24th May, 2023 - Webinar replay
How to write an effective marketing strategy for your business
Phil Bray 0:00
Today’s free webinar, how to write an effective marketing strategy for your business. I hope everyone’s well; the sun is shining and summer is around the corner. Dan, do you want to start with some housekeeping before we dig into today’s session?
Dan Campbell 0:16
Yeah, sure thing, let’s do some housekeeping. So, I’m Dan, and I’m the Head of Branding and Design here at The Yardstick Agency. As always, I’ll be doing my best to keep us on track and on time. I’ll also be fielding your questions, and this session is, no doubt, going to raise many of them because it’s all about marketing strategies. So don’t be shy; make sure you get any questions in so we can answer them as best we can. Remember, this is a safe space; there are no silly questions, so ask away, share your experience of what has or hasn’t worked, and tell us if we’re speaking sense or the opposite. As usual, there are two ways you can do that: you can use the chat function or the Q&A box. I’ll be reading both out at natural breaks, and we’ll have a period at the end where we can sweep any final ones up. As usual, a follow-up email with a recording of this session will land in your inbox later on. So don’t worry if you miss anything the first time around, because I’m sure there’ll be a lot to get through. You can absolutely watch it back later, at your own pace, to your heart’s content. So, without further ado, over to Phil to tell us what a marketing strategy is, why we need one, and how we can write one of our own.
Phil Bray 1:30
Cheers, Dan, and thank you, mate. For the eagle-eyed amongst you. We don’t have Abi here today; it’s just myself and Dan, so we won’t answer questions in the chat, or Q&A, as Abi sometimes does; we’ll just answer them verbally on the webinar. Before the webinar started, I put a poll up, and that poll asked a very simple question: “What prevents you from writing a marketing strategy?” I can see that 77% of people have voted on that poll so far. So, if you’ve not voted, if you could just find the poll and add your thoughts to that, I’d appreciate it, and we’ll look at the results in a second. So, what are we going to talk about today? Well, marketing strategies, we’re going to talk about why developing a marketing strategy ultimately means you will spend less money on marketing than you would without one, which sounds like a good thing. We’ll talk about the five things your marketing strategy should include. We’re going to talk about how to turn your business goals into marketing targets, and that’s simply because your marketing strategy needs to have a target; it needs to have something to aim at. Otherwise, how do you know what to include in a strategy and what not to include, and how do you know whether you have achieved your aims or not? We’re going to talk about the difference between target markets, target audiences, and niches and why marketing is a lot easier if you have one of those to communicate with. We’ll talk about the key metrics you need to track once you have developed your strategy and started to implement it. And we’ll talk about calculating the return on investment as well. As Dan says, please do ask questions, give feedback, and share your experiences. We’re really grateful for the questions; it makes these sessions far more interesting for everybody. I’m really keen that everyone leaves today’s session with their questions answered. I don’t want people to leave still wondering and with questions that were left unanswered. So do ask questions, do give feedback, and do share your experiences about what has worked and what hasn’t. So, let’s have a look at the poll results, shall we? We asked a very simple question, “What prevents you from writing a marketing strategy?” and we gave some choices. 43% of people said, “I don’t know where to start”. Hopefully, you will have that question answered by the end of this session. “I don’t think we need one.” 2%. I’d be really interested to understand why somebody might feel that they don’t need a marketing strategy. We’re also quite interested as to why somebody who feels they don’t need a marketing strategy turns up on a webinar about marketing strategies, but that’s maybe a different conversation. “I don’t have time.” I completely get that; marketing takes time or money, and time if you’ve got it yourself, and money if you don’t because you would buy an outsourced solution. “Cost”: I’m really interested to learn more about why somebody might have voted “cost” and how the cost is preventing them from writing a strategy. 4% said “other,” and 16% said “We already have a marketing strategy in place.” So, “not knowing where to start” and “time” are the two most popular answers there. Let’s see if we can deal with a few of those things as this session goes on. So, let’s dive straight in and start by thinking about the two options that you have to market your business. The first of those options is that you could dive straight into tactics. You could start on social media; you could start posting on LinkedIn; you could start a Google AdWords campaign; and you could start with Unbiased. Interestingly, when people do dive straight into tactics, they forget the tactic that produces the highest quality new enquiries, which is, of course, increasing the number of recommendations you get from existing clients. But some people market their businesses by diving straight into tactics and seeing what works. That, I would suggest, is marketing by trial and error. You will try something and see if it works; if it does, you might reiterate and change it to try and improve it still further; if it doesn’t, you’ll move on to the next tactic. There are two issues there. You are paying money to market your business through trial and error. And of course, there’s an opportunity cost. While you are trying A, B, and C tactics, you’ve missed X, Y, and Z, which might have worked better for your business. The second option, which represents the tortoise, is to develop a detailed marketing plan, and that might feel, and I completely get this, like your marketing is off to a slow start. But believe me, the tortoise will overcome the hare by the end of the race. Developing that marketing strategy and that marketing plan is essential to achieving a successful outcome for your business. There are really five reasons why we believe all firms need a marketing strategy. The first is that it’s more cost-effective. Yes, it might take time to produce a marketing plan, and time is not free. Your time is not free, and our time is not free if you outsource the production of a strategy to us, but ultimately, it’s more cost-effective because you are not marketing your business through trial and error. Marketing your business through trial and error takes time and costs money. So, you might try a tactic (A, B, or C) and find it’s not working; that has taken time and money, and then you’ve got to try something else. So, developing a strategy is actually more cost-effective because that strategy will be populated by tactics and the right mix of tactics in the right order that is proven to work, which makes it quicker. Ultimately, those firms with a strategy and those with a plan will achieve that aim more quickly. It might feel as though you’re off to a slower start; it might feel as though you’re the tortoise, but ultimately, it will get you to where you want to go more quickly and be more cost-effective. The other thing a