Beginning when we’re young, we’re taught simple principles about how to treat others. The most well-known is probably The Golden Rule: Treat others like you want to be treated. In the world of financial advice, that archetype of how to treat others can be seen in the Fiduciary Rule.
While acting as a fiduciary is always top of mind for RIA firms, the idea has really caught on fire between the going...going...mostly gone DOL Fiduciary Rule and the many recent think-pieces coming from fintech CEOs about the role of technology in the advisor’s role as a fiduciary.
Commonly, being a fiduciary has been understood as it relates to managing the financial well-being of a given client. I’d like to offer another area where advisors should act in a fiduciary manner: marketing. The way an advisor markets his firm can touch every aspect of his business, leaving clients and prospects alike feeling either valued or not.
Here are three areas of your business where you can become a marketing fiduciary:
1. Your Approach With Prospects
Managing finances for clients as a fiduciary means solely putting their best interest first. Marketing to prospects should also follow this “best interest” rule.
When a new lead comes in, firms often look at two things: assets and where the new lead falls in the sales funnel—do they need some validation to become a qualified lead, or are they ready to buy? A new prospect, though, is not just a deal to be added to the bottom line. That line of thinking doesn’t fall into the “best interest” category.
Exceptional marketing focuses on the prospect, not the advisor or the firm. When a firm is first beginning a discussion with a new lead, its staff should be figuring out what the prospect needs most, and then address how they serve that unique situation.
Even before a prospect is ever engaged, exceptional firms will operate with an open-handed, educational approach to marketing their services and expertise. Even if a website visitor never becomes a client, this approach aims to give them some valuable expert knowledge as a result of the marketing collateral offered.
2. Your Approach With Clients
Ah, clients. The too-often forgotten segment under the marketing biodome. Clients, like prospects, should expect and receive ongoing educational content to help them become more well-informed investors.
A relationship with a client extends beyond email questions, one-on-one conversations, and quarterly marketing commentary. Prospects aren’t the only people firms should be marketing to. If an advisor is producing content that benefits a prospect – like a white paper or case study – in most cases, it can also benefit a client’s understanding of the value that advisor brings to their lives.
I’ve spoken with several advisors who only send their marketing materials to prospects, only to have a client happen to see an ebook or fact sheet and ask to see more. Every piece of content a client reads only strengthens the bond of trust they feel with their advisor, so it’s important that firms are not shy when it comes to sharing that cool new infographic about evidence-based investing.
3. Your Marketing Technology
Technology plays a vital role in how firms act as a fiduciary to clients, but I’m not talking about fintech apps like portfolio accounting or financial planning. I’m specifically thinking of marketing technology and the ways it allows advisors to use data to create better conversations.
Effective marketing is all about communicating a single message to a wide number of people, while making that message feel unique to the recipient. It’s an advisor’s duty when marketing to provide the most tailored experience possible to prospects, but that can only be done with the right technology in place.
If an advisor wants to grow their firm through digital marketing, a marketing automation and email campaign management system is critical. This type of technology allows for tangible results and more effective conversation. As an example, marketing automation technology allows a firm to capture a website visitor’s email address, understand what pages interest them on the site, and then send tailored content relative to their interests.
Once a conversation occurs with that prospect, the firm’s advisors will be more prepared to have effective conversations because they have actionable knowledge about what may be important to that client, instead of starting from ground zero.
Why It’s Important to Be a Marketing Fiduciary
The act of being a fiduciary is an approach that permeates the entire culture of a firm, and that’s reason enough to apply the principles to marketing.
The bigger reason it’s important to act as a marketing fiduciary is that the most open approach is the best approach. Marketing should build trust and demonstrate that a firm is an expert in the field of financial advice, and that reputation is difficult to establish when the focus is on yourself, and all your expertise is hidden in emails, phone conversations, and physical handouts given during a meeting.
Putting the client and their needs first establishes right from the beginning that you are working toward building a solution that is in their best interest and unique to their situation. Becoming a marketing fiduciary is simple when the focus of your firm is put on people, not sales.
--- Related: Ron Rhoades Sees Grim Fiduciary Rule Future