing as an expense that needs to be shaved down to as close to zero as possible while simultaneously escorting whale-clients to the front door.
There's a phrase for that - magical thinking.
The Wall Street Journal recently explored how marketing budgets across various industries consistently fell between 8%-15% of a company's operating budget.
So for every $1M in annual revenue desired, expect to spend between $80k-$150K to capture that level of revenue.
In relationship to $1M, the spend pales in comparison to the upside, however, since the cost is upfront, strategy is critical to ensure these front-loaded costs are maximized.
Instead of viewing marketing as an expense, view it as Mind Money, because it's money used to escort your idea (product, service, concept, etc) into the minds of a target audience and KEEP it there.
Being at the top of a prospect's mind is prime real estate. Smart businesses know this and invest in buying as much of their prospect's "mental real estate" as possible on a consistent basis.
Without marketing consistency, mental real estate will be acquired by the competition, without exception.
The mantra "Location. Location. Location" is as true for real estate as it is for marketing.
Make sure to invest your marketing budget strategically and consistently to guarantee your firm takes the top position in the minds of prospects and clients in your region.
This is technically the #1 Principal of Growth Driven Positioning (GDP), however without understanding the importance of Mind Money, it's not worth discussing.
Growth Driven Positioning is fueled by ownership of an industry segment or idea, commonly known as positioning.
Examples of companies that claim and own an ideas are -
A place where people can come to find and discover
anything they might want to buy online.
Volvo is the family automobile that offers maximum safety.
The hardware department store for do‑it‑yourselfers.
A crown for every achievement.
Volvo owns the idea of "safety"
Home Depot owns the idea of "do-it-yourself".
Amazon owns the idea of "find anything".
Rolex owns the idea of "the ultimate achievement"
What words, or ideas in the financial industry, does your firm own at a regional level?
If you're thinking words like,
...Wealth advisor, management
...Financial guidance, advice, direction, etc
...Or asset management please realize these are generic terms that label most advisors as another me-too operation.
Prospects will ultimately commoditize your firm if you're unable to communicate and show real differentiation (of which you'll have to compete on price, which is a race to zero).
As for having "experience", many of today's financial advisors are over the age of 50, so there's plenty a lot of experience out there.
How do you convince prospects your firm's experience is vastly superior to the advisor down the street that graduated college the same year as you?
To borrow a term from the accounting field, it's about FIFO.
First in, First Out.
The FIRST advisor to show leadership and dominance IN the MIND of a prospect is the FIRST source that prospect will seek OUT, when they are ready to make a decision.
This is why being first and owning a word or idea in the mind of prospects is so important.
Once you own a word or niche segment, marketing becomes simpler, focused and would you believe, successful!
Here's a basic positioning exercise you can try:
What: The first [industry/category]
How: that [differentiation characteristic]
Who: for [client]
Where: in [geographic location]
Why: who [state need or desire]
Here's an example:
Company: The Insurance People
What: The only commercial insurance agency
How: that gives cash back
Who: to business owners
Where: in Utah
Why: who want to save money and be rewarded for their loyalty
Have you ever heard of a cash-back commercial insurance agency?
Neither have prospects in Utah. However, now that one exists when a prospect is in the market for commercial insurance guess who will be top of mind?
This insurance agency has regionally positioned itself to own the word "cash back" and be recognized as the FIRST one to do it. First in mind, First to be sought out.
As for marketing tactics, all this agency needs to do is invest their marketing budget into campaigns that ensure high visibility of their position as the first in "cash-back commercial insurance".
Financial advisors are no different. Even with all the regulations around marketing, it's possible to carve out a regional position that will help you to organically build a pipeline of business for the long-term.
Position your firm in front of long-term trends (tidal waves) and ignore the hyped fads (ripples).
Remember back in 2008 when the media was touting that robo advisors were going to completely replace the traditional financial advisor?
According to US News ten-years later, there are less than 100 robo-advisors in the U.S. in comparison to the growing segment of 35,000+ SEC-registered investment advisory firms. Apparently, the replacement is slower than the media anticipated.
I'm all for tech-driven ways to add value, velocity and operational efficiencies to a firm. The issue is rarely the technology, but the positioning of it.
Using tech for investment management is not a fad.
However, expecting everyone and anyone with money to adopt robo-advising is hype at best. The next bear-market will undoubtedly put robo-advising and it's heralded superiority to the test.
In fact, there's an inverse relationship between hype and actuality. The more hype around why an idea is a sure thing, the less it actually is.
The truly revolutionary ideas are tsunamis. They come out of nowhere and take major industries by surprise (Uber anyone?).
Smart advisors with prospects who have sizeable assets know they'll need more than just an algorithm with text alerts to a capture the business.
Riding the tide is also about knowing and going in the direction of both your client base and your industry. Notice I said industry, not competition.
The fastest way to stunt growth is to benchmark the competition and reverse engineer their strategy.
In fact, it's in your competitions best interest to have you so preoccupied with what they're doing, that your firm never innovates for itself.
One way to discover client trends is by interviewing your top clients with the intent to uncover how you can serve them better.
A gold-mine of opportunities awaits the firm that invests its time in understanding the point of view of their top clients.
Avoid follow-the-leader marketing since its a weak position to voluntarily subject your firm to. Instead, focus on client and industry trends.
Then position your firm to be highly visible and influential within the trend.
1. Focus on one idea and own it.
2. Invest your marketing budget wisely to capture as much of your prospects and clients "mental real estate" as possible.
3. Get in front of trends by filtering out the hype and discovering the wish list of your top clients and shifts within the industry.
If you have further questions about how Growth-Driven Positioning can make a difference in your firm for the long-term, get in contact here.