For many financial advisors marketing has dramatically changed. Those with 10+ years of experience have witnessed client acquisition go digital almost overnight.
Marketing is not what it used to be. It's now more complex, dynamic, regulated, and frustrating to the advisor who prefers to spend time servicing clients and not A/B testing the latest social media campaign.
Add to the frustration all the apps, tactics, and software that is required to attract, nurture, onboard and service clients, and you will quickly discover why many advisors prefer to outsource their marketing efforts to an agency that understands their business.
Since digital is here to stay, the best thing an advisor can do to grow their firm, remain compliant and land good-fit clients is to take a step back and develop a results-driven strategy that is focused on increasing the lead to close ratio.
If a firm is unable to close a lead, then its marketing efforts are wasted.
Now a strategy is not Facebook ads, meaningless blogs, pay-per-click, tweets, and videos.
Those are all tactical and without a plan produces mixed and unmeasurable results.
Plus, digital-only leaves money on the table if human-to-human touch-points are not integrated.
This means going beyond the "free consult," as everybody does it.
The purpose of this guide is to provide insights, clarity, and tools to help your team develop the best strategy for client acquisition, retention, and referrals.
When implemented correctly and consistently, your prospect pipeline and visibility will experience sustainable growth.
This guide will cover:
It's interesting how many financial advisors hate lead generation. They would sooner manually reconcile an account than
The reality is that business development has to happen whether by an internal team or an agency if growing assets under management or plan sponsors is of any importance.
More importantly, the strategy behind lead generation for financial advisors requires a combined effort of inbound and outbound marketing to see revenue shifting results. Let's explore how each works.
What is Inbound?
The inbound methodology is best suited for the services and products that require education and has a long sales cycle.
Inbound uses content (blogs, videos, ebooks, case studies, infographics) to inform prospects about a topic which relates to, but does not blatantly sell, a service or product.
For example, if a firm focuses on comprehensive wealth management strategies, the content would center around the questions a prospect is likely to ask or think.
The firm would provide general information on the high-level various forms of strategic wealth management, frequently asked questions, things to consider around taxes and estate planning, how to evaluate a wealth advisor, etc.
By providing insightful, helpful, consistent, unbiased information, the firm positions itself as an authority and expertise in their field.
If the prospect is then nurtured through an email campaign or direct follow up from the advisor, when they are ready to pull-the-trigger, the advisor will be top of mind and a viable solution to their needs.
Inbound is based on prospects finding you through their search for a solution.
Tactics like blogging, search engine optimization, pay-per-click and digital ads help to speed up the process of being organically found by prospects.
On average inbound can take 6-9 months to witness measurable traction and depends deeply on multiple variables such as:
Inbound is a long-term play which raises the bar for authoritative positioning in your region. Some of the statistics from a recent survey of inbound versus traditional advertising include:
57% of businesses have acquired a customer through their company blog
55% of companies who blog reported leads from their blog were “below average” in cost
39% of companies who leverage SEO reported leads from SEO were “below average” in cost.
47% of companies who use social media reported leads from social media were “below average” in cost
Inbound marketing costs 62% less per lead than traditional advertising (tv, radio, newspaper, cold calls).
What is Outbound?
Today's outbound marketing is much different than traditional advertising methods (aka old school outbound).
Let's look at the difference.
Today's outbound marketing is helpful, permission-based, personalized and amplifies inbound marketing.
When your firm reaches out to a complete stranger whether through LinkedIn, or because they downloaded an ebook, or because they signed up for your newsletter, the one goal is to be helpful. That's it!
No sales pitches. Just an honest curiosity to understand their problems and determine if you can help guide (not coerce) them towards a viable solution (hopefully yours).
As an example, many Advisors and RIAs are successfully nurturing executive-level prospects by providing help to employees at firms they are targeting using this turn-key technology.
There's an ancient proverb that says "Asking starts the receiving process". Asking to connect, asking to be emailed more information or join your mailing list makes a game-changing difference.
