Last week I read an HBR article about post-pandemic marketing – 10 Truths About Marketing After the Pandemic by Janet Balis – that I found quite relevant. With a little modification, at the very least, these titular truths can serve as a good reminder for financial advisors. This is my attempt at condensing and modifying Balis’s thinking to our world of financial services.
As you know only too well, your marketing game plan was completely disrupted by Covid-19 overnight. Suddenly relationship marketing appeared to be put on hold; no more personal introductions, intimate social events canceled, social lunches became another Zoom event, and so on.
Few, if any, marketing gurus predict 2021 will see us returning to our old normal. While 2020 took everyone by surprise, people learned to adapt and function. Which is how a small cadre of financial advisors continued to have marketing success. They modified their approach — which, thanks to Janet Balis, I’ve taken the liberty of referring to as post-pandemic financial advisor marketing truths.
How financial advisors approach marketing after this pandemic will determine their success, or lack thereof, going forward. As I share these 5 financial advisor marketing truths below, think of how fundamental they are, but also how they’ve been pandemically modified.
#1 – Thoroughly Know Your Client Niche
It’s important to not only understand the needs and challenges that are specific to your niche but to have clarity in what differentiates you amidst the ever-growing field of competition. No longer will a smooth value proposition suffice; clients and prospects will want to know specifics regarding your true value. Articulating this clearly, confidently, and concisely; verbally, in print, and through digital communication (website, social media, video, etc.) is a basic requirement.
#2 – Know How Your Competition has Changed
As Balis describes in her article, client expectations were rising before Covid-19. When it hit, digital transformation accelerated overnight. This has elevated client expectations. Think in terms of what you can do for me in digital time (thank you Amazon Prime). Is your competition the advisor down the street or a digital alternative? Are you up to speed with your virtual office? Are you prepared to know and exceed your clients’ expectations? This requires that you know precisely what they want, what their expectations regarding your advisory services are, and that you work furiously to exceed their expectations.
#3 – Genuinely Connect Emotionally
This is something we’ve been preaching for at least 10 years before Covid-19. Two fundamental truths arise from this level of connectivity: 1) A wealth of knowledge about your client and family — far beyond their financial affairs. This allows you to serve as more of a holistic advisor — which is what today’s affluent want. 2) An ideal client who is: willing to introduce you into their spheres-of-influence, extremely loyal, willing to consolidate assets, and willing to pay for your services. This creates the oxygen that stimulates word-of-mouth-influence (WOMI), the heart and soul of successful affluent marketing.
Relationships are everything! That said, the financial services industry has a reputation for giving all of this “lip service” — saying the right things, producing family-focused television ads (minimal, if any, impact on affluent decision making), while still operating a transactional business model; we create a product, you (advisor) sell it.
Covid-19 has exposed pretenders. Yes, it’s time to take the relationship management – relationship marketing nexus seriously.
#4 – Relationship Marketing Now Involves Online Dating
Allow me to give kudos to Balis in coining the phrase online dating (at least she’s where I first heard it). She writes “the old truth was courting customers is just like dating” but “the new truth is courting customers is just like online dating.” I love it!
This is all about your virtual reality; investing in your virtual office, presenting yourself virtually (video conference), your delivery, developing rapport, conducting a business meeting — and sales skills that enable you to get the business.
67% of today’s affluent will give you an email introduction to someone in their sphere-of-influence if you ask. Elite advisors are getting these email introductions, which begin the process of online dating. This was unheard of pre-Covid. 77% of affluent clients claim similar value from a video conference as a meeting in their advisor’s office. Things have changed. Social Media takes online dating to another level; LinkedIn connections, Facebook advertising, blogs, content videos… all drive traffic (leads) — many with online dating potential.
#5 – Marketing is the Growth Engine
A financial advisor not growing is stagnant, and dying a little every day. This is a scary thought for those who threw in their financial advisor marketing towel in 2020. A true marketing plan (strategy) requires a serious commitment to growth. Otherwise, it’s merely an academic exercise — looks good on paper, sounds good, but minus consistent execution, the growth engine is never activated.
The key to financial advisor marketing is in establishing BIG goals that are quantifiable (# of new clients, $ of new assets, etc.), and crafting specific activities that will activate your growth engine, driving you to your goals.
There’s nothing new in these financial advisor marketing truths. Rather, it’s modifying them to meet the “changed” affluent investor of today, a harbinger of the affluent client of the future.