We have all experienced it: driving home from work, getting bombarded by thousands of ads: billboards, signs, product logos, fast-food chains—all screaming out to get your attention. The list seems endless.
In just the course of the last 50 years, people have gone from being exposed to 500 ads to upwards of 5,000 each day now!1 We’re drowning in a sea of advertisements.
Even in the digital realm, it is common for people to have hundreds of unopened emails in their inbox.
Does the image above look familiar?
Take a look at your own emails. How many are you getting each day? How many services do you remember actually signing up for? How many emails are still unopened?
As technology becomes easier to use and resources become more automated, these digital ads will keep coming. More unwanted SPAM emails, irrelevant social media posts, flashy sponsored ads, and salesy postcards will keep flooding in.
Welcome to the world of robo-marketing where robots can schedule and send more content than any human could ever do on their own.
To add some clarity, let’s define robo-marketing as the act of pushing more content out automatically. With robo-marketing, more content can be sent with less manual effort in doing so. It is as if you set up a robot to automatically send recurring content on your behalf.
Set it and forget it.
Advertising is generally broken into 2 main areas: traditional (billboards, print, radio) and digital (social media, online banners, pop-ups). When it comes to robo-marketing, content is generally pushed out in the digital realm, and it is typically assumed more content is better.
The problem isn’t with automated content, though. It’s when advisors choose to remove the human element altogether and solely use robo-marketing tactics believing it is the best way to grow their business.
And this is where the cracks start showing. There is no upper limit to how much content gets sent out; it’s just more and more and more unwanted content, ads, SPAM, and nonsense.
Much like you would expect with a robot, robo-marketing has lost its heart.
As a result, the cheaper and easier an ad is to send out, the more it is likely to be used by robo-marketers. This can quickly derail a well-thought-out strategy for advisors and erode the trust they took so long to build.
Content for the sake of content is not strategy.
Marketing without strategy isn’t marketing at all; it’s just intrusive and annoying.
Take a look at the following chart:
Although there have been slight variations over the years, overall, consumers tend to distrust many digital marketing efforts when compared to traditional marketing efforts.
But the concept of digital marketing is not the culprit, and here’s why.
It is likely common knowledge that digital ads are much cheaper than traditional ads. And it makes sense. A Facebook ad can reach 1,000 people for much cheaper than it would cost to create a newspaper ad to also reach 1,000 people. Billboards are more expensive than Google AdWords. Snail mail is more expensive than email.
Digital marketing is much more cost effective than traditional marketing, hence the attraction for robo-marketers. Because these platforms are cheaper to advertise in, robo-marketers push more content out in bulk.
This creates a trend.
In the chart above, we can see that digital ads (those in the lower parts of the chart) are not as trusted as traditional ads (those in the higher parts of the chart).
To rephrase that: the cheaper it is for the ad to reach 1,000 people, the lower the trust consumers typically have in the type of ad.
Surely, this correlation is not by accident.
And what happens is financial advisors get duped into believing there is real value with robo-marketing. Catchy sales pitches like “reach 12,000 people using Facebook ads for the same price as reaching 1,000 people using newspapers.”
It seems like a no-brainer!
An advisor could theoretically send hundreds of thousands of unwanted automatic communications in little to no time at all and only spend a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing to do it.
And that may be why robo-marketing has become so popular over the last several years. It seems cheaper, more efficient, and easier to track results than traditional methods. But just because something is growing in popularity does not mean there is value in it.
The cost goes down, the usage goes up, and consumer trust declines.
It is a vicious spiral that robo-marketers have created, like a vortex flushing consumer trust down the drain.
What is more surprising is this faltering trust also extends to content even when it comes from a trusted source.
In a recent survey by Adobe, it was revealed that a third of American teens do not trust online content even when it is shared by friends, colleagues, or family members.2 If this is the response of teens now, what does that mean for business in the future?
Certainly, teens are not on most financial advisors’ radar; but how long till this distrust of online content spreads to older generations? Teens will not be teens forever, and preferences of niche markets are ever changing. It wasn’t so long ago that seniors over the age of 55 were the fastest growing demographic on Facebook.
Robo-marketing gets its foothold in the world by promising to reach more people at a lower price.
I ask you, if robo-marketers build a majority (if not all) of their strategies on methods that consumers have little trust in, does it make sense to use them at all?
You cannot build trust by solely using tactics that erode it.
It doesn’t make sense to be lured in by the siren’s call of robo-marketing content. Cheaper and more frequent is not always better.
And here’s the kicker. You might even think that the best way to grow your business—based on the discussion above—is to do more traditional advertising instead.
But not so fast.
Granted, we can see that traditional advertising methods hold higher trust with consumers when compared to digital marketing efforts, but clearly it is far more expensive.
So, if traditional advertising is too expensive and on the decline, and digital marketing isn’t trusted, then how are advisors supposed to grow their business?
The first step is to stop viewing advertising (of all types) as the primary way to fill the sales funnel. This is by far not the best way to get affluent clients.
The best form of advertising has always been through word of mouth. The chart above shows that recommendations from known people have consistently been the most trusted way to spread the word about a business.
In fact, 63% of affluent clients today will say they first discovered their current financial advisor “through a personal introduction at some form of social event.”3 4
Advisors can facilitate those personal introductions and get much better quality leads through a variety of ways: client events, charity and service events, and public speaking opportunities, among many others.
Events like these build stronger relationships and more trust than robo-marketing.
People are far more likely to do business with people they trust.
Take insanely good care of your clients, and they will become apostles… that is exactly what we do. It has made all the difference. We haven’t looked back, nor do we prospect, cold call or ask for referrals. None of those activities have a place in our business development strategy.
-Thomas Fross, Cofounder, Fross & Fross Wealth Management
and Cofounder & President, Platinum Advisor Strategies
WOW 2.0, Copyright 2015, page 18
Technology is a pathway to enhance the trust a financial practice already has. Digital marketing should be used as a way to cultivate the trust with clients that has already been established. Share photos from client events. Write content that is truly relevant to your business and answer questions your clients are seeking answers to. Provide information that is actually helpful.
Trust comes from personal relationships with clients, and advisors cannot build trust solely using impersonal tactics. Client events, relevant and timely communications, exceptional client service, and repeatable systems make up the foundation that client trust is built on. Give us a call and we can help you build a solid foundation of trust for your business.
4 Registered Rep July 2011 63% of affluent choose their financial advisor based on personal introduction