Something odd is going on. Why are partners at established wealth management sounding so alarmed about their Millennial advisors? Why are they pulling me aside to complain that their young associates aren’t bringing in enough business?

It’s happening all over the place—not at every single firm, but frequently enough to sound an alarm. These are good firms, too, run by partners smart enough to invest in the future. They did everything right: recruited young talent, developed new training platforms, even hired consultants to develop new compensation and incentive plans. For the most part, their efforts paid off. These young advisors have the technical side down cold, and they know how to deliver impeccable service. The only problem is, they just aren’t generating leads.

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For a job that inherently deals with constant change, from fluctuating markets to the unpredictable life events, the role of a financial advisor is one that is often steeped in tradition.

Tradition is outdated.

As in nearly all other aspects of life, technology has changed the way that clients and potential leads interact with businesses. While many financial advisors have built their business on networking within established social circles, or through client referrals, that type of organic growth is swiftly falling by the wayside of taxi cabs and payphones: it’s becoming archaic.

Before you counter with, “But that rapport is why my clients have stuck around for 35 years!” I want to make clear that relationships are still very much central to being a successful advisor. But it is much more common for a prospect to have Googled you and taken a deep look at your website before ever requesting that first meeting. The prospect is in control of the initial relationship, and many advisors are having difficulty adjusting.

That’s where PR and marketing come in.

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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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