The biggest growth challenge for financial advisors is finding qualified leads. But before that can happen, advisors must be able to attract enough of the right people who might become qualified leads. That’s what marketing does for you. It doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It can’t happen by aimlessly wandering around. Most advisors have enough trouble managing their time between being an advisor, running their practice, and prospecting. What’s needed is a marketing plan.
What is a Marketing Plan?
A marketing plan is your roadmap for perpetually expanding your pipeline. A good marketing plan identifies your target market(s), details how you will reach them, and what you will communicate to them. The plan should be goals driven with strategies and tactics clearly spelled out to ensure they are achieved. Most importantly, a well-conceived marketing plan keeps you focused on the activities and tactics that move you towards your goals and helps you monitor and measure its effectiveness.
Creating a Marketing Plan
A good marketing plan does not have to be complicated. The more concise it is, the better. In five parts, you can map out everything you need to do to start filling your pipeline.
- Set goals and objectives
- Identify and evaluate your target market(s)
- Create your story
- Build your strategy and tactics
- Measure and assess your results
Ideally, you are working with a team of advisors (it could be just one other advisor) and some staff. Planning should be a collaborative effort – the more input, the better. Even if you’re going solo, try to involve a mentor or coach for their input and feedback.
1. Set your goals and objectives
If you don’t know precisely where you’re going, any road will get you there. The foundation of your marketing plan, upon which you build everything else, are your goals and objectives. Your goals must be specific, achievable, and measurable, including a timeline for achieving them. You know you want more clients, better clients, and more assets per client, but those goals are not specific enough to build out a detailed plan.
Here’s an example of a specific, achievable, and measurable goal:
Increase pipeline by 50% within six months.
The more specific, the better:
Increase pipeline by 25% with qualified leads from my target market.
The more specific you can be in setting your goals, the easier it is to formulate strategies for achieving them.
2. Identify and evaluate your target market(s)
Many advisors, especially those new to the business, take a shotgun approach to prospecting, pointing their gun in the general direction of anyone who’s breathing. That’s no way to build a sustainable and profitable practice. However, advisors who can identify a target market have an easier time creating marketing or prospecting strategies that work in that specific market. The more narrowly you can target a market – down to the niche – the easier it is to identify cost-effective strategies to reach it.
Finding the right target market – one in which you can flourish – starts with identifying your ideal client. Who are your best clients – the ones with whom you have the best relationship? Which ones would you like to replicate? Why?
Next, create a client persona to guide your targeting efforts. A client persona is like a composite of your ideal clients, built around the qualities and traits they possess along with the key factors that inform their decisions. When you have a client persona, you have the basis of your storyboard that guides your messaging, communications, and how you approach them. You use your client persona to channel your efforts and resources for the most effective and profitable use of your time.
3. Create your story
Financial advisors need to understand that their ideal clients no longer respond to one-size-fits-all approaches to their problems. Yet, many advisors continue to push out generic messages that don’t differentiate them, or that fail to match what prospects are looking for.
You need a good story to tell – one that includes a key message to use across your marketing efforts and in your interactions with prospects and clients. It should contain no jargon, nothing about products and services, and nothing that sounds like the hundreds of your competitors. In essence, you need to answer the one question every prospective client is asking, “Why should I do business with you when I can choose from dozens of other advisors right down the street?”
Here are the questions to ask to get to the core of your story and develop a message that resonates with your ideal clients:
- What makes you unique or different from other advisors?
- What can you deliver for your clients that they can’t get from other advisors?
- What are you passionate about, and how does that translate into what you do in your business?
- What do you specifically aim to achieve for your clients, and why are you uniquely positioned to do it?
Once you formulate your story and message, try it out with some clients and ask for feedback.
If you need help simplifying your message, get the 2-CD set, Say It So It Makes a Difference – hundreds of stories, analogies and power phrases, all designed to help you communicate in a more-understandable and straight-forward way with prospective and current clients.
4. Choose your strategies and tactics
You know now who you’re looking for and where to find them. You should be able to narrow your choices of strategies and tactics to the one or two that can be most effective. State your strategy in broad terms. For example:
Build my presence in the architecture community.
Your tactics define the specific methods to use. For example:
Penetrate the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
For each tactic, you create an action plan that clearly spells out the who, what, when, where, and how for executing the tactic. There should be specific steps, time tables, and responsibilities assigned. For example:
- Create a specific story and message for architects.
- Apply for a “professional affiliate” membership.
- Attend scheduled meetings and events.
- Build a database in CRM of potential prospects.
- Create email to invite prospects to opt in to your newsletter.
- Identify key centers of influence.
5. Measure and assess your results
It’s easy to let your marketing action plans disappear among the clamor of day-to-day activities. Set a time each week to review your action plans, going through the steps, and benchmarks to see what has been completed and look at results. Make sure your CRM is set up to record the origination of each prospect.
At the end of your plan timeline, assess what worked well and why. Assess what didn’t work and why. Build on what worked and drop or fix what didn’t work. Rinse and repeat.