In a recent survey, 77% of advisors admitted that they do not have a marketing plan. If you are without a vision in mind and looking to create one, this column will give you the outline, color and perspective to get started. So, pick up a brush and let’s get to work!
2022 Big Picture Planning
First, answer these questions:
- What is your 2022 revenue goal for your retirement plan business?
- How many plans do you hope to acquire?
- What percentage of your plan business do you expect to retain?
- What is your target market? (Geographic location, plan size, number of participants, niche industries, employer characteristics, employee demographics and other unique identifiers)
Sketching Your Outline
Did you know that one in three plan sponsors is looking to change advisors? The top two reasons why are that they want increased retirement plan expertise and guidance on financial wellness programs.
As plan sponsors go through the prospect-to-client journey, they enter four distinct phases:
- Awareness: when the plan sponsor realizes that something within their company’s retirement plan needs attention.
- Interest: when they begin researching for more information, asking questions and gathering knowledge.
- Decision: when finalist meetings occur to discuss capabilities and learn how services will align with plan goals.
- Action: where the plan sponsor decides to hire you as their plan advisor.
In each stage, marketing essentials are necessary to advance your prospect forward. As a professional retirement plan advisor, you should have these resources readily available to present and demonstrate your abilities.
Here is a list of marketing essentials that most retirement plan advisors have at their fingertips. Place a checkmark next to each item you have available and, more importantly, that you feel represents your company and services in a professional capacity. In other words, you like these marketing essentials.
_ Company overview
_ Service brochure
_ Pitch deck
_ Business cards
If the checklines are blank or you lack conviction, these are opportunities for improvement. Decide which items are most important, then seek out partnerships that help strengthen your essentials to increase your brand authority and recognition.
Mixing the Paints
In the interest stage of the sales pipeline, your plan sponsor prospects are researching for more information. This can include something as simple as looking you up on Google, clicking on your LinkedIn profile or conducting a deep dive into a specific retirement plan topic.
Check off all of the digital marketing resources you use to promote and capture new business growth opportunities.
_ Blog posts
_ Digital advertisements
_ Email campaigns
_ Landing pages
_ Search engine optimization
_ Social media posts
Read more commentary by Rebecca Hourihan here.
Due to the pandemic, more and more plan sponsors are conducting their new advisory relationship research online, so if you’re digital image is muted, it’s time to add bold definition so you can stand out in the digital world.
Pro tip: Make sure you enjoy doing each of these marketing activities. If you’re not excited about completing them, then don’t. If an idea puts a smile on your face, prioritize it. Always remember that marketing should be fun.
It’s Not Blue, It’s Cerulean
Bring consistency and scalability to your business with a marketing calendar. An easy way to create a calendar is to simply open an Excel spreadsheet and fill in the months. Then add in your retirement plan topics, type of content, distribution frequency and distribution channels.
Some hot topics for 2022 include post-pandemic recovery; diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI); financial wellness; inflation; Cycle 3 restatements; ESG investments; unemployment; talent wars; remote work; work/life balance; company culture; cryptocurrency; SECURE Act 2.0; lawsuits and a lot more. Select the topics you are interested in and then find/create content that appeals to your audience.
Your marketing calendar should include the details necessary to bring your vision to life and help you achieve your business goals.
Now that you’ve laid out the essential marketing materials, distribution channels and plan sponsor topics, it’s time to put your vision into action. To do this, you need to define your budget and timeline.
Average advisory firms invest 1.6% of their annual revenue in their marketing budget. However, top performing advisory offices invest 2.1%, and they experienced a 20% growth in AUM. So, is increasing your marketing budget by 0.5% of your revenue a worthwhile investment?
2.1% of your 2021 revenue = ___________ = your 2022 marketing budget
Interestingly, in most other industries, the recommended annual marketing investment is 7%–10%. If you’re wondering if you should invest more in marketing, imagine the vivid results you could achieve.
Next, list the top five marketing priorities you would like to accomplish within the next 12 months.
In 2022, I want to:
Find opportunities for improvement. When you have a defined marketing plan, it’s easy to achieve success. Know that if you believe you can do it, you can.
Now put down your pen and take a look at your 2022 business marketing plan. Congratulations on great work—excited to hear about all your success in the new year!
Thanks for reading and happy marketing!
Rebecca Hourihan, AIF, PPC, is the founder and CMO of 401(k) Marketing, which she founded to assist qualified experts operate a professional business with professional marketing materials and ongoing awareness campaigns. This column originally appeared in the Winter issue of NAPA Net the Magazine.
1. “Only 23% of Financial Advisors Have a Defined Marketing Strategy, According to Broadridge Study.” Broadridge, Nov. 18, 2020.
2. “Plan Sponsor Attitudes.” Fidelity Institutional, July 20, 2021.
3. “2021 RIA Benchmarking Study.” Charles Schwab Advisor Services, July 2021.