How often does your financial services business take a close look at its marketing plan?
In our experience most small, locally-based financial firms (e.g. financial planners) don’t make a habit of examining their marketing strategy, say, once per year. Yet doing this is vital for at least two reasons.
Firstly, it helps you clarify your business goals and set you on course to achieve them. Do you want to acquire more clients this year, for instance? Then an updated marketing plan can put concrete steps in place to help you make that ambition a reality.
Secondly, it helps you avoid wasted time, money and effort. Marketing has tremendous power to help bring in new business, but can also be hugely wasteful if not directed properly.
Just like fuel to a car engine, if marketing is not managed properly it can blow up in your face.
How can you put a solid marketing plan together as a financial services business? In this 2022 guide, our team at MarketingAdviser offers some thoughts to help get you started.
We hope this helps you and please get in touch if you’d like to discuss your own marketing plan.
Prepare an outline
It is best to have your marketing plan written down – where key people in your financial firm can easily refer to it.
Here, we recommend having a solid structure for this document so that it is systematic and easy to follow/digest. Here is a suggestion:
- Business summary (what your financial services firm does).
- Vision/mission statement (why you do what you do, and what you want to achieve).
- Business initiatives (key marketing projects going on at the moment – or, those in the pipeline).
- Client outline (who you typically serve and target with your marketing).
- Competitor analysis (who your rivals are).
- SWOT (which business strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats you have identified).
- Overall marketing strategy (e.g. covering the 5-7 “Ps” of marketing).
- Marketing budget.
- Marketing channels.
- Projection of financials for the year(s) ahead.
Current position analysis
Just like a military commander in the midst of war, with marketing it is vital to establish where your “side” (business) currently stands in the wider theatre before making big plans about where to commit resources.
Here, your SWOT analysis will be helpful. However, consider also using a framework such as the following – to help ensure you do not miss out anything in the “bigger” picture:
- Politics. What is going on in the halls of power which might affect your financial services business? Does the current government show favour, generally, towards the financial sector? Could shifts in foreign relations affect your company?
- Economics. What is happening with inflation and interest rates and how might this impact your value proposition in the wider marketplace? Is employment rising and what, broadly speaking, is the financial situation of your target client?
- Society/culture. Are there any cultural norms to be aware of when marketing your business? You do not want to inadvertently offend or alienate anyone inadvertently. Have any broad shifts in customer behaviour occurred lately (e.g. since COVID-19)?
- Environment. Is anything going on in the natural world that may affect your business? For instance, insurance businesses in the east coast of the USA have been greatly affected by California’s numerous forest fires.
- Legal/regulatory. Financial services is notoriously affected by compliance and regulatory changes. Ongoing Brexit tensions with the EU, for example, might continue to impact UK financial services access to customers in the European mainland.
Target client outline
With this broader picture in mind, make sure you take time to really delve into your target audience.
After all, a failure to fully understand your ideal client is a near-certain way for your marketing messages to fall flat. Here, we recommend including both your audience’s demographics and psychographics within your “buyer persons” (client descriptions).
The former refers to key information like age, income and gender. The latter, however, is equally if not more important. Psychographics refers to what your audience values and fears.
Which problems do they face, and how can you help overcome them?
Having this information before you is tremendously useful for your financial services marketing plan, as you can now be much more specific with your choice of marketing channels and budget allocation.
Define your strategy
At this point, you need a broad marketing strategy to guide the tactics you will use to reach your audience. Here, there are at least four which you can choose from:
- Market penetration. This is where you concentrate on your current, core target market to increase market share.
- Product/service development. Here, you try to sell new products or services to the core market.
- Market shift. This involves selling your existing products or services to a new market.
- Diversification. Here, you sell new products/services to a new market.
The strategy you choose depends on your goals and current situation. For instance, is your existing marketplace very saturated with rivals? If so, then it may be time to expand into a new market – or, develop new products/services to sell to your current one.
Choose your tactics
This is when you can start selecting your marketing channels – e.g. Facebook Ads, SEO and email marketing.
Many financial firms skip to this part before taking any of the aforementioned steps above. However, with your financial services marketing plan in place, you can be strategic and sensible with your choice of tactics.
For instance, does your target audience primarily spend their “digital time” on email and LinkedIn? If so, then it makes sense to concentrate your marketing efforts in these spheres.
However, if your audience is mostly still “digitally-averse” and prefers to deal with printed materials (e.g. trade magazines and printed newspapers), then you may wish to invest more of your marketing budget in these offline marketing channels.