You’ve probably heard some of these claims before...
“We have custom content you can use to attract ideal clients.”
“We’ll do everything for you.”
“Let us handle your marketing so you can focus on what really matters.”
I can’t even get online anymore without seeing ads from these so-called “agencies” who claim to help financial advisors get more clients. Look at this Facebook ad I saw a few days ago…
The sad part is this doesn’t even faze me anymore.
There are so many fly-by-night “consultants” and “coaches” in the financial advisor space who all claim to help financial advisors get eight billion new clients in six nanoseconds or less.
Even worse is that there are some financial advisors who fall for these people. Because I see financial advisors ask questions like these:
1. Insufficient Knowledge Makes You Vulnerable.
Read the last sentence from the above photo: “I’m completely inexperienced with marketing and feel like it’s likely I’m going to be taken advantage of.”
I’ve heard outlandish tales of agencies charging outrageous sums of money for things like:
- Installing a Facebook pixel. This literally takes ten seconds if you have a WordPress site. I’m not even joking. Ten seconds.
- “Setup fees.” Can you imagine if Walmart, Apple, or McDonald’s charged “setup fees” to use their products?
- Creating online ads… with content the advisor provides. This means all the “agency” is doing is filling in the boxes.
- Posting generic content from a content library.
A note about content libraries…
If you have access to the same content as everyone else, used in the same way as everyone else, what will your results be? The same as everyone else!
It reminds me of this classic quote:
“Everybody wants to be a bodybuilder, but nobody wants to lift no heavy-ass weights.” - Ronnie Coleman
If you want to become a better marketer, you have to lift your metaphorical heavy-ass weight.
Here’s another quote, this time from Gary Halbert, one of the greatest marketers of all time:
“If you are in need of truly world-class copywriting, you’re probably going to have to learn to do it yourself. You see, the few of us who really can do it, write copy that sells, are so much in demand, you can’t even think about hiring us unless you’re willing to spend an arm and a leg. Even then you’ll still have to wait in line.”
The truth is that there are few skills as valuable as marketing. Learning to do it yourself means you can increase your productivity (and therefore your income) at will.
2. Nobody Will Care As Much As You.
Here’s a dirty little secret marketing agencies don’t want to admit…
They work best with proven processes.
Many business owners have this dream that a marketing agency can come in and scale them to seven figures and beyond without any existing assets or systems. It’s as if they believe the marketing agency can wave a magic wand and presto! Create a seven-figure business.
It doesn’t work that way.
If you want to hire an agency, you will get the best results by having the following:
- Proven audiences.
- Proven messages.
- Proven business systems.
And yes, you need all three. Let me explain why…
You could have the best business in the world with the right message, but if you’re targeting the wrong audience, it won’t matter. It would be like trying to sell steak to vegetarians.
Likewise, you could have the best business with the right audience and have poor messaging. It would be like selling steak to meat-eaters, but promising veggies.
Finally, you could have the right audience and the right message but have poor business practices that sabotage you. This is like selling steaks to ravenous carnivores but being unable to keep your promises.
If you hire a marketing agency without having proven audiences and proven messages, the marketing agency will be experimenting, and you will be the one footing the bill. The best-case scenario is that you have already done the experimenting to figure out what works for you. That way all you have to do is give them a glide path to success.
Having proven business systems is YOUR responsibility and you should NEVER hire a marketing agency until you have your client onboarding and fulfillment in shipshape.
Efficiency improvements within your business directly impact your cost per client. For example, let’s say you pay a marketing agency $3,000 and they get you ten appointments.
Yet, because you have a lackluster value proposition or fail to follow up, you only convert two people into clients. This means your cost per client is $1,500. However, let’s say you fix those problems and convert four people into clients. You have effectively decreased your cost per client to $750, which adds up to a huge difference over time.
A man I admire is a copywriter named Gary Bencivenga. He wrote copy for more than 40 years and conducted more than $1 billion of marketing tests. Several people consider him to be the greatest copywriter of all time. He appeared to have a Midas touch because nearly every promotion he ever wrote made millions for his clients.
Gary revealed that one of his success secrets was choosing proven products. He refused to write copy for products that weren’t already selling.
He didn’t like to launch new products that hadn’t proven themselves in the marketplace. He wanted to be handed a working offer on a silver platter so he could scale it to the moon.
THAT’S how good marketing agencies operate.
If you want maximum results in minimum time, you must give them proven processes because you can’t scale a dud.
3. Nobody Knows Your Business Like You.
Next, finding a good marketing agency is difficult because you must do two things…
First, you must find someone who knows how to market a financial advice business.
There are tons of people who SAY they help financial advisors, but when you dig a little deeper you discover they also help attorneys, accountants, engineers, insurance agents, chiropractors, and restauranteurs.
Not to toot my own horn, but I’ve been helping financial advisors since 2015. I have more than 100 episodes of my Financial Advisor Marketing podcast. I’ve also been publishing the most prestigious financial services marketing newsletter for several years. I’m not one of those “here today, gone tomorrow” marketers.
