The Internet has changed the game for investors and financial advisors. Investors can use the Internet to find financial advisors, research their credentials and ethics, and initiate contact. And they can do all of this while maintaining their anonymity. They have to see something on the Internet that compels them to initiate contact with you.
How you are represented on the Internet will determine your success or failure when you market your services to investors who know how to access public data on the Internet and use it to protect their interests.
The tips in this article are the result of surveying financial advisors who have experienced a lot of success marketing their services on the Internet. In fact, some of them have doubled and tripled their AUM since they started using the Internet to reach more investors and convert more leads into clients.
1. WHY ARE INVESTORS SO CAUTIOUS?
There are two primary types of investors who use the Internet to find, research and contact financial advisors. They are not the types that ask friends and family for referrals. They are going to use the public data on the Internet to find advisors and verify their quality.
First is the replacement market. These are investors who have had past experiences with financial advisors that turned out badly. They are naturally cautious because they do not want to make the same mistake twice. This can be a tough market when you do not know what went wrong with the previous advisor.
Second is the first-time use market. Perhaps they are rolling assets from a 401k plan into an IRA and have not used the services of a financial advisor in the past. This type of investor is cautious because they do not know much about advisors. They are going to do their homework before they start interviewing advisors.
This creates a huge marketing opportunity for financial advisors who use Digital Marketing to create Internet visibility, website traffic and websites that educate investors and convert more traffic into leads.
There is only one opportunity to make a great first impression and that is particularly true when that impression occurs on the Internet. If you fail to make the right first impression, you never hear from the investors – they stay invisible when they exit your website. They have too many choices, and they’re going to choose someone who does make the right first impressions.
2. HOW TO MAKE INVESTORS FEEL SAFE
It stands to reason investors have seen the headlines. Brand name firms have paid huge fines for cheating their clients. Then there are the Ponzi schemes that have cost investors billions of dollars. These events are the foundation of millions of investors’ distrust of financial advisors and Wall Street in general. They would rather manage their own assets or turn the assets over to a brand name (Fidelity, Vanguard) to manage for them.
You ignore these concerns at your own peril.
This tip is about creating trust. It starts with the practice of full disclosure – the key word being “full.” There is nothing that you should not disclose to investors:
Your credentials (education, experience, certifications)
Your record of compliance (show them FINRA)
How you are compensated (how much and by whom)
The fully loaded cost of your investment advice
Go the extra mile that your competitors are not willing to go.
3. YOUR MARKETING BUDGET
A high percentage of the owners of financial advisory firms are better at planning and investing than they are at marketing. In fact, many professionals don’t even like marketing. They view it as a major source of rejection and wasted time.
If that describes your firm, how can you expect to grow beyond market appreciation, reinvested income, new money from current clients and few referrals each year.
A substantial bear market can wipe out this strategy in a week.
As soon as you can afford it, you should hire a sales professional who can create prospects and close business for you. But don’t stop there. You should provide some marketing support for this professional. For example, subscribe to a lead generation service to provide this person with a steady flow of quality leads.
4. TRANSITION TO INBOUND
Forget about Outbound Marketing (cold calling, direct mail). It has been made obsolete by technology (Caller ID) and rejection rates that approach 100%.
Why such a high rejection rate? You are trying to reach people who don’t want to be reached.
There is a superior alternative. It is Inbound Marketing. The foundation of this marketing strategy is investors initiate contact with advisors. Most of the lead generation services use Inbound Marketing to produce leads for financial advisors.
The other pillar of this marketing strategy is the Internet. Investors find advisors on the Internet, research them and initiate contact with the ones that have the best websites and other types of presence that stands out on the Internet.
5. ASSUMPTIONS ARE DANGEROUS
Do not assume investors know more than they really know. An example of this occurs when advisors say: “I am a financial fiduciary.” This is supposed to mean something to investors, but only 5% get the message. The other 95% question: “What’s a fiduciary and how does that impact me?”
You have to create value for the characteristics that define you, your practice and your firm. For example, you might say: “Fiduciaries are held to the highest ethical standards in the financial service industry. They are required to put your financial interests ahead of their own.”
Why is this important to know? “Not everyone who sells investment services and products is a fiduciary. Therefore, you have to be careful who you hire, because that person will influence or control the financial decisions that will impact when you retire, how you live during retirement and your financial security late in life.”
The tip here is do not assume investors know more than they know. It pays to be patient and explain the key features of your practice or firm and how those features benefit them. Sell the benefits and not the features.