marketing strategy does is help provide focus and avoid those shiny new things and temptations that some people want to try. Your strategy gives you guardrails to run on, a track to run on if you like, and it allows you to test those shiny new things, those temptations, and those distractions against the original plan. Why were they not in the original plan? For example, we wrote a marketing strategy for a firm in the East Midlands not so long ago, and they recently came to me and said, “Right, we’ve got a call with Unbiased later on this week.” That’s fine; Unbiased is a fine organisation and works really well for providing leads if you use it in the correct way. But it wasn’t in the plan. We haven’t implemented the plan yet, so let’s just put a pin in the Unbiased conversation until we’ve fully implemented the plan. Having a plan helps you monitor the return on investment more easily as well. Return on investment: it’s absolutely essential that you monitor it and that it’s at an acceptable level as well. Having a plan shows you how much you’ve spent and what you’ve brought in in terms of potential clients, AUM, initial fees, fixed fees, etc., and that allows you to calculate your own return on investment. Lastly, of course, this is what you do for your clients. Financial planners produce a plan, implement the plan, and provide an ongoing service to make sure that the destination is reached. So, if it’s good enough for your clients, why is it not good enough for your business and your marketing? So, for me, those are the five reasons why all businesses need a marketing strategy. That applies to a small one-planner business; it applies to a business with 100 financial planners. You’ve all got different challenges, and you’ve all got different targets and aspirations, but every business of every size, in my view, needs a marketing strategy. Dan, did something come up on the chat; is there anything we need to deal with now?
Dan Campbell 10:21
No, just Jonathan sharing the same sunny sentiments as you were, this time from Newcastle-under-Lyme, so it’s nice to hear the weather’s just as nice up there. And a few people are apologising for joining a little bit late, so there is nothing we need to answer.
Phil Bray 10:36
No worries. So, if those are the five reasons why you need a strategy, what are the five things that should be in your strategy? The first is your objectives. What are you trying to achieve? For me, those objectives should be as specific as possible so you can measure success. Quite often firms will come to us, and there’s nothing wrong with this, firms will come to us with fairly woolly objectives, and It’s understandable, but those objectives might be “we want to get out there.” “We want to raise our profile.” “We want to lift our head above the crowd”, they’re all noble aims, but they’re not specific. So how do you measure whether a firm has “got out there?” How do you measure whether a firm has raised its profile? So, for me, those objectives need to be incredibly specific, and we’ll talk more about how you turn business goals into marketing objectives in a minute. But generally speaking, objectives for financial advice and financial planning firms probably fall into one of three categories. The first is acquiring new clients of the right quality in the right number. So, the first is generally acquiring new clients. The second objective that firms come to us with is to make themselves more appealing to potential recruits. I chatted with a firm yesterday, a client of ours, who has sent an offer to a paraplanner to fill a vacancy they’ve got, that paraplanner has six job offers at the moment. It’s a competitive old world, in the recruitment space, and there are things you can do when you market your business to make yourself more attractive to potential recruits. So that’s often the second objective that firms have. The third, and far fewer firms have this objective, is to find potential firms that they can acquire. So, the firm’s business plan is to grow through acquisition, and they want to make themselves attractive to potential sellers. Again, it’s a competitive old world out there at the moment if you’re looking to buy financial planning businesses, so there are things you can do strategically to make yourself more attractive to a seller. So those three objectives need to be specific, but they tend to fall into one of those three boxes: acquiring clients, building a team, or acquiring businesses. Let’s assume that you’re looking to acquire new clients, then your strategy should produce detailed client personas. So, who do you want to be working with? That might be a niche, and that might be a target audience, and we’ll talk about the difference between the two later. Who do you want to be working with? You cannot market your business until you know who you want to be working with. You know everything possible about them, and you know what their motivations are, what keeps them awake at night, and what gets them out of bed in the morning. What are their key challenges? What’s worrying them now? What are their aspirations for the future? You need to know all these things about your target audience and about your niche before you start marketing the business. Number three on the list of five things is a data-led review of your current market. So, unless you’re a new start business, you will do some form of marketing. It might just be a website, but you will do some form of marketing. So, a data-led review of your current marketing to understand what’s working and what’s not. When I say data-led review, what am I talking about? I’m talking about reviewing your new enquiry spreadsheet. We’ve talked a lot about why all new enquiries should be recorded somewhere. So, your new enquiry log, your Google Analytics, the data for your newsletters, open rates, click-to-open rates, that sort of stuff, the number of online reviews that you have. There are multiple sources of data that allow you to review your current marketing and dig deeper here, it isn’t just about levels of new enquiries. Things like conversion rate. I’m astonished by the number of financial planning firms, good quality firms, who don’t understand the rate at which they are converting enquiries, and they almost always overestimate the rate at which they are converting enquiries. So, third is a data-led review of your current marketing. Number four, you build the plan, and the plan sits as part of the strategy. The strategy is the five sections, the plan is section number four. That should be broken down into the tactics you will use to build or rebuild your marketing foundations, and then drive growth to achieve those objectives we established in the first point, and we’ll talk in a bit about what tactics might come under the headings of foundations and growth. Your plan should also include budgets. How much are you prepared to invest in your marketing? Timelines: what gets done when? And roles and responsibilities – who does these things? So, the plan should include those four key things: tactics, budgets, timelines, roles and responsibilities. Then number five, measurements of success, describes how you should measure the success of your marketing. What are the KPIs at the top of the marketing funnel you should be thinking about? What are the KPIs towards the bottom of the marketing funnel you should be thinking about? Those five key things should be included in your marketing strategy. Dan, did I see something come in from Ted, or have you dealt with that?
