Do you want to grow your firm beyond organic referrals but find traditional marketing techniques frustrating? If so, you're not alone! Given that the average individual in the U.S. is exposed to numerous marketing messages every day, it's harder than ever to find marketing activities that lead to specific, measurable results. What can you do to help your firm stand out among the clutter?
Here, I've compiled a few niche marketing strategies for financial advisors. They are designed to help you define and reach your target audience, so that you can become the specialist for that audience and develop a reputation as the preferred provider for that group.
Download our free marketing plan and calendar templates to help you hone your niche marketing strategies.
Why Should You Specialize?
According to CEG Worldwide, 70 percent of top financial advisors (i.e., those earning at least $1 million annually) focus on a niche. These advisors are specialists with expertise in solving particular problems for a very select group of people with similar needs. Here's what I want you to take away from this data: Specialization makes your firm more attractive than those offering general services to a broader audience.
Determine Your Target Market
To begin developing a specialized marketing plan, you first need to determine your target market (e.g., female business owners, dentists, or divorcees) and create an extensive profile of this audience. This process will help guide your strategic planning and marketing efforts, plus uncover critical hot buttons and marketing opportunities.
As you create a profile of your target market, it might be helpful to think about this group in the following ways:
- Top financial concerns
- Questions about financial future
- Reasons for switching advisors
- Risk tolerance
- Specialized planning needs
- Personal passions
- Favorite publications and websites
- Hobbies and interests
- Accountants, attorneys, and centers of influence
- Events attended
Tailor Your Message
Once you've identified the hot-button issues facing your target market, you'll want to tailor your message to help address those issues. When you do this, you're likely to find that your message becomes more persuasive to those who fit that profile. Let's look at an example to help illustrate this point.
Mike is an advisor who targets highly compensated corporate executives between the ages of 45 and 60. His goal is to tailor his marketing messages to executives who need to sort through complicated benefits packages, lack the time to adequately plan their finances, and may even want to retire early from their frenzied lifestyle.
So, how can Mike tailor his message? One strategy is to package it in a format preferred by corporate executives: a simple résumé. Knowing that his clients evaluate potential employees via a résumé, Mike can use this traditional format to showcase his own experience in the financial services industry.
Conduct Targeted Marketing Activities
A niche strategy allows you to communicate your marketing message to your ideal prospects repetitively over a longer period of time because the audience is smaller and more targeted. The more frequently your niche audience hears about you in a meaningful way, the more awareness you generate about your brand. One way to do this is by conducting targeted marketing activities, as illustrated in the following example.
Carol's target market is women who are experiencing a financial transition (e.g., retirement, divorce, or the loss of a spouse). She participates in a women's golf league and has made many friends within the group. Although it's a social activity, joining the league opened opportunities to conduct targeted marketing activities.
Carol could, for example, hold educational meetings for league members or sponsor summer golf events. It will be easy for her to spread her message to a network in which she has already built solid personal relationships. By pursuing these types of targeted activities, Carol can gain greater traction than through marketing initiatives geared to a broad audience with whom she has no previous connection.
Showcase Your Expertise
When you specialize in the specific investment and planning needs of your audience, you become known as the go-to expert for that area of specialization. Over time, word of mouth can help build your reputation as a trusted resource—perhaps the trusted resource. One tactic that advisors can use to build credibility as a subject-matter expert is to write a white paper tackling a technical issue faced by your target audience:
Catherine works with LGBT clients and has written multiple white papers about the wealth management challenges and opportunities that affluent same-sex couples face today. She has built a reputation as a credible resource and thought leader for this group.
Another great way to enhance your reputation through word of mouth is by focusing on a particular employer in your area.
Bob has successfully built credibility and trust within the employee community of a major telecommunications company in his area. He cultivates centers of influence within the organization and hosts numerous social events, such as golf outings, wine tastings, and fishing trips. He even attends many of the employee retirement parties. And, in recognition of special events, he sends brownies to employee clients at their offices, who typically share them with their colleagues and discuss Bob.
Narrow Your Service, Enhance Your Profitability
Focusing on clients who have specialized but similar investment and planning needs has many potential benefits for your firm. You can streamline your services and manage revenue. You'll also have the ability to develop a product and service mix specifically for your target audience, plus build scalable business models and generate higher profitability. Last but certainly not least, narrowing your focus will give you the opportunity to offer the high-touch, high-value services that many clients and prospects are looking for.
Do you have a specialized marketing plan for your firm? What other strategies have you used to focus on a target market? Share your challenges and successes below.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in December 2014, but we've updated it to bring you more relevant and timely information.