Marketing for financial advisors – beyond gift baskets

by John Furgurson on April 30, 2009

It was one hell of a gift basket, piled high with an assortment of treats and trinkets. Not unusual for the holiday season, except it came from my financial planner.

First gift ever.  The crux of most financial planner marketing.

46e19784-00075-06bdb-400cb8e1

Seven-story corporate headquarters of Longaberger's Basket Company, Newark Ohio.

Apparently, the stock market’s spiraling decline inspired her to do a little preemptive marketing.

Like most small, professional service firms, her marketing efforts are inversely related to her current cash flow. When the markets are up and she’s riding high, her marketing expenses are low. She’s too busy — and content— to worry about it. When things are tough, it’s time to turn on the charm. It’s human nature.

Unfortunately, her current clients see the effort for what it is. (Just buttering us up for the bad news to come.) And new prospects aren’t swayed because her personal brand isn’t strong enough to weather the whims of Wall Street.

Her brand has no credibility right now. No differentiation. And little visibility. The only good thing you can say is she didn’t work for WaMu or one of the big investments banks.

Here’s an example of the typical marketing plan for an independent financial advisor.

• Monthly Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting.

• Christmas card to all clients. (Gift baskets are typically reserved for only the top three or four clients.)

• One-page, off-the shelf website, never to be touched once it’s up.

• Annual guest speaker luncheon. (Bring in a so-called “expert” spokesperson, book a room at a local hotel, cater lunch and then bore us to tears. If I wanted to know all that stuff, I’d do my own trading.)

It’s more of a tactical to-do list than an actual marketing plan. In the past it might have worked. She could get by on her good looks and good news from a bull market.

Not any more.

Compensation for independent financial advisors is typically based either on a flat fee, or on a percentage of the total assets under management (AUM). If it’s $100 million of other people’s money, they typically make 1% of that. A million bucks gross. The problem is, they’ve all seen a 30-40% drop in AUM, so they’re scrambling to find new clients.

Most are just ratcheting-up their networking efforts, hoping for more word-of-mouth. But some have discovered a new, more lucrative pipeline: Internet-based lead generation services.

It’s pretty simple. Advisors sign up with an independent web directory and they pay only for highly qualified referrals. Very little effort for financial advisors. Very big ROI.

Independent, third-party directories also fill a vital role for consumers: They help simplify  the search and match prospects with a financial advisor who fits. It’s a vexing decision, choosing someone to handle your life savings. And most financial advisor web sites  have the same, stock-photo look, and the same brochure-style copy.

On-line directories have been done successfully in the education market, travel, real estate,  and the auto industry. So why not financial advisors?

When prospects go on line to research “financial advisors” they begin with Google. But Google  can’t sort or organize the category in a helpful way. That’s where directories come in…  they categorize advisors, provide details on specific services and nudge prospects along in the decision making process. So independent advisors get a steady stream of very qualified leads and search engine optimization they could never achieve on their own.

In this day and age, having a web presence beyond just a static website is a marketing no-brainer. If you really are an expert financial planner, share your knowledge by writing a blog. Create a Facebook page. Join a social network like Linked In or Triiibes. Establish a presence for you and your personal brand in places where your direct competitors aren’t. Do something, ANYTHING, that’s different from what you’ve always done.

Most professionals who run small service businesses believe  networking is enough. But that’s not the case right now for financial advisors. There’s no gift basket big enough for the job ahead. It’s time to start employing some new marketing tactics.

If you want an idea that will dramatically differentiate you from all the other hungry advisors and help you retain clients without the use of lavish gifts, send me an e-mail: johnf@bnbranding.com.

Tiny URL for this post:
 

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Suzanne Muusers September 7, 2009 at 12:56 am

I found this post while surfing. You make some very good points about how advisors are marketing themselves right now. The gift basket was ill timed and not a good idea. You are right on about advisors needing to increase their online profile. Everyone is using the internet to find everything from products to financial planners, so the static website should be a thing of the past. Advisors need to change up their online marketing efforts. Thanks for the excellent content! Suzanne

Gifts November 27, 2009 at 9:13 pm

WOW – that is one amazing building!

IRA January 14, 2010 at 10:16 am

Thank you so much, there aren’t enough posts on this… keep up the good work

Sample Hardship letter January 18, 2010 at 1:13 am

Great post! keep them comin… thanks for all your hard work.

Self Esteem January 18, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Thank you so much, Great information… You keep writing and I’ll keep reading.

Retirement Planning January 10, 2011 at 10:44 pm

This was indeed filled with lots of really good information. I liked the creative “Gift Basket” idea. Really wonderful job.

Daisy October 19, 2014 at 3:39 am

Wonderful article! We are linking to this great post on our website.

Keep up the good writing.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

google-site-verification: google2637d0a92b6ad071.html