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Outbound Versus Inbound Marketing: Which Strategy Is Best for Financial Advisers?

There’s a battle raging in the corner of your business labeled “marketing.” It’s between two completely different methods for spreading the word about your firm and getting prospective clients in the door: outbound marketing versus inbound marketing.

Which strategy should win out? Which is going to win you the best results from your marketing efforts?

As someone who makes a living helping financial advisers leverage content as part of inbound marketing strategies, I’m admittedly biased. I believe that content should serve as the foundation for your marketing strategy.

But that doesn’t mean outbound marketing doesn’t have a role to play—and as biased as I am, I’m also professional enough to know there are some situations where outbound tactics will win.

Let’s take a closer look at this debate and help you determine which methodology is appropriate for your firm.

But First, The Difference Between Outbound Versus Inbound Marketing

You can’t make an informed decision about which strategy will win in your firm’s battle for the best marketing approach if you don’t truly understand each side of the fight and the differences between the two. Outbound marketing is traditional, old school stuff. It’s where marketing and advertising started, and it’s what a lot of businesses still rely on today. Outbound is:

  • Cold calling (or cold emailing or messaging)
  • Direct mail
  • Paid advertisements (online or off) or paid publicity
  • Trade shows/seminars
  • Interrupting someone to get their attention
  • Incurring a tangible, direct cost to acquiring a lead or client
  • Creating an advertising system that’s dependent on budget

Now let’s compare that with inbound marketing:

  • Content creation (written, visual or audio)
  • SEO
  • Social media
  • Public relations
  • Supporting events
  • Community involvement
  • Public speaking
  • Word of mouth

Inbound marketing earns someone’s attention. It gets their permission to communicate with leads and has low monetary cost of acquiring clients. It’s more dependent on messaging and connection than ad spends, and does not always cost money to do.

The Advantage Goes to Inbound If You’re Short on Budget

The internet has made inbound marketing possible—and massively popular and often profitable—because the cost of distribution of the tactics in this marketing methodology is often free. Think back to that list of outbound tactics. With each one, there’s a cost associated and therefore a limit to how widely you can spread your message. There are only so many stamps you can buy so you can send out your direct mail because your budget is only so big, right?

But with inbound marketing, most of the time, you get free supplies and free distribution channels. It’s popular not because some millennial said, “Hey man, blogging is cool,” or “All the kids are on social media these days,” but because it’s an incredible opportunity for unlimited reach without spending a dime. It’s just a smart business decision to invest in inbound marketing, which of course, content marketing is a part of.

You get a lot more bang for your buck and you also have what essentially amounts to unlimited upside. Your reach is virtually limitless because you’re dealing with digital space.

That being said, you must understand that these marketing methodologies could have a place in the overall marketing strategy for your firm if you want to be a successful marketer. There’s nothing wrong with either type of marketing. Both work.
They’re both very different, but that doesn’t mean there’s a “right” and a “wrong” here. It depends on your business, your goals, strengths and services or offers.

Use Both These Marketing Methodologies, But in the Right Order

I think the “outbound versus inbound marketing” debate is, ultimately, the wrong one to have. A far better question to ask is, “in which order should I layer on my marketing tactics?”

Start with inbound. Add on the direct mail or social media ads or whatever kind of cold outreach and paid advertising you want to do after you build a solid, organic ecosystem that houses a hyper-engaged audience of people who showed up to hear from you because they’d miss your message if it was gone.

Starting with content helps you build trust, relationships, and connections. But why? Why is this the case that we get these outcomes, and why specifically does content deliver these results where outbound marketing may just not do the trick?

Because 50 percent of people under 40 don’t trust financial advisers; 65 percent of investors distrust the financial advice industry as a whole; and 66 percent of the children of clients will fire their parents’ adviser when they inherit their assets.

I’m sure you’ve heard some of these stats before, and they’re daunting numbers to face. To succeed in the modern world, you have to change the way you communicate. You have to find new ways to attract clients.
Traditionally, most financial planning firms get stuck asking for referrals as the only way of building out a prospect pipeline. That’s really limiting; your ability to generate prospects lacks diversity this way.