Dan Campbell 17:06
Yeah, you certainly did, and it’s a good question because it talks all about collateral, which is what I spend most of my time doing. So, Ted asks, “What about all of the marketing collateral in drawers or on shelves that is not used?”
Phil Bray 17:20
Dan, do you want to answer that?
Dan Campbell 17:21
Phil Bray 17:21
There’s no point in me answering about collateral when you’re here, Dan.
Dan Campbell 17:21
So just for the benefit of everybody else, when we say the word collateral, we effectively mean everything that has your branding on it that gets shown to clients or gets used internally. So, think of stuff like client agreements, terms of business, fee schedules, reports, and all of that good stuff. Ted is absolutely right; much of a firm’s collateral will be sat in drawers and cupboards because it was done a few years back and you didn’t really think how you were going to use it, and you’ve been to bed since then, so you’ve sort of left it in the cupboard. Oftentimes, as part of one of Phil’s larger marketing strategies, there’s a little item on there, among many other things, that’s called a collateral audit, or a collateral review. This is effectively a call with myself and the stakeholders of the business involved on the client side, where we take all of that stuff out of the drawers, and off the shelves, put it all in one big pile, and then ask, “Do we need this anymore? Can certain things be combined? Can certain things be used better?” And you’re absolutely right, Ted; there’s a place for it within the larger marketing strategy, but we get really granular with it. So, the objectives, the client personas, and all of the data-led reviews that have happened up until that point leads to that. But that part is very much a case of working out what you’ve got, what you might need to use to achieve those objectives, and then what we can do to put those in place. So, the answer is yes, it absolutely is part of it, but it’s a very granular part among many of the large parts.
Phil Bray 19:07
I would say that part fits under the marketing foundation section of the tactics. Thank you for that, Dan. Right. So, let’s dig a bit deeper now into objectives and how you turn your business and your business goals into marketing objectives. So, this is really focused on the objective of wanting to acquire new clients. That means you need to create new prospects, and what we need to do is ultimately get back to the number of new enquiries that a firm needs to be able to generate the new clients, revenue, and/or AUM that their business goals say that they need to bring in. So, let’s just take a really simple example: the business goal is to bring in an extra £10 million AUM in 18 months. Now, of course, there are a number of ways that you can bring in AUM; it could be new money from existing clients, it could be growth, it could be acquisitions, but I’ve assumed here that the 10 million all comes in from new clients. This firm, it’s relatively low, the average AUM of clients is £250,000, which means they need 40 new clients over the course of the next 18 months. Now, we’d normally pause there and just do a bit of a sanity check with the operational side of the business, just to make sure that they’ve got the operational capacity to onboard 40 new clients. If they don’t, they’ve either got to increase that capacity, which means we might start marketing for new staff, or they’ve got to think about creating efficiencies in the business so that they can take those 40 new clients on, or they’ve got to revise the goal because trying to onboard more clients than you can physically cope with is not a good plan. So, this firm, they want 40 new clients. Their current conversion rate in this example is 23.75%; it’s very specific; they have that number, or we have got that number for them if we’re writing this strategy for them because we provide that service, but they’ve got that number from their new enquiry log. If we don’t have that number or you don’t have that number, I would assume 1 in 4 or 1 in 5, but then I would constantly test that by recording all new enquiries moving forward. So that means they need 168 new enquiries, which means they need 9.33 a month; they are currently getting three, therefore we’ve got a shortfall of six. So, our destination there is to write a plan that delivers 9 to 10 new enquiries a month, which will allow them to convert at a rate of about 1 in 4 to bring in the new clients they need. It really is as simple as that, and you can rework that for firms that charge fixed fees. If you charge ongoing fixed fees, you can rework that for firms that do more transactional business, where they have mortgage and protection. There are all sorts of different versions of it. Essentially, what you need to calculate is your business goal, which will show you the number of clients that you need to turn into a marketing objective. You need to apply the conversion rate and time frame to calculate the number of new enquiries that you need. That gives you a destination, and once you’ve got that destination, you can write a plan to get you there, and you can measure success against it. So, as we’ll see later, some of this information then translates into the KPIs that you should measure. You would be measuring AUM of the clients that you take on, the conversion rate, the number of new clients taken on, and, of course, the number of new enquiries. You can’t do any of that until you’ve done this work, and that’s why this is point number one on your marketing objectives. The shortfall number is: who asked that question, Dan, in the chat?
Dan Campbell 23:21
It was Aimee who asked that.
