In this series about branding for financial advisors, we explore some blunders, steps to improve an advisor’s brand presence, and – for the uninitiated – where to get started.
If you missed it, check out Part 1 of the series where we discussed investing in your brand and asking the right questions.
This time we’re going to dive a bit deeper into what it means to be an independent financial advisor and building a brand around that experience. As we always say in the IFP Design Group, your brand is not your logo. Let’s continue our journey into branding with the next branding truths for financial advisors.
Truth 3: You must have a marketing plan (in addition to) a business plan before launching your independent advisory practice.
Whether they’re concrete or abstract, every successful company starts with a goal-focused roadmap and a plan of action for achieving those goals. It’s easy to buy a book of business to kick-start a business. In addition, some organic growth may occur through referrals and word-of-mouth, but what about the growth that could possibly be achieved through a developed marketing plan? Well, let’s start by answering a few questions.
Why is this important?
For some, it might seem pretty obvious that a marketing plan is important. Unfortunately, in our experience of working with advisors, it’s not all that common in this industry, especially during the whirlwind of establishing a practice. The same can be said for advisors or advisor firms that have been in business for many years. We get it – after spending the majority of your day grinding away earning new business and dealing with existing clients, the last thing you want to do is exert more effort creating a solid marketing plan. However, there will come a day when you will want to generate new business through marketing initiatives, which is why it’s so important to start as soon as possible.
I didn’t have a plan before. Why do I need one now?
We get it. You haven’t needed a plan before and you aren’t starving to death. With that said, there’s a big difference between surviving and flourishing. Just like the other divisions at IFP, we are constantly encouraging advisors to reach beyond their comfort zone to build a legacy of prosperity and greater success.
Another common preconceived notion is along the lines of business growth and generating new leads (prospective clients). Our team frequently speaks with advisors seeking to freshen up their client list as their careers have picked up and the most common feedback we get goes a little something like this: “I acquire most clients by word-of-mouth or through referrals. Why should I look elsewhere?” While it’s certainly a good way to generate new business, what happens if that well dries up? Are you diversified enough to withstand the loss of a referral network? Especially for small advisory firms, it’s incredibly dangerous to rely on such a piecemeal strategy to sustainably grow your company.
What tools do I need?
This is the part where you expect us to say you need to spend at least $50,000 to $100,000 a year on marketing and advertising to get anywhere. That couldn’t be further from the truth. As you may have discovered on your own, the Internet is a great place to find business growth, but advisors often have trouble navigating this unchartered territory. Our internal team has identified a number of completely FREE tools that can help grow your business online with minimal effort.
Do you have a website? Are you tracking the visitors that come to your website? If not, we have a good place to start. Google Analytics allows you to keep track of users’ activity while on your website. This data can be used to optimize your customer retention rate, improve conversion rates, and create content that’s more relevant to your target audience. There are many other applications for this information, but we recommend you start simple and work your way up from there.
It’s going to take vision, time, and a strong commitment to shift your mindset. To avoid becoming overwhelmed, take it one step at a time. Start by implementing one single point of change per month in your operations, processes, or mindset depending on your level of comfort. Track your progress by taking notes on your completed tasks, on what worked for you, what didn’t, and any adjustments you’ve made at the end of each month.
These are two more truths in the 3-part IFP Design Group series, The Truth About Branding for Financial Advisors. Stay tuned for the next article in the coming months. In the meantime, start making some changes around your practice and get those marketing wheels turning.
What Have You Experienced?
If you want to share some of your client/firm brand stories, we’d love to hear from you. Just use the contact information below. We also welcome your comments or feedback on the ‘Truth’s About Branding’ series.
About the Author
Sean Brennan is the Director of the IFP Design Group. Sean helps craft meaningful brand experiences for financial advisors in the IFP network. If you’d like to be the first to be notified of future blog posts, or if you have questions or comments about this article, simply send an email to Sean. You can also connect with Sean on LinkedIn and Twitter.
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Posted by: Sean Brennan | October 10th, 2017 at 4:09pm.