By asking, your prospect is being given a choice to connect with you or not, on their terms. Remember it's not about you, but their needs, problems, aspirations, desires.
By asking, you're less likely to be declined and more likely to be given an opportunity to prove to your prospect that they made an excellent choice in adding you to their network.
Communicate with an individual, not a broad audience. The moment a prospect steps into your world whether online or offline, personalizing the experience is crucial.
From ensuring your newsletter includes their first name, to segmenting them to appropriate campaigns, to following up with phone calls and emails that are relevant to their professional and personal goals is critical.
Standing out from every other advisor required micro-tweaks in your marketing, because many are rehashing the same thing everyone else is doing, which is another reason why we are all sensitive to spam and intrusive advertising.
Amplifies Inbound Marketing
Inbound is phenomenal at attracting prospects. The problem is many of those leads quickly go cold if there's no prompt follow up.
Developing a process to follow up via email and a phone call is a critical step in guiding prospects towards an engagement with your firm.
Each outbound connection and conversation is a warm opportunity to impact your book of business.
It's imperative to create an outbound strategy and follow-up policy that prevents prospects from falling through the cracks.
Target a niche market and fast-track growth
Inbound and outbound marketing works best when a firm understands their target niche market.
Marketing to a broad audience (i.e. We help business owners, executives, high net worth families, anyone with a pulse and some assets) is a sure-fire way to resonate with no one.
Most likely your target audience is the top 20% of your existing clientele.
Taking the time to discover their similarities and demographics will fast-track your ability to craft content that activates engagement, conversations, and referrals.
In a recent survey, 57% of companies have acquired a customer through LinkedIn.
However, getting the attention of prospects is an art form.
Your state and neighboring states
This professional hub is a data utopia of every industry and demographic you can think of. It's mind-boggling the number of advisors who are sold Facebook
Want to connect with centers of influence in your community? Try LinkedIn first.
The LinkedIn community is good about keeping things professional, while Facebook tends to resonate on a fun-lifestyle level.
As an advisor, not showing up on LinkedIn is leaving money on
So how do you connect with your ideal prospects on LinkedIn?
Here's a high-level framework to get you started.
1. Optimize - Your website and social media profiles must be optimized to speak to your audience because they will research you.
If you make a connection when your website is outdated, and your social media profiles are non-existent; then you've missed an opportunity to make a great first impression.
Make sure the content on your site and profiles are refreshed to communicate a message that will resonate with prospects.
2. Message - Craft several messages to engage prospects over time. The less
We all know when we're being sold something, so avoid the trap by doing the opposite - be helpful.
3. Locate - Use LinkedIn's Sales Navigator to locate your ideal client by industry, title, geographic location, experience, company size and any other filter to narrow in on your target audience.
The goal is to make connections that kick-start a two-way conversation.
Having 10,000+ followers means nothing if you can't engage them directly. You want connections, not followers. Know the difference.
4. Connect - Start the connection process. This is labor-intensive. Correctly connecting requires a combination of automation and human engagement to keep the interaction personalized.
The last thing you want is for a prospect to feel like they are apart of an automated campaign (and they shouldn't be if building relationships is the goal).
Someone on your team will need to manage the connection requests and responses to ensure the interaction is human and efficient.
5. Follow Up - Develop a process for following up that goes beyond "Can I help you with anything?"
Too vague. Unoriginal. And it's easy for the prospect just to say "No."
The follow-up must flow like a symphony - harmonious, well paced, and enjoyable. After every interaction with a prospect, your next question should be, "What's next?"
Well managed client relationships produce two main benefits: long-term clients and referrals.
However, when it comes to referrals, it's unpredictable at best.
Managing the relationship must go beyond monthly newsletters, a generic Thanksgiving card, and the birthday card to the spouse (everyone has read that playbook).
The best way to create individual experiences with hundreds of clients is to systematize the process. Use automation to leverage an otherwise labor-intensive undertaking.
Here are some ideas how -
1. Map out the customer experience from the initial consult all the way through their anniversary with your firm.
List out everything you currently do (or will do) to communicate value regardless if they are on the A-list or D-list. These can be digital or physical touch-points.