Phil Bray 23:22
Aimee, I like the way you spell your name Aimee, that’s the same way my daughter spells her name. So, the shortfall is simply the difference between 9.33 and the current run rate of new enquiries. I hope that answers that question. Okay, just a couple more points. We don’t want to fall into the trap of thinking that marketing is all about new enquiries. We’ve worked with firms when we’ve analysed that data, and actually, they’re generating, on the face of it, enough new enquiries, they are, on the face of it, hitting their new enquiry goal, but they’re not hitting their new client target or AUM target, and that means one of a few things is happening. Low conversion rates are caused by a number of factors: marketing generating people for the wrong type of enquiries and the wrong type of people, problems with pricing or proposition, operational issues, the ability to sell, and that sort of stuff. But it’s a problem that needs dealing with. So marketing isn’t all about just creating new enquiries, it’s about focusing on what happens with them after the enquiry comes into the business. Because if your conversion rate is low, and we’ve seen firms with conversion rates as low as 4% or 5%. For every 100 leads that come in, they only get four or five clients. Just let that sink in for a moment. If the conversion rate is low, then that eats away at margins, productivity, and operational capacity. It’s just a disease that runs through every part of the business. So as part of developing a marketing strategy, you should be analysing your current conversion rate, and to do that, we need to be recording the right data points. Data is incredibly important when it comes to developing a strategy, and you can’t do that data-led review of your current marketing if you don’t have multiple data sources. You can’t calculate conversion rates, for example, if you’re not recording all new enquiries into the business, and you can’t look at the number of enquiries that you’re getting right now to be able to calculate the shortfall. You can’t understand conversion rates by source or by different advisers if you don’t have data. That’s one of the reasons why every new enquiry that comes into the business, no exception, the best new prospect that comes in, that is ready to move forward now, right the way through to the worst enquiry in the world. Just think about the worst enquiry in the world you could possibly get, and it still needs to be recorded. So, we get a true picture of cause and effect, what you’re doing right now with your marketing, and what it is resulting in, what it’s bringing in. Of course, the second reason, which we won’t go into too much today is that recording new enquiries allows for effective nurturing of prospects. But the purpose of recording data today and recording new enquiry data today is that it’s all about making evidence-led decisions, and there are 12 data points that should be recorded for every single new enquiry that comes in. I can’t emphasise this enough. The first five are pretty uncontroversial, there’s nothing people are going to argue with or misunderstand there. Point number six: Do you want to work with the prospect? Very simple, yes, no, to be confirmed. When firms first come to us, almost none of them record this data point, and it’s absolutely essential that you do because this helps us understand whether your marketing, current and future, is producing enquiries from the right type of people. If your conversion rate is low, that helps us isolate where the problem might be. So, do you want to work with the prospect? And for the advisers and planners on the call, you will know pretty early on, maybe from that first email, maybe from the first phone call, and certainly from the first meeting, whether you want to work with a prospect or not. It’s absolutely essential that you record that data. Was a first meeting agreed? The reason that’s in there is that it allows us to calculate conversion rate, from, “Yes, we want to work with them”, to “Did we get to a first meeting?” and “Did the prospect become a client?” Headline conversion rate, and then the conversion rate from the first meeting to sign up. It’s really important that if they didn’t become a client, why not? Again, we’re working with a firm up in Yorkshire at the moment, their conversion rates are relatively low, and we’ve done some work looking at the 85% of prospects that didn’t convert to understand why. We’ve narrowed that down to two main issues, and we’re doing something about it. Source of the enquiry, so you can work out how many enquiries come from different sources and take a look at the quality. Name of the client if they were a referral, professional connections for referral, and then some metrics to measure return on investment. So that might be initial fee, might be AUM added, might be the ongoing fee, it might be the ongoing fixed fee, plus the initial fixed fee, but some measurements of return on investment. Now, there are three places you can really record this data, a spreadsheet, your existing financial planning/financial advice bespoke back office system, IO that sort of thing, or a sales-based CRM. We’ve written stuff about that in the past, and we may be doing a webinar on that in the future. We also have our enquiry recording spreadsheet template, and we will put that in the follow-up. It’s just a prebuilt template with two tabs on it, one for financial advisers and one for mortgage brokers, and that allows you, if you want to use a spreadsheet, to start using that template. So those are the 12 data points that we should record for all new enquiries and those are the reasons why we need data to develop your marketing strategy. Before we go on to niches and client personas, Dan, anything that’s come through the chat.
Dan Campbell 29:48
Yeah, Tabitha asks for a quick reminder of five and six. So that was the date the enquiry was received, and the golden question was, “Do you want to work with this person?” Ted asks an interesting question: “Doesn’t AI really help with the quotation numbers and therefore reduce the impact of low conversion rates?”
Phil Bray 30:10
“Does AI help with the quotation numbers?”
Dan Campbell 30:13
Yeah, can you just flesh that out a little bit, Ted, and just pop a few more details, and we’ll answer that.
Phil Bray 30:19
Yeah, I don’t want to answer the wrong question.
Dan Campbell 30:22
It must be a good question if we’re not sure. So, pop a few more details through, and we’ll see what we think. But that’s it for questions.
