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Marketing 101: Zoe’s Guide for Registered Independent Advisors

Financial advisory firms spend on average $41k a year on marketing and business development. Their efforts range from hiring expert consulting firms to empirically-managing paid ad campaigns. While it is often fruitful, you might be wondering if there is a less money- and time-consuming approach to marketing yourself. 

Published December 16, 2021

Reading Time: 6 minutes

We know your priority (and what you love to do) is helping your clients, so marketing shouldn’t become a burden to you. Luckily, there are some very simple things you can do to jumpstart your marketing strategy. A great (and for the most part, free) starting point is the 4Ps framework. 

That is, finding the right mix between your product, place, promotion, and pricing. You’ve likely heard or read about this, but if we’re being honest, it sometimes sounds like one of those easier said than done theories. This model was first introduced more than 20 years ago and is usually presented in a very conceptual way, which makes its execution feel a little distant. 

Alongside Zoe’s Marketing Team, we created a few tips on how financial advisors can put the marketing mix model into action with a simple 4-step plan. 

Define the Product and Determine Market Fit

Advisors often fall into the product trap of thinking that what they sell are financial planning ideas. While that is not entirely wrong, the first thing you should understand is that you are the brand.

That means the product that you are selling has a lot to do with yourself and your personal stamp. You sell your expertise,  time, and support. Your services are the product that clients pay for. Start by taking a few minutes to refresh what that practically means for your clients. 

Grab a post-it or a notebook and answer these three questions:

1. What is your unique value proposition? Jot down what makes you different from other advisors with the same qualifications who could offer the same financial advice.

2. Why does it matter? Put into words why this value proposition fits the clients’ needs, why it is important for them to pay for what you offer. 

3. Who is it for? Define who you want to work with, the audience that cares about your offer. Be specific; you can include gender, age, race, interests, lifestyle, life stage, etc…

Set The Personality Of Your Promotion

Just like in other relationships, it’s not just about what you say but also how you say it. To make sure that there is alignment between your value and how you portray it, follow these steps:

1. Choose the voice and tone you want your clients to identify you with. Every touchpoint should reflect this choice. Your profile, website, emails, social posts, every one of them matters in your promotion strategy. 

2. Assess your advisor profile. This is usually the first impression clients will have of you. The way you introduce yourself must be (and feel) personal, so review and adjust each element accordingly.

  • Personal Bio
    There’s no one better to write about you than yourself. Approach the description in a way that clients know that it was you who wrote what they’re reading. Make it conversational so that the reader feels like you’re directly talking to them. Also, to make it memorable, don’t limit yourself to stating your qualifications, skill set, or what you do; feel free to add something personal like your hobbies or interests.
  • Photos
    Research has shown that visual information is easier to remember than words. The human brain processes image 60,000 times faster than text. Thus, your profile pictures are a very important choice to make. Two best practices to make them personable are smiling (to look approachable) and having neutral backgrounds (so that it’s not distracting). Since your photos could be subconsciously associated with the quality of your work, make sure that they are good pictures. Avoid blurriness at all costs! This could be the year to invest in those professional headshots to up your marketing game even further.
  • Video
    Videos bring you to life!  It’s a great way to resonate with people on a more personal level. The way that you talk, the words you naturally use, your accent, how you use your hands’ movement to communicate… all of it, will increase the personal connection and engagement of your advisor profile.

3. Refresh your website and email templates. These are two of the most important communication channels you can leverage, so there must be alignment across them.

  • Tone
    Make sure that everything you say sounds conversational, as opposed to excessively professional or technical.
  • Audience
    Evaluate if the content and point of view are focused on the client or yourself. Review the language. For example, “I’m an expert in taxes and can help you lower your bill” reads as advisor-centric, while “I know taxes can be a burden to you so my expertise can help you optimize your taxes ” shows that you are centered in the consumer.
  • Visuals
    All the visuals should portray high quality and feel personable. Add high-resolution images (starting with your logo) and include videos if possible.

Meet Them At The Place They Want To Be Met

Imagine that you are hungry and craving a burger. You go to your favorite restaurant but it’s closed. Meanwhile, the place next door is wide open and is also selling burgers. What would you do? – Maybe you would drive to another location until you find your favorite burger but, likely, you would just buy the one next door. The same thing might happen to clients seeking financial advice: they will choose an advisor that is available when they need them. 

Digitization has made it easier for you to make yourself available to clients: use your calendar!

1. Set up a calendar link (if you don’t have it already). It will allow clients to know when and how to meet with you.

2. Keep the calendar up to date. We are aware that you need to set boundaries for keeping a healthy work-life balance, so make sure to include your work schedule limits and include all the events that will affect your availability (from business meetings to doctor’s appointments or family commitments). 

3. Share the link in your profile, website, emails, and with all your clients so it’s easy for people to access it when they need to connect with you.

Price Yourself  Properly 

Talking about the cost is not the easiest part of the conversation, but is one of the most important.  The good thing is you have clarity on how you charge clients, so it’s a topic that you certainly have ownership of. 

You don’t get a do-over when it comes to explaining your pricing, so you must be clear the first time around. It is also important that you choose your words wisely,  to prevent the prospective client from getting defensive. 

1. Set a pricing structure that makes sense, is easy to understand for clients, and is competitive in the market. 

2. Choose the right moment to talk about it. It should happen during your first meeting with the client. However, it should not be the first thing you say. Bring it up after you have portrayed your unique value.

3. Explain your pricing structure in the simplest way possible.

4. Confirm they understood how it works, with something like “does this make sense?”, “do you have any questions?”

5. Tie it back to the first P (product) and your unique value proposition.

 

We know marketing can be intimidating or confusing if it’s not your area of expertise, but if you think about it, it all comes down to having a clear understanding of what makes you unique as a financial advisor and why a client should hire you instead of others. Once you have clarity on that, it’s just a matter of finding the right way to communicate it, making yourself available, and tying it back to the cost of having you.

Follow our action plan and you’ll have executed a great part of the 4Ps Marketing Model and will have a strong foundation for getting seen and having an impact on your prospective clients.

Disclosure: This blog is not investment advice and should not be relied on for such advice or as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting, tax, legal or financial advisors. The observations of industry trends should not be read as recommendations for stocks or sectors.

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