In his brilliant white paper, The Future of the Financial Advisory Business (which can be downloaded without cost at (http://www.bobveres.com/), Bob Veres says that independent advisors are facing the doorway into a new evolutionary stage of their profession.
“In contrast to the random processes of evolution in the natural world, advisory firms will have opportunities to choose how (or if) they adapt; indeed, a central thesis of this report is that success, prosperity, growth, efficiency and dramatically improved client services will be largely a matter of choice, and the ability to make the right choices will critically depend on understanding the nature of the new landscape and the trends that are shaping it,” Veres says.
The good news, according to Veres, is that thousands of advisory offices have been responding to the opportunities in ways that have not been fully appreciated -- even by them.
“During the worst of the market crisis in 2008/09, many independent advisors greatly improved their client communication efforts and achieved new levels of intimacy with their clients. Most had little choice but to strengthen their operations and office efficiency during a prolonged time of diminished revenues, and to rethink their revenue models. The support staff of many advisory firms -- which practice management experts believe has been a seriously underutilized asset in past environments -- have assumed greater responsibilities and were forced by circumstances to acquire new skills,” says Veres.
“As a result,” continues Veres, “many in the fiduciary advisory community are (often without realizing it) already on the other side of this evolutionary door. Others, largely unaware of the big picture before the, will adapt opportunistically to a series of forces and trends that will constantly buffet their business lives.”
“Still others will see the next environment for what it is, walk through the door with confidence and stake out territory, which could become immensely valuable in the near future,” he added. “And, as is the case in every period of accelerated change and opportunity, there will be advisors who fail to adapt and move forward, who will miss an opportunity which could have brought them significant, perhaps permanent, competitive advantages.”
Veres and I agree: The next 20 years could be a Golden Age of growth and productivity for independent, fiduciary advisors. This window of opportunity is open now. Part of your success will hinge on how well you master the 3-M Marketing Process.
Before we move on and explore the 3-M Marketing Process, I want to remind everyone that the first annual Business & Wealth Management Forum will be held October 13-15, 2011 in Chicago. This looks like a really fantastic conference and, because it is being put on by Bob Veres, Jean Sinclair, David Drucker and Joel Bruckenstein -- along with a host of first-class sponsors such as TD Ameritrade, Capital Analysts, Quantuvis Consulting, Tamarac Inc., Principal Funds, Pershing Advisor Solutions, CEO Image Systems, Morningstar and Laserfiche -- I’m betting it will be really good content-wise.
General session speakers include: Don Phillips, Mark Tibergien, Matt Lynch, Stephanie Bogan, David Reichart, Brandon Rembe and George Tamer. It’s not too late to register and Chicago is lovely this time of year.
DON’T MAKE THIS COMMON MISTAKE
Professional marketers and smart advisors always tackle the “The 3 M’s” of marketing before they do any serious outreach. The 3 M’s are the foundational elements of all good marketing.
The 3 M’s are:
It is a very common error for many entrepreneurs and small business people to start with the wrong M. Often they start with Materials/Mediums, because it’s easier or they are desperate to get started and get some money rolling. The problem with that is, it rarely, if ever works.
By working hard on the first 2 M’s -- defining your market(s) and crafting a message that will appeal to those specific groups -- you can significantly improve your odds of hitting the right group, at the right time, for the right reasons, with the right message and call to action.
FOLLOW THE 3 M’s FOR BEST SUCCESS
Your marketing planning and reflection should, therefore, occur in this order:
1. Market. To whom are you offering your services and why? Why you do what you do is one of the most important elements you need to capture in writing. Describe your ideal client by title, profile, size of business (turnover, employees) or net worth, geography, age, emotional makeup, values, needs, problems, challenges and goals. Include both the demographics and the psychographic elements. Get in touch with your mission and purpose for wanting to help these people – what’s driving and motivating you beyond the money you stand to earn for a job well done?
