This article was originally published on MuirEdison.com and was migrated in 2022 when Muir Edison became a Breakthrough brand.
How to use this Guide:
This Financial Advisor Marketing Strategies guide is a list of time-tested, sustainable strategies listed in order from most crucial down to optional.
My hope is that you prioritize the following with your team, adjust them, add and remove items to find your firm’s marketing sweet spot.
This article is designed for independent financial advisor firms with $50M - $2B AUM.
1. Developing and Executing a Strategic Plan
It may be confusing for the Strategic Plan to be included in a list of strategies, but it has to be the #1 action you will take in this entire process because all the other strategies, tactics, spending, timeline, and ultimately how well you do will all stem from your overall strategic plan.
A lasting strategy will be based on:
Benchmarking Your Current Performance - Gauging firm performance against the industry, and over time. Benchmark reports typically include all of the tracked measurements of performance (KPI's, conversion metrics, financial performance, resource performance, team, web / digital / tech, and more).
Goals for your firm - Remember goals must be measurable, achievable, and have a time frame. So “Make a website” is not a goal, but “Increase firm AUM by 20% annually, for 3 years” is a goal, or “Be among the top 3 independent RIA’s in (Your city)” is a goal. Ideally you have primary goals (financial goals, team/talent goals, lifestyle goals, client goals, etc), and specific objectives within each channel (web / traffic goals, advisor goals, COI goals, SEO goals, etc).
Positioning - Simply defined, your positioning is made up of: the problems you solve (what you do), who you solve them for, and how you do it. Related terms might include (Although these are not the same in definition): Differentiation, niche, USP (unique selling proposition), expertise, specialty. The better your positioning, the stronger your firm will be. (Higher efficiency, higher earning potential, lower sales/marketing costs, lower client and talent retention costs, higher ROI and overall impact etc). More on financial advisor positioning. Components of positioning include:
- What problem are you solving? - Ideally this is something clients worry about regularly, and even keeps them up at night.
- Who are you working with (Target Audience)? The more broad you are (eg “Men & women between the age of 30 and 100”) the harder it is to provide a competitive product, and market and sell it.
Sales Strategic Planning
Packaged Services / Products
Marketing Strategic Planning
Lead Gen Strategy
Process & Tech Stack Assessment
This is an entire topic in itself, which I will be expanding upon in a separate Insight post soon. So without going too deep, this is something to spend some time on and we will come back to. If you need a hand with this: We can help.
After strategy, everything flows from the Brand. Firms should all have:
Brand Strategy + Logo
Corporate Style Guide - Simple easy reference on fonts used, logo layouts, colors, styles, imagery, illustration styles, iconography, etc (should not have to invent or design the style as you go)
Brand Messaging - A full content strategy would be below, but for the Brand messaging, we would recommend at the very least, a basic tagline / slogan and high level brand wording (this will shift somewhat as you revise content strategy, and overall strategic plan).
Brand Assets - Fonts, colors, icons, illustrations, etc
Brand Imagery - Professional photography, recommended imagery style, photographic tone, filters, etc.
3. Collateral & Stationery
We put this on top of the list as it’s fairly standard, fairly easy to achieve, and every firm should really have some combination of the following, as a baseline.
For Financial Advisor firms, these may include:
Digital Stationary Templates (eg Google docs branded templates, powerpoint decks, Microsoft word branded templates)
Letterhead, pens, calendars, envelopes
Business cards (or digital business cards)
Firm overview brochure - I would recommend all firms have this
Service Sheets - Individual product / service sheets
4. Web & Digital Growth (Lead Gen) Platform
Another entire topic all on it’s own (see more on Web / Digital Growth Platforms).
To give a quick summary, your Web & Digital Growth Platform may include some or all of the following:
Website w/ integrated CMS - After COVID (or rather thanks to everyone moving to the next phase in our evolution), the web & digital client experience has become the primary client experience for your firm (on par with the office & physical experience). More on the critical features of your website.
Lead Gen Ecosystem & Tools
Integrated Content Strategy
SEO (with either local, regional, global focus)
Email Strategy Integration
Privacy: GDPR / CCPA
Speed / Performance
ROI Tracking / Reports (Metrics)
How deep you go in your web & digital platform will be a function of your marketing approach, budget, and growth goals. Learn more about Web & Digital Growth Platforms.
