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How Financial Advisors Can Build Effective Marketing Plans [2024 update]

LPL Financial

A defined marketing plan can help advisors like you communicate your brand and value to prospective clients to grow your business. LPL Financial can help by providing consulting, automation, content, and other services and tools that save you time while maximizing your visibility.

The effective combination of the human and technology together can grow the pie — and not just for the advisor as an individual, but for their investors as well.

- Kristie Edling-Day, CIO of Technology Advisor Experience at LPL

Technology has driven changes in the financial industry over the last decade and created more opportunities for new and experienced investors to find an advisor. This means it’s more important than ever for businesses to stay competitive within the market. A well-designed marketing plan can help advisors like you keep your competitive edge by increasing brand visibility and effectively communicating your value proposition to potential clients.

Another aspect of creating a strong marketing plan is compliance. You want to make sure to follow the SEC Marketing Rule 206(4)-1 and its amendments around marketing practices and the addition of cash solicitation rules. The SEC’s current definition of “advertising” may differ from your interpretation, so visit their marketing FAQs for information directly from them. This rule was created to protect investors from fraudulent or misleading claims and has been amended to reflect the changes in modern advertising, communication, and technology.

With that in mind, here are our recommended six steps for crafting a strong marketing plan to help your business stand out.

1. Identify your marketing goals 

There are many different types of marketing goals that you can set for your practice. To set effective goals, start with the SMART framework: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound. You might want to consider creating marketing goals around increasing your brand awareness or generating leads. Whichever marketing goals you choose, it’s important that they align closely with your business goals. 

Your business is unique to you, and so is your specific idea of growth and success. A marketing plan that doesn’t reflect the future you want as a business owner, won’t work well for your business. That’s why it’s important that your marketing strategy supports your business strategy. 

For example, targeting brand-new clients may not be the right direction for your book of business. Perhaps you want to connect with your current clients’ heirs and develop specific communication for that purpose. Or, perhaps you’re keen on targeting millennial investors and looking to offer a more personalized digital experience for your clients. Maybe you’re planning to add new financial services to your business offerings, or sell your practice in the near future.

Your marketing goals should ultimately align with your business objectives. Consider what you want to achieve in the short-term and long-term when setting your goals. And be realistic in your expectations for results.

2. Identify your target audience

Establishing your future goals may have already given you a head start on this one. However, clearly defining your ideal clients will help you define your marketing plan. Begin by listing the characteristics, attributes, and financial goals that describe your ideal clients. Start by answering questions such as: 

  • Where are they in their investment journey?
  • What do they value in their financial lives?
  • What are the key demographics they fall into?

These are all questions that can help you determine your target audience and segment them into various investor profile groups to reference when building or improving your marketing plan. Next, think about what these segmented clients may be looking for in a financial advisor. Start by answering questions such as:

  • Are they most likely planning to buy their first home? A vacation home?
  • Are they planning for or nearing retirement?
  • Are they digitally savvy and actively using email, social media, and search engines?
  • Are they opening a business and/or planning to send their children to college? 

These answers can help you create more tailored messaging through your brand positioning and marketing communications. The more tailored your brand messaging is to your specific targets, the more effective you’ll be in reaching them. It’s good to keep in mind that brand messaging doesn’t end with advertising — it echoes throughout your various customer touchpoints.

Research shows the modern investor values both technology and human guidance when investing. How you communicate with prospects prior to earning their business is their initial glimpse into how you will relate to them as a financial advisor. 

Tailor content to your target client

Once you identify your target audience, you can tailor your content to them. For example, clients in a younger demographic may prefer intuitive apps and push notifications, while those in an older demographic may prefer more personalized communication and continuity. Knowing what may work best for your target client will help you develop financial content ideas that best fit the investor audience you’re hoping to attract.

As digital platforms have evolved, they remain an excellent way to help you get across important information and brand messaging. Use content channels to: 

  • Keep clients informed. Set up a company blog on your website and/or create an email newsletter to share updates, important tax deadlines, industry insights, and more. 
  • Share knowledge. Conduct webinars or host virtual events to share your industry knowledge with prospective clients.
  • Increase visibility. Connect with local news sources to offer your expertise and industry perspective on applicable new stories and events. Check out LPL Research to get a well-rounded idea of market conditions, headlines, and what investors may be curious about. 

It’s also important to take your own bandwidth into account. Unless you have an experienced team helping you with content curation and scheduling, you’ll soon learn an unfortunate truth: your time is valuable and your clients require much of it. When putting media and content objectives into your marketing plan, take time to make sure you’re optimizing your digital efforts when and where you can. 

In an interview with Barron’s, LPL’s CIO of Technology, Advisor Experience, Kristie-Edling-Day addressed how blending technology with the human touch can be a powerful gamechanger for advisors.  “Understand where you're irreplaceable and then understand where technology can be really good if you put those two together. Far from this fear of technology taking over or being a zero-sum game where it's me or the technology, I truly believe, and I think history has already borne this out and it will again, that the effective combination of the human and technology together can grow the pie — and not just for the advisor as an individual, but for their investors as well.”*

3. Create a budget and timeline

As a business owner, your time is valuable — and so is your marketing dollar. That’s why it’s essential to ensure your marketing strategies are well-organized, well-funded, and well-timed so they produce the best outcomes. A marketing plan template or guide will offer you little benefit if there aren’t clear parameters to operate against or measure the impact of your efforts.

