Now that the markets and economy are showing signs of recovery, albeit haphazardly, independent broker/dealers are offering various new tools to help their representatives start using those marketing muscles that likely atrophied during the market downturn, helping them communicate better and more clearly to clients and prospects.
“Many advisors went into the downturn of the last two years not really exercising their marketing muscles,” says Kirk Hulett, senior VP of strategy and practice management at the independent B/D Securities America, based in Omaha.
Before the market meltdown of 2008 into March 2009, advisor “referrals were coming in at a good pace and assets under management kept rising.” But to get back to the asset levels they had prior to the crash, Hulett counsels, advisors “need to get back out and market.”
Securities America, Commonwealth Financial Network, American Portfolios, and Capital Analysts are just some of the broker/dealer firms that are helping advisors re-energize their marketing programs.
B/D Marketing Case Study #1: Securities America
In the first quarter, Securities America launched a marketing campaign called New Conversations, which offers the B/D’s 1,900 reps a series of business growth tools to enhance their relationships with current clients and build a strong foundation with new ones. The three-pronged marketing program includes help with such topics as Client Re-Discovery, “NextPhase” Retirement Income, and Attracting Dollars in Transition.
For client re-discovery, advisors are offered “training and tools to help advisors sit down and have an in-depth re-discovery conversation with their current client base,” Hulett says. “Advisors can have a holistic conversation with their client that doesn’t just deal with financial issues, but also delves into other aspects of [the client's] life. It’s more about getting to know that client at a much deeper level.” Having more in-depth conversations, he adds, “deepens clients’ trust that has been eroded over the last two years, and it also [helps advisors] discover new planning opportunities and money in transition.”
After the re-discovery conversation, the advisor can provide the client with a summary of the conversation in graphic form, Hulett says, and then get feedback from clients about areas that weren’t covered. Advisors using the marketing program’s techniques, he says, have actually revealed that “clients are bringing back additional information the advisor didn’t ask about” during the conversation, like additional assets they have. Advisors can then present clients with a set of recommendations once the re-discovery conversation process is complete.
B/D Marketing Case Study #2: Commonwealth Financial
Joni Youngwirth, managing principal of practice management at Commonwealth Financial Network in Waltham, Massachusetts, says that Commonwealth’s Four-Corner Marketing program, launched just about a year ago, has helped the broker/dealer “orchestrate our marketing into one vehicle and helped us to market the marketing” program to advisors. “Some of the things [in the Four-Corner's offering] we’ve had for many years, but this [program] streamlined those and put them into one place.”
Commonwealth’s Four Corners program includes help with improving client communications, brand building, prospect marketing, and forming strategic alliances.
The program provides advisors with …
… access to dozens of compliance-approved letters, seminars, invitations, worksheets, and market updates to help advisors create or maintain communication with current clients. Advisors can also get a customized Web site designed for them via Commonwealth’s EasySite program. Also offered in Four Corners are customized advertisements, marketing brochures, newsletters, and articles of interest, as well as guidance on maximizing client referrals.
Four Corners also provides those advisors who are looking to nurture relationships with outside professionals–such as CPAs and attorneys–with access to a multitude of resources to build and support their professional network.
John Weibler, founder of Weibler Financial & Retirement in Lewiston, Idaho, says that Commonwealth’s Four Corners program is “a more consolidated” marketing program than the B/D offered previously. Weibler’s son joined the practice last year, and it was then that the two decided to create a “more consistent” marketing message. Four Corners “gives us the opportunity to build a lot of structure without starting from scratch,” he says, and because multiple marketing tools are available in one place, “it’s a matter of choosing the portions [of the program] that we want to use.”
While marketing has historically been a challenge for advisors, Youngwirth says that she believes advisors are becoming “a notch more sophisticated with their marketing.” Advisors, she says, “get the fact that you can’t just do dribs and drabs [of marketing] and make it work.” To make a marketing program really work for their firm, Youngwirth says, advisors “need to have a niche and [they] need to know what the hot-button issues are” in that niche and they need to be able to communicate how they “can take care of” that niche.
Ensemble advisory firms can be most effective in their marketing, Youngwirth adds, if the advisor puts together a game plan “and then delegates it to staff.” If the advisor delegates the marketing plan to staff, she says, “It gets done. If they try to do it themselves, it’s hit or miss.”