Welcome to part two of our five-part Action! series, A marketing plan for financial advisors.
Throughout this series, we’ll explore the fundamentals of developing and executing a marketing plan for your firm to help you drive engagement, brand awareness and, ultimately, business growth.
Each article will detail an essential step in the marketing plan process and build upon the last, providing you with the foundational, tactical and strategic resources you need to design and implement a sound marketing campaign.
In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the crucial aspects of creating a strategic marketing plan tailored specifically to the needs of financial advisors.
Segment your audience
After establishing your marketing plan's goals and key performance indicators, you’ll need to decide how to segment your audience. Undertaking this step is crucial for efficient and effective marketing: you want your messaging to reach the right people at the right time.
A time-tested and straightforward method for identifying, segmenting and targeting your desired audience is to build buyer personas.
What is a buyer persona?
A buyer persona describes the clients or prospects you want to attract, along with ancillary information that informs how and where you will appeal to those individuals. A thoughtfully detailed buyer persona forms a roadmap for tailoring your marketing assets and workflows as you build your annual marketing plan.
Elements of a Buyer Persona:
- Personal attributes, like the individual’s age range, location and profession
- Biggest concerns or needs, such as funding a specific goal, business planning, vacations and/or retirement
- A breakdown of how your audience learns
- A list of channels you can use to reach your intended audience
Examples of Buyer Personas:
- Women in their 50s, who are preparing to retire in 10-20 years and who interact with friends and family on social media channels.
- Business owners who are interested in selling their companies and starting a new venture and who watch business news programs every morning.
- Couples with graduate degrees and young children who are saving for their children’s future college costs, paying off student loans and reading online investing forums.
When building a buyer persona, aim for a balance of depth and breadth. Alternatively, you can think about your individual or firm’s niche and work backward to define the characteristics of that niche and potential clients who would fit that niche.
If your firm specializes (or wants to specialize) in serving a specific type of client, creating a list of attributes provides the raw material for building a buyer persona:
- What gender and age range is your ideal client?
- How wealthy would you expect them to be and will you be enforcing any asset minimums?
- What type of financial advice are you hoping to offer routinely?
- What professional or career path do you want your clients to have?
- Where do these potential clients gather information, socialize and form communities?
After answering these questions, you’ll have to decide which client segments are more fruitful, which segments you can serve if they incidentally come to you for service and which types of clients you’ll have to refer to other advisors. This last point can be crucial – instead of turning away a client segment outright, consider referring a potential client (or even a mis-segmented client) to a fellow advisor. Not only will you make a positive impression on clients you wouldn’t have the capacity to service anyway, but you’ll also raise your reputation and respect among your competitors.
Lastly, regularly update your buyer personas as you gather new information from prospects and clients. Naturally, it’s helpful to reevaluate your client segments periodically, but this exercise also helps you consider “proxy” characteristics. In other words, are there any characteristics that tend to be associated with your ideal client but aren’t intuitively linked? These attributes can be the secret sauce of a top-notch marketing campaign.
Growing your client base through client segmentation
Here is a case study of success: A midsized financial advisory firm approached our marketing agency to review and remodel its lead generation. As we discussed what strategies to pursue, it became apparent the firm’s scattershot approach to marketing had produced some unintended consequences.
Some of the clients at the firm weren’t aligned with the firm’s overall direction. Others were too small or brought complexities not readily served by the firm’s advisors. Even worse, going the extra mile to keep these “mis-segmented” clients from pulling their assets was starting to erode the service and resources available for more lucrative clients, who were a better fit for the direction and abilities of the firm’s advisors.
We asked each advisor to review their client list and identify their best client. Next, each advisor created a profile of that individual, marked where that client was in their financial journey, laid out that individual’s biggest concerns described how that client obtained and processed new information and where that client was likely to encounter any marketing material from the firm if they were being pursued as a new lead.
After each advisor completed this exercise, they were asked to repeat the process with their ideal hypothetical client. Using the example of their best client as a model, they created a buyer persona of their ideal client—including that individual’s typical age range, location, most pressing financial concerns, how they discover new information and where they’re likely to enter the firm’s marketing funnel.
Compiling that information, we found that the best clients for the firm were women who were about a decade away from retirement. They were most concerned with saving enough for retirement, caring for aging parents and wanting to have enough money to visit their children and grandchildren, as well as take the occasional vacation. They tended to be technologically literate and active on social media.
However, one of the more interesting details that emerged from our buyer persona review was that many of these women were either restarting careers after leaving the workforce to raise children or had shifted their careers as they entered their late 40s and early 50s. Using that key detail, we decided to put a portion of our marketing efforts into continuing education and professional certificate programs at local colleges and in online forums. The firm’s asset minimums naturally filtered out less established prospects, even as they created brand awareness for next-gen clients.
The revamp worked. The firm onboarded several new clients who saw our marketing materials in online forums associated with professional continuing education courses. One client even referred three additional leads from her book club. A simple buyer persona exercise aligned the firm’s expertise and potential client base, producing results within just a few months of the review.
Through our collaborative efforts, the firm onboarded several new clients, growing its asset base and was able to offer placement of its least-aligned clients to outside firms. With a simple buyer persona review, the firm was able to uncover new insights into their best clients and quickly pivot their marketing strategy to capture their target audience's attention, thereby growing their client base.
Looking for a quick guide to help you execute your buyer persona exercise? Make sure to download our helpful guide to help you identify buyer personas.
Next up in our series: Considering and Deciding on Your Firm’s Marketing Tactics
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