Phil Teale, Marketing Manager from CreativeAdviser, discusses some of the key lessons we have learned in marketing for financial advisers over the past 12 years.
Sometimes it is remarkable when you stop and look back over what you have learned. Time can be an incredible teacher, and this is so true with financial marketing.
Over the last 12 years, CreativeAdviser has evolved from a pure, creative agency focusing on branding, graphic and website design, to a full-service agency. This means we still do the former, but we also offer digital marketing to financial advisers once their website and brand are launched.
It was clear to us that IFAs needed a distinct approach when it came to marketing themselves via the internet. For instance, many of the strategies and tactics effective for retail and eCommerce simply did not fit appropriately for financial advisers’ client relationships, buying cycles, and target audience.
Clearly, there was (and is) a need to make digital marketing work for financial advisers. So that’s what we did, and we have had the joy of seeing our clients propel into the search engine spotlight through our SEO work (For instance, Cavendish Medical and Castlegate Financial to name just two).
We have learned a lot in this time, and it seems selfish to hide the insights we have gained from the outside world. So if you are a financial adviser reading this, we hope you benefit from these lessons we have learned over 12 years of marketing in your industry:
#1 Never Assume Your Audience
It can be very easy for us to think we fully understand our target market:
-What they look like
-What they want
-What they worry about
-What is important to them
And so on. However, we have learned that IFAs should never assume that they know what people want.
Certainly, you have an advantage in a certain sense. Most IFAs are small businesses with close personal relationships with their clients. This makes it easier for you to empathise with your target audience than it is for a large retailer, for instance, who have very “light” connections with customers though their small purchases.
However, it is still easy for IFAs to fall into the trap of thinking: “I know my clients, therefore I know what my target audience wants when it comes to digital marketing.”
Yes, you know your clients. But do you really know your potential clients, purely based on that? In our experience, this is crucial information to bring to the table, certainly. However, you need to look at the bigger picture if you are going to make digital marketing work for you. For instance:
-Which questions and keywords are people specifically using in Google search, who are looking for your services?
-Which topics and subjects are trending on social media and on media sites, which are relevant to your industry and target market?
-Are the people using internet services to find a financial adviser the same kinds of people as your current client base? Quite often, they are different. (E.g. Your current client base might not be tech savvy at all, but your new prospective clients – e.g. younger, affluent generations – might be very tech savvy).
It is also very easy for IFAs to conflate their desires with their audience’s desires when it comes to design. In particular, we often come across this during branding and website design projects. For instance, suppose we design a website structure and navigation for an IFA client which we feel works. Yet the adviser comes back with feedback along the lines of:
“I don’t like the way you have designed the menu and home page slider. Please take out all of the calls to action at the top, and also remove the imagery of people in the slider.”
This is always a delicate situation to handle. On the one hand, the adviser is stating a personal distaste towards a particular part of the website design (i.e. the slider and calls to action). We, as the creative agency serving them, need to take their wishes and preferences into account. On the other hand, our job is to ensure that we build a website which, first a foremost, meets the needs and expectations of the website user.
We know from abundant experience, for instance, that financial websites with strategic calls to action will receive more user engagement. Why? Because the user needs to be told what to do. They need to be directed towards an action that you desire of them.
Moreover, we know that IFA websites with warm, human imagery also tend to perform better than cold, corporate-looking ones. Why? Because websites with this imagery tend to be better at bringing out the values of trust, relationship and empathy which potential clients need to hear.
The lesson? Never assume your audience, or that you know better than them when it comes to design or financial marketing. Instead, try and put yourself in their shoes and see things through their eyes.
#2 Avoid Financial Marketing Growth Hacks – Go For Flywheels Instead
What is a “growth hack” in financial marketing? Essentially, it’s any idea you have which offers a “quick win” or “fast, easy solution” to your marketing problems.
Often, the way this tends to manifest itself is in purchased email lists. For instance, an IFA might phone us up and say:
“I’ve just bought 10,000 emails from a vendor, comprising potential clients. Can you create an email marketing campaign for me, to bring some of them on board as clients?”
We always say no to these requests. Why? It isn’t because we think email marketing doesn’t work. (It certainly does when used correctly). It’s just that ideas like these do not tend to work, and often back fire. Purchased email lists, moreover, are only going to encounter more trouble as GDPR comes into force at the end of May 2018.
A financial marketing “flywheel”, on the other hand, is a much more effective course to follow. This is where you build your marketing, and slowly it gathers momentum. Eventually, you come to the point where you generate more and more results, for less and less effort.
Take ourselves, CreativeAdviser, as an example. When our website launched, we were virtually nowhere to be seen in the search engines. Over time, however, we wrote content, articles and blog posts relevant to our IFA target market (much like the one you are reading!), and published these on our site. Eventually, Google took notice and pushed us up the search results.
Over many months, we eventually go to the point where we were ranking 1st place for lots of our target keywords. At that point, more people were finding our website, were spending longer on it, were interacting with it more, and then leads and enquiries started coming in. At that point, the effort of building our own “marketing flywheel” was paying off.
The same can happen for IFAs who are willing to put in the work to build a financial marketing flywheel, rather than rely on corner-cutting “growth hacks”!
To talk to us about how to start building your own flywheel for your IFA business, please get in touch for a free, no-commitment marketing consultation.