Financial professionals who develop a specialty practice gain efficiencies in pursuing and serving their clients. But building your expertise doesn’t… Read More
Building a Marketing Plan for Financial Professionals
• Valerie Rivera • April 7, 2022
A marketing plan is an essential foundation for all your client engagement and acquisition efforts. It outlines your broad vision for bringing on new business in a way that supports your overall business plan. It’s typically comprised of several specific marketing strategies that together form a cohesive plan.
A well-defined marketing plan at your firm helps:
- Guide all marketing strategies
- Tie marketing activities to the bigger picture
- Determine who you want to reach and how
If your firm is ready to ramp up marketing initiatives, the best first step is creating a strong marketing plan.
The Work Before the Marketing Plan
Before you start drafting your marketing plan, there are a number of things you’ll want to have in place to inform your efforts. You’ll want to have a good idea of the competitive landscape and how you fit in it, as well as a good idea of who you’re trying to reach and what resonates with them.
So, take a minute to consider the following items before starting your marketing plan:
- Competitive analysis: Do you understand who your business competitors are? What about your online and organic competitors? The two may be different and understanding who you’re competing against will have a strong influence on how you approach your marketing.
- SWOT analysis: After you know who your competition is, it’ll be important to understand how you compare. Are there things you’re doing better? What are your competitors doing better than you? Marketing opportunities should naturally emerge as you conduct a SWOT analysis. Any threats that emerge can justify your marketing spend.
- Buyer personas: Having a detailed understanding of who you’re trying to reach is critical and may be one of the most important steps. Take a look at your existing clients to learn about your prospects and build buyer personas that represent those ideal prospects. This will keep all marketing efforts targeted appropriately.
- Branding: How does your brand resonate with your buyer personas? When you know who you’re trying to reach, you should then be able to tell if your messaging appeals to this audience. Before you start the work of marketing, you’ll want to make sure you have a personal and firm-wide brand that attracts qualified prospects.
- Optimized web presence: Your efforts to reach and convert prospects will be severely limited if your web presence is subpar. You’ll want a mobile-friendly, optimized website that conveys your brand effectively and is eligible to show up in search engines. You’ll also want to manage things like your Google My Business profile, social media profiles, and any directory listings to ensure your entire presence on the web speaks to the quality of service you provide.
Once you’ve ensured all of these items are properly addressed at your firm, you’re ready to start drafting your marketing plan.
5 Key Elements of a Marketing Plan for Financial Professionals
Every marketing plan will be unique based on the firm’s individual goals, location, target audience, size, and more. But the following five aspects of a marketing plan will likely be relevant in nearly any situation.
1. Define Your Marketing Mission
You’ll want to have a clear idea of the “why” behind your marketing initiatives, both to strategically direct your efforts as well as to maintain justification for your efforts, as the ROI of marketing isn’t always immediate. These goals and your mission should relate directly to your overarching business objectives.
Here are some examples of what to do and what not to do:
This is NOT a well-defined marketing mission: To bring on new clients and to grow firm revenue and AUM.
Here is what a simple marketing mission could look like: Identify next-generation mass affluent planning prospects and build a pipeline of Gen XYZ potential clients through digital marketing tactics to secure the future of the business. Planning revenues from younger clients should account for 20 percent of all revenue within five years.
You can see in the second example how your marketing mission and goals will start to blend seamlessly with your firm’s business objectives.
2. Find Your Unique Value Proposition
Your high-level marketing mission should include your specific buyer persona. In the example above, it was the next generation of mass affluent planning clients. From the exercises you completed before starting your marketing plan, you will have a good idea of where these people spend their time online, what their current financial situation might look like, what they want from a financial professional, and anything else to flesh out their buyer persona.
A critical part of your marketing plan will then be to develop your value proposition for these individuals. This value proposition should speak directly to their most pressing concerns, differentiate you from your competitors, and reflect your broader planning brand.
Without a specific value proposition to connect with your target audience, your marketing plan will fall flat, and all the strategies that build up to it aren’t likely to be very effective. This value proposition will be at the heart of all your messaging and marketing activities.
3. Describe Distribution Channels and Strategies for Engagement
Once you know what you want to achieve and who you’re targeting, you can then start to detail how you’ll reach your audience in pursuit of your end goals. This will all be based on information from your buyer personas and the competitive and SWOT analyses you’ve done. Where does your target audience spend their time? What interests them? How can you reach them more effectively than the competition?
Continuing with the current example, we know that 42 percent of today’s clients start their search for a financial advisor on search engines like Google, and 63 percent say informative, educational content would make an advisor’s marketing stand out.1 This is especially true for younger generations, among whom only 15 percent would start by asking a friend or family member, and 78 percent are open to hearing from an advisor on social media.1
With this in mind, you could then start formulating your marketing strategies. You could decide that you want to start a blog with informative, educational content to catch prospects’ attention and start showing up in search engines to gain more traction. You may also, in this instance, decide to get active on social media by posting your content, sharing and liking others’ content, and prospecting for potential leads.
4. Develop KPIs and a Plan to Measure Success
It’s not enough just to have a strategy for connecting with prospects. It’s important to also know in advance what metrics you will be tracking and what success will look like.
If you’re just getting started, assigning a specific number to growth in website traffic or social interactions, for example, may be difficult. It may make sense to base KPIs on the frequency of social posts or published content in the beginning.
One advisor, who now brings in over $1 million AUM every month through his podcast, recommends giving yourself enough runway to succeed before evaluating whether or not you should continue your current tactics.
For those who have been marketing for some time, set specific goals that are aggressive but achievable. This will keep you motivated to continually optimize your approach while keeping you laser-focused on your most important goals in the long term.
5. Outline Contributors and Responsibilities
After you’ve determined what you want to achieve, how you will achieve it, and what success looks like, the last piece of the puzzle is assigning specific responsibilities to individual contributors.
Depending on the structure of your firm, this may or may not be a straightforward step. Regardless, it’s an important one. Assigning specific responsibilities for carrying out select portions of the marketing plan informs the tactical execution of the plan and promotes efficiency in carrying out all marketing activities. It also ensures everyone has a personal sense of accountability in achieving success.
Once you’ve outlined responsibilities, and have a specific strategy for each distribution channel you’ve selected, you’re ready to start executing on all the things you’ve planned.
Bonus Tip: Start with Existing Planning Clients
When we hear the term ‘marketing,’ we immediately think of new client acquisition. But after formulating a marketing plan, you can test out your messaging and communication tactics on your existing clients to see how they perform.
In many regards, the work you do to engage existing clients can inform and fuel your acquisition efforts. Keep learning on this topic by reading our recent eBook Elevating Your Financial Planning Business: Improving Client Engagement and Experience Through Better Marketing.
1 2020 eMoney Consumer Marketing Survey, September 2020, n=2,000
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