How can financial planners create a marketing strategy for their small business which actually works?
As an owner of an SME, you know how important marketing is for gaining brand exposure to your target market, bringing in new clients and retaining current ones.
Yet you have limited time and resources. It wouldn’t be unfair to say that you have limited knowledge as well. Because let’s face it, marketing is hard to master.
Even for those who specialise in financial services marketing and who have done it for many years, marketing isn’t a walk in the park and it takes time to hit sixes fairly consistently.
Yet to take the cricket analogy further, what helps your marketing perform consistently is having a solid strategy tied to smart objectives. It means knowing and playing to your strengths, whilst exploiting opportunities and countering threats accordingly. It means having realistic expectations whilst setting challenging goals.
In this post, we’re going to share some of the key steps involved in putting a marketing strategy together for a small financial planning business. We cannot cover everything here, but we hope to get you started and moving in the right direction.
First of all, take a moment and step back…
Assess the Situation
You cannot know where you are going until you fully appreciate where you currently stand.
For a financial planner wanting to put a marketing strategy together, that means being really honest with yourself by doing a thorough SWOT analysis. For example:
Strengths: What are your capabilities as a business, and what advantages do you have over rivals?
Weaknesses: Where are your competitors better than you? Where are your resource limitations?
Opportunities: Are there any trends in the market you could exploit? Do your strengths position you to take advantage of any opportunities within your current marketplace, or in a new one?
Threats: Are there any legal, political, economic, market or social changes which could disrupt your current business model in the near future, or in the longer term?
Now that you have a better idea of where you stand, it’s time to set your business destination.
Where do you want to be in 3-5 years or 5-10 years, and what do you want to achieve?
This means setting your business vision. For a small financial planning business, that might not necessarily mean becoming a large company with thousands of clients. It might involve dominating your local market for financial planning services to high net worth clients, for instance.
Here, you should also set your financial goals and marketing goals. What kind of revenue and turnover o do you want to achieve? What proportion of markets and industries do you hope to own?
Here, it’s a good idea to make sure your objectives are SMART – increasing their focus and effectiveness. As an example, one of your objectives could be: “Achieve X% revenue growth per year over the next 5 years”. This objective is SMART for the following reasons:
- Specific (achieve revenue growth)
- Measurable (are we on course to achieve X revenue growth this year?)
- Achievable (assuming the annual percentage growth is realistic, then yes)
- Relevant (it certainly is!)
- Time-bound (over the next 5 years)
Create a Strategy
This is probably the hardest part of the process for financial planners.
It’s easy to mistake your strategy for a set of tactics. For instance, it’s often at this point where financial planners say: “We’ll do lots of SEO or buy lots of leads from database companies to get lots of leads in.”
This isn’t really a strategy.
Take a step back for a minute and consider an analogy, as this often helps to discern the difference between marketing strategy and tactics.
Imagine you want to bake some cakes for a series of local events coming up in your community. Your objective is to bake five different cakes per event.
What’s next? Do you simply dive into buying the ingredients, mixing everything together and getting the finished items ready for the event? Not just yet, there’s a missing step – your strategy.
How are you going to ensure that you have enough time to bake all of the cakes in good time? What kinds of cakes will be appealing to the people likely to attend these events, and what are their dietary requirements?
What kind of ingredients will you need, and what can you do to ensure that you do not bake anything that people will disagree with or which will make them sick? Which places will you need to get the ingredients and equipment from, and could any problems come up which might prevent you from getting hold of what you need?
How will you ensure that you have enough time to bake everything in time for the events? How will you store them safely once they are finished, and waiting for the event?
These are all strategic questions, and they must be answered before you start buying the ingredients and getting started with the practical work of putting them all together to bake your cakes.
It’s very similar when it comes to marketing for financial planning. Before you start thinking about the marketing “mix”, you need to think about your strategy. Rather than plunge straight into: “Let’s run some Facebook Ads and write some blogs”, make sure your strategy is clear.
A good place to start is with the Product-Market Matrix. Here, think about which of the following best applies to your financial planning business:
- Market Penetration (i.e do you want to sell more of your existing products and/or services to your existing market?).
- Product development (i.e. do you want to sell something new to your current market?).
- Market development (i.e. do you want to sell your existing products/services to a new market?).
- Diversification (i.e. do you want to sell something completely new to a new market?).
This is just a brief overview of some of the first steps that financial planners should take when putting their marketing plan and strategy together. For more, keep reading our blog or get in touch!