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Retirement Plan Marketing Is an Awareness Journey

What’s the point of retirement plan marketing?

Recently, I was sharing a story with my friends about the popular Netflix show House of Cards. During my story, I started to describe one of the characters as, “Kevin Spacey’s wife Claire Underwood, tall, pretty blonde lady,” and my friends stopped me. They squinted their eyes, leaned forward, raised an eyebrow and said, “Robin Wright?!” I shrugged my shoulders in admission and said, “I don’t know. Maybe.”

At this point, my friends looked at me with wild disbelief – how could I not know Robin Wright. After all, she was the princess in The Princess Bride, Jennie in Forrest Gump, and was married to Sean Penn for nearly two decades. Truth be told, I’d never heard of her. In my experience, she was an unknown.

Well, after enjoying several seasons of House of Cards and getting the ribbing from my friends, I will now forever recognize and remember Robin Wright. From my perspective, she went through the process and point of marketing.

Process of Marketing

When a company begins a marketing campaign, they are starting the Awareness Journey.

For example, at the beginning of House of Cards, (to me) Robin Wright was an unknown. Then, through the show, I started to recognize her. After the dinner party and friend’s harassment, she became familiar. Now, if I were to watch The Princess Bride or Forrest Gump, I would immediately recognize Robin Wright. Lastly, I really like her. She is a great actress, and if I were browsing for a new show or movie to watch and noticed that she was starring in it, I trust she would do a good job.

Now, let’s talk about your retirement plan practice.

Step 1: Unknown

This is the first step and it’s the scariest. What if it doesn’t work? You invest time, money and resources. This is Mile 1 of the marathon. All companies start here.

When plan sponsor prospects experience your marketing materials for the first time, you are unknown. It takes time to develop influence.

Step 2: Recognized

Over time, plan sponsor prospects will start to recognize your marketing materials. They will see your direct mailers, webinar invitations, email newsletters, social media posts, blog articles and infographics. They will visit your website with cautiousness and curiosity. Who are you? How might you help us with our retirement plan?

Step 3: Familiar

Consistency builds trust. Once your plan sponsor prospects recognize your marketing materials, you enter into the next marketing phase – building a relationship. Each marketing touch strengthens your brand. Your firm is transitioning into a “household” name.

Step 4: Known

Plan sponsors, centers of influence, clients, regional partners and other professionals know your firm. They know that you are a retirement plan expert. When they think “retirement plan advisor,” your name immediately comes to mind. You have become known throughout your local and digital community for your retirement plan experience. Each additional marketing touch strengthens your brand.

Step 5: Trusted

Inbound leads. Yes, these really happen. When your firm has succeeded through the marketing journey, you emerge a vetted, trusted retirement plan firm. You receive inbound introductions and are sought out for your expertise. Congratulations – this is the point of marketing!

Consistent, quality marketing moves retirement plan advisors through the process. It develops, deepens and strengthens your brand and ultimately strives to elevate your firm above the competition so that you stand out as the retirement plan expert.

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