Electronic media has pervaded every aspect of how financial professionals conduct their business, but traditional forms of marketing, such as television, radio and print, still have roles to play.
“Traditional forms of marketing are not dead. In fact, the basics are more important than ever,” said Marie Swift, president and CEO of Impact Communications. Financial professionals have so many options to market themselves: webcasts, LinkedIn ads, Facebook posts, video blogging, auto responders, e-newsletters, search engine optimization or pay-per-click ads, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, she said.
“The last thing a serious business professional wants to do is start chasing butterflies in a field because they look pretty when they float by. A more strategic approach will net better results,” she said.
Swift recommends that financial professionals create at least a 12-month marketing plan that guides their efforts each year. And while she believes digital communications and social media should play a role in getting the word out about a company, she believes these should be used as supplements to their more traditional forms of marketing.
Word-of-mouth and building client relationships over time are the best forms of marketing, said John Blamphin, chief operating officer of Retirement Management Systems in Anapolis, Md.
Blamphin, who has worked as both a marketing specialist for advertising and news agencies and as a financial advisor, has spent a lot of time looking at the different forms of marketing over the years and what has been successful.
Referrals, seminars, webinars and small group presentations are the best way to get your company’s name out to the general public, he said.
More traditional forms of marketing, such print advertising and television, won’t necessarily drum up individual clients, but they do help financial advisors and wealth management companies build their brand, Blamphin said.
“I think social media is going to play a huge role. The goal of the investment advisory market is developing relationships with prospects on the client side. How do you do that? You can work community relationships, volunteer at any place, have business contacts and work their centers of influence there. I think digital mediums, like social media, even video snippets, add a lot of value to a client or prospect who is evaluating an advisor,” he said.
While Swift is a big fan of financial advisors and wealth management companies building up a real social media presence, including websites, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google, “I think financial professionals should maintain a presence in traditional forms. People learn in different ways and access information in different ways,” she said.
Assess who your clients are and where they get their information and then target those clients within the medium they prefer. The Millennial and Generation X generations are quick to adapt to social media and digital communications, so these mediums should be used to target them. But Baby Boomers, those nearing or entering retirement, are more likely to rely on traditional forms of media to get their information, like trade publications and newspapers.
Swift believes that the tried and true ways of building a client base still work: Event marketing, referrals within your clients’ centers of influence and public relations.
“What’s happening with digital is it is enriching everything we’re doing with three funnels, three pipelines you fill. If you start with event marketing it is going to spill over to talking to clients who will refer people or bring people. That will spill over into the PR bucket, which gives you opportunities to speak to the press or publicize what happened at an event,” she said.
Financial professionals have done fairly well with communications tools like digital, she said. Their Achilles heel is, “wanting to bite off more than they can chew and not having a plan to work strategically,” Swift said. “Advisors get distracted by the latest and greatest thing. It can be like a game of whack a mole.”
Advisors and wealth managers should step back and have an overall marketing plan. “Digital is making it easier in some ways; the challenge is deciding how it fits in your plan and supports your overall objectives. Learning to blog and webcasts is easy, incorporating these in your overall strategy is the challenge,” she said.
While employer costs for their workers’ health care plans continue to rise, their share of workers’ retirement costs continue to decline.