And putting outbound or direct marketing tactics first tend to breed even more distrust than is already there. Neither buying the attention of potential clients (through ads) or interrupting and demanding attention (through cold calls or messages) builds authentic connections that allow prospects to feel like they know you (let alone like you).

Think about it: if someone’s first impression of you is as someone trying to sell something (as an ad implies), is the power of your later communication going to be strong enough to convince them you’re there for the relationship, not just to make a sale off their business and trust in you?

Which Would You Rather Do: Create a Space Where People Can Like and Trust You, or Just Keep Selling?

That’s where content marketing makes a difference because you earn your prospective client’s attention. You create, publish, distribute and promote content to attract the right people with the right message and the right time.

Content marketing creates a space where people want to come to you and work with your firm because they trust and like you.

If you sell a product or focus on transactions, you can likely succeed without high-quality content as part of your marketing strategy. You can get away with just scraping information from site visitors using cookies and ad pixels, then use retargeting ads to interrupt a separate web experience those people were having at a later date.

I’m sure this has happened to you—where you’ve visited a site and then that site’s ads follow you around everywhere. Is it effective? Sure. I know it is, because there’s more than one thing I’ve bought after seeing countless ads for it. But that was with a thing, not with a relationship.

If you focus on relationships rather than transactions, you should really consider how you can develop a connection with those site visitors before you make your hard sell. Content allows you to establish yourself as a trusted partner, communicate why you versus the thousands of other financial advisers out there and build a relationship before you ask for anything in return.

You don’t need to sell anyone if you create useful, helpful content. The right content can expand your reach, establish your authority, increase your influence, attract prospects and leads and, most importantly, build trust between you and the people you want to serve.

If I had to declare a winner in the outbound versus inbound marketing debate, I might call it a draw—as long as inbound marketing gets your attention first, and you look to build on it with outbound tactics once you’ve established trust with the people you want to work with.

KaliHawlk
 Kali Hawlk is the founder of Creative Advisor Marketing, an inbound marketing firm that helps financial advisers grow their businesses by creating compelling content to attract prospects and convert leads. She started CAM to give financial pros the right tools to build trust and connections with their audiences, and loves helping advisers find authentic ways to communicate in a way that resonates with the right people.


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5 Marketing Tips for the Brand-New Firm­­­

You’ve got a lot going on if you’re a financial adviser who wants to launch—or just launched—a brand-new financial planning firm. The compliance, the regulations, the tech stack, the operations and administrative tasks—­­­it gets overwhelming fast. And that’s before you even consider how you’re going to spread the word and market your brand-new business.

But by focusing on the little steps that make a big impact, you can gain traction while using your available resources wisely. This is my best advice for advisers with brand-new firms who want to know where to focus their first marketing efforts.

1.) Leverage Your Biggest Asset: Time. Yes, things might feel hectic right now—but if you just started your business, you probably don’t have a full load of client work to get through right now. Take advantage of the most precious resource you can have at your disposal: time!

You don’t need to hire anyone to handle your marketing at this stage of the game. It might make sense to work with a marketing professional to help you nail down your strategy and plan, but you are more than capable of knocking out the to-dos associated with execution of said plan.

There will come a day when you literally don’t have the time to market yourself. For now, make sure you schedule time into your calendar for marketing activities. Those activities could include:

  • Attending networking events or joining local communities of business owners
  • Signing up for directories and professional associations
  • Creating a compelling website that converts visitors into leads
  • Building relationships and connections with reporters and influencers who can help share your story far and wide

…and a lot of other little tasks that you could put on your list. That brings me to my next piece of advice.

2.) Focus on Your Strengths. Are you the world’s biggest introvert who would rather shave off their eyebrows than attend a networking event where you know no one and be forced to make small talk all night?

Networking shouldn’t be a huge part of your marketing strategy then. Don’t put it on your list of marketing tactics to try. It’s common sense, but you’d be amazed at how often advisers doggedly pursue marketing strategies that make no sense for them.

Focusing on your strengths isn’t an excuse to avoid learning something new or to get out of the hard work of doing great marketing, rather it’s a guideline to help you avoid getting bogged down in something that won’t serve you well.

If you have a knack for storytelling but don’t understand how to use live video on Facebook or Instagram stories, then you can learn how to leverage those tools to amplify this skill you already have (telling stories).

