Think marketing isn’t for you and your advice business? Faith Liversedge sounds the alarm bell for firms that fail to recognise the risks, and argues why they should think again – and now
Not so long ago, effective marketing was largely the preserve of big, well-funded companies.
Businesses that could afford to engage with fancy agencies that had Mad Men-esque boardrooms, Soho postcodes, and a well-stocked drinks cabinet. And who’d create outdoor billboards, TV jingles and glossy magazine ads.
You’ll remember their work from their catchy slogans that you won’t be able to get out of your head for the rest of the day now (sorry). How about:
- Do the Shake ‘n Vac and put the freshness back
- A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play
- I feel like chicken tonight, chicken tonight
People have long understood the power of marketing, it’s just that as businesses, they weren’t able to access it.
Today, everything is different.
Campaigns that would have taken entire buildings’ worth of people to pull off a few years ago can now be done with relatively low-cost subscription software and a dash of ingenuity.
Brave new world
So, what does this all mean for advisers and planners?
The chances are that you get the vast majority of your new clients through referrals and/or a network of existing introducers. So why should marketing matter to you at all?
I cannot sing this from the rooftops enough – there are so many reasons why every advice firm needs to place their marketing and communications at the heart of their business.
I would even go as far to say that every advice firm needs to become a media company. This might sound mad, but hear me out.
We’re all marketers now
The first is the referral myth. Gone are the days of ‘simple referrals’ and this is only going to intensify.
In a remote-first world, there is no scarcity of advice and planning firms, you’re out there in the big meat market of the internet.
My adviser could be in Middlesbrough or Carlisle just as well as Edinburgh or London or the home counties.
As such, if you want quality high-net-worth referrals, you need to be marketing yourself well.
Prospects who have been referred to you, research you.
Even baby boomers can spot a ropey website from a mile off. People check you out on social media, they want to see case studies, social proof.
If your last post was a charity half-marathon from 2016 it doesn’t look great.
Bottom line – if you’re not presenting yourself well, you are missing out on valuable referrals.
No wonder all the leading research on adviser referrals suggests advisers are only meeting a fraction of the prospects referred to them by clients. The same is true for introducers.
I’m not saying this to be chipper, but to emphasise the point. Marketing is just vital for advisers today.
It’s not an easy time to be an adviser.
The advice world is undergoing enormous change: the coming intergenerational stampede, technological disruption (robo advice), regulatory change, a nightmare PI market. Potentially, there’s even fully remote advice delivery and remote lead generation to consider.
How do you thrive in an environment like that?
How can you ensure a successful exit with acquirers becoming ever more picky, or longevity for your lifestyle business?
You guessed it – your marketing and communications have to be on point.
Is it a fix-all solution? No, but getting their marketing and client communications right is one of the easiest steps most firms can take to thrive.
It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness
I watched much of this play out with advisers at the beginning of the pandemic. You could say it was a tale of two firms.
One the one hand, I saw firms who had their email marketing systems sorted, their websites easily updatable; they had current social media accounts able to reach clients and prospects alike.
When the pandemic first came along, they were able to maintain great – and seamless – client communication. They could engage with clients, reassure them, educate them. These firms have information and analytics on that engagement and could use this to segment and follow up accordingly.
Guess what? When you have that infrastructure in place, it’s easy to switch to live virtual events with clients. It’s easy to follow up on lost referral opportunities, very little effort to make the most of introducer relationships.
The other firms who hadn’t prioritised any of this stuff… well, let’s just say it wasn’t such a pretty picture.
The firms that had their marketing and communications channels and processes properly sorted out had a kind of antifragility that firms without it really didn’t have. You can bet your bottom dollar which one I would rather be.
The end is nigh
Where does this leave us?
Should you be worried if your marketing isn’t up to scratch?
Yes, probably you should, to be honest, but there’s no time like the present to fix it.
If you don’t know where to start, you can sign up to my email newsletter here and I’ll send you weekly tips.
Just remember, we’re all marketers now.
About Faith Liversedge
Faith Liversedge is an experienced communicator with a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the adviser profession. She was Marketing Manager at Nucleus for 5 years, creating innovative and award-winning campaigns. Before that she worked for Standard Life, Prudential and Royal London. In 2017 she set up her own consultancy to help forward-thinking financial advisers and planners to become more profitable through websites, communications and other laser-focused marketing techniques.