5. Staff Photos
We list this as a strategy mainly because good (actually great) photography is recommended, and can be used in a host of places, from seminar one-sheets, to your linkedin page, your website, brochures, etc etc. Recommend doing this as part of the web & digital growth platform design and the agency you hire will help you define what photos will be needed.
Some examples of professional photos to take:
Headshots - of all advisors, marketing, staff - all taken in the same uniform style / lighting, place, etc
Alternate headshots - Giving alternate looks of each person, possibly fun shots, different angles, smiling, serious, etc
Fun / Personal / Family / Authentic shots - Depending on the style / approach, you will probably want to show the lighter, real sides of your advisors. These could be shots of them golfing, playing w/ family, hiking, running, whatever makes them stand out, shows the real them.
Group shots - try to get everyone all together if possible (this usually goes out of date at some point, but worth a try and especially w/ a larger team, shows breadth)
Client Experience shots / Shots of the Office
5. Personal & Relationship Tracking in the CRM
Putting this on top of the list because your clients, their contact information, and your relationships with these clients are the most important things your firm owns. How well you keep in touch with them, manage their info, serve them, enrich your relationship with them, understand their behaviors / interests / needs, and then act on that data will determine how well your firm performs. So the sooner you’re capturing, storing, managing, and regularly taking some of those interactions, the better.
A good CRM will help with:
Client, Family, Connection, Networking Data - Managing latest family updates, life updates, kids names, interests, where the client came from, possible network connections, which marketing strategy brought them in, when to contact next, and more
Prospect / Lead Tracking - Integrate web leads, ads, radio, tv, podcast leads, everything all in one place, and prioritize marketing / sales actions.
Analytics & Lead Scoring - Most platforms will help w/ lead scoring (determining who is hottest / most likely to buy) and some will aggregate contact activity analytics across your various marketing channels. Some platforms go much farther on this, and can actually automatically score prospects based on what they are doing in your marketing ecosystem (more on that coming soon).
Helping to refine positioning - Based on analytics like:
Identify best performing marketing channels, best clients, best products, best advisors, etc
Top Financial Advisor CRM systems:
Advisor-specific: Redtail, Wealthbox (Others to look into: Juncture, Taramac, Ugru, XLR8 (built on Salesforce))
Keap (formerly InfusionSoft)
Monday CRM (interesting)
Zendesk Sell (brand new, interesting offering)
Hubspot Sales (expensive but integrated w/ marketing)
We have a full Financial Advisor CRM roundup coming soon!
6. Client Experience + Referral Systems
After COVID, the digital experience (website, social, videos, photos, podcasts, etc) have become the primary client experience on the same level of importance with the physical / office space. Although nothing will ever replace (or be more effective) than in-person, human to human interactions, the digital space has to be the next expected spend for client experience.
Optimized Client Experience (and by natural progression: Referrals) may include:
Client Experience Tracking
Client Referral Process, tools, and documentation
Collateral (see above)
Office Upgrades; furniture, conference systems, digital systems
COI (Centers of Influence) Referral packet / process
Website as a Digital Client Experience
Videography where tasteful (Firm overview video, office walkthrough, advisor bio videos)
Client Login System w/ mobile-responsive access
Regular Client Communication (1-2 x month on avg)
Picking and choosing those strategies listed below.
7. Content Strategy (Ideally Expertise-Based)
Originally content was referred to as written word - but content these days is literally everything you do, from spoken word, visual brand, videos, emails, every instance where a client experiences some piece of your brand, that is content.
After your team, your content base can become your next most valuable resource. Obviously this is an entire topic in itself, but we’ll list a few options here.
Expertise Marketing Content Might Include:
Research Studies / Research Papers
White Papers / Case Studies
Podcast / Youtube Channel / Guesting on Podcasts or Youtube
Webinars / Seminars
Niche Periodicals / Niche Publications
Your content strategy will flow from your strategy, positioning, and your marketing approach (We’re hoping you’re moving the needle from transactional to relationship and eventually to expertise-based content)
8. COI & Community
Some of the top Centers of Influence (COI) partnerships for financial advisors may include:
Real estate agents
Human resource directors
We have a full insight piece coming out soon on this topic as well (before EOY 2021).