Going through your strengths and weaknesses and appropriately—and honestly—categorizing them takes a lot of self-awareness. That’s a skill in itself, and if you feel you may be lacking I highly recommend starting there.

Enroll in a personal development workshop. Identify your strengths and double down on them. Know your weaknesses and be mindful of them. You don’t necessarily need to “fix” them, but you need to be aware so you can focus your energy in places where you can get the most bang for your buck.

3.) Then Focus on Your Strategy. If you’ve read this far, you might be wondering, “Yeah, but what do I DO? What, precisely, should a brand-new financial planning firm’s marketing to-do list look like?”

The thing is, I can’t tell you the exact right thing to do in this article because I don’t know your strategy (and you probably don’t either at this point). I can tell you that if you’re asking, “what should I do?” you’re asking the wrong question and getting stuck in one of the biggest mistakes I see advisers make.

Questions about what to do are questions of tactics. And tactics are useless unless you create a strategy first. Your marketing strategy is like the framework of a house. Wanting to know all the tactics to try first is like walking onto a house with a foundation but no walls and trying to hang pictures.

A marketing strategy is made up of elements like:

  • Your messaging. What are you saying and why? How are you showing up in the world?
  • Your positioning. What place in the market do you occupy, and is it a space where no one else exists?
  • Your branding. What do you want your firm’s reputation to be out in the world? What do people say about your business when you’re not in the room?
  • Your promise. What promise are you making to the people who give you their attention and trust? (A hint: this isn’t about what you do, literally. Your promise is not “financial planning.” Your promise is about a specific outcome a client will receive as a result of your service, and that outcome is probably more about a feeling, emotion or status than anything tangible.)

A good marketing strategy and clear understanding of your audience will allow you to fill in the blanks on the following statement: “We do [WHAT] for [WHO] because [WHY].”

Let’s talk about the “who” in that sentence next.

4.) Decide Who You Are For. You marketing will fail unless you understand who your marketing is for. Who do you want to help? What kind of change do you want to guide those people to make? Why are you the person to take them on this journey? And, equally important, who are you not for?

The more specific you can get with who, the easier it will be to answer those “what” questions in your marketing: what do I do, what tactic do I try, what should I spend money on, what methodology should I use, what platforms should I be on, and so on. Who your audience is largely helps point to the right answers for these questions.

A quick note on this: it is far easier to help someone who wants to be helped, than to seek out a group that stubbornly refuses to change (even though you know they need what you can offer).

When considering your audience and the change you want to help them make, seek out the people who are already open to some kind of change. If your target audience is people who don’t think they need financial planning (even if they would get more benefit from financial planning than anyone else in the world), you’re going to have a hard time with your marketing.

Trying to convince people they’re wrong is tough. Don’t believe me? Go post your political opinion on Facebook with the goal of getting your relatives to finally see the light and understand how wrong they’ve been about their beliefs for the past few years.

5.) My Favorite Marketing Tactics. Look, I get it. You came here for the tactics and I’m preaching about strategy. I don’t want to leave you hanging, so I’ll quickly share my favorite marketing tactics to leverage, especially if you just started your firm:

  • Blogs and article writing. It’s fast, it’s cheap, and it’s an amazing no-barrier-to-entry way to get your ideas to spread. Blog once a week. You have the time right now.
  • In-person networking. A lot of young advisers I talk to don’t want to do the legwork of in-person networking because they’re trying to build virtual businesses. So? Old-fashioned stuff still works. Join a BNI group, find a niche community, volunteer for causes your target audience cares about and reach out to advisers who might make good referral partners. Pound the pavement and always seek to make connections.
  • Online relationship-building. Look for relevant Facebook groups (i.e. groups where your target market is). Follow influencers and interact with them. Find reporters you might want to work with and reach out to introduce yourself and offer to help. Start your own community.
  • Start sampling. No, you can’t give out samples of your product at the grocery store, but you can let people try before you buy. Host free workshops or webinars.

This stuff works better if you can show up to where your audience already is. You don’t need to build from scratch. Go find someone who has the audience you want (but who isn’t an adviser—they shouldn’t be direct competition) and partner up with them.

You don’t want to build on leased land for too long, but leveraging people who already have the audience you want can help you kickstart your own audience growth, since some of those people will follow you back to your own site, platform and brand.