Phil Bray 30:32
Okay, so niches, target audiences. So, you can’t market your business effectively if you don’t know who you’re trying to communicate with, and you need to be able to understand their motivations – what keeps them up at night, what gets them out of bed in the morning – right the way through to practical things, which social channels do they hang out on? We had a firm wanting us to run adverts promoting equity release on Instagram. That shows me they didn’t understand the target audience, the average age of somebody who uses Instagram is quite significantly different to the average age of somebody who takes out an equity release product, Facebook would be far more sensible there. That’s just one example. You need to understand everything you possibly can about the people you are trying to communicate with, the people that you want to pick up the phone to your office or send an email to. That means we need to talk about niches and target markets, and the two are different. I would say niches are narrower and deeper, and the target market is broader and wider, but it’s generally acceptable for most advice and planning firms. To give you a couple of examples there, you might be a mortgage broker that specialises in working with GPs, you might be a financial adviser who specialises in working with doctors; obviously, they’ve got challenges with regards to their pensions right now. You might be a mortgage broker that specialises in expat finance, you might be a financial adviser that specialises in expat finance. We’ve got a client, bdhSterling, who specialises in working with people who move from the UK to Australia and vice versa. That’s a niche. Yardstick work in a niche, we work with financial advisers and planners. A target market is broader, so a target market might be, we work with people in their 50s and 60s either side of retirement, we work with people at three stages, on the path to retirement, at retirement in the active phase of retirement. So, they’re broader but you can still answer those questions about motivations, you can still start brainstorming and thinking about their challenges, their aspirations, it’s really important that you do. Those are the differences between niche and target markets. I really don’t mind which one you have, but you need one of them, and if you find yourself thinking, ‘Yeah, but what do we do for people in their 30s? What do we do for people in their 40s? What about people who have equity release and IHT, people estate planning issues?’ That means you really need to circle back and come back to start thinking about the reasons why you need to focus on a niche or target audience. I do get it, it is counterintuitive because people feel intuitively, that the more people they can communicate with, the more successful they will be, but that’s actually not the case. Seth Godin has this concept of a minimum viable audience, providing there are enough people in your target demographic for you to achieve your business goal, that’s enough. Providing there are enough people, that’s enough to start mining deeply into that niche, and that’s because people want specialists. I broke my thumb a few years ago playing cricket, I went into the A&E department and chatted to the doctor who triaged me. He said, “Yeah, it’s broken. We can mend it; you’ll have a usable thumb.” It didn’t fill me with much confidence about having a “usable thumb,” and I wasn’t overly keen on him doing anything else with it. I went back a few days later to the fracture clinic, and I saw the thumb guy, and he recognised me because previously I’ve broken this finger. I went back, and he operated on it for me. I got the thumb guy doing it, and it works brilliantly, the same as it did beforehand. That’s why I want a specialist, not a generalist. I want someone who knows about thumbs, not somebody who’s practising on thumbs or doing a little bit of extra work on thumbs. People want specialists these days, so they want to understand that you are specialists in dealing with their challenges, their aspirations. Marketing is a lot easier when you are marketing to a niche or a target audience, if you are marketing to everybody everywhere, that’s really difficult to do, and you don’t need to do it generally, to achieve your aims. The more niche you are, the more you are focused on a target audience, and the easier marketing can be because you focus on just doing certain things, to talk to those people, and that means growth is quicker and it’s sustainable. I completely get that it’s counterintuitive to work in a niche or a target audience, but Yardstick is the living embodiment of the success of that. We started with three people; we’ve now got 43, and we work in a really tight niche of financial advisers and financial planners, and there are enough of those for us to achieve their business goals, and the same is true for your business. Agree your niche, agree your target audience, then develop client personas, and then you can start marketing to them. Dan, questions?
Dan Campbell 36:40
Yes, we’ve got one around niches, and then we’ve got a few others from a few slides back. So, let’s do Lucy’s question first. Lucy asks, “Can you pick and define your niche from scratch? Or do you need to build from existing clients and therefore fall into your niche?”
Phil Bray 36:57
That’s a really good point, and that is absolutely a challenge. I think there are two ways of starting. The first is that you start from scratch, and you develop or redevelop a niche. I can think of a firm that we work with that has done that; they are focusing brilliantly with a laser-like focus on business owners. What they actually did was sold their client bank, and that allowed them to invest and focus on business owners. So that’s one way of doing it. I think the other way of doing it is to retain your existing clients, focus on your niche, your new niche. That focus could be driven by who you are serving right now because presumably the proposition works for them, or it could be based on a different audience. If it’s based on a different audience, you need to be careful in your communications, etc., don’t alienate your existing audience. So again, we’ve got a firm in Manchester, they’ve got a client bank of fairly traditional financial advice clients, so 50s and 60s from a variety of backgrounds, they also want to focus on business owners. So, they’ve got a newsletter just for business owners, and they’ve got a newsletter for all their other clients because it’s incredibly important that they are engaging who they want to engage in the future without alienating people from the past. So, it’s a really thoughtful question, and I’ve given a rambling answer. But Lucy, hopefully, you can pick a few bits out of there.
Dan Campbell 38:39
Yeah, thanks for that, Phil. So going back to the golden question, “Do you want to work with this person?” Shabbat asks a fantastic question: “Do you want to work with them? Is that on personality or income? I meet nice people that might be good in the future.”
Phil Bray 38:59
Hi, Shabbat how are you doing? So, I think it’s, do you want to take them on as a client now? And that is very subjective, isn’t it? It’s down to you. There may be lots of reasons why you want to work with that person, but actually, just from that first meeting, there are a couple of red flags raised, and you realise the personalities aren’t going to click, so they would go down as a no. But I would say Shabbat, is it’s subjective. It’s “Do you want to take that person on as a client at the moment?” because what we’re trying to find out is whether your marketing is creating enquiries from people that you want to work with. So, it’s subjective, and I’d say it’s whether you want to work with that person now, whether you want to onboard them as a client now.
Dan Campbell 39:48
Brilliant, thanks, and going back to Ted’s question about AI helping with quotation numbers. They’ve added a little bit more context. So, they’ve put how many quotations and data filtering, less administration impact, for example, Confused.com. So, I imagine Ted means where you apply for a quotation for car insurance or something, and you get lots of things through at once. So perhaps a filtering system for getting clients to see that before they then get to you.
