A guide to client acquisition for Financial Advisors
Ask any in-demand advisor how they accomplished success and they’ll share that they didn’t rely on luck to grow their sales and book of business. Instead, they invested in a clear client attraction system and marketing strategy before jumping into tactics.
The truth is, there’s no one-size-fits-all financial advisor marketing system that works for everyone. Every decision you make should (rightfully) be first and foremost about your business and your clients.
So how can you design the right client acquisition strategy, tailored to your unique business, and pinpoint your best tactics?
Here’s my step-by-step guide to help Financial Advisors create a solid strategy and client attraction system.
Chapter 1: Why you need a strategy to grow your conversions
What is a conversion strategy?
A strategy is a mental shortcut that helps you develop your approach to accomplish a certain goal.
Your conversion strategy is your sales funnel – how you’ll attract leads all the way through to the way they become a client. This strategy will naturally look different for every advisor.
Before you start posting or spread yourself too thin showing up everywhere online, you need a clear strategy and objectives to focus your efforts in the right places. Without knowing your strategy (which requires first defining your audience), you can’t determine the marketing tactics that’ll give you the best ROI.
I recommend creating a 1-page marketing plan for clarity on your high-level marketing decisions, as well as a 90-day action plan breaking down your objectives and actions so you know what to do when.
How to create a 1-page marketing plan
Here’s a quick and easy guide to creating your own 1-page marketing plan, so you can make marketing decisions with confidence.
Step 1 – Define your audience
Start by defining your audience — who are they, what do they want, and why will they care about what you have to say?
Your audience profile will impact your strategy. Here, you’ll want to think about:
- Your audience’s demographics
- Their personal characteristics and quirks
- Their motivations and interests
- Their communication and information preferences
- Their challenges and pain points
This will help you decide on the right tone of communication based on your audience’s communication preferences, motivations and interests.
Step 2 – Set a clear SMART objective for your marketing plan
Next, set a clear objective for your wealth advisor marketing plan. What is the end-state you are hoping to achieve?
This goal could be to grow your leads (client attraction), grow your conversions (client acquisition), milestone goals like visibility or engagement. Whatever best aligns with your business goals.
What matters most is that your chosen goal is underpinned by objectives that are SMART. That is, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.
Step 3 – Develop your strategy
Although people often confuse a strategy with a plan, a strategy is actually quite different. Your strategy is a high level mental shortcut or an approach with some quick directions to follow for making aligned, strategic decisions. It’s a framework to think about how you will accomplish your goals and objectives.
This will be your mental shortcut for making decisions under uncertainty.
In my work with financial advisors, I typically help them pinpoint three key instructions (backed by research into their audience) to anchor their marketing decision-making throughout a 90-day action plan and 6-12 month strategy.
Step 4 – Create your key message
Now it’s time to craft a compelling key message. Ask yourself: What is the one thing you want your ideal client to know? This is how I decide what the key message is.
There’s often a temptation to prove your expertise, flood your prospect with all your knowledge at once, and say as much as possible. But it’s better to stay super focused on one key message.
Resist the temptation to overwhelm your prospects. You’ve got 5 seconds to make an impact. Let them come back to you for more.
Step 5 – Identify your tactics
Finally, identify the tactics you’ll use to deliver this message effectively.
When deciding on tactical recommendations for my clients, I consider three things:
- Where does the audience live online? Where do they show up?
- What’s going to make the most impact?
- Is this realistic and achievable? Is it something my client can realistically stick with or outsource? How can they make it happen (outsourcing or in-house?)
Chapter 2: Crafting an effective customer experience strategy – From prospecting to client conversion
An effective strategy goes beyond selling a product or service. It’s about curating the entire customer experience.
Here are two easy steps to take your audience members from uncertain prospects to confident clients.
Step 1: Analyze your audience’s stage of awareness
Deciding to work with a financial advisor is a journey. And on that journey, different members of your audience can be unaware, problem aware, solution aware, product aware, or most aware.
Your audience’s stage of awareness is what will shape your messaging and the content you create. It’s your job to guide the right prospects from uncertainty to confidence, so they can feel good about the decision to work with you (typically a decision they will make at the Most Aware stage).
Being mindful of and crafting unique content for different stages of awareness will help your content resonate with people at different points of their journey.
