Digital technologies have radically changed the marketing landscape for financial planners, advisers and wealth managers. Thirty years ago, few would have anticipated a world filled with social media, smartphones and novel marketing approaches such as SEO (search engine optimisation) and PPC (pay per click). As these have pervaded and developed, many financial firms are left wondering:
Do offline forms of marketing – printed advertising, seminars and the like – still hold a place in today’s digital world? Or have they lost their relevance and potency? Which one offers more value for money?
COVID-19 has intensified many of these questions as UK financial advisers – who are traditionally used to meeting potential clients face-to-face – have been forced to work from home due to government restrictions. As a result, those businesses without even a basic digital presence have suffered to their competition; losing online enquiries to those waiting for them online.
It is uncertain what the “new normal” will look like for financial advisers once lockdown lifts (e.g. will clients still want to meet in person, or settle for video calls)? Yet, in this article, our marketing team here at CreativeAdviser believes that there is still a case for offline financial marketing. The “old forms” of marketing in financial services are not, in themselves, obsolete. Rather, it’s the marketing strategy, goals and context which matter most.
Types of offline marketing for financial advisers
Offline marketing is a broad term which, traditionally, encompasses any type of marketing which does not involve digital technologies. For financial advisers, the most immediate and relevant example is usually called “referrals”, where a current client will have a conversation with a friend, colleague or family member and suggest they approach their own adviser regarding their wealth/financial issue.
Other common forms of offline marketing might include printed brochures, which could be posted to prospects or handed out during the first meeting. Leaflets, compliment slips and other office stationery (e.g. branded cups and pens) may also be an important part of the client’s brand experience, particularly whilst on-premises.
Finally, events might come under the banner of “offline marketing”. This might include attending a local trade show with some pop-up banners and hand-outs, and outreach efforts such as leading a talk or seminar in your community to address their financial advice/planning questions (e.g. a pensions workshop).
In the 2020s, however, it is notable that many of these marketing approaches have changed significantly and can no longer be isolated from digital technologies. For instance, rarely do “referrals” now occur without a substantial digital element. After all, current clients refer their contacts via SMS, over messaging apps (e.g. WhatsApp) and over email.
In addition, many financial advisers are finding that it is no longer enough to simply have a printed brochure. Rather, it must also have an online (PDF) version too, for those wishing to view it digitally. Seminars are also now increasingly held over the internet (e.g. webinars).
As we move forwards, therefore, it’s important to recognise that it is no longer easy to neatly separate “offline” and “online” marketing forms. To some degree, at least, they are intertwined. Yet we can still use the term “offline” marketing here to broadly discuss the types of tactics we’ve listed above.
Where offline marketing for financial firms works well
For a moment, imagine that you are heading to a job interview soon. You are keen to make a good first impression. What steps can you take to ensure the best chance of landing the job?
In the 2020s, it will be important to check your digital presence. Is your Facebook profile giving the best possible picture of who you are, for instance? After all, modern employers are likely to check. However, you would be foolish to not also consider your physical appearance when turning up on the day. If you appear scruffy, dirty and disheveled then this is not going to help your chances!
Marketing for financial advisers and planners is a bit like that. When you try to woo a potential client, you need a compelling digital profile to showcase your competencies, character and personality. Yet, inevitably, this person will want to meet you in person if they are going to trust you with their life savings and investments. That also means investing in a compelling and consistent offline brand, too.
As such, this is where offline marketing forms such as office signage, printed brochures and the “little things” (e.g. a nice branded notepad, pen and client folder) can work very well. These assets help to make your business feel real to the client, giving them greater assurance that you are going to deliver on what you have promised. Make sure you invest in these assets properly, therefore, and do not cut corners with the design and quality.
Where digital marketing holds more power
As mentioned, the world is moving increasingly online. Customers across industries expect to find a product, service or business online when considering it. Any absence looks suspicious. This is why having a great financial website and digital presence is so important in the 2020s. Financial firms relying on the “old ways” of marketing (e.g. just client referrals) risk missing out.
The great thing about digital marketing for financial firms is that it is measurable – you can easily see who is engaging with your content, and the results you’re getting. This allows you to ground your decisions about budget allocation in solid data. Moreover, the reach of digital marketing is, potentially, limitless. How far might your e-newsletter travel, for instance, or your last social media post? What kind of Google search exposure – and resulting organic traffic – might your recent blog post achieve?
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