Phil Bray 40:21
Yeah, I’m not sure I’m the best person to answer that, to be honest, I’m not an expert in client journeys online. I think, as a wider point, AI has huge benefits, huge opportunities for improving efficiencies in all aspects of running a financial advice or financial planning business. I’m not quite as evangelical right now as some people, because I can see some challenges ahead, but I can absolutely see how it will help improve people’s marketing, people’s operational efficiency, etc.
Dan Campbell 41:04
I think in terms of the context of the question, you shouldn’t be using anything as a crutch to try and mean that people that don’t necessarily belong in your inbox are getting through to you because it’s everyone’s time wasted, isn’t it? You should absolutely do everything you can to make sure that your proposition is attracting the right people because, ultimately, time wasted is time wasted, no matter how fractional that may be.
Phil Bray 41:30
Just going back to Shabbat’s question, actually, just thinking about it, reflecting on it. Maybe Shabbat, given the example that you gave, maybe you’d change the drop-down answers in the spreadsheet or wherever you record the data to the question, “Do we want to work with this person?” So, “yes,” “no,” “to be confirmed,” or “yes, but in the future,” and so you’re giving yourself a fourth option. Because that then builds up a list of people that you need to nurture until the time is right. Or if you had enough people that are marked “yes, in the future”, then you can maybe look at a different proposition, if whatever you do right now isn’t exactly right for them. So, a little addendum there to the answer I gave earlier Shabbat. Should I carry on, Dan?
Dan Campbell 42:16
Yeah, let’s carry on.
Phil Bray 42:19
Developing the plan. So, what have we done so far? We have looked at how to turn business goals into marketing objectives, we’ve done some work on data, we’ve talked about a target audience versus niche. So, developing the plan. When we write marketing plans for businesses, we have a process that does these five things over the course of three meetings. It’s called our admission strategy process. It takes you through all these five things over the course of three meetings. So, if anybody wants some details about that, we can set up a call, just put your name in the Q&A or the chat, and we can do that. But your plan, when you’re developing a marketing plan, should contain two sections. The first deals with your marketing foundations. For a new business, that will be building the marketing foundations, or in an existing business, it would be fixing any holes in the foundations. Then the second section of the plan is the tactics to drive growth. So, what goes into the foundation? Look at that, Dan; the first thing on the list is the collateral audit.
Dan Campbell 43:35
Some would argue it’s the most important part, and I think I’d be the only person who would argue that.
Phil Bray 43:39
Well, it’s the first on my list. So, the collateral audit, again, is incredibly important. Enquiry recording. Most firms, when they first come to us, are either recording nothing or a selected number of enquiries, generally the good ones, which creates a falsely positive picture about your marketing. Or occasionally they’ll be recording everything, but there’s often one or two holes. So, making sure that your enquiry recording is bang on is an incredibly important part of the marketing foundations. Data protection, one of the reasons for recording new enquiries is to be able to nurture them. As we’ve said many times, new enquiries fall into one of three boxes, the middle of those boxes are people who are right for you, who you do want to work with, but for whatever reason, they don’t engage right now; they need to be nurtured. You need to present value to them and demonstrate you are the go-back-to experts so when they’re ready, it’s you that they come back to, not somebody else. To do that, you’ve got to get your data protection policy right, you’ve got to make sure you navigate the lanes of GDPR, and there’s a myth that you have to have consent to be able to market and to be able to nurture people. That’s absolutely a myth, but you do have to get your data protection right. Online visibility, can people find you online when they search for you? So, if I’m recommended to you, can I find you when I search for you online? When I search for you online, does what I see impress me? Is there social proof that impresses me on the Google search results page, on your website, and elsewhere? The three boxes that we recommend firms always tick when it comes to social proof are client survey results, online ratings and reviews, (we’re big fans of Google and VouchedFor), and client videos that tell a client story, why they came to you, how you helped, how they feel now about the future. Social proof is an incredibly important part of the marketing foundation, and of course, your website. Your website is where prospective clients are still at the suspect stage. It’s where suspects make a decision about whether you are the right expert for them, have they found the person that they are looking for to help with their current challenge or their aspiration. So, your website is an incredibly important part of the marketing foundations. Dan, anything else before we go on to growth?
Dan Campbell 46:21
I think we should go on to growth, then measurements of success, and then all the questions together.
