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4 Problems With Advisor Marketing (and How to Fix Them)

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What You Need to Know

  • Improving marketing means understanding the audience and embracing it with consistency.
  • Jumping from one marketing idea to the next is typically ineffective.
  • Word-of-mouth marketing is the best marketing.

Your advisory firm probably needs to do less marketing — or rather, you need to do fewer types of marketing better.

I rarely meet an advisory firm leader who doesn’t want to grow their business. Often, the first step leaders take is investing in marketing.

The problem is that when advisory firm leaders invest in marketing, they jump from one idea to the next: blogging, social media, podcasts, seminars, events, email campaigns, etc. You name it, most advisory firms want to do it all.

But moving rapidly from one marketing idea to the next doesn’t create success. Rather, it often leads to frustration and an inability to effectively create and follow through with a cohesive marketing plan.

While many may believe that the next big thing is finally the tactic that will yield marketing results, the truth from what we’ve observed is that marketing is not a tactical problem, it’s a behavioral problem. Here’s an example:

About four years ago, podcasting became a popular tactic. Many advisory firms tried it, but six months later, with few results, they quit doing it and missed a big opportunity. With our consulting client base, the ones that stuck with it have experienced great success with the leads the podcasts now produce.

Quitting too soon is just one of the four most common behavioral problems that advisors make with marketing. What are the others? See if you can identify any of these behaviors and move past them so you can build a successful marketing strategy.

4 Problems With Advisor Marketing

Following trends: The first problem that advisors make with marketing is that they follow a trend instead of sticking with what works. Let’s be clear: Following a trend, like podcasting was several years ago, is not a bad thing. The problem is that many advisors stop podcasting before it can yield results.

Marketing, like many investments leaders make in their businesses, often yields long-term results. The key is to give it time to work for you. In the case of podcasting, it took roughly two years for our clients who did not give up on it to see real results. This leads me to the second problem.

Wanting instant results: Effective marketing is seldom a quick hit. When you approach marketing and expect instant results, you are gambling with your business dollars. Great marketing is a building process: It requires you to implement one tactic at a time.

This method will allow the tactic to build upon itself over time; consistent marketing is the best marketing. You may work on a marketing tactic for a long time and get few results, but as you continue to build on it, the results will compound with the effort you make.

Doing more for no reason: Expanding on consistent marketing and implementing more tactics doesn’t always mean more leads. What would you rather do: a podcast that produces 100 leads per year, or a podcast and email campaigns that produce a total of 100 leads per year? If an advisory firm is not expanding lead flow after adding more marketing, what is the point?

We often see firms layer on marketing tactics that don’t produce more leads.

They will increase their marketing cost without much return on investment, splitting their attention among marketing programs for no reason. This is a quintessential behavioral problem; people often want more. More doesn’t often equal yield better results, and it frequently complicates what’s simple.

Certainly, you can have one blog or one podcast or one book that produces enough leads to reach your goals. But when you experience that success, you may decide to go on to the next thing instead of keeping your focus on what is working well. If writing a book worked for your firm, write another one. If podcasting is working, create another podcast with a different topic.

We want to add more marketing when there’s a reason to add more, not to simply diversify a strategy or to chase more leads with an unproven tactic. When it works, stick with it.

Stopping marketing due to growth: The fourth and final common marketing problem is to stop marketing.

Success has consequences. The more success you have, the more problems and opportunities you gain. This is the conundrum of success, and it certainly applies to marketing a firm.

Anyone who has started an advisory firm and has been successful with marketing reaches a point where their firm has grown beyond what they can manage. In this new territory, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed — that the business is out of control.

Instead of leaning into what’s working and managing their growth, advisory firms tend to stop marketing. Firms do this because they think that if they pull back the marketing, the growth will slow to what they can control.

But great growth is a good problem to have. As you grow, you learn how little control you have over growth.

The better approach is to manage your growth and continue to do what’s working. As you grow your firm, learn to put more trust in your employees and give them the space to help you solve problems, instead of stopping your marketing.

What to Do if Your Marketing Stopped

As you build and narrow your marketing strategy to a consistent tactic that works, you need to understand your audience and know who is receiving your message.

Marketing attracts five audiences:

The stranger: These people don’t know you exist. The goal when marketing to a stranger is making them aware of your firm.

The visitor: Once a stranger knows you exist, you need to help them take action. In other words, they know you exist, but you don’t know it yet. This is when you encourage them to download something from your site or contact you for an appointment.

The prospect: Prospects are the Holy Grail of marketing. Once a visitor acts, you need to help them become a client.

The client: What is the best way to market? Client referrals. Providing superior service generates referrals.

The promoter: Finally, the promoter is the point of marketing. The goal is to turn a stranger to a visitor, a visitor to a prospect, a prospect to a client, and finally, have them all talk about you as a promoter.

The ultimate goal is to get everyone who comes into contact with you to promote and talk about you in a positive way. Word-of-mouth marketing is the best marketing.

Improving your marketing comes down to understanding your audience and embracing it with consistency. If your marketing stopped along the way, restart it by talking to your most engaged clients to turn them into promoters. Then modify the content that resonates with clients as you work back to reaching strangers.

Angie Herbers is an independent consultant to the advisory industry. She can be reached at [email protected].