The Importance of a Marketing Plan
As an investment advisor you’ve heard before that to see growth in your clientele, you must market your firm and prioritize growing your business.
Virtually every marketing expert emphasizes the importance of developing a marketing plan, but the vast majority of financial advisors don’t have one. A survey of investment advisors conducted by the Wharton School revealed that just 58 percent of advisors have a marketing plan, and just 65 percent of those had updated that plan in the previous year. Meaning only 38 percent of investment advisors have an updated marketing plan.
It’s not that advisors believe a marketing plan is unnecessary. On the contrary, I have heard most advisors say marketing is beneficial. However, they don’t enjoy planning their marketing strategy. But what advisors don’t realize is that the lack of a plan is an impediment to their success.
If your competition is part of that 38 percent with a written strategy, creating your marketing plan represents an opportunity for you to draw even with them and get a leg up on your plan-less competitors. If your goal is adding clients and expanding your business — you need a plan.
At its most basic, a marketing plan describes who your customers are, where they get information and how you are going to reach them. Developing a plan is the heavy lifting of any process, and a marketing plan is as much about creating your vision as it is about logistics or action.
In spite of their importance, and the substantial thought it takes to create one, marketing plans don’t have to be overly long or complex. The following hypothetical marketing plan covers a lot of territory yet still manages to be specific.
SAMPLE MARKETING PLAN:
- Mission statement
Be our region’s go-to investment advisory firm for teachers and administrators
- Geographical framework
Our city, Austin, the capital of Texas, where over 22,000 current or former teachers, administrators, and staff from both local and state agencies live
- Point of differentiation — our three terms
Educators, local impact, helping children
- The HEART of the matter
Teachers change lives, and we want to help them reach their retirement goals
- Primary client target demographic
Teachers from public and private schools
- Secondary client target demographic
Vested Austin School District employees who are within five years of retirement
- Key alliance list
- Mary Smith, Chairperson, Austin Independent School District (AISD) Board of Trustees
- Sam Jones, Austin CFO for the Texas Education Teacher’s Retirement Fund
- Patricia Ortiz, Union Chief for AISD primary education
- Barbara Thompson, tenured teach with 30 years, is a center of influence among colleagues
- Competition: Austin Investment Services, a 30-year-old investment advisory firm that currently handles 40% of Austin-area retirees from the Texas Education Agency
- Product: core and differentiating offerings
A list of all Austin-area education causes and education centric investment opportunities and customized water bottles with your firm’s name on the label.
- Office model
A work environment that supports educational entities, including education-based artwork, office accessories that are education-themed, customized water bottles with your firm’s name on the label and bright red apples delivered twice a week to our office and offered to every visitor.
We will conduct three workshops each quarter, two client appreciation outings for the year, and sponsor one community event each quarter. Next year’s calendar of events is scheduled out at the end of each year.
- Fee structure
We charge a flat percentage of assets under management for clients or $200 an hour for non-client investment advice and allocation. We donate 1.25 percent of profits to the following education-based non-profits in the Austin area.
- PR: overview and media
Our goal is to be known as the “educator’s advisory firm” by forming close associations with educational entities throughout Austin and aligning our charity volunteer work and marketing efforts with teacher and administrative events, outlets, and student-centric organizations. Establish a database of all districts, schools, administrative offices, non-profits, and education-based organizations, and categorize by public, private (secular), and private (religious) status. Compile a database of all educational publications, 10 Advisor Marketing clubs, advocacy groups, radio programs, and print and broadcast media that client demographic might read, hold membership in, or attend.
- Control: tracking program and growth
Track inquiries regarding education and education-centric investing. The actual percentage of clients who want allocation in education-based industries and investments. Total commissions delivered to charities (as a percentage of total). Media mentions in Teacher and Administrator Magazine, the education section of the Austin Daily Star, Teachers United Weekly Magazine, and School Employees bi-weekly newspaper.
- Digital marketing
Our inbound marketing strategy involves reaching our target audience through social media and search engine optimization. Our outbound strategy involves a weekly newsletter to our clients and future clients with articles related to investing and retirement planning. We will design our website for visitors to have a great experience and a strong conversion path for visitors by keeping it clean and simple and having a primary call to action.
- Product: core and differentiating offerings
It’s human nature to believe that bigger is always better, but if you want to grow your advisory firm, it probably won’t happen if you market to everyone. Developing a marketing plan around a dedicated niche-client demographic should result in sustained growth in nearly all economic environments. The expansion will naturally occur from a consistent and ongoing “narrowcast” beginning. So, take this sample marketing plan and use it to get a leg-up on your competition.