Whew. It's been a rough few weeks for one of my clients. And those of you in the financial advisor space will feel her pain because of one word:
For those of you who aren't familiar with how financial planning works, there are a lot of different variables when it comes to marketing yourself. And when I tell you a few of them, you're going to wonder how a financial advisor can market themselves at all.
1. They can't have anyone review their services. So, no Yelp, no Facebook reviews, no nuthin'.
2. If they work with a Broker-Dealer (basically under a big umbrella organization), everything they do has to be reviewed by someone in the compliance department to make sure they're not making promises about investments and stuff like that.
3. And if they work with a Broker-Dealer, everything they do has to be sent into the compliance department...which usually adds at least a week to the timeline for anything they want to put out there for the world to see. That's like me writing this simple blog and not being able to hit "publish" - I'd have to wait for someone to okay it first.
In short, marketing as a financial advisor can be a frustrating prospect. Which is why so many of them don't do it.
The reason I know so many advisors don't market themselves is because I've seen the fear in their eyes when I mention it AND because when I do start marketing an advisor, it sends the resources we're using into a tizzy.
Here's the example from my client.
She's going through a Broker-Dealer and that specific BD uses a company that essentially has templates for websites that are compliance approved. Awesome! You'd think this would speed up the process.
But as we've worked to modify a few things on the website (changing the colors and fonts to her specific branding, using professional branded photography, and changing some of the content to make it personal to her), it's like every email we send is sent back with a, "Wait. What? You want to talk about YOU on your own website?"
Crazy, I know.
She's frustrated and I get it. I mean, the rest of the world can just slap a website up there and we're getting things kicked back because one word has to be changed. But there is one positive to this experience.
The reason why this has been such a difficult process is because
NO ONE IS DOING IT.
If there is any industry that needs to personalize its marketing, it's financial planning. Most advisor websites out there are notoriously cold and impersonal, trying to showcase the knowledge of the planner, rather than talk about what can be done for the client.
So, if you're an advisor and this resonating with you (both the need for better marketing and the frustration that it sometimes causes), I have this advice for you:
1. Hire someone to help you.
I'm not trying to sell my services (okay, yes I am), but having someone who can assist you with the process who has a knowledge about digital marketing AND the advisor space is valuable. With my clients, I do whatever I can to take on as much of the workload as I possibly can. It's also nice to have someone you can contact when you're frustrated and say, "I can't deal with this right now. Can you do it?"
2. Overestimate the time it's going to take.
If you're thinking that this project will take a month, it will take three. Like a home remodel, website design will take more time (and more money) than you think it will. When it comes to submitting blogs and original content, assume it will take two weeks to get it up - and that's without changes. If changes need to be made, keep adding. Schedule your marketing plan accordingly.
3. Have as much ready before you even start.
Color palettes, fonts, branding photos, graphics, logos, and content should be ready to go, especially if you're working with a compliance-approved template. You might not be able to use it all (there might be some static pages that you're not allowed to change), but better to have it all done than to realize there is a big chunk of work missing that's going to set you back. Obviously, you might run into a situation when you decide to add something you think might be helpful. Just be as prepared as possible before you even begin.
The last thought I want to leave you with is DON'T LET ALL OF THIS SCARE YOU AWAY FROM MARKETING YOURSELF. It is so necessary and beneficial to your clients to personalize what you're doing. Remember that when they're checking out your website and social media, they're likely feeling scared and overwhelmed. Through your marketing you CAN comfort them and plant that seed of trust that will enable them to contact you.