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7 things every financial firm should be doing

Investment advisors, financial managers and wealth professionals must take a fresh perspective on how to connect with consumers in a fin-tech world with shifting demographics.

So what marketing activities should financial firms do to grow assets and remain relevant in the era of digital?

1. Develop a brand

2. Keep it simple

3. Host events

4. Create thought leadership

5. Implement a marketing plan5

6. Make it personal

7. Get Social

DEVELOP A BRAND

A brand is the public persona of your advisory firm; create one. 

It’s surprising to me how many investment principals overlook this basic starting point.    Not only does great branding hold the power to dramatically increase your reach …

…But successful financial firms rely on branding to create a good impression and to encapsulate qualities they hold out to the investing public. 

Financial firms face increasing competition.   This means that creating a public-facing brand that conveys a value proposition and embodies a well-defined corporate character is more important than ever.

And of course: preparation matters.

A great financial brand begins with a vision that has been clearly defined.  Identifying brand personality dimensions early on will inform name selection, logo, color palette and firm messaging.    A retail-oriented, advisory practice will communicate differently than an institutionally facing global macro firm, each employing copy and associated design uniquely.   Do you want to be defined as innovative and technology-driven?   What about high touch and planning based?  Only brands that effectively communicate what their firm is all about will differentiate their offering.

“So, how do I get the attention of the marketplace?”

Keep it simple.

Today, investors want succinct information to understand the value your fund or service delivers to the marketplace. 

We live in a swipe-left economy and investors want simple, easy ways to save, plan and invest.  Easily understood messaging can help investors understand the purpose of the offering.

Think of what your firm is offering and condense it down to the largest common denominator; an easy takeaway.   Support these key phrases throughout your site with meaningful information and get to the point quickly.  This will motivate potential investors to find out more.   Wealth Simple does a good job of this.

Take heed: Investors are paying little attention to brands that lack character.  

Investment management firms that put forth clichéd messaging and poor design will be unable to build a meaningful connection with investors.  It is a shrinking audience that tolerates a website that is completely unremarkable and devoid of character.   New entrants to finance are conveying more personality, thus winning the attention of peers, clients, and the media. 

Tackle branding or face irrelevancy. 

 A well-defined brand will set the foundation to improve customer acquisition, increase market share and drive revenue growth.    

Branding is an “always on”, work-in-progress.  Established firms, such as TD Ameritrade and Blackstone are spectacular brand evolutionists with a relentless focus on quality.

HOST EVENTS

In-person engagement is invaluable for managers.  

There isn’t a better way for potential clients and centers of influence to size you up than face-to-face connections.   Not only are these four events types the fastest way to build trust, but also you should you experiment with each. 

Events graphic

Use these four event ideas to gain emails, expand reach, and build relationships.

Customer events

Events for customers are a great way to strengthen relationships and increase retention.  They are also spectacularly useful for meeting your clients’ inner circle. 

Don’t just invite clients. Throw a party that clients and their friends will look forward to.   Do have a drawing for a gift to collect the email addresses of guests and to provide something most guests would be excited to win (within regulatory

Local non-industry events  

Offer to host the pre-party at a local event or association gathering.   For the organizer, you’ll evoke increased interest in the event with a beautifully designed and powerfully written invitation   Coordinate to get the organization’s email list.   You’ll gain emails and create brand awareness.

Any advisor who collects emails as part of their marketing strategy (which, you certainly should be) knows that getting this data is notoriously difficult.   Admit it, advisory services

Learning events  

Distinguish yourself as an educational voice for your industry by teaching attendees about something.  Options could include things like helping investors develop essential knowledge of the overall risks associated with an asset class or providing a working knowledge of how to make pertinent retirement planning decisions.    

Not only are investors concerned about financial markets, they are looking for your guidance.    Not only can you charge for the educational event, you should.  This type of event definitely positions you as an expert and creates a great opportunity to convert leads into sales. 

Trade-show 

Exhibiting at a trade show provides quantifiable benefits for your business, from credibility to visibility.   Connecting with industry contacts, clients, and attendees is a certainty (unless you fail to mingle, which you shouldn’t).  Get your message out!