Phil Bray 46:25
Yeah, cool, fine with me. Growth. This is a combination of tactics that will help you achieve your goals. Top of that list should always be referrals and recommendations from existing clients. It never is, when advisers first come to us, they always lead with something else. Never, I want to get more referrals and recommendations from existing clients. But referrals and recommendations are the best source of new enquiry, highest conversion rate, lowest cost of acquisition, therefore it should go at the top of that list. This list, by the way, isn’t in priority order, it is just a bunch of things that you could do that you need to select from to drive growth, with the exception that referrals and recommendations from existing clients should come at the top of that list. Directories. So, directories might be part of your growth strategy, Unbiased and a bunch of other free directories. If you’re a chartered firm, there’s a directory, if you’re an accredited firm, the CISI developed a beautiful-looking directory of accredited firms. MoneyHelper is really important, there are a bunch of directories you should be in. Some firms might have a target audience, where the gateway into that target audience is professional connections. So, if you work with business owners, a way into those business owners might be through accountants. Lead magnet campaigns, advertising an asset on social media, the “payment” is someone giving their name and email address and contact details. Local activities, local sponsorship, local advertising, we’ve got a firm in Otley who do a brilliant job marketing themselves locally. Part of that local activity that often gets overlooked, is people’s shop fronts. People’s shop fronts can be a brilliant advert for their business. SEO, pay-per-click advertising, word of warning about pay-per-click, everything I see makes me think it does not work above about £250,000 AUM. Therefore, by extension, probably SEO as well. Social media, again, is incredibly important. You might start thinking about how you use social media organically or paid advertising on social media, and that’s why target audiences and understanding your target audience is important. Because if you’re going to use social media as part of your growth strategy or your growth plan, you need to understand where your target audience spends their time. Content, blogs, articles, newsletters, I’ve actually started moving content now into the foundational piece when I’m talking to firms because that’s how important I think it is. For me, content is actually probably a foundational piece, and that means doing blogs, articles, and sending newsletters at least every month. Quarterly is a cop-out and is not enough to achieve your aims. So content is incredibly important. PR going forward for putting your ideas to journalists and reacting to comments. I don’t know if anybody on this call has used Newspage, but Newspage is a fantastic resource for being able to communicate with journalists, I’m a big fan of what Newspage are doing. You might be entering awards, that might be part of your growth strategy. You might be building audiences on social media, so increasing the number of LinkedIn connections you’ve got, increasing the number of people who like your Facebook page. You might also – some people think it’s a bit old school, but I don’t think it is – consider buying data. We’ve had clients who have bought data or created lists in other ways, and started marketing to it, and have done really well with it. They have been really successful because it’s a way of building an audience really quickly. So, there’s a bunch of tactics there that could be in your growth strategy, and what you’ve got to do is choose the right tactics and mix them together to achieve your aims. Without turning into a bit of a commercial or an advert, I think that’s where someone like us can really help because we know what works. Over the past 16 months, we’ve written about 80 marketing strategies for firms. So, we know what works and what doesn’t work, and we can save you a lot of time and money by explaining what works and what doesn’t, given your target audience. So that’s a whistlestop tour of the things that should go into the foundational section of the plan, and which should go into the growth section of the plan. We could do a whole webinar on almost all of those, and if someone does want us to do a webinar on one of those, let us know because we’re all always after ideas. So, to measure success, measuring success means developing a marketing KPI dashboard. Guess what? We’ve got a template for you on this as well. We’ve had it for a number of years, and we’ll put it in the follow-up email from today. But at the top of the marketing funnel, your KPI dashboard should be looking at website numbers. Not just the number of visitors but the quality of visitors as well. There’s no point in thousands of people hitting your website each month unless a proportion of them are engaging. So, to measure the quality of visitors, you might look at the bounce rate on GA3 as it is now and the engagement rate on GA4, which is launching in June/July time. You might look at the average time they spend on your website, you might look at the number of pages they visit. Because generally speaking, the more pages we look at on our website, the longer we spend on there, the more somebody will likely be able to engage. Online reviews, has your number of Google reviews, VouchedFor reviews, and Trustpilot reviews increased? Social engagement, you might measure that through impressions, and direct messages, there are all sorts of ways of measuring social engagement. You should be measuring metrics around paid-for campaigns. So, if you were running a lead magnet campaign, for example, on Facebook, you would be measuring the number of downloads, and average cost of download. If you were running a Google Ads campaign, you would be measuring cost-per-click, cost per enquiry, and all those sorts of things. Content engagement, so with newsletters, open rate, bounce rate, click-through-rate, click-to-open rate, unsubscribe rate, complainer rate, if someone marks it as spam, all those sorts of things. These are in the spreadsheets. As you start to get to the bottom of the funnel, the number of new enquiries that have come in, the number of new clients that you’ve engaged, conversion rates, and some metric to help you calculate return on investment, so, amount of AUM, amount of initial fee, amount of ongoing fee. So, you can see that this is all on the spreadsheets that you can use, and we’ll send it as part of the follow-up. But it’s absolutely essential that you develop this dashboard, complete it on a monthly basis, and then review that data to be able to make evidence-led decisions about how you might change your marketing in the future. We’ve also used this as a dashboard when we are working with clients on a regular basis. They’re hitting all their numbers, but they’re still wanting to add new tactics, often shiny new things into their marketing plan. It gives us a good opportunity to say, “Stop, slow,” because you might not need to add any more tactics. If your dashboard is showing you’re hitting your targets and you’re achieving your aims, then it provides focus and helps you avoid that distraction of shiny new things as well. So, we’ll get that dashboard across to everyone. A couple of things before we get to the questions, it’s cool to be the tortoise, be the tortoise don’t be the hare, and don’t dive straight into tactics without doing the preparatory work first. Understand what you want to achieve, understand everything you can about your target audience, review your existing marketing, develop the plan, and review how the plan is working. Those things will market the business more cost-effectively, it will mean you spend less money on marketing, you will work more efficiently, and you will work more effectively. It’s what you do for your clients, so why should it be any different for your marketing and your business development as well? I really hope that has helped people today who have struggled to know where to start with a marketing strategy. If you’re still struggling, you can outsource it to the likes of us. If you’re struggling for time, if you’re one of the 30% of people struggling for time, again, you can outsource it to the likes of us as well, and we’ll take you through those five things over the course of three meetings, which generates a plan, a really detailed, granular plan, showing everything that needs to be done, and when it needs to be done. A couple of other things we’re bringing to you over the next few weeks, we’ve got a LinkedIn workshop. So “How to Use LinkedIn Effectively”, is being run by Abi Robinson, our head of social media on Wednesday 7th June from 10 am – 1 pm, it’s a three-hour workshop. It will take you through the fundamentals of building a really high-quality LinkedIn profile, it will take you through the three key things you need to be doing on a regular basis, we’ll talk about how to write posts, you will leave that workshop with a list longer than your arm, of things that will improve how you use LinkedIn. Our workshops, we run them around every quarter, every three months, for £95 plus VAT, and we’ll put the links in the chat now, Dan, and we’ll put them in the follow-up email as well. Next month’s webinar, Wednesday 21st June is free, as all our webinars always are: “Everything you need to know about the changes to Google Analytics.” That is not as dry and boring as it sounds. Your website is your shop window it’s absolutely essential that you understand how it’s performing, absolutely essential that you understand the changes from GA3 to GA4. GA3 is also known as Universal Analytics. So, we’ll help you understand and navigate those changes from GA3 to GA4 and what it means for you and the business. Really, important, both of those workshops, and webinars. If you want to stay in touch, there are my contact details. We’ll leave that up for a second as we dive into some questions. Dan, over to you.