All this being said, I can’t emphasize it enough: tactics are the wrong things to think about if you’ve just begun to market yourself. What you tweet or which networking group you show up to this week feels productive, but often it’s just busywork if it’s happening randomly instead of strategically.

Take the time to lay a strong foundation. Know who you’re for (and who you’re not), what your promise is and how you want to position yourself in the market. The tactics will reveal themselves after that.

KaliHawlk
 Kali Hawlk is the founder of Creative Advisor Marketing, an inbound marketing firm that helps financial advisers grow their businesses by creating compelling content to attract prospects and convert leads. She started CAM to give financial pros the right tools to build trust and connections with their audiences, and loves helping advisers find authentic ways to communicate in a way that resonates with the right people.


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To Find Differentiation, Focus on Your AND

I wrote in my last post about how financial planners need to find ways to avoid using challenges as excuses for poor marketing and the importance of starting simple before adding too much complexity to their marketing efforts. In this post, I want to focus on one specific challenge that many financial planners face when it comes to articulating and promoting their value: commoditization.

Commoditization can be defined as the process by which goods that have economic value and are distinguishable in terms of attributes (uniqueness or brand) end up becoming indistinguishable from their competition in the eyes of the market or consumers. Every lucrative profession must eventually face the specter of commoditization, as the success of individuals or organizations in an industry prompts a flood of new entrants looking to get in on the action.

And financial planning is far from immune. Even given the contraction in the industry and profession over the past decade, there were still more than 300,000 financial advisers in the U.S., including all channels (as of January 2017). Yes, this number includes all of the different tiers and types of “advisers,” and the case could be made that true financial planners are a cut above the rest. The case could also be made that a good portion of the American consumer public does not grasp that there’s a difference at all, much less what that difference is.

The mantle then falls to financial planners to dramatize that level of differentiation, not only as it pertains to separating themselves from competing planners, but also in helping consumers understand the problems you can help them solve. Yet, if that was easy, we wouldn’t have a commoditization problem in the first place. The process of finding differentiation can require profound soul-searching, and may force you to dig as deeply into the weaknesses in your practice as you delve into your strengths. You may even find that what got you here (your recipe for past success) won’t get you there, and that can be a tough pill to swallow.

That said, I believe it’s a process that’s worth your time, as knowing who you are, who you are not and why your clients should care will serve as the foundation of your marketing for years to come. The following are a few tips to help you get started.

Do you remember the Coke Zero advertisement in which a young man is shown in a variety of different situations asking “and?” when receiving a reward (like an ice cream cone)? (FACT: describing commercials always makes them sound far worse than they actually are, so there’s a link above to watch it). The commercial does an excellent job of visually and verbally illustrating Coke Zero’s tagline of “real Coke taste AND zero calories,” but is also a useful way to think about differentiation.

In other words, what’s your AND? What do you, or your firm, offer that makes you truly different? Many planners and even large financial services organizations are still providing prospective customers with a laundry list of benefits, with a few awards sprinkled in, and calling it “marketing.” These are often lists of the things that every organization or individual does: “creation of a personalized financial plan,” “maximizing client investments” or “minimizing taxes.” If a prospective client was being direct, they would likely respond to these messages by saying, “You had better do those things.”

Essentially, planners are focusing on the baseline, what’s expected, when they should be focused on what sets them apart. As your differentiator must be unique (obviously), I can’t tell you exactly what you will find, but I do believe that, as a true financial planner, the act of planning itself (and why you spend the time to do it) could play a significant role. To most consumers, financial planning is not about investment selection or rate of return—it’s about the peace of mind that comes with knowing that they have done the work to prepare to fund an uncertain future. This makes the financial planner much more than someone with whom they are completing a transaction; the planner becomes one of the few critical trusted confidantes that their client can call upon in a time of need.

Great marketing does not ask prospects to sift through the message to find the benefit or feature that speaks to them. Great marketing shows the prospect that what the organization or individual cares about most is solving their most important problem. Find that problem, articulate your solution, and you will have found your AND.

Dan_Martin_Headshot

Dan Martin is the Director of Marketing for the Financial Planning Association, the principal professional organization for CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM (CFP®) professionals, educators, financial services professionals and students who seek advancement in a growing, dynamic profession. You can follow Dan on Twitter at @DanW_Martin and on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/danmartinmarketing.

