What exactly is a marketing strategy and how does it all work for financial advisers?

There are many misconceptions out there about the answers to this question. The problems is, they cost financial advisers a lot of money in costly mistakes.

In this guide, we will show you what a marketing strategy looks like – what it is, and what it does. We’ll also tackle some of the myths directly, to help you avoid falling into some common pitfalls made by IFAs when they try and put a strategy together.

Marketing: Common Misconceptions

Marketing in the financial sector is ultimately about getting the right message, to the right people, in the right way and at the right time.

Marketing is not the same thing as advertising, publicity or public relations. These are all different aspects of marketing, but they are not the sum total of it.

For instance, imagine you are a circus owner and you are organising it to come to your town…

If you put up flyers all over the public notice boards to tell people about the rare breed of tiger featured at your circus, then that would be advertising.

If you arranged for the tiger to jump through some fire-hoops in the town square and make it roar at the onlookers, then that would be publicity.

If you were to stand up in front of the media and talk about your amazing circus (and its rare tiger) to the press, then that would be public relations.

However, if you were to sit down and plan out these things together – when they would happen, who they would be targeted towards, how they would unfold and in what order – then that’s marketing.

Marketing Strategy & Tactics: What’s the Difference?

A lot of financial advisers confuse marketing strategy with tactics. It is a big reason why so many of them struggle to generate new leads, brand awareness and engagement.

A marketing strategy defines your overall approach to your marketing objectives as a financial adviser, whilst marketing tactics are more granular, action-focused activities which support the overall marketing strategy.

A marketing strategy answers higher-level, longer-term questions such as:

  • Where is the future of digital marketing going in our industry? Are there any trends?
  • How can we increase our share of the market within existing resources?
  • Who is our target demographic? What are their defining characteristics, need and wants? How are they likely to change over the next 5-10 years and what is the best way to communicate with them?
  • What kind of resources will be needed to support the strategy?
  • What are the key milestones? What needs to be achieved within one year, five years or ten?

In other words, your marketing strategy isn’t really concerned with the finer details of how the overall marketing objectives will be achieved. It’s looking at the bigger picture.

Your marketing tactics, however, are usually shorter-term and are more concerned with the finer details. Each tactic is usually tied to a specific objective, for instance:

  • Send out a monthly, bespoke newsletter to our clients featuring valuable content (e.g. branded articles and educational videos) in order to increase client engagement, retention and advocacy.
  • Run a Facebook Ads campaign to draw our target market to our landing page, which advertises our automated webinar on estate planning.
  • Increase the number of client referrals by offering a time-limited offer, such as a supercar Red letter Day experience to a prize-draw winner.
  • Grow LinkedIn connections with business owners in our region to a total of 1,000 over the next 6 months, to increase brand awareness amongst our new business target market.

Vital Ingredients for Successful Financial Marketing

At this stage, we hope that the distinction between financial marketing strategy and tactics is clearer, as well as the difference between marketing and the likes of advertising, publicity and promotion.

However, even armed with greater clarity about financial marketing – how can a financial adviser actually make it work for them?

You need at least two things. First of all, you need a clear set of marketing objectives.

These need to tie into your overall business objectives. For instance, there is little point having the marketing goal: “Increase sales from younger wealth-builders in London” if your overall business objective is to “Increase revenue from the existing target market (50+ HNIs) in Hertfordshire”.

Your marketing and business objectives need to align. They also need to be SMART. As an example, here is a marketing objective which can be considered SMART:

Increase the number of pension review requests on the website to a total of 150 over the next 6 months.

Here, the marketing objective is:

  • Specific (“increase the number of pension review requests on the website…”)
  • Measurable (“to a total of 150…”).
  • Achievable (Given available resources – e.g. time and budget – this can be justified as such).
  • Relevant (Assuming the business objective is to grow the number of sales from pension reviews, for instance, then this can be considered so).
  • Time-bound (“over the next 6 months”).

Secondly, your financial marketing plan should incorporate feedback loops.

This has to do with your marketing tactics (e.g. running a Facebook Ads campaign to generate more leads). It’s important to understand that your tactics will often fail, and this is completely normal.

The crucial thing is to ascertain why this happened, and have a plan in place to refine the tactic so that it moves closer towards achieving your original expectations.

For instance, suppose one of your tactics was to increase the number of attendees to your automated, estate planning webinar via a Facebook Ads campaign. Perhaps your goal over the next three months was to generate a total of two hundred attendees, yet within the first month, you have only had ten.

Why has this happened? Of course, it could be because “Facebook doesn’t work for financial advisers”. On the other hand, it could be because your Facebook Ad has the wrong copy, image or call to action.

Having a feedback loop in place will help you monitor the Facebook campaign’s progress, and refine it as you go along. Perhaps you try a different version of your ad and witness an increased conversion rate. From here, you can use the improved version and test variations based on this design.

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