Mike Byrnes, who’s worked in the financial service marketing space since 1992, has seen his fair share of marketing mistakes among financial advisors.
“[Advisors] didn’t grow up in the marketing and sometimes sales world,” he said.
“There’s definitely a lot of mistakes in the marketing world,” he said. “[Advisors] need to be very strategic about what they’re doing and be focused. And then just have the right tactics — even if they’re a mistake, learn from it. If they’re the right tactics, they’re going to be really happy and they’re going to increase their business size or whatever goal they’re trying to accomplish.”
Byrnes founded his own marketing consulting firm, Byrnes Consulting LLC, in April 2008. His services include business planning, marketing strategy, business development, client service and management effectiveness. He spoke with ThinkAdvisor about these five specific mistakes he sees in advisors’ marketing strategies:
1. Not defining their target market
If advisors narrow their focus and define a target market, they’re going to be more successful, according to Byrnes.
“It really is obvious the firms that struggle with marketing if they just say ‘we want a client to come in that has $500,000 or more, or a million or more.’ To me, that’s too broad,” Byrnes told ThinkAdvisor. “They need to get more specific.”
If advisors can visualize the type of client they want to walk in the door — the prospective client — then they’re more likely to be successful with their marketing to get that client.
Byrnes used the example of widows versus corporate executives as prospective target markets. And how with target markets, advisors can be strategic and develop alliances.
For example, with widows, advisors could market to a grief counselor to build out a strategic alliance. Meanwhile, with corporate execs, advisors may want to partner with a business coach or headhunter.
If advisors know their target market, they can also hold targeted events to attract the prospective clients they want.
“For widows, you could have a widow’s group, a travel club — because they’re really sad because they lost their significant other so they stop traveling — or a Valentine’s Day party — because they’re pretty sad on Valentine’s Day,” Byrnes explained.
Meanwhile, an advisor could hold an “How to Deal with Corporate Stock Plans” event if he or she is trying to attract corporate execs.
“If you did the Valentine’s Day for corporate executives, that would seem a little creepy maybe,” Byrnes said.
2. Not having a strategy with specific tactics that will deliver results
Advisors need to have a plan and “stick to it,” Byrnes said.
“Too often we see that if things are too generic, [advisors] don’t know where to focus their efforts,” he told ThinkAdvisor. “There’s a limited amount of resources — which I always say is time and dollars — and if they know what kind of client they want, their strategy can be ... more specific.”
Their plan should include marketing tactics and tools, like event marketing, direct mail, email, online marketing, social media, PR and advertising.
“If they have a really well thought out plan, the marketing is very trackable so you can see if those tactics are working, and each year your marketing plan should get that much better and better,” Byrnes explained. “You learn and see what worked and what didn’t work.”
So how do advisors come up with a strategy with specific tactics?
According to Byrnes, this strategy loops into the larger business plan.
“So if they have a goal to grow, let’s say, 20% year after year. How are they going to grow?” he explained. “Are they going to do it from client referrals? From strategic alliances? From new business? From mergers and acquisitions? And then they need to make a plan specific to all those different buckets.”
According to Byrnes, advisors should be asking themselves the following questions to determine what strategies and tactics to use.
“If it’s referrals, what are [advisors] doing to get the clients to introduce them?” he said. “If it’s strategic alliances, are there things like joint mailings or shared PR or events that [advisors] could do together [with these alliances]? And are [advisors] building the right relationships?”
3. Not having a mobile-friendly approach
The vast majority of advisors have websites. But are their websites mobile-friendly?
“[Advisors] get the importance of online marketing, but there’s some that still are not realizing the power of the smartphone,” Byrnes said.
When Byrnes Consulting reviews advisors marketing programs, it often sees that advisors are focusing in on the desktop world, aka a bigger screen. Because of this, Byrnes says, their email marketing is “terrible.” And, he adds, that email marketing is usually advisors' main way of communicating with prospects.
Because advisors are desktop-focused, they often send out huge chunks of text. Rather, Byrnes says, advisors “need to have digestible content if you’re looking at it on a smartphone.”
He adds that sometimes advisors don’t even have mobile-friendly templates.
“If anybody has to squeeze or pinch their screen to make sure the website or email or whatever they’re looking at fits, [the advisor] probably lost somebody,” Byrnes said. “Somebody’s going to get frustrated in two seconds, so that communication has completely failed.”
According to Byrnes, any advisor that’s not focused on the smartphone first needs to tweak or “vastly” improve his or her marketing strategy.
4. Not having a lead-generating website
The other common mistake that Byrnes Consulting sees is that advisors do not have good lead-generating websites.
“If they have a lead come to their website, they don’t do a very good job of capturing that lead,” Byrnes explained.
To have a good lead-generating website, advisors need to know their target market, in order to offer them something for which they're willing to trade their contact information, Byrnes said.
In the marketing world, they call this a “freemium,” Byrnes says.
“In a world where nobody wants another email – there are too many emails in the world right now – what would someone risk getting more emails for because they had to have that piece of content?” Byrnes said.
That content can be a book, e-book, white paper or a simple two-paged flyer.
These “freemiums” can be placed on the homepage or can be specific to any page on the website, according to Byrnes.
“If they’re on the page where an advisor is describing his retirement home services, have a freemium that’s related to that,” he said. “If they’re talking about family wealth and issues with multigenerational families, have a thing that says something like … ‘Here’s 10 Pieces of Advice for Families and Transferring Wealth.’”
5. Not having a winning content marketing strategy
“What advisors need to realize is that they’re now in the publishing business,” Byrnes said. “They now need to think about sharing content on a regular basis.” It’s how they can be found, it’s how they can win over a prospect, it’s how their clients can share out to their networks and how advisors can get referrals.
What makes a “winning” content marketing strategy?
According to Byrnes, advisors’ content marketing needs to demonstrate to people what they do, not just tell them what they do.
For example, if an advisor wants to attract widows, saying “here’s five things you need to know if you’re about to lose your significant other” means more than saying “this is how we help widows.”
Another important aspect of a content marketing strategy, according to Byrnes, is that advisors should show their personal side if they’re working with families and individuals.
“We often see that the personal side of the content gets clicked on more than the professional side,” he explained. “If you do a Charity Day, take pictures, do a video, tell a story about it. And compare that to your market outlook. See what do clients click on more?”
One of the common flaws that Byrnes Consulting sees with many content marketing strategies is advisors want their content to be exclusive for their clients.
If it’s private, advisors lose out on the search engine optimization benefits of keeping it public and they lose all kinds of lead potential, according to Byrnes.
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