News article

Why pivoting to online meetings could damage your marketing

The enforced pivot to online meetings has huge benefits for financial advisers, planners, and their clients.

However, there’s a side effect which could damage your marketing.

In our experience, advisers and planners have usually preferred to work with clients who live locally to them. That’s entirely reasonable; it’s more convenient for the client to visit their adviser/planner’s office, or for meetings to take place in the client’s home/office.

However, since March’s pivot to remote meetings, we’ve seen a rise in the number of advisers and planners who tell us that they’re now happy to work with clients anywhere in the UK.

When we dig deeper it’s clear that they also believe working with people anywhere in the UK will give them a wider potential audience and, consequently, make marketing easier.

Unfortunately, the opposite is true. It will:

  • Make marketing harder
  • Increase the amount you spend on marketing
  • Reduce conversion rates

Here’s why.

There are many things which consumers look for when choosing a financial adviser or planner:

  • Independence (it’s still important to some, especially older generations)
  • Specialisms
  • Online ratings and reviews
  • Awards
  • Accreditations (such as Chartered or Certified)

Most consumers will also add the adviser or planner’s location to that list, usually favouring a local option. That’s hardly surprising when trust in financial services remains low and many people ask friends and family to recommend a financial adviser/planner.

There are times when specialism trumps proximity, usually in tight niches. For example, consumers might need to look further afield for Defined Benefit advice. A doctor or dentist might prefer to work remotely with a specialist rather than a local adviser who doesn’t have the sector-specific knowledge.

Those exceptions aside, and with all things being equal, why would a consumer in Darlington seek financial advice from a planner in Milton Keynes, when they can get what they need on their doorstep?

The answer: they usually wouldn’t.

Consumer preference aside, there are two other reasons why you should own your back yard before giving in to the temptation to look further afield.

#1: Your back yard will (probably) give you ‘enough’

In his seminal book, Paul Armson asks consumers to think about how much is ‘enough’. In a recent interview with Carl Richards, Seth Godin explained why we should be looking to serve the minimum viable audience.

Both concepts apply to advisers and planners; you only need ‘enough’ and the minimum viable audience to achieve your business goals.

Those people are easier to find when you focus your marketing on your back yard.

To put it another way; fishing in a small pond is far easier than fishing in the ocean (of course, those advisers and planners who fish in a barrel have the easiest time of it!)

#2: The further you look, the harder marketing becomes

Simply put, marketing is easier and more effective when you’re focused on your back yard:

  • Existing clients are more likely to recommend you to people in your local area
  • It’s easier to build a reputation in the local community
  • Social media targeting becomes more effective
  • It’s easier to build your profile
  • You need to spend less money to achieve the same outcome

Looking local is a strength, not a weakness

Video conferencing has allowed consumers to continue to receive advice and planning when they need it most.

That’s great but, unless you work in a tight niche, you shouldn’t target clients nationally just because you can service them:

  • There are probably enough people in your back yard to achieve your business aims
  • It’ll make your marketing easier
  • Consumers still want to work with someone local to them

Owning your back yard isn’t a weakness. It’s a strength. Embrace it!

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