 


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4 Steps to Use Public Speaking to Attract More Clients

Financial planners are always looking for a way to find new clients. However, many people fail to find effective marketing methods to do that.

This situation does have a solution. As a public speaking and marketing consultant, I find that most financial planners can become more successful by using public speaking in their marketing plan.

Here, I’ll outline the many speaking opportunities that you can use to attract more business. There are thousands of groups in need of a guest speaker at their meetings and conferences. A few examples include: business groups, charity groups, associations, corporations, conferences, conventions, organizations, schools and colleges, professional groups, churches, special interest groups and many other types of groups and organizations.

Now, let’s take a look at an example of a possible small marketing plan that uses public speaking. Imagine if a financial planner started by giving a 30-minute speech each week to different groups with an average attendance of 50 people per group. In a period of 50 weeks, you would have spoken to 2,500 people. Also, you would have the chance to answer their questions and shake hands with them. Just imagine how many potential new clients and customers you might attain from giving 50 speeches each year about your products or services.

Also, you might acquire many referrals as you start speaking to a variety of groups and organizations. Furthermore, this is just a starting point. Many ambitious financial planners with large financial goals can start giving 50 to 200 speeches each year and they can start speaking to much larger groups.

So, you might be wondering, why isn’t everyone using public speaking to get more business? Well, there are two main obstacles that keep people from using public speaking. First, public speaking is a very common fear for most people. The second obstacle is that most of us were never told that public speaking is a great marketing tool for attracting new customers. So, as a result, we never bothered to learn how to use public speaking to gain more clients.

But, there is good news. We can learn to conquer these two obstacles.

When I coach many kinds of business people in my seminars and teleseminars, I use what I call the “Four-Step Plan.” All four steps are very important if you want your public speaking to be successful.

Step No. 1: Know Your Reason or Goal for Becoming A Public Speaker. Think about the specific goal that you want to achieve by giving speeches. For example, you might want to get 100 new clients or earn an extra $100,000 in the next year. Now, each person may have their own goal, but make sure that you have a specific goal to aim for. Having a specific goal will motivate you to put in the effort required for making your public speaking successful.

Step No. 2: You Must Have a Slow and Safe Way To Practice Public Speaking. Since public speaking is a very common fear, you’re going to need a slow and safe way to build our confidence as speakers. This can be accomplished in small supportive groups or seminars, where people can practice giving speeches at their own pace.

Step No. 3: Be Willing to Use Public Speaking All The Time. Here, you have to decide if you’re willing to use public speaking on a regular basis. For example, if you give one or two speeches each week, you’ll discover that you have given between 50 to 100 speeches in a 50-week period. It’s this kind of commitment that will make public speaking an effective marketing tool for getting new clients and customers.

Step No. 4: The Business Side of Public Speaking. This involves learning how to make public speaking profitable by: getting paid to speak, giving free lectures in order to get new clients and referrals, getting speaking engagements at local community groups, business groups, associations, corporations, conferences, conventions, organizations, schools and colleges, professional groups, churches and many other types of groups and organizations. You will also start developing a strong “pitch” that will get groups interested in having you speak on your financial topics.

Overall, it’s important to know that public speaking can make you a well-known financial planner. It is also a great way to put you in front of many potential new clients. Finally, you will also have the chance to speak at a variety of groups and organizations that have the ability to make many referrals to you.

Edward Martin

Dr. Edward Martin is a public speaking and marketing consultant. He offers seminars and teleseminars on, “How To Attract New Customers And Clients By Using Public Speaking.” For more information, call Dr. Martin at 818-314-2054 or email him.

 


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Financial Planners, Stop Making Excuses and Start Marketing

Collectively, the financial services industry and, more specifically, the members of and advocates for the financial planning profession have done an atrocious job of articulating the value we provide. There are certainly exceptions to this rule, but on the whole, I think most of us can agree that we can do a lot better.

And, as you all know, the stakes are not trivial. Sure, our jobs and livelihoods depend on the health and future existence of the profession, but in the end, it’s not really about us. It’s about the millions of investors who need and deserve access to objective advice and support in planning to fund a future packed with variables, potential potholes and uncertainty.