Google for ideas to elevate the experience, as there's always room for improvement.
Include a cost and time required next to each touch-point to understand the investment it will take to create and maintain this experience.
2. Take time to develop three experiential tiers - Bronze, Gold, Platinum or Level 1, 2, 3 or whatever you like.
Avoid overcomplicating it. Later on, if you need to add more tiers, you can. Remember the goal is to simplify the process and not make it so complex that your team abandons it thirty days in.
Determine the qualifications to meet each level (and here's a hint, it's not just the AUM).
Yes, the amount of assets a client has under your care is one key metric.
However, make sure to include other parameters like -
How many referrals they have sent you in the past 12 months?
How many years has your firm managed their assets?
Is their personality a good fit for your team?
3. Invest in a good CRM (customer relationship marketing) platform. Capture all the details of your client's life. Habits, preferences, lifestyle, family, friends, important dates, milestones, life events etc.
By reviewing your CRM you'll discover opportunities to communicate value in new ways.
Use our CRM to identify which level of service your existing clients fall into. This is where segmenting is powerful in showing you how your business is currently operating.
If you discover most clients fall into the lowest service tier, the reality (and opportunity) is that money is being left on the table.
4. In your CRM
Create a task list for your team to follow. It will ensure a near-flawless execution of the experience.
Also don't wait for the client to respond with a "Thank you", especially for physical touch-points (print, gift, etc).
Follow up after the item has been mailed to confirm receipt and communicate on a subtle level that your firm is paying attention to the details (even the delivery of a simple note card). Powerful!
5. Keep it fresh. Over time the surprise factor will wear off, and clients will come to expect the card, the book, the phone call, the dinner, etc.
On an annual basis review your experience tier levels and evaluate the minor or major revisions that will keep clients raving about another year of spectacular service (you do provide great service right?).
Your client's experience is also a safeguard when economic conditions become bearish.
In bear markets trust and history will go a long way in preserving the relationship through national financial storms.
This proactive measure not only insulates your clients but, also positions your firm to differentiate from the competitors that are active in your client's inner circle.
6. Make your clients competitor proof. This is key! By providing your clients with an easy to use digital tool that can help add value to their retirement assets, your clients will become stickier to your firm and it's services.
This is an advanced tactic that dives into how social mood is a large driving force in the markets and what that means for your sales and marketing strategy.
Market sentiment is crowd psychology, as revealed through the activity and price movement of traded securities. For example, rising prices would indicate a bullish market sentiment, while falling prices would indicate a bearish market sentiment.
Market sentiment, also called "investor sentiment", is not always based on fundamentals and sound rational logic.
Market sentiment is an essential indicator to contrarian investors that like to trade in the opposite direction of the prevailing sentiment. For example, if everyone is buying, a contrarian would sell.
What does market sentiment have to do with marketing to prospecting and clients? Everything.
When it comes to money, we'd all like to think we're rational in our decisions. As an
advisoryou should be chuckling as experience has taught you this is not the case.
More often than not, moods and attitudes impact investor behavior more than logic and facts. (Bitcoin anyone?)
By knowing the prevailing social mood and when the mood is shifting, you can a preemptively communicate messages that acknowledge the mood, the behavior it's motivating, and how your firm is a resource for actions to consider.
What this mean is communicating that you "get it," "see it," and "understand it."
"It" being the moods and behaviors that your clients, their family, friends, employees, and colleagues are experiencing.
The best marketing identifies ways to resonate, empathize and understand an audience's world on an emotional level.
Integrating market sentiment into your content is a way to connect and engage. Pair this with an advisory service that solves problems and delivers a memorable client experience, and watch your revenues grow.
Try factoring market sentiment into your next content release and measure the results for yourself.
What's the point of a lead if you can't convert them into a client? This issue is why we help advisors build relevant relationships with prospects, in an innovative way, which converts them into a client. Time. Well. Spent.
Sonia Dumas Chief Marketing Officer
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The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits and sells itself.
In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is a failure. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.