For instance, when crafting content for someone early in their career, emphasizing retirement planning wouldn’t make much sense because that’s not a decision that has urgency for this audience. That framing will only resonate with someone actively thinking about retirement.
However, if you choose to lead with a topic your younger audience does care about and dovetail into retirement planning once you’ve sparked their interest, you will have a fighting chance.
Remember, you don’t need to give away all of your knowledge at once. Your goal for now is simply to meet them where they are with an ‘appetizer’ that entices their appetite and builds trust. From there, you can slowly educate them until they’re ready to ask for the ‘dinner’ – the full range of financial services you provide.
So go ahead: Identify your ideal clients’ stage of awareness now.
- Where do you think most of your audience sits on this spectrum?
- What’s going on in their minds at each stage of awareness?
- What messages will you share at each stage?
Step 2 – Consider your audience’s expectations
Understanding your audience — and crucially, what they expect from you — can help you tailor your strategy and offers.
What are their desired outcomes, their level of experience, their actual felt pain points, motivations, and personality?
For example, high net worth clients (for example, enterprise clients) often desire and expect more high touch communication, personalized attention, and a white-glove, complete experience beyond the scope of financial services. They expect you to take the lead in actively connecting them with an extensive network of experts you recommend (for example, a suite of lawyers, accountants, or tax specialists). Ideally, this client service style should match up with your marketing style.
On the other hand, clients seeking lower-cost, standardized services or products might have different expectations. They might expect a more transactional, less hands-on approach.
The level of personalization your audience expects will impact how you interact with them throughout their lifetime as your client.
Crafting your unique strategy: Balancing education and connection
Early on, you’ll need to decide whether you want to focus most of your attention on educating your audience or inspiring them. The main difference is in their primary purpose (to inform or motivate) and the emotions they aim to evoke.
Just as no business strategy is the same, your marketing strategy will be a unique mix of education and connection.
When you first start to post, you’ll want to share more inspirational content (60%) than educational content (30%) and 10% sales content.
But once people get to know you, this balance should shift. A good rule of thumb is 40% educational content, evenly balanced with inspirational content (40%) and a higher amount of sales content (20%).
Another piece to consider: Education approaches are best for general audiences, while high net worth individuals will trust you more if you rely on a COI approach.
By striking the right balance between education and connection for your audience, you’ll drive more conversions.
Chapter 3: Deciding on your approach
Before we delve into the specific types of educational content you can create, here’s some golden rules before crafting educational content.
1. Show, don’t tell. Pick your examples so that your audience can easily picture themselves in the situation and relate it back to their own experience.
2. Connect your audience’s needs to your offer. To craft your content, you’ll want a strong understanding of your ideal clients’ psychology, including their desired outcomes, level of experience, pain points and motivations.
Think through your offer from their perspective: How does your solution fit the problems they have? What makes this solution what they need? What are the key benefits? What are the potential downfalls of it?
3. Know both the solution you’re selling and what you want to be known for – your appetizer. What is it that you sell? What are your skills? And what’s that one thing you want to be known for?
Ideally, this should be something you do really well that ties to your signature offer. What’s your signature framework and how does it reflect your expertise and your passion?
4. Highlight your signature process. What process helps you deliver what your clients seek?
I’ll develop tactical recommendations for my clients from these questions.
Now, here are some options for educational content:
One of the tactical recommendations I often recommend is content marketing.
Content marketing for financial advisors can include social media marketing, the creation of blogs, email newsletters, white papers, and/or videos to educate current and potential clients.
If you’re sharing financial planning content with your audience by only using an automated content creation service, don’t fool yourself. This isn’t a fast track to content marketing engagement.
This may be easy, but it isn’t targeted to anyone. Ultimately, it’s just creating more noise for your audience to ignore. And it’s lazy. You’re better than that with real expertise to offer.
Here’s how to tap into that expertise to brainstorm exciting ideas for your content.
How to brainstorm content ideas that’ll actually connect and convert
Before you even write a single word, you’ll want to decide on your thought leadership pillars and the themes you’ll talk about again and again.
Think from your audience’s perspective: What are the burning questions you can answer for them?
If you’re stuck for ideas, lean on intuitive empathy and your audience research.
Pick something to stand for. Something that actually matters to your people.
Getting more granular, there are lots of simple techniques to make your content planning easier.
