When it comes to marketing financial services, it’s a numbers game. Getting the message to more people means more contacts, more prospecting meetings, more clients—or so the conventional wisdom goes. There’s a hidden number in that equation, however, that many advisors don’t consider—the number of hours spent following up and meeting with prospects who, for whatever reason, aren’t a right fit for the advisor’s practice.
Many advisors view marketing as casting a net. The bigger and more finely woven the net, the better, because fewer prospects escape. The problem with a big, tightly knit net is that it will indeed catch everything: those high-net-worth big fish, medium and smaller fish, as well as tires, tin cans and weeds. The best advisor marketing nets actually need big holes in them—holes that let all the undesirable junk fall through and hold on to just the big fish.
Traditional television and radio advertising, for example, is a big net. Even limited to the local broadcast area, the message reaches a relatively large portion of the available audience. Because the message needs to run frequently to penetrate (the average person has to hear a message seven times to remember it and even more times to act upon it), launching a broadcast campaign can be incredibly expensive. That’s a finely woven net.
Over time, a broadcast campaign will haul in prospective clients. Because broadcast messages reach a diverse demographic, many of those prospects will not be suitable for your practice for a variety of reasons, including age, income level, investable assets and willingness to save and invest. The problem is you don’t know they’re unsuitable until you or your staff takes the time to qualify them, either by phone or in person. You’ve now added the cost of that time to the already high cost of the campaign itself.
The cost of the marketing tactic isn’t the only factor for determining its effectiveness. You can have a small, low-cost tactic that fails to catch enough prospects. For example, a small advertisement in your college alumni magazine may be affordable, and it’s definitely more targeted than a general broadcast campaign, but the ad alone probably won’t bring you enough right-fit prospects to feed your prospecting pipeline. The fish see the net for what it is, and with nothing more to bait it, they’re not biting.
It helps to know something about the kind of fish you’re hoping to catch. Where do they live? What do they eat? Are they most active at morning or night, or during a particular season? How do they attract mates and raise their young? How do they interact with other species? What threats exist in their environment? You need to answer similar questions about your target market before you start fishing. If you don’t know what you’re fishing for and how it lives, how do you know where to fish, what equipment you need and what bait will work?
For the record, “retirees” is not a precise enough target market. You need to be more specific. Make a list of your ideal clients—the ones who need ongoing financial advice, provide the most right-fit referrals, are most profitable and who you actually enjoy working with. This is the species of fish you’re after, so start studying their traits and behaviors. When you find the common threads, you’ll have defined your target market.