Next, you need someone who understands YOUR niche. This is next to impossible to find, and it’s a reason why financial advisors end up burnt out and frustrated after hiring marketing agencies.
Financial advisors can target wildly different audiences. One advisor can work with divorced women in their forties while another advisor can work with physicians fresh out of medical school. Each group will require distinct approaches. Any marketing agency that says they can market to anyone and everyone is likely trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
You already know your niche. You know what they like and what they dislike. You know where they hang out. You know which podcasts they listen to and which YouTube channels they watch. Chances are you know FAR more about how to reach your niche than any marketing agency out there.
Since you already know these things, you will likely be better off hiring someone in-house or a virtual assistant to take specific tasks off your plate as you see fit. Here are specific examples of tasks you can outsource to a virtual assistant instead of hiring an agency:
- Outreach to niche-specific blogs, podcasts, and YouTube channels. If there is a popular podcast in your niche, you can be a guest and talk about the problems you solve for them.
- Facebook ads monitoring. You can be the one to launch the ads and your virtual assistant can check them every day to ensure you’re pausing the losers and letting the winners run.
- Note taking. Your virtual assistant can stay up to date on all the news in your industry and take notes on the highlights for you to skim. This can be a goldmine of marketing ideas for you.
- Handwritten note writing. If you struggle with sending “thank you” notes, an assistant can help you stay on track.
- CRM updates. A virtual assistant can organize your CRM to ensure you always have the best data at your fingertips.
- Email management. This is probably the most frequently outsourced task, and it’s the one that I’ve seen free up the most time for financial advisors.
- Miscellaneous administrative tasks. This can also free up your time to focus on marketing and increase your per hour value.
4. You Give Up Control.
I recently launched a product showing financial advisors how they can get more clients from their websites, and I’ve been deluged with questions like this:
“Do you think it makes sense to hire a website designer or should I use a template software and do it myself?”
This is a tough question to answer because it depends on so many factors, such as your income, your productivity, your ability to manage other people, your goals for your website, and more.
However, if I HAD to pick something that would be applied to all financial advisors, I would pick a drag-and-drop builder such as Wix or Weebly.
(If you’re slightly more advanced, you buy a WordPress theme and customize it to your tastes.)
I say that for a few reasons:
Drag-and-drop builders are easy to use.
Even if you’re not tech-savvy, you can hire a neighborhood kid or someone else on the cheap to design it the way you want.
If you build your website, you will learn valuable skills that can be applied elsewhere.
Maybe you want to start another business in five years. If so, you’ll know how to get a site up and running.
You can save a boatload of money over the long term.
Let’s do some math…
One popular website option for financial advisors starts at $179 per month. We’ll assume you do that and have your website for five years. That tallies up to $10,740.
The entrepreneur-specific plan from Wix is $18 per month. Your domain might run you another $20 per year. Over the same five years, that’s $1,180.
In other words, you would have enough money left over ($9,560 to be exact) to hire someone to work for many hours to tighten things up, should you need one.
Even better, you can hire someone to document systems and processes for you so you know exactly what to do yourself.
But the biggest reason why I recommend using a drag-and-drop builder is because…
You’ll stay in control.
If you stay in control, you can make changes to your website without consulting anyone. I’ve heard horror stories of financial advisors who depended on freelancers who quit, ghosted them, or went on vacation just in time for something to break. Being able to log in and fix things in a few minutes is a godsend.
The same is true with marketing, where giving up control is generally a bad idea.
If you keep your hands on the marketing reins, you can call the shots. You also don’t have to worry about your marketing agency shutting down your accounts if you terminate them (yes, I’ve heard of that happening, too).
If someone else handles your marketing, you are NOT in control of your business.
It’s like riding in the bed of a pickup truck while someone else drives. You’re subject to the harsh bumps and tire-killing potholes while the driver rides comfortably in the air-conditioned cabin.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be in charge of my own destiny.
5. To The Marketing Agency With A Hammer, The Whole World Looks Like A Nail.
A final reason why hiring a financial advisor marketing agency is a dumb idea is because marketing agencies have built-in biases.
For instance, asking a social media agency if you need social media marketing is like asking your barber if you need a haircut. Ask a content marketing agency what you should do to get more clients and the answer will inevitably be to post more content.
To be clear, I don’t think it’s possible to eliminate biases. Even I have biases of my own. For instance, I am well-known for my email marketing system. I definitely have a bias toward email marketing, but I also try my best to fight confirmation bias and back up my findings with tested third-party research.
Yet, perhaps the most insidious bias a financial advisor marketing agency can have is the bias to keep you as a customer.
I want you to imagine you’ve been working with an agency for several years. You’ve built various assets, systems, and procedures to generate more inbound leads than you need. All things considered, you don’t need the agency anymore. It’s time to spread your wings and fly away. Do you think they will tell you? Probably not.
Am I Opposed To Hiring A Marketing Agency?
Not necessarily.A marketing agency CAN make sense for financial advisors if they have a proven model, systems in place, a healthy budget, and patience.
But most of the time, it does NOT make sense.