Regardless of your strategy, your COI Strategy; your partners, vendors, and relationships in your local, and virtual communities will be, for most, an underpinning of their growth.
In this day an age (as you’re reading about marketing strategies on the web), you most likely will want to spend some time in actually setting up your LinkedIn profile, and building your digital network (although there is always that long-time advisor that doesn't have a linkedin that is doing fine, this will not be the case for most advisors under the age of 50 today).
We all know the importance of your network, and networking in general - and LinkedIn is THE business networking tool.
Very minimally, it can help you close new business by identifying local connections to a prospect you're meeting this afternoon. More expansively: It can help you find new prospects while helping new business to find and better interact with you.
Even further - You can initiate LinkedIn campaigns. This is beyond the scope of this article but - You would be amazed the sales & networking power of this tool if you so chose to leverage it for a full connection building and outreach campaign. Contact us to learn more about LinkedIn Campaigns
However at the very minimum, we recommend all advisors at least spend some time setting up their profile, and adding your contacts to the platform.
11. Email Strategy
After the above strategies, email is by far one of the highest ROI marketing strategies you can leverage with relatively low cost to implement. Another topic unto itself, so we won't go into deep detail in this article on this, but we will in an upcoming article.
Optional Additional Strategies
Firms can get away with not doing the following, but we've seen success with all of them.
Some events we’ve seen with great results:
Annual Client Appreciation Party
Niche / Expertise Webinars
Sponsoring Local Events / Conferences
13. Social Media For Personal Connection ONLY
Before you say - I hate reading salesy posts on social media! Or I hate when people reach out to me for business on social media! Let me underscore: For this specific strategy (non-campaign social media use) we recommend you do NOT use social media to sell anything (directly). For this implementation, we're recommending to use social media to keep in touch with friends, clients, vendors, and keep them updated on your personal life, only, no business, no selling.
Simply use it to stay in contact with your clients and let them stay in contact with you; your personal life, your lifestyle, passions, local activities, volunteering, family, etc. (And ironically this can be the best kind of selling). Going further: Tatiana here at Breakthrough helps firms start new social media accounts (for firms or individual advisors), optimize existing accounts. Contact Us to connect with Tatiana
14. LinkedIn and Social Media Campaigns
We separate LinkedIn from other social platforms because linkedIn is a very viable connection and sales tool for Financial Advisors. We’ve built, and we help others build massive followings through linkedIn. This can be foundational to ongoing marketing campaigns for specific executive presence-focused advisors. Contact us for more on LinkedIn Campaigns.
For other social media (Twitter, Facebook, Insta, Tiktok, etc) - We have seen success for specifically positioned firms with: paid social ad campaigns, retargeting campaigns, and network growth campaigns. You have to do things tastefully, authentically, and keeping your brand positioning at the heart of everything.
15. Interactive: Firm Overview Video or Video Bios
Not a required strategy, but we’ve seen high ROI with these (when done right, if done incorrectly (too much transactional marketing), or low low production quality, it could actually cost you brand value). Some great firm overview videos.
Video bios and video in general is THE most powerful way to build rapport, short of talking directly to someone. (Add stat here or info here on how effective video is vs audio vs written word) Here is a great video bio example.
16. Digital / Traditional Ads
Our hope is that the lion's share of your spend will not be transactional marketing (the difference between transactional, relationship, and expertise marketing) . But you may choose to use an (albeit hopefully temporary or thin) layer of spend on digital or traditional ads in creative and tasteful ways.
For digital, these might include:
Display Ads / Banner Ads
Paid Search Ads
Social Targeted (we generally only recommended targeted social)
Ads in Niche Online Publications
Traditional Ads might include:
Just a reminder the BEST use of marketing spend will be based on a well-thought out Strategic Plan, which will include your marketing approach, and positioning.
My hope is that your marketing approach is evolving towards a more relationship / and even expertise-based focus over time in order to make a deeper impact for a specific group of people. And I'm hoping you found this helpful. As always let me know how you do, and if I can provide any help / questions, you know how to find me.