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(How) Can Plan Sponsor Prospects Find You?

The more places a plan sponsor can find you, meet you, and get to know you, the more “at bats” your firm will receive.

A few days ago, a team member shared a story about a recent advisor phone call. She said the advisor had questions about cold calling and its effectiveness. The team member replied to the advisor, “Yes, cold calling is a form of marketing. However, it is only one way,” she continued. “Think about your busy life and how you learn new information. Is it from answering a cold call? Or is it through researching on the Internet?” The advisor paused and very honestly said, “I don’t know. I’ve never really thought about it before.”

The conversation continued, and she asked another question that really stood out: “How many ways can your prospects find you?” That question sparked a series of interesting and quick “yes/no” responses and then a long silence, followed by: “Oh, that makes sense now.”

Hypothetical Example

Let’s say that this advisor has a website, LinkedIn profile and physical office. This is the basis of their marketing. Then they hire a cold calling firm to do outreach.

On average, it takes approximately 18 dials to connect with a decision maker.   So, even with a “Power Hour” calling campaign, that decision maker would be in the queue for an average of 18 rounds of dials. Sixty minutes of calling with quality talk time would be about eight cold calls per hour. Roughly, it would take the caller approximately 2¼ hours of trying to connect with that prospect. This is an interesting way of looking it – how much is your time worth?

Let’s say the cold calling firm leaves a voicemail; there are a few result options. In the first, the prospect immediately calls the phone number provided to learn more information. This is a less than 1% likelihood.

A second option is that the prospect deletes the voicemail without listening to it in its entirety. The third is that the person listens to the voicemail while multitasking at their computer and looks up the firm calling. Essentially, they Google the advisor firm’s name to quickly learn more and assess the need to return the phone call.

Which leads to the next question: How easy is it for a prospect to find you online?

Take a quick moment and think about it. If you were a prospect searching for you, what keywords would you type into the search box? For example: first name, last name, city, state and/or business name.

Read more commentary by Rebecca Hourihan here

Think about your business biography; does your profile contain all of this information (first name, last name, city, state, business name)? If not, update your profile. At the end of the day, search algorithms are just numbers and letters connecting, so why not make it simple for the algorithm to find you – the accurate you. (Tip: ask three friends to find you on the internet. Then ask them, “What did you type into Google?” With that information, update your biography page to include those specific terms.)

Once they find you online, what is the prospect’s impression?

The prospect is on the advisor’s website. The website has seven seconds to grab the site visitor’s attention. Yes, that’s it. Seven seconds. After the initial home page visit, the next three most visited pages are:

  1. “About” page

  2. Blog

  3. “Contact Us” page

With each webpage, the curious prospect is assigning value. Should I contact this person – or should I delete this VM and get on with my day? With each click around the site, it either increases the likelihood of response or not. This is why it’s important to have all three of these webpages – with a strong call to action on each one.

So the bait is on the hook. How can you increase inbound leads?

If the prospect takes the hook, here’s an interesting twist; they are not going to pick up the phone. Instead, they are going to email the advisor through their website. Then they will ask for a time to connect that’s best for them.

Or maybe they aren’t ready to make a change. However, they are curious. So they sign up for the advisor’s newsletter to learn more. This begins the lead-nurturing campaign, where the prospect is placed into a campaign funnel and slowly sent quality educational pieces about today’s retirement plan news, plan design trends, fiduciary hot topics and current events.

The point is that the buyer’s journey is not direct. The more ways the prospect can learn about the advisor’s firm and continue to learn, the more likely that advisor will gain more “at bats” and clients. It is a series of different marketing avenues that lead the prospect to the advisor’s site, into a nurturing campaign, and eventually to become a client.

Even though plan sponsors now dictate the sales process, there is an opportunity for advisors to get ahead of the competition by following the prospect’s journey and adding a digital alpha each click of the way.

Thanks for reading and Happy Marketing!

Rebecca Hourihan, AIF, PPC, is the founder and CMO of 401(k) Marketing.