Earlier this week we had an interesting enquiry from a financial planner, who asked:
“We’re looking to get more leads for our business. Which would you say is more important to achieve this – building a great financial brand, or having a great lead generation campaign?”
This is a great question! It shows that the person making the enquiry is aware that the design, presentation and reputation of your financial services brand has an impact upon your ability to generate new client business and retain it.
You can have an amazing digital marketing infrastructure and set of campaigns running. However, if these are not supported by a strong financial brand, they will be severely hindered. In the worst cases, they will be completely obstructed and lead to a lot of wasted marketing investment.
Consider the following example. You’re a potential financial planning client, and you’re looking for financial advice in your local area of Oxford. You search on Google for a “financial advisor near me”, and XY Financial Planning appears at the top with their search ad. So far, so good.
You click on the ad to find out more about the company. Upon arrival at the financial adviser’s website, however, everything looks and feels wrong. The layout is clunky and cluttered. The layout is counter-intuitive and the copy does not make sense. The imagery is old and inconsistent, and the loading speed of each page is extremely slow. Annoying pop-ups appear as you try to read the content. The logo and straplines are ill-thought-through and possibly even cheesy.
The lead generation campaign which got you to this point was good. However, the brand (specifically the website design) quickly put you off from taking things any further. You leave the website and consider some of the other companies on offer, who look more like the “real deal”.
Branding: The Crucial, “Invisible” Step in Lead Gen.
We’re sure you can relate to the above scenario. All of us have experienced the disappointment of clicking on a link in Google or elsewhere which appears to offer what we want, only to be directed to something which looks totally wrong.
The difficult thing about branding, however, is that it is difficult to define and to measure. After all, the “pure science” of a lead generation campaign appears to be clearer to understand and hold accountable. There are click-through rates (CTRs) and bounce rates to measure, for instance. Impressions and conversions. All of these results can be tracked, recorded and compared to the previous week, month or quarter to identify “weak spots” in the campaign and make improvements.
Measuring your financial brand, however, is much more difficult. How can you measure what people are feeling or thinking, for instance, when they look at your website for the first time? How can you gauge their levels of fear, excitement or interest when they read your copy, view your brand imagery or photography, and watch your client testimonial videos? Of course, it is very difficult to measure these sorts of things. Here, you start to enter the more “artistic” and “gut feeling” aspects of marketing, which many financial advisers (understandably) shirk from.
Yet the example scenario above shows that your financial brand cannot simply be ignored if you want to construct powerful lead generation campaigns which actually work. What, then, are your options?
Assessing Your Financial Brand
It is quite possible that if you have struggled to see success with your lead generation campaigns so far, that your financial brand might need developing. Of course, it could be that your brand is perfectly fine and the problems lie elsewhere (e.g. targeting the wrong audience, insufficient ad spend, poorly-designed user journey etc.). However, in our experience, many financial planners are frustrated because they appear to be doing everything technically right with their lead generation campaigns, yet few people are “converting” (i.e. making enquiries).
Very often, the reason for this is similar to the scenario we painted above – to a greater or lesser degree. The campaign the financial planner is running might be very good, but if their brand does not make them appear credible, trustworthy and easy to work with, then the campaign has a high chance of failure.
As mentioned above, you cannot really “measure” your financial brand with a spreadsheet, in the same way, that you can audit the metrics of a lead generation campaign. However, you can sit down with an experienced branding professional to assess your brand perception, presentation and quality.
Sometimes this can lead to uncomfortable conversations, but it’s important to be open to what this person has to say. They’re trying to help you, and what really matters is that your brand “connects” with people effectively and helps you achieve your marketing goals. Here at MarketingAdviser, for instance, many times we have had to be a big brutally-honest with financial planners who wish to develop their digital marketing campaigns. Perhaps we’ll say:
“Your target market holds out a lot of potential for your business to generate new clients. However, the website is very old and the visual aspects of your brand (logo design, colour scheme etc.) are quite weak. To get your marketing working properly, we recommend investing in developing your brand first, so that your marketing campaigns are landing effectively.”
So, which matters more – your financial brand or lead generation campaigns? Both matter, of course. You can have a fantastic brand, for instance, but very poor digital marketing infrastructure which means that, sadly, hardly anyone in your target market ever sees it. On the other hand, you could have the most advanced lead generation campaigns working for you, but watch them fall flat as your users simply walk away from your poorly-crafted brand assets (e.g. your website).
At MarketingAdviser, we help financial planners and similar firms to address both areas of their marketing. If you’re looking for help with your brand quality and presentation, as well as your digital marketing campaigns, then we’d love to help. Get in touch to arrange a free consultation, today: