What financial advisors and their firms don’t understand about digital marketing

For many advisors and their firms, the era of cold-calling and wholesaler-paid prospecting dinners were the good old days of advisor marketing. Truth be told, those techniques weren’t especially productive even in their heyday and would find even less success among current prospective clients. Today’s online world, however, offers far more effective ways for advisors and their firms to market themselves — if they truly understand the power of digital marketing. To find out more about best practices in advisor digital marketing today, InvestmentNews Create recently spoke with Niharika Shah, Chief Executive Officer of Clout and a partner at Clout’s parent company, The TIFIN Group. Edited excerpts of the conversation follow:

InvestmentNews Create: What are the key marketing challenges for financial firms and practices today?

Niharika Shah: The key marketing challenge for most financial firms is understanding the value of marketing as a strategic growth driver for the business. All too often, marketing is viewed as a cost center and as ancillary to sales. Even if marketing is thought of in the context of revenue growth, it is from a pure lead generation perspective. This is a business that traditionally has viewed securities and investments as being “sold, not bought,” and that mindset carries through even today. Unlocking the true value of marketing — and especially digital marketing — requires the thoughtful application of marketing tactics across the entire customer journey. That means from lead generation and prospecting through client conversion and then delighting existing customers. Success on all those fronts can then create a virtuous cycle of firm and advisor growth.

InvestmentNews Create: What makes digital marketing different from marketing in the past?

Niharika Shah: The online world brings incredible precision to targeting the right prospects, attracting their interest and turning them into satisfied customers. Good marketers were able to do this in the past with the tools available to them, such as direct mail. But digital marketing, when done correctly, brings with it incredible precision, economy and sophisticated means of measurement. It also can be much more powerful. As in the past, however, having the right message or messages is critical, as is consistency. Using a powerful tool with the wrong aim won’t get you far.

InvestmentNews Create: Maybe this is impolitic, but what are firms are doing wrong in their marketing currently?

Niharika Shah: Since their basic view is that marketing is an ancillary activity, most firms invest neither the time nor the resources to consider what a robust marketing capability would be and then either build that capability themselves or outsource it. Since their efforts are typically scattershot and not programmatic, most of what firms do turns out to be what we call “random acts of marketing.” These various actions or activities are difficult to measure and their outcomes are usually disappointing — which only confirms a firm’s belief that marketing is a frill that doesn’t produce much.

InvestmentNews Create: Obviously, you believe Clout can help firms improve their marketing. How?

Niharika Shah: Clout helps financial services firms in two ways. First, the advanced marketing engine we have built using artificial intelligence (AI) allows a firm to employ hyper-personalized and relevant content in their marketing campaigns. The content can be based on firm objectives, investments or client segments. This helps save a ton of time and effort as the system continuously improves upon itself by “learning” which actions work best and, based on those results, sorting through hundreds of thousands of content pieces to recommend the next best action.

Second, although our robust AI engine is our centerpiece, Clout isn’t a robo marketing machine. We assign each account a dedicated client-success professional who learns the goals and objectives of the firm and helps create highly engaging social media and email campaigns. The combination of our smart AI and our dedicated marketing experts creates a turnkey outsourced marketing team that costs as little as $13 a day — a fraction of what even a junior team member would cost.

InvestmentNews Create: What about the tools advisors and their firms already use?

Niharika Shah: CRM platforms can provide great input for digital marketing. Clout can connect with most major CRM platforms including Salesforce, Hubspot, Redtail and Wealthbox, allowing advisors to immediately use their current client and prospect lists. We also work with many existing email platforms. This connectivity allows most firms to get up and running with Clout within a day. In the end, Clout becomes the marketing hub for the firm, enabling it to produce and deploy emails, newsletters and social posts to increase its engagement across many digital platforms.

InvestmentNews Create: Advisors often express disappointment with technology solutions. How can they be sure that the digital marketing solution the choose will actually deliver what it promises?

Niharika Shah: Many advisors feel they have been over-promised and under-delivered when it comes to marketing software. For a more informed buying decision, make sure the system you choose —if you are looking for a total solution — is not merely a lead generation service or a prospecting tool. Ideally, it should be a scalable approach to personalizing relationships that leads to better outcomes. But any solution chosen won’t be a magic bullet and it won’t perform miracles overnight. In our experience, the client relationships and the ones that see the most success, are those where clients develop a long-term perspective and let Clout learn and optimize over the first few months of the partnership.

InvestmentNews Create: How would a firm measure the success or payback from an investment in a digital marketing system?

Niharika Shah: Marketing should be measured at every step. In fact, there should be no distance between doing and measuring. Make sure the system chosen provides real-time analytics on success measures, including prospect and client engagement and identification of new business opportunities based on content that has captured attention. By measuring the time saved by advisors and the firm using a digital marketing system and business growth, from new clients as well as increased wallet-share from current clients, will indicate demonstrate the rewards of investing in digital marketing.

The post What financial advisors and their firms don’t understand about digital marketing appeared first on InvestmentNews.

Andrew is half-human, half-gamer. He’s also a science fiction author writing for BleeBot.

Andrew Vincent
Andrew is half-human, half-gamer. He's also a science fiction author writing for BleeBot.
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