Selecting the right marketing technique for your practice can be a difficult task. Implementing a successful strategy, however, can define its future.

Kenton Shirk, associate director and lead analyst at research firm Cerulli Associates explains that the size of your firm has a lot to do with selecting the right marketing methods.

For example, Shirk says, larger firms are less likely to use social media to interact with both clients and prospects. Yet nearly 65% of survey respondents in last month's The Cerulli Edge—U.S. Edition say they found social media marketing to be either an "effective" or a "very effective" strategy.

"With a smaller and wealthier client base, mega teams are focused more on touch points that build deeper, more personal relationships with their clients," Shirk explains in an emailed statement.

The most useful strategy, according to the roughly 7,000 advisors questioned in the firm's annual survey, was niche marketing, which garnered support from nearly 97% of respondents.

Marketing specialists agree that finding the right marketing plan solely depends on your firm's niche.
KNOW YOUR NICHE

When a two-person female advisor team, both in their late- 20s, decided to focus their newly launched firm on serving widows, they sought the advice of marketing expert April Rudin, founder and president of the Rudin Group. When she asked the duo how they chose their target audience, Rudin recalls, they said their only widowed clients were referrals from either their friends or parents.

"It was simply not the right niche for them," Rudin says, adding that she later suggested they embrace their youth and serve young female entrepreneurs.

Defining a firm's niche can be difficult for advisors, Rudin says. That is why she suggests targeting the audience that you already know.

"That's what allows [advisors] to match their skills and experience against what clients really need," she adds.

SEEK PROFESSIONAL ADVICE

Rudin has helped financial advisors find their niche for the past 20 years. One key piece of advice she gives is to leave the advertising to the professionals.

"The most important thing that I tell advisors is they should seek professional advice," Rudin says. "Advisors say they like ads and they think ads are effective because they read magazines. But the targets, like female entrepreneurs, aren't reading those magazines."

She suggests discovering your value proposition and what your firm does best, then lining that up to a niche and finding someone who knows the best way to reach your client base.

Marie Swift, founder of the financial services marketing firm Impact Communications, says there is nothing wrong with an advisor launching their marketing strategies on their own, but adding that it may be wise to later seek out professional advice.

"Once things start getting more crucial or complicated, they should get a marketing consultant involved," Swift suggests.

MORE IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER

The Cerulli report notes several successful marketing activities, including intimate social events, strategic alliance referrals and community networking. However, Rudin explains that an all-of-the-above approach may hurt your firm in the long run. "Some of those things are more effective in other niches, depending on the client base that you're going for," she notes.

Swift says that, while there is a wide range of marketing strategies that can help you reach your clients, it can be difficult to measure where firms are getting the best results.

"Advisors are really bad judges as far as what's working and when," Swift says. "The magic happens when advisors use all of the tried and true methodologies, and then add in some of the new digital methodologies so that they're getting a mix of all of that working together."

BACK TO THE BASICS

For advisors developing marketing strategies on their own, Swift reminds they ask themselves why they first got interested in the wealth management industry.

Over the years, she says, she has seen advisors sink or swim based on their use of the 'Three M's', explaining that advisors must continuously evaluate their market, message and medium.

"First you have to determine your market before you can get your message right, and only then can you go out with your mediums to reach, market and proactively promote your firm into position," she explains. "Any marketing firm that's not adhering to the three M's is probably going to be less than successful."

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