Whenever the financial advisers in our network ask me for digital marketing advice, I say the same thing every time: marketing is so much more than marketing.
Yeah, that look on your face right now is one I get a lot, and understandably so. It sounds like a bunch of pseudo-marketing nonsense. It’s like that scene in the movie “Cars” when Doc Hudson tells Lightning McQueen, “If you turn hard enough left, you’ll go right.” (Yes, I know some toddlers. Why do you ask?)
There are so many buzzwords out there, even I get a headache. Everyone wants actionable information. If I didn’t know better, I’d cock a brow myself.
I Promise—It Isn’t Nonsense
I have no problem with advisers and planners who really want to hone SEO strategies for their digital presence. And I certainly will always encourage them to have a solid experience in place on social media—be it Facebook, LinkedIn or any other platform. I’d support more traditional marketing practices like targeted-mail drops or billboard ads. They all work, if properly planned and executed.
All well and good, but it’s only a part of the puzzle.
CWA Network co-founder John Enright says advisers need to “plant seeds to grow trees,” and that’s exactly what all wealth planners should strive to accomplish when providing comprehensive financial planning. Your marketing game may be on point, but none of it will matter if the experience you’re providing isn’t up to par. It won’t matter if what you do is exactly like what everyone else does. It won’t matter if you don’t make your practice as unique as you are.
You Are Your Brand
You’ve probably heard this before. You are your own person with a unique set of skills and weaknesses. Your practice is more than the visual identity you’ve created. It’s more than your slogan. It’s all about the tiny, little details that most advisers don’t even think about. The experience you offer your prospects (and then clients) is what becomes your strongest marketing strategy. John never prospects. Ever. He used to—when he worked 70-hour weeks and never saw his family. That’s what pushed him to create a system that did the marketing for him. Now, he pulls in a cool $2 million in AUM and takes every Friday off to be with his family. He never makes a single prospecting call. He doesn’t do any marketing of any kind. His business markets itself.
Okay, Enough Bragging, Kristina. How Do I Know I’m on the Right Track?
It starts with the right onboarding system in place. Logos, a snazzy website and brochures mean little without tying them to the best client experience you can offer. Your practice’s brand is more about the actions you take. It’s about the actual values you present from the day they walk into your office. It’s about the attention to detail. It’s about your follow-up, your technical abilities and how much you actually care. Pretty colors and nice sounds are all fine—but they are useless unless your actions back them up. During the first meeting you have with a prospect, you should have three goals:
- Understand your prospect’s most important objectives
- Lay out a plan that shows them how you’re going to get there
- Gather enough documents and data so that you can prove that you’re the right adviser to help
If you’re not sure you’re doing these three things right now, ask yourself if:
- Your prospect walks away with a very clear idea of how they’re going to meet their goals with you as their adviser
- Your process focuses on objectives that the prospect is concerned about enough to fix
- Your process identifies areas and real issues that haven’t even crossed your prospect’s mind
- Your process is educational, not sales-y (I can’t stress this one enough)
- You help your prospects buy and don’t sell to them
- Your initial fee is small compared to the value you have delivered in the last two steps, but your ongoing fees accurately reflect the value you will deliver when they become clients and go through your entire planning
Be a One-Stop Shop
Your prospect probably deals with a handful of professionals to manage their money. Their time is valuable, just like yours, so the more services you can provide them, the better! The foundation of your “do-it-for-you marketing” machine is turning your practice into a one-stop shop. Having a coordinated planning process shows the client that you’re the master of your domain—that they can put all their trust in you and it validates the fee you charge. They probably have an adviser for investments, another for taxes, etc. Be their supercenter. Offer it all in one neat, customized package and they’ll be so pleased with the experience you’ve provided that they won’t be able to help telling their colleagues and family about you.
Not Enough Advisers Offer Comprehensive Planning
You’re more than an investment adviser. You’re more than someone who pushes around money. You’re an educated professional who can improve people’s lives and bring financial security and help them meet their goals. Again, you can continue to run digital ads or segment time each month to cold-call, but to what end? By offering every aspect of planning, from estate planning and taxes to business exit and retirement (and more) and attaching your unique set of values and personality, you’ll create an experience worth bragging about.