5 Easy Steps for Marketing Success in 2020

November 19, 2019

Your advisory firm’s marketing plan is a marathon, not a sprint.

Lately, Jerry Lezynski, our head of marketing, seems to be one of the busiest people I know. He is constantly on the phone with advisors across the country discussing marketing plans and tactics for 2020. In today’s post, Jerry discusses this increased activity and some of the steps he follows when helping firms looking to grow. 

Along with the sounds of Bruce Springsteen in the air, there’s also the sound of advisors’ growth plans being developed and executed. Please enjoy.  JDA

Fall is in the air. Colorful leaves fall, the air is crisp and chilly for my morning run, and the pungent smell of old burning leaf piles surrounds me as the sun begins to rise. Most mornings, I end up on Old Quarry Road. Ahh, I love fall!

Yet this season seems a bit different. There is noticeable change in the autumn air and in the typical behavior that I’m accustomed to among many advisors. It is a positive change, though –  more and more advisors are asking for advice and assistance in creating a marketing plan for 2020. 

This is surprising to me for a number of reasons:

  • I’ve read that only 30% of financial advisors actually have a marketing plan1
  • Many studies say the average advisory firm spends only 2% of total revenues on marketing (most of which is on client events) versus more than 11% spent across other industries2
  • Very few advisory firms have staff dedicated to the marketing function2
  • The economy is still chugging along, the bull market is at an all-time high, and the revenue growth rate for financial advisory firms is averaging 12.2%2

As I start my second mile onto Old Quarry Road, I ask myself, “Why the sudden interest in asking for help with a marketing plan for 2020?” Could it be that advisors are concerned about the harsh headwinds they are beginning to face and the reality that the next decade may not be as easy?

Could it be…

  • Concern over the financial markets and an unlikely sustained bull market?
  • Proven growth strategies, such as referrals, are no longer as effective as they once were?
  • Younger investors are more open to using digital advice or do-it-yourself platforms?
  • Baby boomers drawing down on their accumulated assets?
  • The stark realization that market appreciation has been the primary growth driver for many firms, with only incremental growth from true organic strategies?

Image of bull marketInvestmentNews recently published Drivers of Growth: How Greater Marketing Focus is Distinguishing Financial Advisory Firms, a study that shares some interesting perspectives and clearly shows that firms making investments in marketing experienced positive results.

As Old Quarry Road dead-ends onto Upper Mainland Road, I round the corner still running at a brisk pace and enjoying the new tunes from Bruce Springsteen’s latest album, Western Stars. At the same time, I wonder why more advisory firms have not adopted more of a marketing focus as part of their business plans. Is it the perception that marketing is hard and actual plan development is even harder?

The reality

It does not have to be hard (I guess that’s easy for a marketer like me to say). We’ve created a simple marketing planning resource guide to help advisors get a running start while involving everyone in the firm. It is based on a simple five-step planning process:

  1. Firm Overview 
    • Target Segment(s) and Persona(s)
    • Scope of Services/Offerings for Each
    • Value Proposition Statement
  2. Business Assessment (SWOT Analysis)
    • Firm Strengths
    • Firm Weaknesses
    • Growth Opportunities
    • Firm Threats
    • Competitor Landscape
  3. Firm Goals and Objectives
    • 2019
    • 2020
  4. Monthly Calendar 
    • Specific Dates
    • Activities
    • Person Responsible
    • Estimated Time and Budget
    • Expectations (Measurements)
  5. Revenue Impact Guide
    • Sources of New Clients

I (and many advisors) have come to realize that the most difficult part of marketing is getting organized and putting a plan into action. As many advisors have found, the key to impactful marketing begins with your staff (your team), and the best way to start the process is to set aside two or three Friday afternoons (or another preferred day of the week) before year end to work on 2020’s plan. 

Together, you will outline key initiatives and then break those down into steps, each assigned to a specific team member with specific completion dates and budget. A SWOT Analysis grid and Marketing Planning Guide can ease this process. Additionally, I have found the most successful marketing-oriented firms set aside time each quarter to review results. They also assess what is working and not working, as well as review the next six months of marketing activities. See, it can be that easy!

In previous blog posts, we have provided a number of proven ideas, strategies and tactics to consider as part of planning your monthly activity calendar, including:

The InvestmentNews study provides another important resource – a chart of advisory firms’ most common marketing activities and which ones provide the most direct benefit.
Marketing chart

As I finish my run, I smile. I feel a bit exhausted, but I’m exhilarated not only by finishing my run, but knowing there is concrete proof that those firms investing in marketing and business development have experienced positive results and a significant advantage in positioning advisors to help withstand future headwinds. According to InvestmentNews' "2019 Compensation and Staffing"3 study, these advisory firms have experienced:

  • Greater revenue per client3
  • Wider profit margins3 
  • More AUM from new clients3

It’s important to begin planning now for your firm’s marketing success in 2020. These five easy steps can give you a running start. For me, it’s time to start planning my next five-miler and sync up “Born to Run.”

Legal Note

Sources
1. Developing a Marketing Plan for Financial Advisors – Pershing – BNY Mellon, August, 2017
2. Drivers of Growth: How Greater Marketing Focus is Distinguishing Financial Advisory Firms – InvestmentNews, November, 2019
3. 2019 Compensation and Staffing Study – InvestmentNews, May 2019.

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