(Image: iStock)

Competition in the annuity market and related markets is at an all-time high, and the unpredictability of the market is giving many advisors pause as they consider how to continue growing their businesses while also being mindful of how they spend their marketing dollars. 

(Related: The Secret to Your True Potential Is Fried Chicken)

You want to grow, and you recognize that you will need to invest budget to achieve that growth, but how can you be smarter about your marketing spend, and more importantly, how can you turn your marketing spend into a competitive advantage?

Partnerships.

On the surface, this is not a new idea. Advisors have been developing referral relationships with other professionals for decades, but few advisors actually dive deep into the opportunities that partnerships present. That means going much farther than “Hey, how about we refer each other business?” and tapping multiple opportunities simultaneously. If you do it right, you can get more for your money and even supplement your marketing with someone else’s budget.

Here are three partnership avenues you should explore immediately:

  • Field marketing organizations. A classic misstep is to over-diversify, spreading business between four or five FMOs—in addition to a corporate relationship. Instead, approach your business with a “black card” mentality. Put as much of your business into one place so that you can reap the benefits. When you centralize your business to one FMO, you can achieve what some FMO’s call “elite” status, giving you increased product and marketing support, which might allow you to invest in prospecting services like appointment setting with partial or total reimbursement.
  • Product-specific advisors. Many advisors become specialists to win the bigger deals that generalists often do not have the expertise to service, but specializing also means that you do not typically benefit from clients who need something beyond your specialization. Be vocal about your specialization, and then build a network of other specialist advisors so that you can pursue the highest value clients and share the wealth between your group as your specific insights are needed.
  • Industry experts. Referral agreements between experts like CPAs or property & casualty agents are a great start, but a game-changing partnership needs to be more developed. Get your referral structure formalized, and then regularly co-host events, split that costs of advertising campaigns, promote to each other’s email lists, and work toward making this dynamic exclusive.

Executed in isolation, any of these suggestions will help your business grow, but if you do them simultaneously you can cross-pollinate your marketing spend. The business that you generate by partnering with product-specific advisors and industry experts can elevate your status with your preferred FMO, giving you access to more marketing resources that could then be parlayed into advertising or prospecting services. You then share the appropriate opportunities you generate from the FMO campaigns with your partners, which in turn grows their businesses and elevates the total investment you can collectively make on your next outreach effort.

These are not one-and-done efforts. When you leverage multiple partnership in unison, you can dramatically accelerate your sales pipeline and reach more prospects with your message. With proper planning and diligent execution, you can use each partnership to enhance the other. Your partners win because they grow alongside you. Your clients win because you have more resources to serve them. And, of course, you win because you are taking your business to new heights.

— Read Embrace Confrontationon ThinkAdvisor.