Having worked with financial planners for more than a decade, I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. In this profession, I’ve met some of the most selfless, generous and philanthropic people I’ve ever had the honor to know, and truly believe that these planners can and do change the lives of those who choose to work with them.

As a marketer, however, I have come across the same excuses from planners for poor or non-existent marketing, and it’s time for all of us to commit to changing the paradigm. Yes, we face some distinct challenges, but we’re no worse off than industries like health care, featuring regulations at least as strict as those in financial services, or marketing technology, in which commoditization is arguably a far bigger issue than it is for financial planners, or donation-based non-profit associations, in which the lack of resources is a daily struggle.

The point being, we need to stop letting people tell us that it’s OK to do the bare minimum when it comes to marketing or, in some cases, not do it at all, because our industry and profession are “a different animal.” The challenges we face are all real obstacles and I’m not attempting to minimize them in any way, but I do believe they are mostly a distraction from what really needs to be done to promote yourself and your practice in a healthy way.

I’ll leave the full conversation about how marketing is defined for a separate post, if only to say that I think it’s extremely easy to overcomplicate the concepts of marketing and promotion, especially for those not exposed to the jargon every day. I want to make the case that, for financial planners, keeping it simple can be a foundation on which to build and a great place to start.

You don’t have to be a marketing expert to be able to articulate your value to current and future clients, you don’t need millions of dollars to build a strong brand and you don’t need to post on social media every few minutes to become a part of the conversation. Search engine optimization, search engine marketing, digital advertising, marketing automation and content management systems are all important tools in maximizing the value of a marketing program, but together or separately, they have no value without the story they are built upon.

Thus, before making your list of tactics on how to reach your audience, the systems and tools you need to get in front of the right people and the right time, and the spreadsheet identifying the return on investment for every marketing dollar that goes out the door, spend time crafting, reworking and solidifying the story about you and your practice, about your clients (not you), and that you believe with every fiber of your soul to be fundamentally, irrevocably true.

The term “authenticity” is now so pervasive in conversations about marketing, promotion or online content that it’s routinely included on lists of overused buzz words. And yet, nothing could be more important when it comes to earning new clients, and perhaps more importantly, making sure they are clients for life. At its most basic level, marketing is and always has been, about showing the world (and your current and prospective clients as a subset) who you are, what you stand for and why you care so deeply about helping them solve their problems. If you believe in the story you’ve created, and the way you show up for your audience every day (such as your clients, prospects, your family or the Twitterverse) reflects that story, others will begin to believe in it too.

So why isn’t everyone doing this? Well, it’s not easy to come up with a concise story in the first place. It’s much easier (although ill-advised) to attempt to be all things to all people—this is why it’s often far more difficult to write a one-sentence mission statement than a 2,000-word article. Even those who do have a concerted story may struggle to stick to it, as tough times will bring the temptation to walk back on commitments or to make seemingly small adjustments to appease important stakeholders that can take away from the power of a story over time.

For those who have worked under the traditional model of marketing throughout their careers, focusing less on the quantity of tactics going out the door and content that’s all about what makes them great in favor of marketing that’s about help, not hype (to quote the legendary marketing mind Jay Baer), will be inherently uncomfortable. But isn’t nearly everything worth doing uncomfortable at the beginning?

I firmly believe that a story infused with passion, centered on transparency and guided by truth can be a difference maker for you and your practice. For those willing to take the plunge, my advice to help you get started is to:

  • Embrace your weaknesses. No true story focuses only on the positives.
  • Be vulnerable. Showing emotion doesn’t make you weak, it can make you strong.
  • Broadcast your passion. It’s better to be too passionate than to look like you don’t care.
  • Narrow your vision. Don’t worry about alienating those who are unlikely to be your clients; focus on your ideal prospects and make your message about them.
  • Focus on what matters to your clients. Eliminate the things that every financial planner offers, and center on how you can help clients relieve their pain points and solve their problems.
  • Have fun. Your enjoyment in telling/showing your story can be contagious; let others know how much you love what you do.

Happy storytelling!

Dan_Martin_Headshot

Dan Martin is the Director of Marketing for the Financial Planning Association, the principal professional organization for CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM (CFP®) professionals, educators, financial services professionals and students who seek advancement in a growing, dynamic profession. You can follow Dan on Twitter at @DanW_Martin and on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/danmartinmarketing.


