Marketing (Basics) in a Volatile World

Sep 10, 2019

To me, the beginning of the 4th quarter has always been a time to step back and do a “gut check” on the business. Before the final year-end push, I always suggest to advisors that they take a step back and look at progress to their goals (while there is still time). For example, what about growth?

Growth goals can be different things to different advisors. Some look at income, others at AUM or number of clients. Whatever the goal, the question is the same. Are we close to hitting our growth goal for the year and is there something we can do to improve our chances to do so?

This week, I’ve asked Jerry Lezynski, Independent Advisor Solutions by SEI’s head of marketing, to share his thoughts on what successful advisors are doing to close out the year. What you will hear from Jerry is to go back to the basics – in today’s volatile markets, marketing, sales and onboarding improvements can set you apart.  Please enjoy this post by Jerry.

Let’s face it: 2019 has lived up to what we all thought was going to be a volatile year. Interestingly, 2020 doesn’t look much brighter, with half of the advisors SEI polled¹ predicting continued uncertainty and a market downturn.

And, as we head into what is historically the most tumultuous time of the year for the financial markets (more positive thoughts!), the silver lining during periods of uncertainty is that it also represents a huge growth opportunity and the best time to consistently communicate your value to clients.

Earlier this year, we published a paper with a number of ideas designed to spark advisor growth. The “Big 3 Keys to Advisor Growth in 2019” was focused on specific ways take advantage of turbulent times and help grow your business:

  • Marketing
  • Sales/Client Experience
  • Onboarding

To me, the biggest takeaway from our article is to focus on what’s important now. And, now is the best time to hone some of your skills and take simple steps to improve your strategy, processes and ultimately execution. While the paper goes into greater detail, I’d like to highlight some of the strategies many successful advisors are implementing before *and* after a client walks in the door.

Marketing

Many advisors are not natural born marketers, so incorporating some of these marketing basics can make a huge impact today. (And SEI has the tools to make implementing these steps easier for you):

1. Segment your clients and hone your niche. It can be all too easy to segment your clients based on your needs, instead of theirs. We recommend segmenting them by life stage or persona – personas are just a representation of your ideal client. Plus, creating personas is a great way to help illustrate how you might develop the right service model that meets specific needs.

2. Develop your value proposition. I know you have probably heard this a million times before, but have you truly taken the time to develop a compelling statement of value that is distinctive, targeted and measurable? If not, this is the perfect time to develop one.

3. Communicate with clients and prospects the way they like (and make sure it’s personalized). This is a simple tip that is often overlooked. Technology can make it easier to communicate based on your clients’ and prospects’ preferences. And remember, your website is the best reflection of your firm. Prospects are likely viewing your website before they even contact you. That’s why now more than ever, it’s important that your website has been updated to clearly communicate your value.

4. Apply “micro-moments” throughout your customer journey. Taking advantage of “incident-driven events” and communicate a concise message that is relevant to your clients can help in shaping your clients’ decisions and preferences. Utilizing social media is the ideal platform to quickly communicate messaging around these “moments.” Your clients and prospects will come to appreciate timely, personalized and relevant information from you.

5. Make your marketing measurable with a well-crafted plan. The most difficult part of marketing is getting organized and putting a plan into action. The key to successful marketing begins with a plan that outlines key initiatives and then breaks them down into steps, each assigned to a specific team member, outlining specific completion dates and budget. Establishing a marketing planning guide can ease this process and it’s a great way to get your staff involved.

Sales/client experience and client onboarding

In addition to a focus on marketing basics, now is the right time to improve your sales and client experience skills, as well as your client onboarding process.

  • Specific ways of enhancing sales skills include formalizing your client service offering and creating a client service roadmap to explain your ongoing value.
  • Effective onboarding techniques include implementing workflows to streamline processes and using a goals-based questionnaire to keep client information organized. These can set the tone for a more positive experience and reaffirm your clients’ decision to choose you.

In summary, today’s uncertain markets offers you a clear opportunity to differentiate your firm as well as tune up some of your basic marketing efforts, sales and client experience and onboarding. There is still plenty of time left in 2019 to implement many of these ideas designed to help you grow while setting the foundation for more loyal, long-term relationships.

¹SEI conducted the financial advisor survey at its National Strategic Advisor Conference at the end of April, 2019.  The survey generated responses from 105 independent financial advisors responses.

Please check with your Firm or Firm’s Home Office before implementing any suggestions.

John Anderson

John Anderson

John Anderson is the creator and lead author of Practically Speaking blog and Managing Director of Practice Management Solutions for the SEI Advisor Network.

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