- Outline the themes that you have in common with your niche that are relatable.
- Use the Lotus flower technique to brainstorm questions your audience would ask about a certain topic – then answer the question in your own voice.
- Use the content matrix approach to structure your ideas into themes or content pillars.
Do this, and your content will resonate with your audience much better than an automated content creation service ever will.
Decide on your channels and tactics
The myth that you can ‘just get started’ creating content that connects and attracts is just that – a myth.
In reality, you need a plan to make sure you’re showing up intentionally in the right places.
To create a plan for multi channel engagement that’s actually sustainable, not a waste of resources, and won’t burn you out, ask yourself two questions:
1. What are all the top ways to reach your target audience? Where do your audience hang out online?
For example, don’t show up on social media platforms they don’t actually use and trust.
For everyday people, look at the different generational patterns for social media use and your niche’s preferred platforms.
If you’re marketing to a niche of high net worth individuals, other channels will make more sense. Think speaking engagements, in-person group sessions (seminars), and social events.
2. Which channels do you think you can do consistently?
Instead of stretching yourself too thin, pick just two to three channels where you can show up consistently.
SEO is a marketing tactic to get your website seen by people looking for your services. Your website is a conversion funnel. Its purpose is to move your audience from unaware to ready to hire you. To do that, you need to write content that educates your audience and builds trust in your expertise.
Here are some simple tips for approaching SEO and your content marketing:
- Choose relevant keywords and topics for your website. Conduct keyword research using Google to see what surfaces and use tools like Ahrefs and UberSuggest.
- Your website page titles are one of the most important SEO elements. Keep titles under 70 characters and include the focus keyword as naturally as possible. Same for headers.
- Keep your URLs simple. Easily digestible for both readers and search engines. This helps keep your site hierarchy consistent as you add subpages, blog posts, and more. Include one keyword or, if a blog, a number
Struggle to create content for your website blog? Here’s how you can do it with ease:
- Go to answerthepublic.com and type in a phrase that describes what you sell, for example, insurance. Answer the Public is gonna throw a load of questions at you. These are questions people ask about your product or service.
- Next, pick a question from the options Answer the Public gives you.
- Create a new Incognito window in Chrome.
- Type that question in.
- Look at the top 3 articles and what they’re about.
- Recreate that article for yourself, adding your own expertise.
- Repeat these steps until you’ve answered all the questions.
If you’re thinking of using YouTube videos for client acquisition, here are 4 questions to ask yourself:
- Do you know your audience and what they’re searching for really well? Without great YouTube SEO, no one will be able to find your content.
- Do you have the right video-making equipment to undertake this goal? Professionalism matters.
- Are you confident you can be consistent with video creation? Look at the rhythm of your life, business and other client acquisition activities. Will you realistically be able to set aside time to regularly film videos?
- Can you prepare at least 10 videos before you launch your YouTube channel to give yourself a boost?
When it comes to webinars, it pays to be strategic about what you talk about.
I don’t recommend spontaneously coming up with ideas for webinars. If you do that, your webinars will be unfocused and all over the place without a strong strategy underpinning them.
Always make sure your webinar topic is firmly rooted in your key message and matches your audience’s awareness level.
You’re going to need to be consistent before you’ll be known for this topic. It takes time to build a reputation online. So get clear on a strategic topic you want to talk about and stick with it.
Influence and connection approaches
Influence and COI (center of influence) approaches are powerful persuaders because they give you authority by virtue of being endorsed by someone else.
Here are some potential tactics to consider to develop your influence:
- Referral based growth strategy. Your ideal client likely knows more of your ideal customers in their social circles. Encourage them to connect their friends and family with you if they need your financial services.
- COI (center of influence) strategy. Brainstorm centers of influence in your industry to form a partnership with and build a sphere of people who work with similar clients to you. For example, you can connect with lawyers and accountants who also serve your niche.
- Online networking. Strategically pick masterminds and summits to join.
- Speaking engagements. Speak at institutions. For example, if you offer financial advice to doctors, speak at a school to MBA students studying to become doctors about managing their student debt or transitioning away from their visa.
- In-person group sessions. Lead a seminar on a topic of your expertise and invite guest speakers your audience respects.
- Private social events. Invite 12 clients and prospective clients out and treat them to dinner.