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Why Don’t People Work with You? Here Are 3 Reasons to Consider

Your firm offers a solution that people need.

So why don’t you have a line of people out your door, begging to work with you?

For one, people don’t know what you know—if they did, you could look out your window right now and see a crowd of people clamoring for your attention.

The job of good marketing is to communicate your value to people who would make excellent clients for your firm—and to do so in a way that resonates with them.

Pro tip: that might require that you talk more about your problem than your solution.

But let’s assume you’re already doing that. Let’s say your marketing does an excellent job of communicating the right message to the appropriate people at a time when they need what you offer.

Yet you still fail to get new clients in the door. What’s going on?

The Main Reasons Your Perfect Prospect Walks Away

There are countless reasons people make the decisions they do. Some are obvious and overt. Some are more subtle and harder to understand.

The first reason we, as the people making the offer, often jump to is, “people just don’t know about me yet.” Or we say, “people just don’t understand the value of what I’m offering yet.”

Those are easy. Sometimes it’s true. But many times, they’re more like excuses for yourself than reasons people don’t hire you.

If people just don’t know about you, go place advertisements in your local paper or pay to rank for important key terms like “financial planner in [your town],” or “fee-only CFP® for doctors.”

When people still don’t hire you, you can no longer say it’s because they aren’t aware you’re there for them.

When it comes to the financial planning industry, we need to dig deeper to find the main reasons people don’t work with your firm (even when it would be to their own benefit to hire you as their planner).

Here are some of the real reasons perfect prospects choose to walk away from your ideal solution for their needs.

They’re afraid of change. Going from the state of being that is called, “I don’t have a financial planner or a financial plan,” to “I have a financial planner and plan” requires a change. Some people get overwhelmed by that change.

It’s human nature to be afraid of change before you have to go through it. There’s a big unknown on the other side—even when that change is probably going to be good for you.

So we get stuck or refuse to take action, because we don’t want to deal with the discomfort of altering our current state of being.

When you market your firm, consider how you can make that change less scary. Usually, that means eliminating uncertainty and making it very, very clear what’s involved with the process.

They have a problem different from the one you’re trying to address. When you market your business, you need to understand what problems and challenges people have. Then you can offer a solution or provide relief.

The thing is, understanding the root of someone’s problem is really hard. It’s more art than science, and requires a little bit of research, a lot of empathy and a dash of guesswork.

As we discussed a few months ago, you can (and should!) ask your audience what they want from you. But you have to do that knowing people:

  • Might not know what they want.
  • Don’t want to tell you what they want.
  • Can’t articulate what they want.

In identifying someone’s problem—even when they explicitly tell you what the problem is—there is always room for error. You might misidentify the problem. You might misunderstand it and represent it the wrong way in your marketing.

As a result, your perfect prospect is going to walk away thinking, “this firm doesn’t understand my actual challenge.”

Always work to hone your message and your market research. Obsess over understanding your market and take consistent action to get deeper and more accurate insights on how they think.

They don’t trust you. When it comes to the financial industry, this is the reason of all reasons that a prospect won’t work with you. They just don’t trust you.

They don’t trust that you have their best interests at heart, they don’t trust that you’ll deliver on your promises, they don’t trust you can do what you say you can do… the list goes on.

It’s a very simple problem that can feel impossible to solve. It’s going to take time and a lot of effort—but you can win people’s trust before they work with you.

Here are a few ways to do it:

  • Always be authentic. Strive for transparency and full disclosure.
  • Use content to show people who you are (don’t just tell them). Share personal stories and experiences. Deliver that content as if you were sharing it with just one person (so be personable; don’t act like you’re delivering an address full of facts to a faceless crowd).
  • Make it easy for people to learn more about you and understand how you work before they have to commit.
  • Don’t carefully guard your processes, knowledge or ideas. Share them freely and distribute them widely. People who are open and generous with their knowledge attract far more paying clients than those who are mysterious, secretive and stingy.

If you’re struggling to get clients in the door, don’t just assume it’s a failure on the part of your target market—like a failure of being aware you exist or a failure to understand how fantastic your firm is.