The goal of this type of event is to pick up on exactly what trends are shaping the industry and collect business card data.   

THOUGHT LEADERSHIP

Thoughts are the foundation of any investment firm’s marketing strategy. 

Interest piqued?

Good…because your knowledge base and how you approach investment problems is what you are selling.   

Let’s start with the basic premise.

Ask yourself;  “What questions are my clients and potential clients asking?”   Your critical thinking should squarely address problems your clients seek to resolve.  Discovery will help you decide whether writing should be centered on evaluating performance statistics, assessing longevity risks, or other matters.  Use Google Trends to analyze customer interests.

As your thought leadership library increases so do your number of touch points (opportunities for engagement) and reach.  It is your dialogue with your audience.   Make it count!

A word of advice - be patient.   The goal in this marketing approach is to create an entry point for engagement.   It may take a number of interactions to spur your audience to a sales action.   In today’s digital environment your message literally leaves a lasting and discoverable impression that you must be prepared to defend.

There are various ways to create thought leadership and establish authority— I list the top used methods:

Thought Leadership Marketing Chart

In summary, thought leadership is the perfect opportunity to brand your business. You can do this through your writing style, the level of creativity in your videos and images, and by demonstrating how well you understand your client’s wants and needs.   When creating new content, ensure that it supports how you want to be identified as a brand, especially since this may be an online reader’s first experience with you.   And you thought the branding took focus!

IMPLEMENT A MARKETING PLAN

Find a way to get your idea to spread within the context of a comprehensive marketing plan.    

It doesn’t matter whether you are selling running shoes or investment advice.  

Marketing principals apply to everybody regardless of what you do.    Take it from marketing guru, Seth Godin – your commitment to show up and build an audience is what makes you successful. 

“People do not buy goods and services.  They buy relations, stories and magic” – Seth Godin

Good advice.  But how does an investment firm sell magic?

By understanding investor behavior.

To create an effective marketing plan requires an understanding of investors’ behaviors and needs.  Perform research to obtain information about investor perspective and how they make investment decisions, offline or online.  Find out what problem they want to solve and provide the solution.   

“But,” you say, “I can’t market my fund due to regulatory restrictions”. 

MAKE IT PERSONAL

Don't market your fund; market yourself personally. 

Do speak with a compliance firm or lawyer about other avenues firms have used to market their general partnership or the entity’s thought leadership.  Whatever you do, make sure your marketing program is approved.  For many firms running everything by legal is expensive, but there are third-party providers that specialize in cost-effective compliance oversight. Complianceworks comes to mind,  but of course, there are others.  

Investors don’t think about marketing, they simply interact with their advisors, investment managers, and planners based on personal needs and desires.   It’s the firms' goal to align themselves with their target audiences’ preferences.

Let’s take a closer look at ways financial professionals can diffuse their solutions into the marketplace.

It can be difficult to determine which platforms make sense for your firm to be active on.   The bottom line is that you should be where your clients are hanging out.   If they are on Twitter (many investors are) you should be too.   If your demographic is tuned into local radio then you may want to consider a radio spot, but only if you have the budget to air with your message with the frequency and duration needed to gain traction ( at least two months).  Print ads in your local business journal or retail publication are other considerations.   And don't forget social media!

Over the next few years, I think we’re going to see marketers for small investment advisors and hedge fund managers embrace social media strategies that have been successful for bigger financial companies.

Get Social

Let’s face it - investors interact with financial brands through social media sites and blogs. 

In the digital environment, consumers interact with brands across a variety of social platforms and channels.  Financial buyers are no different - they spend time online digesting the world’s affairs and are increasingly turning to social media to vet deals, seek insight, and keep up with the markets.  The truth is that the investor segment that only interacts over the phone and through email is waning.  Financial firms must maintain a social media presence to connect with the new genre of digital savvy investors.   An online persona is vital to success.  It all starts with a good marketing plan that is put in motion and executed.

Written By Michelle Hansen