In my final post on annual marketing planning, I want to touch on two topics that always seem to generate a lot of confusion. How should you define your marketing goals? And how do you set your marketing budget?

First up: goals. I’d like to see advisors go back to their marketing goals and take another crack at writing them. I think if you push harder, you can come up with better ideas that stretch your business further than you think possible. You just have to define your goals differently.

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As I mentioned last time, most advisors start their annual marketing planning meeting by reviewing their progress against the firm’s business plan.

I can’t think of a worse place to start.

Never Mix Business (Plans) With Pleasure

Obviously, you need to benchmark yourself. Figure out if you’re hitting your targets. Understand whether you’re spending your marketing dollars wisely.

But please don’t make the first item on your planning meeting agenda a postmortem. It will put you in a terrible mindset for brainstorming. You should be facing the future with energy, enthusiasm and an open mind. Instead, your head will be crammed with stale ideas. You’ll feel sad about the goals you missed and may even hear a few little voices murmuring, “That won’t work,” “Can’t do,” and my favorite, “We already tried it once.” You’re also going to wear yourself out talking about revenue goals and office space and technology upgrades. By the time you get to marketing, you’ll be exhausted.

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Last time, I told you about the crazy way we run annual planning meetings at FiComm. Now I want you to understand the method behind our madness.

I’ve broken down some of the basic principles behind our planning approach into a few simple, easy-to-follow ideas. Try implementing some of these practical tips, and see if they can help you create a marketing plan that makes a bigger impact on your business than the plan you wrote last year.

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The year is almost over. That means it’s time to write your annual marketing plan. (You do have a plan, right? I hope you aren’t spending money without one!) The next few posts are going to show you how to create a plan that gets results—and have fun doing it.

Let’s face it. Most of the time, an annual planning meeting is kind of a downer. It starts by looking backward. What did we achieve against our business plan? Where did we fail? What worked, what didn’t? Obviously, no firm reaches 100% of its goals, so there are bound to be some disappointments. That’s why this part of the process usually feels about as much fun as weighing yourself.

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I’ve been writing about Penton’s for a few weeks. There’s one final data point you might find interesting.Sixty percent of service providers don’t personalize their marketing to advisors. To refresh your memory, half of these companies employ full-time staff dedicated to delivering marketing support to advisors. Over 70% say that value-added services are “core” to their offering, not an ancillary supplement. Yet 60% don’t bother to personalize their appeals to advisors?I’ve worked with many large financial and FinTech companies. I know exactly how people who work in those organizations talk. Personalization would be great, a real “nice to have.” Maybe next quarter you’ll try something. You just don’t have the staff or technology to do everything you like right now, unfortunately.

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Last time, I may have given a few people a heart attack. As I mentioned, according to
The Penton’s surveys, companies that provide value-added marketing support to advisors are wasting millions of dollars. Because they’re providing elaborate educational platforms and practice management programs that 75% of advisors don’t even use.

This week, I want you to calm down. You don’t have to cancel all your programs or tell the team to pack up their family photos and cat magnets. You just have to focus your investment dollars where they will make the biggest impact.

What is making an impact these days? Turnkey marketing programs. While your 50-page white paper pdfs sit around unread, advisors are gobbling up quick, easily executed solutions.

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I’ve been talking about the Penton’s surveys of advisors and their service providers. If you’re a vendor who provides value-added marketing services to advisors—or if you’re an advisor who uses those services—here’s some data you definitely need to see.

Let’s start with questions from the survey of service providers.

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In my last post, I shared a few data points from the recent Penton and surveys of advisors and their service providers. If you remember, the findings showed that the word “marketing” means very different things to advisors and their vendors. I’ve found a trick to help bridge that communication gap. Maybe it will work for you, too.

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Wondering what advisors are really doing for marketing this year? Want to know whether their service providers are in sync with their needs? If so, this post is for you.

FiComm recently got a look at survey data on both groups from a study conducted by Penton’s I had the privilege of moderating a panel with powerhouse industry marketers at the Executive Forum and Industry Gala that discussed the surveys at length. I can’t share everything that’s in the report, but I can pass along some topline results you’ll probably find interesting—whether you’re an advisor or a marketing partner.

Let me make a confession. The very first thought that occurred to me when I saw the data was, “We have a lot of work to do.”

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“So, let me ask you this, ‘What persona are you speaking to with your marketing efforts?’”

There’s a dead silence on the other end of the line, before, “Well, my clients have an average of $500,000 in investable assets and are rapidly approaching retirement.”

When marketers talk about personas, it’s a much more complex idea than you may think. It’s not just a “who is your client” question, but a “why are they your client,” a “what language do they prefer to use,” and a “how to serve ads to them on social media” question.

If you haven’t drawn up profiles for your target personas, your messaging could be missing the mark.

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