Reaching out to new customers and growing your client base is a challenge in any industry. Retirement planning is no exception. Clients are looking for a long-term relationship with a trusted advisor, which means your marketing strategy needs to communicate a sense of trust and expertise right away when you have your audience’s attention.
One of the most important aspects of a marketing strategy is a business strategy. In order to maximize your success, I recommend basing your marketing plan off of your business plan.
But before you can get started creating a winning marketing strategy for your firm, you need to have a blueprint in place to take you through the necessary steps of creating and launching a marketing strategy.
Here are five crucial steps to lay the groundwork for your firm’s marketing plan.
1. Identify clear goals for your business.
Whether you're trying to grow your assets under management, increase the number of millennials you serve, develop strong relationships with female investors, or achieve any other goal, you can’t build toward success until you’ve identified the end goal. Remember, a goal is the desired primary outcome. It should describe what your company needs to achieve in order to be successful.
You've likely heard of SMART goals. SMART stands for specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound. There are several variations circulating online, but as you're creating your goal, keep this acronym in the back of your mind. Make sure any goal you set addresses all of these key criteria.
2. Create objectives to meet your goal.
A business goal is never reached overnight. Instead, small milestones can help you track your progress toward a larger goal. Objectives are the measurable steps you will take to achieve your strategy.
For an advisory firm, a crucial objective will be building and/or maintaining your personal/professional brand to properly reflect your values and your offerings to clients. Other objectives can include building traffic to your website or increasing enrollments for your financial seminars. You may have an objective to build a social media presence or to grow your number of prospects.
I recommend that financial advisors include their marketing and sales objectives and, if possible, their client nurturing objectives as well. When marketing, sales, and customer service work together, your positive outcomes will be amplified.
3. Identify the tactics you will use to obtain these objectives.
A tactic is a tool you use to achieve your objectives. I like to be pretty thorough here; I'd rather have more ideas than I can execute. When all is said and done, if you complete 70 percent of your tactics, you're likely to have achieved your goal.
Circle back to your tactics when you feel like you're off course or like you're not getting where you want to be. My recommendation is to outline all of the tactics that could possibly help you achieve your objective. Then, prioritize them to put your best resources toward your most essential tactics. Personally, I frequently go back to my tactics as new ideas are generated, and I add them and re-prioritize them.
For example, let's say a colleague suggests using downloadable content to generate leads and engagement among new prospects. If you believe this tactic will help you achieve an objective, add it to your list and figure out where it falls in your list of priorities—and whether or not you have the resources to execute this tactic.
4. Conduct competitive research of your local market.
There are many ways to do this. I usually start with Google Alerts. I suggest subscribing to dozens of alerts spanning your personal name, your business name, the names of your competitors, and any mentions of thought leaders you respect and want to be notified about.
I also recommend checking out your competitor's web presence. Browse their website and social media platforms, and even consider subscribing to their newsletter or blog. Additionally, a good, old-fashioned SWOT analysis can be helpful.
5. Understand your client personas and develop content for them.
A client persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal client. Having a thorough understanding of your customer personas—their demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals—is key to offering planning services that speak to their pain points and solve their problems.
Once you take some time to learn about your customer personas, you can generate content for them that showcases your financial expertise. Building content is a great lead generation strategy because it allows prospects to become familiar with your practice and trust your brand and ultimately encourages them to reach out with more questions about addressing their retirement or management needs.
These five steps will get you started on your marketing plan and hopefully working strategically down the path to success. If you’re looking for more help to plan your marketing campaigns, download our free strategic planning template.