How to Develop a Winning Financial Advisor Marketing Plan
Fail to plan is a plan to fail, says an old proverb. This definitely applies to the world of marketing – and even more so to financial services marketing, where less than one-third of advisors indicate they have a written marketing plan, and fewer still have fully implemented that plan.
Why do you need a Financial Advisory Marketing Plan?
A marketing plan is a comprehensive blueprint which outlines an organization’s overall marketing efforts. Financial services companies develop marketing plans to:
- Set out goals, objectives, purpose, method and end-state.
- Set Branding guidelines and objectives.
- Monitor progress against goals.
A cohesive marketing plan is a strategy to deal with roadblocks or an unexpected rise of competition. It is a set of qualities of your product outlined in one place, The plan reminds you of the real value proposition of your product or service.
Should the strategy go wrong, you should always be able to turn to the marketing plan for a reminder of the core values that your product or a service possesses.
What does a Financial Advisor Marketing Plan Consist Of?
According to Drucker and Kotler, a typical marketing plan includes a strategy of creating, capturing and sustaining value for customers. Most organizations follow a common skeleton but then tweak it to meet their own unique industry expectations.
Most marketing plans follow a framework beginning with “Creating The Value”. To understand whether there is a need for their product or service within an industry, companies need to conduct market research that includes both desk and field research. Marketers capture the data, analyze and segment the results, and this information then feeds into targeting and positioning.
In the targeting stage it’s decided which market the company is going after and decides how to position themselves among their competitors. This stage is important because that is where the branding comes in, and this is the time when you determine what approach the company is taking.
The 7Ps of a financial advisor marketing plan
The 7Ps are a well-known value proposition definition technique used by many industries including financial services.
- Product (What the end customer sees. Qualities, values and experience)
- Price (High vs. Low compared to the industry standards)
- Promotion (What promotional platforms will you use? Online or offline? Are there any campaigns you will be conducting? Referral programs?)
- Place (Where will your clients go if they decide to purchase your product? Is it a central location, a rural or remote online set up only reachable by phone or email?)
- People (What kind of talents will you hire? The types of people will shape your company culture)
- Process (What is the purchase process? The delivery? Training?)
- Physical Environment (What kind of physical evidence do you want your product or service to create for your customer?)
Finally, sustaining the value- where customer acquisition, retention and profits take place. Only now is the value captured.
Figure 1: A Marketing Plan
These are the essential parts of the marketing plan at most companies, however it’s not always the case for financial advisory services. In the financial sector, strategy is what distinguishes you from your competitors. As Michael E. Porter famously said in 1986:
“The essence of strategy is in activities- choosing to perform activities differently or to perform activities different than rivals. Otherwise, a strategy is nothing more than a marketing slogan that will not withstand the competition.”
Strategic planning in the financial advisory sector plays a key role for success. How do we track a customer decision journey and know exactly what unique value to propose in order to be different from the competition? There are a few marketing principles which, when implemented, can distinguish you from the competitors and lead to a higher level of success.
1. Place Customer first.
In the financial advisory sector, as is in any other industry, it is very important to know your audience. Who is your target market? What are their needs and wants? Where do they spend their time online and offline?
Conducting market research, with the potential audience as well as getting feedback on your current product or service, is as important, as acquiring a new customer. It also is very valuable to keep your customers happy, as up-selling to them is easier, they are more likely to buy and cost generally less than acquiring a completely new customer.
A good way to keep up with your customer’s needs is to hold or attend the events where your potential customers go and interact with them. You can build relationships, listen to their problems, hopes and concerns, and based on your learning’s apply this to your plan.
This is especially the case in the financial services sector, where a huge part of the business relies on referrals.
2. Go Digital.
On the digital side, it’s important to make your website a source of truth for the customer or the go-to tool when it comes to your product or service. In today’s society, customers spend many hours doing their own research before raising their hands and talking to a sales rep. Therefore a good online representation is a must in order to succeed.
By conducting research relevant to your target market and writing articles on the subjects that interest them, you are drawing them in to come to your website, and creating the brand you want. By providing your customers with insights and relevant content, you can shape your brand online and influence prospects to choose you over your competitors. A website will also attract potential leads, which if followed up on time, have a high probability of conversion.
3. Be Active on Social Media.
Social media has undeniably become an important part of human interaction. 3 billion people are active internet users, and 2 billion of those have active social media accounts. Not only that they like to speak to their friends and family online, but also interacting with brands. Social mediums such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and increasingly popular Slack have transformed the way people communicate.
To succeed, companies need to be responsive on the social media and react quickly to customer queries and comments, especially the negative ones. Social media is also a good tool to measure the online presence, find out who your brand advocates are, track what customers are saying and what context you are mentioned in. information gathered from the social media should be considered when building a marketing plan for financial advisory firms.
4. Be flexible.
In this ever-changing world, with a volatile and highly impressionable market and strong competitiveness it’s important to be flexible. Agility, adaptability and creativity are increasingly becoming higher factors of success. Due to these changes, processes such as Agile Marketing have recently emerged. A popular variant uses the Kanban organizational approach, and follows practices such as Sprint, daily scrums and retrospective analysis of the actions taken have become a major part of success. Following an agile approach has many benefits including the ability to quickly change course when it emerges that a course of action is not as rewarding as initially forecast.
At the end of the day, financial advisory marketing teams have to face many of the same challenges as the rest of the companies out there. Placing customers first and then leaving room for flexibility and adjustment can be the biggest strategic step to success a financial advisory firm can take.
Financial Advisory Marketing Plan References