The fourth quarter is the time many advisors sit down with their teams and build their marketing calendars for the coming year. The problem many financial advisors face is their marketing calendars are not being optimized for their business.
financial advisors are not professional marketing experts on the side so marketing is something that does not always come as second nature to them. As a result, the marketing calendars they build can often be missing important activities that ensure they are able to achieve their goals.
The way to find where the holes are in a marketing strategy is to put the marketing calendar through a stress test.
Imagine building a marketing calendar was analogous to hand-making a barrel. With hand-making a barrel, the only way to know if the barrel is truly leak proof is to fill it full of water and see if it leaks. When you know where the holes are in the barrel, you know where you need to focus your attention when plugging those holes.
When it comes to your own marketing calendar, there are a few tests you can do to quickly and easily check if your marketing calendar has any gaping holes in the strategies.
Note that there is no substitute for professional guidance or real experience. With that said, here are 4 methods you can use to stress test your marketing calendar:
- Do a Variety of Things in a Variety of Ways
There is no such thing as a silver-bullet strategy where doing just one type of activity will always grow your business (i.e., only sending emails to communicate with clients or only doing public seminars for an event strategy).
To better illustrate this, think about how an advisor might describe to a client the benefits of a diversified portfolio to reduce risk. The same is equally true for marketing. The most successful advisors use different communication channels when they communicate (emails, phone calls, printed letters, face-to-face meetings) as well as mixing up what types of events they do (educational events, social events). A multi-channel presence can improve the effectiveness of your marketing overall and ensure your message is heard.
If you find your marketing calendar is lacking in diversity, take the time to adjust your overall activities and make your calendar more robust.
- Spread Things Out Throughout the Year
Imagine having 4 events scheduled for this week, 2 charity events set for the weekend, another educational event next Thursday and another Friday morning, all while planning to create, design, and send your seasonal newsletters and weekly commentaries. Also, don’t forget many advisors are business owners and still need to run their business’ day-to-day operations. No doubt the team is going to be overwhelmed. This type of workload can be very draining on team morale. But spaced out throughout the year, this same workload becomes far more manageable. The best advisors are able to proactively balance their marketing so they do not push their team to the extremes.
Additionally, the best advisors keep their marketing activity continuous so clients always have their advisors top of mind when the opportunity for a referral becomes available. Continuing to do events throughout the year allows you to constantly create new stories for clients and prospects to remember. Continuing to reach out with a variety of communications and content throughout the year ensures your clients always have you in mind.
If you find your marketing activities are all clumped together into a short period of time, you should have a good reason for doing so. Otherwise, see what events and communications can be moved to other times in the year.
- Make Your Strategies Relevant to Both Your Business and Your Clients
A common misconception is some advisors believe more activity is better – more emails and drip campaigns, more seminars, more wine tastings. This is simply not always the case. Quality marketing is far superior to quantity marketing.
Many people love drinking wine. But if your clients do not like wine, hosting more wine tastings will not make those events more successful.
One way to determine what strategies are the most relevant for your clients is to incorporate client feedback into the planning for your marketing. Annual client surveys, client advisory board meetings, event feedback forms, and face-to-face conversations are among the many powerful tools advisors use to gather feedback for their clients’ event and communication preferences. The most successful advisors do not assume they know what is best for their clients. They know firsthand because they took the time to ask.
Furthermore, you must be crystal clear on what your big-picture goals are for the coming year. Are you trying to grow your business through referrals? Improve client services? Increase brand awareness?
When you know what you are trying to accomplish, it becomes easier to see if an activity in your calendar is a relevant step to helping you achieve your goals. As an example: if your main goal is to build stronger client relationships, ask yourself if it would be better to do more social client events especially if you believe you are not doing enough already.
If you find that your calendar has activities that are not relevant to your clients or will not help you achieve your goals, you may need to consider removing those activities altogether from the calendar and starting the planning process again.
- Give Yourself An Adequate Budget
“If a business owner says she can’t afford to market her business, she truly can’t afford to be in business.” – Sherr DeMao
A marketing budget is entirely dependent on what your goals are, but here is a quick suggestion:
Gross Production Level
Spent on Marketing
|5-10%||Keeping current clients happy|
|10-15%||Sustainable, comfortable growth|
|15% or more||Riskier strategy, but has potential for faster growth|
So how much are you actually spending on your own marketing? The biggest “AHA” moment many advisors have comes from the instant they realize how much they are actually spending on their marketing and how it compares to their marketing goals.
Often, the actual budget does not align with the overall marketing objective in the chart above. In my experience, there are many advisors spending less than 3% of their production level on their marketing budget and still expect their business to skyrocket in growth. Perhaps they feel they can simply will the growth into reality, but these advisors are not spending the appropriate time, energy, or resources to get there. While nothing is impossible, this expectation is definitely unrealistic.
If you find you are not spending the right amount on your marketing based on your overall goals, consider increasing or decreasing your budget with adding or removing tactics accordingly. You can adjust certain strategies so the planning workload almost remains the same (hosting bigger/smaller client appreciation events, using more/less exotic locations).
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Note that all strategies, timelines, goals, and marketing budgets are different from advisor to advisor as there are a wide array of variables and client preferences that can influence each marketing calendar (advisor’s location, book of business, competition or lack thereof).
Your marketing calendar should be optimized for your business rather than a carbon copy of a “best practices” template. When discussing the marketing endeavors that are right for your office, it is best to first have an understanding of your own unique variables. Here at Platinum our marketing team has worked with thousands of advisors from all walks of life, from all types of backgrounds, and from all parts of the country. We know how different each office can be and we take the time to truly understand the uniqueness of each practice. If you have questions about how your marketing calendar holds up to the tests above, give us a call. We would be happy to review your marketing strategies with you.