Is your firm still using outdated marketing practices to try to generate new leads? That apparently won’t cut it if you want to survive in today’s market.
To increase your reach with potential clients and solidify your brand, it is essential to move beyond outdated marketing efforts by leveraging new technologies and innovative events to take your marketing strategy to the next level, attendees were told at an April 17 workshop session at the 2018 NAPA 401(k) Summit in Nashville.
Led by “Provocateur” Rebecca Hourihan of 401(k) Marketing, panelists Alex Assaley, III of AFS 401(k) Retirement Services, Joe DeNoyior of the Washington Financial Group and Mike Kane of Plan Sponsor Consultants shared with attendees their stories on how they employed digital advertising, video content and industry seminars to help them grow and enhance their retirement plan business.
Seminars to Workshops
DeNoyior noted that his firm starting holding seminars as a way to continuously add to their marketing pipeline and build a foundation for their other marketing programs. And while holding seminars may not quite seem like unchartered territory, he explained that what makes their effort different is the level of detail that goes into planning and executing them. “We go into it with a passion of helping as many plan sponsors impacting their employees’ lives,” DeNoyior said.
One slight but important change that his firm implemented was promoting the events as “workshops” instead of seminars. “The change in the attitude from a seminar to a workshop has changed what we do dramatically — it changed the way the attendees view it, it changed the way our team feels about," DeNoyior noted. "It becomes something that we’re excited about and suddenly the audience becomes much more engaged.” Organizing the event as a workshop provides for more of an “experience” for attendees, he added, since they help drive the content throughout the event.
DeNoyior recommends doing as much as possible to prepare, but warns that you don’t want to come off as “canned,” but as genuine and authentic. If the event is good, attendees will start inviting their clients, he added.
Creating in-house video content is also emerging as an essential component of marketing strategies. Assaley explained that his firm wanted to deliver content that’s native to their audience, feeling that it’s an important channel in reaching clients. “As technology evolves, consumers continue to digest and look at content in a number of ways, and videos have emerged as one of the ways to better deliver dynamic content,” he noted.
Assaley also explained that his firm has produced videos that vary in length and content, ranging from professionally produced to shorter packages to reach their audience. He’s found that many people like digesting content in small, 30-second bites that they can watch while they’re on the go.
One important advancement Assaley noted is how inexpensive it has become to purchase the equipment needed to produce videos. You can even use your smartphone. He emphasized that the No. 1 priority to consider is what drives your unique voice and priorities, such that the audience recognizes the authenticity. He also recommends conducting research to identify your audience and understand what they want to hear, noting that it’s critical to get the content and message right on the front end.
Kane noted that his firm has had tremendous success in reaching potential clients as part of a digital ad program. He explained that the exposure his firm receives from digital ads is immense, since the “retargeted” ads follow clients around the Internet, via websites and on mobile devices. As an example of the reach, Kane noted that his firm had approximately 85,000 banner ads appear last month, which resulted in nearly 600 new visitors to their website. He notes that digital ads are just one part of a more fully integrated online marketing strategy.
Kane encouraged attendees to review their website and consider implement an open architecture structure. It is also important to have valuable content to push out that complements the ads, such as graphics, blog posts, articles, an active social media presence and other original content. Kane notes that over a 10-year period, his firm has developed a list of 7,500 plan sponsor contacts through their digital marketing strategy.
Panelist also advised that it’s vital to have a follow-up strategy to get clients to the next level of engagement and to utilize data analytics to measure the reach of the marketing efforts, as well as capture user interests and other data. None of the panelists reported having any problems with compliance issues, but they do recommend checking with the proper channels before implementing any new programs.
Hourihan noted that her key takeaways from the panelists are:
- make sure you are highly organized internally;
- have a detailed process and following it; and
- make sure you track all of your data over time.
In addition, she noted that capturing the questions that plan sponsors are asking is key to determining your content.