The “How To” of Investment Advisor Marketing

Everyone who’s ever been in sales knows you have to market yourself first and sell your product second. The problem for many advisors is how to do just that…market themselves and a viable product. Just so everyone knows…we’re not particularly fond of the term “product”… but sometimes there’s just no other term to use (so bare with me).

It’s been fun to watch the marketing gurus of the financial services industry pop up over the past decade or so. I’m sure they’ve always been around, but the quantity seems to be growing like gangbusters.

And why not?

We’ve got FMO’s, IMO’s, B/D’s, system sellers, workshop sellers, conference sellers, software sellers.
Crap…there’s a lot of people hawking their wares out there!

So, while we’ve done a few videos covering some of this – here’s a “written” version of some of the what works and what doesn’t in our oh-so-humble opinions:

Seminar Marketing

Love it or loathe it – this method of marketing has been for many the crem de la crem.Jörg Bassek talk below about Internet marketing which has been a huge addition for those that relied solely on semniar marketing in the past. This newest form of gathering client assets will likely overtake the seminar market in the years to come, but in the flesh seminar marketing is still the flavour du jour in financial adviser marketing. Please realize for those attempting to be a fee only advisor it’s not just the quantity of assets and/or clients – but the quality.

The same is true with the seminar.

Believe it or not, but there’s actually marketing hawkers out that have fooled the bulk of our industry in believing response rates, size, and booking appointments on the spot matter???? Insanity!

Listen up: All that matters from seminar marketing is how much assets are raised from how few of clients. Yeah – you should want lots of assets and very few clients. This is NOT rocket science.

Remember one fundemental truth that escapes so many, the quality of people in the seats is by far more rewarding than the quantity or trying to fill up the room. The ideal client for a RIA firm is someone that has significant assets and wants an advisor that is different. This may be hard to believe, but being fee based is a start. Having something worthwhile to offer prospects is nice too. Once the path of least resistance is learned, it’s not all too tough.

Some crucial steps to take when attempting a seminar:

The Location

Make certain the location is well known to your target market, the parking is easy and it has a friendly atmosphere. A little litmus test: If you have only one daughter, money is not an issue, and she is getting married – where do you have the reception? That’s a good place to start when it come to where the seminar should be.

The List

Break the list up into two or three age and income segments…for instance 55-60 Incomes over $100,000 and 60-65 incomes of $75,000 or greater. Specify if possible a wealth finder in order to narrow down the search. You should be able to mail to at least 5,000 households within no greater than a 20 minute drive of your location.

Obviously 20 minutes varies by your location. It could be 20 miles in Podunk or 20 blocks in Chicago.

The Invite

Go ahead and test this over and over again using many different types, fonts, pretty or ugly and what you’ll likely find what works the best is a sales letter. A long one.

Many have been very successful with the postcard over and above any other method, however a 4 page sales letter seems to weed out some of the…er, plate lickers, as well as peak the interest of those you really, really want to come – but aren’t the postcard types.

Use a large envelope with special type on the outside such as “DO NOT BEND” that seems to allude to the fact something important is inside and it is in our opinion. Remember that the only way to qualify people before they get to the seminar is with the list and the mailer. The mailer should have a qualifier mentioned several times within…for instance “in order to attend you must have at least $350,000 in investable assets, excluding your home in order to attend this free seminar to learn…”.

The Setup

Generally speaking the preferred evening seminars that include a free meal please the majority of potential clients. Don’t piss and moan about serving a meal. It’s an ancillary cost and the return on investment continues to support offering a meal.

Most importantly – remember that seminars are a lot like competition. You are competing with other advisors for clients. Some of those advisors are doing seminars. And most that are doing seminars are serving meals. The meal shouldn’t be the focal point, but it should at least be up to par with your competition.

Starting the seminar at around 4:30 and concluding with a salad and dinner served around 6:15; after the seminar has been completed has been the venue of choice over the years for many. It’s important not to allow questions during the seminar as that is what the meeting at your office is for.

The Presentation

Speakers differ in style, ability and looks for that matter. In our opinion the presentation should be geared toward the Investment Advisory business and should not be intertwined with trying to sell commission based products of any sort. If you’re trying to raise AUM than the seminar setting can be a great place to separate yourself from the herd.

Web Based Marketing

It is our opinion that the mega producers of the future will be growing their business is a significant way online. There is a huge opportunity as at this very moment in time – most advisor sites suck.

A website really should be pretty simple. It should only attempt to do a few things – not all things. If you’re attempting to make the site a huge brochure you’ll likely be disappointed in the results thinking just because you have a website that you’re now ready to get potential clients.

The website needs to make the onlooker an offer that motivates him or her to action. What can the offer be? A good example that could be replicated, albeit in an altered approach, is the same offer made at the seminar. Offer a free personal consultation but alter it by calling it something different and unique.

Simply put, if you’re going to build a website make certain that somewhere there is a call to action that prompts the onlooker to want more information from you either in the form of a newsletter that they have to provide their name and email or some other form of continued communication. Below is a short list of website marketing strategies that will assist and hopefully protect you from wasting money in your effort to build and online presence:

Search Engine Optimization – SEO

This is a critical feature necessary to organically grow an online presence. This feature will allow your website to be found and rank higher on the search engines such as Google. Someone searches for an investment advisor in your area; you want to make sure you can be found.

Article Marketing

One way to increase traffic to your site is to write articles that can potentially link your site from others sites which is often referred to as linking. There are online companies that specialize in linking articles to other web sources that can easily draw attention to your website.

Pay Per Click Ads

Google AdWords allows for online PayPerClick advertising that allows several test ads that rotate and in addition allows for a budget. Thus if someone has a budget of $5.00 per day then once that budget is filled the ad no longer shows up for the day. There is a science as to how this works and how to get the best bang for your buck.

Email Marketing Campaign

Once you’ve driven individuals to the site it’s important to capture their email address. That’s where the offer comes in…It motivates them to register and thus the necessity to have a communication company that can capture their email for you and allow you to broadcast information to them at your leisure. One such company that will capture email and allow you to communicate with them in the future is http://www.aweber.com.

Leonard Rhoades is an investment advisor with Retirement Wealth Advisors, Inc. as well as Vice President of FormulaFolios, LLC. Mr. Rhoades has contributed to the creation and distribution of FormulaFolios and is a regular contributor to advisorcontrol, a website designed to assist RIA firms with marketing and better asset management.

You can visit Len’s website at [http://www.advisorcontrol.com] for tons of free tips and marketing resources for financial advisors, and investment advisors.