Dan Campbell 57:43
Thank you. The links to the workshop and the webinar are in the chat. You might need to scroll up a little bit because we’ve had a bit of activity in there, but those two links are there. We’ve also had a few people ask for our help with a marketing strategy. Funny that because for the last hour, we’ve spent saying how important they are. Phil, what is the best way for people to get in touch? Email your email there?
Phil Bray 58:09
Yeah, drop me an email, and we will set up a call where we’ll learn a bit about your business and we’ll explain how we run the marketing strategy, we’ll talk about pricing because it depends on a few factors, and then we’ll send a proposal across, and then it’s up to the firm whether they want to proceed or not. But yeah, send me an email. My email address is on the screen.
Dan Campbell 58:36
Brilliant. Thanks, Phil. We’ve had a few people ask for various bits of info throughout the presentation. Don’t worry, the follow-up email will have a recording of this session, so anything that you’ve missed, you can absolutely go through at your own pace and read all of those. So, everything will be sent through for you to look at later. We’ve also had another question from Ted, who asks, “When was the last collateral audit/review undertaken by Yardstick?” I’ve been on holiday for the last week and a half, but it was the week before that, 10th May I believe, so very recently. It’s something that we do on a continual basis with the various clients who are undertaking strategy work. Tabitha asks, “Do you share your marketing plan template?” I’m assuming that’s the KPI dashboard, and absolutely, that will be in the follow-up.
Phil Bray 59:30
Yeah, we have a KPI dashboard template. We have a strategy template that we use as well, but that doesn’t get shared because that’s part of our IP.
Dan Campbell 59:44
Brilliant. Thanks for clarifying that. If you just go back a few slides, Phil, where it says reviews, there. Jonathan wants a bit of clarification, assuming you mean testimonials on the website?
Phil Bray 1:00:05
No, I mean online reviews, Google, VouchedFor reviews, generally VouchedFor, very occasionally Trustpilot instead of VouchedFor. But what I’m talking about there is online reviews on Google and VouchedFor, it’s really important that you collect reviews on VouchedFor.
Dan Campbell 1:00:25
Isabel asked an interesting question about PPC. So, Isabel asks, “Are you saying that PPC isn’t a good idea if your target market is clients above 250k?”
Phil Bray 1:00:38
Broadly speaking, yes. I have never seen it work where the firm is wanting to engage people with about more than £250,000. It can work really well, but it tends to produce leads and enquiries from people with lower AUMs.
Dan Campbell 1:00:51
Perfect. Have we got time for one more?
Phil Bray 1:01:01
Of course, we have.
Dan Campbell 1:01:07
Perfect. Let’s answer Joanne’s question. So, Joanne says, “Hi Phil, with regards to logging all new enquiries, what about data protection concerns regarding retention for prospects who don’t become a client? Can we keep their details on file?”
Phil Bray 1:01:23
Dan Campbell 1:02:27
Wow, the fifth anniversary – what are we doing to celebrate? I’m sure we’ve all got plans. So, a question Ted asked a while ago that fell through the cracks. “Where does consumer duty and vulnerability figure in this, especially protection from harm?”
Phil Bray 1:02:44
So, I think, probably two separate things: consumer duty and vulnerability. Vulnerability is one of the reasons why you need to have developed key client personas, personas for your target audience your niche. Because if there are vulnerable characteristics about your target audience, your niche, you absolutely need to bear that in mind with your marketing. In terms of consumer duty, I think that’s a wider conversation. But things like online ratings and reviews, and client survey results can help satisfy your consumer duty obligations. Any more for any more, Dan?
Dan Campbell 1:02:44
I’m just scrolling through. I believe that’s all the questions swept up. So, unless anybody’s got any more, I think we’ll end there.
Phil Bray 1:03:46
Thank you, everybody. Thank you, Dan. Thank you, everybody, for engaging today, a wonderful set of questions, as always. Those are the two next dates that we’ve got coming up. We’ll put the links to those in the webinar follow-up today as well. We’ll put links to all those other documents and templates that we’ve talked about. I really hope it was useful. I really hope it’s given everybody a launch pad for understanding how to start building a marketing strategy. If you don’t have the time to do it, we’re here to help. So, see you again next month. Cheers everybody. Bye bye.
Dan Campbell 1:04:19
Take care, guys. Bye
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