Consider taking responsibility instead. Consider if one of these reasons might be the cause. Doing so will lead you to far more productive action than just shouting louder for attention, or arguing more aggressively to make your case that you’re better than the other guys.

KaliHawlk
 Kali Hawlk is the founder of Creative Advisor Marketing, an inbound marketing firm that helps financial advisers grow their businesses by creating compelling content to attract prospects and convert leads. She started CAM to give financial pros the right tools to build trust and connections with their audiences, and loves helping advisers find authentic ways to communicate in a way that resonates with the right people.


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Six Steps to a Great 2018 Marketing Plan

It’s not too early to prepare to rev up your marketing machine for 2018. To help you get started on your marketing plan and calendar, here are six steps we recommend:

Step 1: Begin with a review of your marketing results for the current year.

  • Check your stats for the number of new client households joining your practice this year, as well as the total amount of new assets brought in.
  • What percentage of your new clients would you consider ideal?
  • How were these new clients acquired?
  • What percentage of new assets came from new versus existing clients?

Step 2: What are your marketing goals for the new year?

  • How many new ideal households do you want to bring in?
  • How much increase do you want to see in new assets under management?
  • What is your total revenue goal? How would you break down that goal by sources, such as planning fees, AUM fees, other?

Step 3: Review and refine, or redefine, how you define your target/ideal client.

  • What quantitative factors do you look for?
  • What qualitative factors do you want to see?
  • What are the typical needs and concerns that your target/ideal clients have?
  • What are the unique qualifications that enable you or your practice to serve these target/ideal clients?

Step 4: Review and refine, or redefine, your marketing messaging. How do you tell your story so that it:

  • Connects with your prospective clients?
  • Speaks to their concerns and challenges?
  • Demonstrates your ability to help them?
  • Differentiates you from everyone else?
  • Compellingly calls them to action?

Step 5: What are the strategies that you plan to put in place that will enable you to get your story to exactly the people who need to hear it—your target/ideal clients? Here are some suggested strategies to consider.

  • Raise brand awareness. What will you do to make your message (who we are, what we do, how we’re different from our competitors) known in your community and particularly to your target/ideal client?
  • Promote referrals from existing clients. What will you do to motivate your clients to introduce you to ideal prospective clients they know who need the help you provide?
  • Develop relationships with centers of influence. What will you do to establish and develop relationships with COIs that will lead to their connecting you with ideal prospective clients?
  • What other strategies will you use to engage and develop relationships with target/ideal clients?

Step 6: After deciding on your strategies, it’s time to lay out your marketing calendar, so that each month has specific events and activities that relate to your chosen strategies.

Start with your biggest and most important strategies and events, and get them on your calendar first. Then you can fill in the smaller activities as appropriate. Some planners like to include themes for certain months or seasons of the year.

Events and activities could include:

  • Client social events. Strengthen your client relationships and provide opportunities for them to introduce their friends to you in a relaxed, comfortable setting
  • Educational events. Educational events could include small workshops in your office or local library, presentations to established organizations, or teaching adult education classes at a community college or university.
  • Letters, newsletters and blog articles. Written communications provide an opportunity to showcase your knowledge and expertise in areas of interest to clients and prospective clients, and are easy to share for referral purposes.
  • Notes, cards and gifts. Individual reminders that you are thinking of your clients and prospective clients help keep you top of mind and strengthen relationships.
  • Relationships with COIs. The best relationships with centers of influence develop over time with lots of nurturing, including one-on-one meetings discussing common concerns and challenges.
  • Community involvement. Engagement with and for non-profits and community organizations can help build your brand, enable people to experience the benefits of knowing you and get your story to more people.
  • Networking. Active networking can be done many ways and in many places—in your neighborhood, at social gatherings and while enjoying your favorite sports or recreational activities.
  • Other. You are limited only by your imagination in opportunities to engage with others who could become ideal clients or who could introduce you to your target or ideal clients.

If you are energized and ready to get started but need a little more structure, we would be happy to provide a 2018 marketing plan and calendar template that incorporates the concepts described here. Just send us an email and we’ll forward the template right back to you.

susan-kornegay
Susan Kornegay, CFP® is a consultant and coach with Pathfinder Strategic Solutions in Knoxville, Tenn.