2. Message. What is your unique value proposition? Describe your service, its features and the benefits to your ideal clients. What do clients experience as a result of working with you? Challenge yourself. Don’t move quickly to writing down clichés. How are you and your services different from every other financial advisor on the planet? Remember that “unique” means one of a kind. And when it comes time to write your marketing materials, try to write (and speak) in the “client-centered voice” – this means using the words “you” and “your” twice as many times as you use the words “I”, “me”, “we” or “us”. (Please read my articles on www.Financial-Planning.com and www.MorningStarAdvisor.com for step-by-step instructions on writing in the client-centered voice. Just put “Marie Swift” into the search box on either site.)
3. Mediums/Materials. What channels and materials are you going to use to reach your market? Possibilities include: Referrals, networks, targeted advertising, trade associations, news releases, direct mail, email campaigns, social media, spider marketing (cross-linking strategy online), presenting at local events and national conferences, writing articles for the local newspaper, establishing your own blog, producing special reports or white papers, writing a book, appearing on radio or television shows, event marketing, publishing educational videos on YouTube. Are there any in this list that you are not currently using? Try and test a few new mediums. Make sure any materials you use are top-notch.
DO YOU HAVE MORE THAN ONE SERVICE LINE?
You should complete the 3 M’s for every service offering you have. For instance, I’ve been visiting with several fee-based planners who (1) offer wealth management and financial planning services under an AUM or retainer/project fee model as XYZ Wealth Management Firm (2) offer streamlined investment management services via telephone and internet with no financial planning services built in as ABC Investment Management. The market, message and materials/mediums for each of these service lines will be somewhat different.
Going through the 3 M’s process for each service line or business entity will help you:
• Define your ideal client
• Create compelling messages that will resonate with your ideal client
• Produce powerful marketing materials that align with your clients’ values and address their pain points
• Define an effective marketing strategy
• Focus your efforts
• Save time and money
• Budget appropriately
• Fine-tune according to what is working
• Answer that all-important question “what do you do?” with style and grace
WHERE IN THE WORLD IS MARIE SWIFT?
This fall, I’ll be speaking at a number of conferences. Look for me at the following events:
-- September 28-30: The Heritage Institute annual meeting/training/reunion in Portland. Attending and getting to know this group of advisors who serve the ultra-wealthy and high net worth by utilizing The Heritage Process. Info at: http://www.theheritageinstitute.com
-- October 13-14: Tiburon CEO Summit in San Francisco. Attending and providing media relations and conference services onsite. Find the invitation criteria at: http://www.tiburonadvisors.com
-- October 19: The Money Show in Chicago: Financial Advisor Day. Keynote presentation 4:00 – 4:50 pm: Marketing that Works for Financial Advisors Today. Info at: http://www.moneyshow.com/tradeshow/chicago/world_moneyShow/?scode=013104
-- October 20: Time for a Transition? Options for Wirehouse Advisors Thinking About Breaking Away. Webinar sponsored by Pershing Advisor Services via AdvisorOne.com at 2:00 pm ET. Info at http://www.AdvisorOne.com/Transitions
-- October 24-27: NAPFA Practice Management and Investments Conference in Brooklyn. Conducting half-day Social Media Boot Camp as a pre-conference offering as well as a session on public relations and a round table discussion on marketing, PR and social media during the main conference. Details at: http://www.napfa.org
-- October 27 – 30: Garrett Planning Network 11th annual retreat in Denver. Leading the annual Rapid Fire Marketing Ideas session right before the Saturday night celebration dinner. Garrett Members Only: www.GarrettPlanningNetwork.com
Finally, over the coming week, I will be posting the videos I recorded while in San Diego for the FPA National Conference during my Twitter Live with Industry Thought Leaders session. The first few video clips are up on the site now: http://www.fpatwitterlive.blogspot.com.
Marie Swift is a nationally recognized consultant who has for more than 20 years worked exclusively with some of the industry’s top financial institutions, training organizations, investment advisory and financial planning firms. Her “Best Practices in the Financial Services Industry” blog provides additional insights and advice. Find it at http://www.marieswift.com/. Get breaking news at www.twitter.com/marieswift or connect with her via Facebook or LinkedIn.