We live in challenging economic times, and businesses across the UK are looking to maximise their cost efficiency as a result. IFAs, wealth managers and financial planners are no exception.
Financial marketing is often an area financial advisers look at, when it comes to deciding where the axe will fall. This always bemuses me somewhat. Whilst I understand the drive to reduce waste and maximise returns, financial marketing is a business-critical function.
It’s what drives awareness of your brand, getting your value proposition in front of valuable potential clients who might want to work with you. Financial marketing is what drives sales volume (at least it should), so without it your sales pipeline would soon dry up.
As a result, you want to be very careful when “optimising” your financial marketing budget. In particular, it can be tempting to want to bring more of your marketing “in-house”, thinking you will save on agency costs by doing things yourself.
Can Financial Marketing Ever Be D.I.Y?
Let me caveat my comments at this point. Some financial marketing activities can (and probably should) be done yourself.
For instance, if you’re an IFA looking to target entrepreneurs and successful business owners, then LinkedIn is probably a solid digital channel for you to leverage.
For LinkedIn financial marketing to work well, for instance, you need a large network. At least 500 connections with your target audience. Preferably double that, to be honest.
From there, you can start publishing long-form posts on topics that interest your target market. This will gradually establish you as a thought leader, building trust and relationships among your target audience as they comment, like and share your material.
You can even link to articles on your website in the content you publish, driving traffic and exposing targeted prospects to your brand. With sufficient traffic volumes, a solid financial website and a sound content strategy, you can expect this to eventually generate inbound enquiries.
On top of this, you can contact your connections directly, find out more about them, and identify where they are up to in their financial plans. Make notes in your CRM, and share resources with them directly when you find something (an article, say) which you feel they would genuinely appreciate and benefit from. When they do eventually consider working with a financial adviser, you will be top of their minds.
Should you outsource all of this activity to a financial marketing agency? No, probably not. Because this kind of financial marketing involves your personal LinkedIn profile, outsourcing your daily posts to an agency risks sounding disjointed to your audience.
If you tend to post cheeky, playful comments for instance, and an agency starts posting colder, more “news update” style posts, then people will probably notice it’s not really you posting. Your LinkedIn profile needs to sound like you, otherwise it comes across as inauthentic.
So a good bulk of your LinkedIn activity (assuming you want to engage in this kind of financial marketing) should be done by you. Short posts, liking other connections’ posts, commenting on other posts etc. – these are probably better done yourself.
However, do you realistically have the time to search out new connections every day, craft a message inviting to connect, send each individual invite, and then track all of this activity over time in a CRM? Do you have the time to spend hours researching and writing a new long post, which ticks all the correct SEO, compliance and buyer persona boxes?
Of course, doing these parts yourself would technically be free. However, it would take up a lot of your time. Time that could be spent on-boarding a new client, or up-selling a current one.
A credible financial marketing agency would happily manage these aspects of your LinkedIn account for you. It would free up your time, and chances are you can rely on them to know what sorts of topics and content will engage your target market.
The Reality Of Financial Marketing
Bear in mind, the above is just one aspect of financial marketing. A sound marketing strategy will not just rely on one marketing channel, like LinkedIn.
Good financial marketing needs to incorporate multiple strands and channels. These then need to work together in concerted synergy, resulting in qualified prospects being exposed to your brand and moving them along the buyer’s journey to a transaction.
Even if you could effectively manage one of these channels effectively yourself, how are you going to deal with the other strands? Financial marketing for IFAs often involves multiple activities such as PPC (pay per click), SEO (search engine optimisation), content marketing, social ads (e.g. Facebook advertising), and other digital channels.
Each one of these financial marketing channels is a discipline in itself. Do you really have the time to learn each one, and then manage each? It’s a massive learning curve if you’re going to try and do it on your own, with lots of mistakes made along the way.
I’ll tell you a secret. I recently saw one IFA’s Google AdWords account. They’d spent over £10000 on their AdWords budget alone, with hardly anything to show for it.
That’s leaving aside the countless hours they’d spent producing content which they thought would get them higher up in the search engines. Only to discover they hadn’t adequately accounted for Google’s scheduled changes to their algorithm, which meant their content actually caused their search rankings to flatline and then plummet.
When you square that kind of waste in money, time and resources against the monthly fees of working with a financial marketing agency who knows what they’re doing, are you really saving money by doing it yourself?
If you are lucky enough to have an employed, experienced financial marketer, then that can work really well. However, not even a dedicated member of staff will be able to manage the full workload involved in implementing a comprehensive, effective financial marketing campaign. Chances are they’ll need help.
If you are an IFA and you are looking to start a sound financial marketing strategy, then you can contact us on 01923 232840 or via email using email@example.com. We can offer you a free initial marketing meeting to look at your options.
Phil Teale is the Sales & Marketing Manager at MarketingAdviser, an agency specialising in marketing for financial services – and especially for financial advisers. Along with our sister company, CreativeAdviser, we also provide bespoke website design, branding, graphic design and video production services to financial clients.
Contact us on 01923 232840 or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org