Since I’m such a big proponent of using free publicity versus paid advertising as a business growth strategy, advisors often ask me if it ever makes sense to advertise.
In a word, yes.
Sometimes it does make sense to do some targeted advertising in addition to media interviews and article placement. A good advertising campaign can supplement a good media relations campaign.
When does advertising make sense?
#1 REASON: EVENT MARKETING
Advertising that promotes an event or community cause is, in my opinion, the best form of advertising for financial advisors. Event marketing is a great way to generate buzz about your company and to build relationships with people. Some events are better when advertised, whereas others are better if publicized (or by invitation only).
Events to advertise might include:
-- A financial literacy town hall meeting at the local college to be held during financial literacy month
-- An "Ask-the-Experts" hotline or walk-in event to be held at the public library during financial planning week
-- A walk-a-thon or bike race with proceeds going to a local charity (your firm might also invite the community to stop by the bright white awning and pick up a free financial first aid kit and a bottle of water or sun visor that has your company logo silkscreened on it)
REASON #2: EDUCATIONAL PRODUCTS
Another way to use advertising so that it is more apt to pay off for you is to create a couple educational products and then promote those products versus your company directly. When doing product development for my clients, I typically recommend that the advisor create a series of products such as special reports and white papers, audio books, e-books, CD with workbook, softcover book, etc. Some of the items will be given away, others will be offered at a discount if certain conditions fall into place (such as attending a free webinar) and some will sell at retail price via a major online retailer.
The educational product series might include:
-- A “position paper”, recorded web seminar or podcast that demonstrates your expertise and is given away without cost, upon request. This free credibility-building item will serve as a lead generation tool. You will want to place the free offer prominently on your website and make sure the interested party fills out a simple form in order to receive the free educational item.
-- An e-book, that looks like a significant value due to the digital packaging, and is given away as a special gift after people have attended one of your web seminars. The special gift requires attendees to key in or call in a special code and is not shown as an option to the general public when visiting your website, thus making it a special offer to your seminar attendees, clients and select friends.
-- A set of CDs and a workbook, nicely packaged, which together comprise a financial literacy course, and can be given by the purchaser as a gift to children, grandchildren, etc. There should be a retail price associated with this product. It can be sold via an ecommerce portal on your website or offered via a purveyor of recorded learning tools such as Nightingale Conant via a revenue sharing agreement.
-- A printed, softcover book, which is listed for purchase on major online bookseller sites such as Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
I do not think that image advertising is cost-effective for most financial advisory firms. You are much better off advertising an educational product or special event than your own company/services directly.
Online promotions, including social media campaigns via LinkedIn, Facebook, LinkedFA and Twitter and well-written search-engine-optimized news releases, can drive traffic to your website especially if you are offering something of value for free.
Things to promote via social media sites, your website and online news releases:
-- An e-book or special report
-- The ability to self-generate a financial roadmap without cost or obligation (check out the nifty service offered by BoulevardR)
-- Tickets to a special event on a timely topic such as Protecting Yourself Against Identity Theft, Reducing Inaccurate or Personal Information About Yourself on the Web, or How to Sell Your House for the Best Price in a Buyer’s Market
-- Your new book or CD/Workbook release
-- A one-year, custom lifestyle magazine subscription -- each issue will contain two tickets to your next special event (this is one of the best drip marketing tools I’ve seen in a long time -- check out http://www.impactcommunicationsmag.com for special pricing and low minimum commitment)
If you are looking for other promotional ideas, visit the Awesome Products page on my website.
In the coming weeks I’ll answer these additional questions that I hear time and again from financial advisors:
-- What’s the best way to leverage the press I get?
-- How can I land more interviews on my own?
-- What are the biggest rookie blunders?
This fall, I’ll be speaking at a number of conferences. Look for me at the following events:
-- September 14-17: FPA National Convention in San Diego. Presenting “Twitter Live with Industry Thought Leaders” on the Professional Pavilion Stage on Friday, September 15. Hosting a special Round Table Discussion on the “State of the Financial Planning Profession” with Bob Veres, Michael Kay, Stephanie Bogan and John Brackett on Saturday, September 16 in the Community Building. Learn more at: www.fpanet.org
-- September 24: Fairfield University in Fairfield CT. Presenting a full-day workshop on Building Your Online Presence for FPA-CT and FPA Hudson Valley. FPA members, non-members and business people in the community are all invited to attend (attendees to not need to be financial advisors). Early bird discount ends August 24, 2011. Details at http://www.marieswift.com/ and www.fpact.org
-- October 13-14: Tiburon CEO Summit in San Francisco. Attending and providing conference services onsite. See the invitation criteria at: www.tiburonadvisors.com
-- October 24-27: NAPFA Practice Management and Investments Conference in Brooklyn. Conducting half-day Social Media Boot Camp as a pre-conference offering on Tuesday, October 24. Also doing a session on public relations on October 25 and a round table discussion on marketing, PR and social media on October 26 during the main conference. Details at: www.NAPFA.org
Finally, I just conducted a great interview with legendary writer Jane Wollman Rusoff. You can listen to the interview podcast on my Best Practices in the Financial Services Industry blog. Jane has written hundreds of articles for publications such as Research magazine and the New York Times. She has also written scores of celebrity profiles for giants such as Mel Gibson and Joan Rivers. Now Jane is making herself available to write YOUR Legacy Profile -- or consider making this a gift for your best clients. The audio interview goes into this in more detail. I think you’ll find it to be pretty compelling stuff.
As president and CEO of Impact Communications, Inc., Marie leads a dedicated team of marketing communications and PR professionals serving financial institutions and a select group of independent advisors on an exclusive basis. Marie can be reached through her website, www.ImpactCommunications.org.