The two of the big unknowns for firms in 2020 will be the cost of PI cover and the level of regulatory fees. We know advisers and planners are worried and expect the cost of both to rise, but by how much, no one knows.
It’s therefore unsurprising that some firms will look to cut costs elsewhere. Some might even be tempted to trim their marketing budget.
Could we gently suggest that would be a mistake?
To misquote Mandy Rice-Davies; “Well he would say that, wouldn’t he?”
And you might be right.
However, while cutting your marketing budget might fill a short-term gap in your financial forecasts, it’ll certainly have a negative impact on your business in the long-term.
How much should you spend?
It’s two years since we asked leading marketing and financial experts how much advisers and planners should spend on their marketing. A consensus of 5 – 10% of turnover emerged. Of course, this is dependent on the maturity of your business and your growth targets.
That budget should also be spent wisely and in ways which will produce a measurable return on investment. So, for our first blog of 2020 here are five areas to which we recommend you consider allocating your marketing budget.
1. Maximising the referral opportunity
We all know that a referral from an existing client or professional connection is the best type of new enquiry.
However, our research shows that despite nearly 98% of clients being happy to refer their adviser or planner to others, relatively few get referrals in significant numbers. The reason? Almost no advisers or planners have a referral strategy in place.
Even worse, the lack of referrals is rarely recognised as an issue.
Where could you allocate your budget?
- Developing a strategy to deal with each of the ‘dirty dozen’; the 12 reasons why advisers and planners don’t get more referrals
- Incentivising your team
- Incentivising clients (not often popular but we have seen it work)
- Saying ‘thank you’ to clients (a ‘thank you’ is different from an incentive)
- Developing collateral to support your referral strategy
- Investing in improving the existing client experience
2. Improving your online presence
Before making contact most referrals will head to Google to search for you or your business. Some will want basic information, others will be carrying out deeper due diligence, perhaps having been referred to a couple of advisers/planners.
That means you need to be visible and impressive.
Many advisers and planners believe that an online presence is all about having an effective website. That’s part of it for sure, but the journey to your site usually starts with a Google search. That means you need to dominate the results page for a brand search and impress at the same time. There’s no better way to achieve that than having a fully completed Google My Business listing, including reviews from happy clients and selecting another platform to complement the Google reviews.
Where could you allocate your budget?
There’s no direct cost to collecting Google reviews; claiming your Google My Business listing is free, so is developing a process for collecting them. If you don’t have a process for requesting online reviews that’s another job to add to your ‘to do’ list.
We recommend that a second platform is used to collect reviews and our preference is almost always for VouchedFor. There are several reasons for this, not least the fact that the reviews are generated for each adviser or planner, which helps dominate the search results for their name. The cost of VouchedFor membership is relatively modest. You can learn more by clicking here.
You can learn more about the review platforms available and how to build a simple process to collect these reviews by clicking here.
3. Telling client stories
We know that financial planning changes lives, but we still need to convince many consumers of the benefits.
There are two ways to do that:
- You tell them
- You get existing clients to tell them
Which do you think is more effective?
The age of the testimonial is dead; our research shows that only 1 – 2% of all website visitors will read a testimonials page. And of those who do, how many will believe an anonymous testimonial?
Our research shows that only 9% of financial planning firms have client videos on their website. Those advisers and planners who crank up the social proof to the next level in 2020 will differentiate themselves and demonstrate how financial planning changes lives.
Where could you allocate budget?
In our view, client videos are the gold standard of social proof. They don’t come cheap though and probably require an investment of circa £3,500 to get a set of six videos. Then there’s the time and money to add them to your website and promote them effectively.
In our experience, the pay off is significant though. Done well, and you will be left with a set of stories which can be used to support your marketing for years to come.
Written case studies are far less costly to produce. However, the clients still need to be interviewed, their responses written up and then added to your website. That all takes time or money if you decide to outsource it.
4. Improve conversion rates
So often overlooked, increasing the proportion of enquiries which are converted into clients has many benefits. Not least improved profitability due to efficiencies it creates and the need to spend less money on marketing in the first place.
A low conversion rate is usually due to one, or a combination of, three factors:
- Ineffective marketing generating enquiries from the wrong type of people
- The adviser or planner’s poor sales skills
- Poor onboarding
Unfortunately, in our experience, very few firms actively monitor their conversion rate or take steps to improve it. We need to start by understanding your current conversion rates and suggest that anything below 25 – 30% is low and needs attention.
Once that’s done, if your conversion rate is lower than our suggested benchmark it’s time to understand which of the above reasons is responsible.
Where could you allocate budget?
There’s no direct cost to collecting the data you need to monitor conversion rates.
Once you’ve understood which of the above factors is causing your low conversion rate you can then act, which may incur an additional cost but with huge potential benefits. However, we’d certainly recommend that using a sales-focused CRM (which most traditional back-office systems aren’t) helps to increase conversion rates. You can read more about that by clicking here.
5. Writing and distributing content
If you’re trying to market your business without producing content, you’re making life much harder than it needs to be. It demonstrates your knowledge, adds value and gives people a nudge towards you.
Content can take many forms, from blogs (yes, people of all ages still read them) to guides, e-books to infographics, podcasts to videos. Whichever you choose your content must be relevant, interesting and informative to your target audience.
The content you produce can be used in many ways, including:
- On social media
- As a lead magnet
- To send to prospects and clients as a one-off “I wrote this and thought of you” messages
- Turned into videos and podcasts
- As part of an SEO strategy
There’s almost no limit to the ways in which content can be repurposed and distributed.
Where should you allocate budget?
In two ways; content production and distribution.
How much you spend depends on the type of content, for example, podcasts are more expensive than blogs, and how it’s distributed.
Financial adviser and planner marketing in 2020
Understanding where to spend your marketing budget so that it provides the greatest return on investment isn’t easy.
Some tactics, such as developing more referrals, polishing your online presence or improving your conversion rate probably cost more in time than money. Others though will need a monetary investment.
Everything is connected though. For example, referrals developed as part of a strategy will want to be impressed online by your reviews and website. They might not be ready to commit yet, therefore need to be nurtured via content and social media. That means there’s no magic bullet. However, we’re here to help.
If you would like to know more about the things we’ve talked about in this blog or have other marketing challenges you’d like our help with, please get in touch. You can email us at [email protected] or call us on 0115 8965 300.