From the November 2009 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

November 1, 2009

Marketing Is Everyone's Job

To harness young advisors' energy and motivation to help with marketing, and maximize their contributions to their firms, firm owners who employ NexGen advisors should consider including the following ideas into their strategic marketing initiatives as they work to attract more new clients and grow their revenues:

o Create a strategic marketing plan. Because most advisors haven't focused much on marketing, chances are the majority of firms don't have any formal (or anything even approaching formal) plan for their marketing efforts. Now that many owner/advisors are warming to the notion that they need to actively work on attracting new clients, the typical approach is to try whatever idea comes to mind at the moment (or is suggested by a younger advisor): an e-mail asking for referrals, throwing a reception for local attorneys, beefing up your Web site (or creating a Web site if you still don't have one), etc.

In order or them to be truly effective and cost efficient, your marketing efforts need to be both focused and coordinated. And that means sitting down and thinking strategically about what would be best for your firm (its niche, its image, its target client market, and how to best reach them), who would be best at doing those things, and when--and in what order--these things should be done.

o Make marketing a job for the whole firm. Typically, marketing (which consists primarily of "rainmaking") is the job of the owner/advisor(s), while the rest of the firm focuses on servicing new and existing clients. To be more effective, take marketing out of the "black box" in the owner's office, and involve the whole firm. Hold firm-wide meetings to talk about marketing, the firm's brand, it's image in the community, and it's marketing materials. Let everyone contribute ideas (you never know where a great idea will come from) and try to include some part of the firm's marketing efforts into everyone's job.

o Identify and support a rainmaker. Most advisory firms don't have the resources or the talent to have more than one "rainmaker," that is, the person whose job it is to go out and get new clients. In most firms, it's the firm owner, but it could be any advisor in the firm, depending upon the mix of advisors' interests and abilities. Whomever gets the job--and to grow your firm, you need at least one--make it a significant part of their job if not their whole job, not just something they do in their spare time. And commit the entire firm to supporting them in doing that job, bringing in new clients, by giving them the time and the resources they need to succeed. The whole firm may very well depend on their efforts.

o Let a NexGen advisor manage your website. Survey after survey shows that today's more cautious financial consumers are doing more research than ever before selecting a new financial advisor. And for most people, that research starts on the Web. There's really no getting around it: to compete in today's market, financial advisors can't afford not to have an attractive and informative Web site. To create and maintain such a Web site is going to take time and a few dollars, both spent by someone who knows what makes a Site good or bad, and what the best sites do to impress users, and keep them coming back. Chances are in your firm, that's a younger advisor: they've grown up using the Web, and have a feel for it that most baby boomers never will. If there's one place a NexGen advisor can really add value, it's to help bring your firm--and the advisory profession--into the 21st Century.

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