To understand your ideal timeline, you can ask yourself — when will you complete each task? Or, to define your budget, you might consider allocating funds each quarter. Make sure to allow yourself enough time to do the job right and to track your results. Marketing campaigns can take weeks or even months to generate results, so it’s best to be patient and consistent in your efforts. 

By creating a realistic budget and timeline, you can set your marketing plan up for success. Carefully consider all the elements of your plan so you can increase your chances of achieving your goals. 

4. Highlight what makes you different

What makes you unique as a financial advisor in the market? What makes your brand and business unique? These are questions most business owners forget to answer as they build their marketing plan, but it’s essential in identifying opportunities to resonate with potential clients. 

> Increasingly, investors are eager to find financial professionals that can offer more than just advice. Investors want financial advisors with similar experiences and perspective as theirs, so they feel more confident in financial decisions. Highlighting what makes you different is simply showing what makes you unique and appealing to your potential clients.

Whether you have a financial specialty, cross-industry experience, or demographic differentiator, there are investors who desire your unique expertise. Help them find you by being you through your brand messaging and marketing communications.

If you’re struggling to identify your differentiator, try conducting some competitor research and internal analysis. 

  • Observe how others in the industry align their brand messaging to best communicate their business’ value.
  • Evaluate your website and marketing materials to highlight your business’s unique attributes and value in alignment with your client’s needs. 

A few messaging changes can greatly increase your ability to resonate, and connect, with those who would benefit from your financial advisory services. When prospects are ready to make a decision, be sure you’ve made it easier for them to think of you. 

5. Choose your content channels wisely

Digital marketing channels have drastically changed how and when financial advisors can reach their clients and prospects. The number of platforms for content publishing can be overwhelming. It’s important to take the time to decide which channels or platforms are most utilized and preferred by your current clients, and which ones can help you continue reaching new clients. Ask yourself some key questions, such as:

  • Should you invest more heavily into social media communications?
  • Should you develop website content and use search engine optimization (SEO) to reach more viewers on major search engines?
  • Do clients prefer to be included in a monthly email newsletter? 

Understanding how your ideal clients consume content is a key part of your marketing plan and future activities. 

Review any previous marketing efforts

To better identify where you should invest your time, you can review any previous marketing efforts you may have undertaken to analyze what worked and what didn’t. For example, if you started posting regularly on social media last year and only received two qualified leads, you may need to reconsider your strategy going forward. On the other hand, if you held a series of five seminars on retirement strategies and received 20 qualified leads, you may find your time and budget is best spent on these types of efforts. It’s all about finding the right balance for what works for you.

6. Implement your plan and track your results 

Once you’ve completed your marketing plan, it’s time to put it to the test. Download LPL's Advisor Marketing Scorecard to assess the fundamentals of your plan, including your value proposition, website, and social media engagement, so you can identify strengths and uncover any potential gaps to address.

Next, consider using both quantitative and qualitative data to measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. Fortunately, many results of social media campaigns are available right at your fingertips through popular platforms. You can measure the effectiveness of your organic and paid social media marketing efforts and view traffic, demographics, comments, and questions. You can also communicate and interact directly with your audience and viewers.

Regardless of the platform you use, decide what matters to your business as far as objectives go. For example, you may value exposure over leads for one campaign. Determine your return on investment (ROI) for each strategy and correlate the available data as accurately as possible. Then, refine your plan based on what the data is telling you. 

Ready. Set. Goal.

With the data and insights you gain from your marketing efforts, you’ll have a better understanding of how to streamline your efforts to save time and expenses in the future. Always set a specific timeframe for when and how often each strategy (whether it’s a campaign, on-going series, or single event) will be implemented — and make a habit of setting a goal for each event. For example, you could set a tangible goal of achieving three quality prospects per virtual event. 

You can also consider sending a follow-up survey to attendees asking them to share their comments on the event. Or, you might consider updating your website to better capture ideal prospects and measure those results after a few months to see what is, and isn’t, working. Use this information to continue refining and building quality experiences within time-parameters that give you the best reflection of your marketing efforts. 

Introduce yourself to some new marketing ideas 

With a good marketing plan in place, you can start to think about more tactical marketing ideas that demonstrate the strengths of your advisory practice and get your name in front of the type of clients you’re looking to reach.

For example, LPL’s marketing library contains best practices and actionable ideas on key topics like: 

To learn more about how LPL can help you pursue your business and marketing goals, contact Business Development

 

Footnotes

*“How Advisors Can Harness the Power of Technology”, Barron’s, October 2023 

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Connect with LPL

Reaching your business goals is much easier with a trusted, knowledgeable partner helping you at every step. At LPL Financial, we are that partner.


Disclosures:

 

The views and opinions expressed by LPL Financial Advisor(s) may not be representative of the views of other Financial Advisors and are not indicative of future performance or success. Neither LPL Financial nor the LPL Financial Advisor can be held responsible for any direct or incidental loss incurred by applying any of the information offered.

LPL and its affiliated companies provide financial services only from the United States.

Securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial LLC, an SEC-registered broker-dealer and investment advisor. Member FINRA/SIPC. We routinely disclose information that may be important to shareholders in the “Investor Relations” or “Press Releases” section of our website.

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