Many financial planners write off advertising as unproductive. They share experiences of creating beautiful ads, investing in media placements and then yielding no new clients. Thus, they conclude that advertising must not be an effective marketing tactic for their practice. This is unfortunate, since well crafted advertising can produce impressive results, sometimes generating a return-on-investment that substantially outperforms other marketing channels.
The key to effective advertising is to start with a clear objective. You don’t need a Madison Avenue advertising agency to develop and place ads that deliver results, but like most things, you have little chance of achieving your goals if you don’t define them before you get started.
Like any other business endeavor, start by identifying what you are trying to achieve. Your ultimate objective is nearly always to acquire to new clients, but that’s not going to happen directly from an ad in our line of work. So, think about the interim steps that you’d like to drive prospects toward. Will your advertising encourage prospects to visit your website, request your free report, or sign up for a free consultation?
Once you’ve defined the actionable objective for your ad, the decisions you make around it will become much clearer. For example, if you’d like prospects to become better acquainted with you via your free report on investing strategies, then make that report the focus of your advertising. The entire ad should speak to the value and benefits that this (FREE!) report will provide them; the report shouldn’t just be mentioned in a line on the bottom of the ad.
Be sure to create a clear call to action that precisely mirrors your objective. A call to action tells the reader what you want them to do, so ask for exactly what you want. A common characteristic of ads that don’t perform is a vague call to action, or worse, no call to action at all.
Most importantly, clearly communicate your objectives to everyone who is involved with your advertising. You’ll likely work with a designer and a media salesperson, perhaps a copywriter as well. Make sure that they know what your goals for the ad are, and work with them to develop quantifiable objectives as well—how many free report requests do you hope to generate? The best way to do this is to start the process by authoring a creative brief where you establish a framework for what you want to accomplish and the themes, insights and ideas that you want to convey and avoid.
Successful advertising involves a blend of strategy, creativity and experimentation. You may find the keys to success on your first try, but if you establish and hone your objectives, you’ll move more quickly to success!
Kristin C. Harad, CFP®
Founder and Principal
VitaVie Financial Planning
San Francisco, CA