Marketing and branding are an increasingly vital function of successful financial services firms. Implementing a strategic marketing plan can mean the difference between lost business and leads that are instead converted to new business and loyal customers. We’ve compiled some simple strategies to develop your marketing and branding plan.
Clarify Your Message
The key to marketing success is understanding who you serve and the value you bring to them. Even before creating a budget or determining your marketing goals for the year, nail down your mission and get to know your target audience. Determine the best way to connect with your targets, both in terms of messaging and the media they consume. Your mission should be reflected in every message your firm presents to clients: your logo, marketing materials such as brochures and one-sheets, and even in your office space.
Determine Your Budget
Think about your marketing budget in the same way you would approach a financial planning decision: what marketing goals do you want to accomplish and what is your priority for each quarter and year? A marketing budget of 3-5 percent of annual revenue is standard in the industry, though some firms will spend 10 percent or more if they’re serious about growth, changing the focus of their firm, or anticipating a merger. Decide what makes sense for your firm and be realistic about the budget you will need to accomplish your goals.
Refine Your Online Presence
Your website is usually the first representation of your brand that a potential client sees, so it’s crucial that your site is user-friendly and visually appealing, and shows off your expertise and credibility. Although your website should be central to your marketing efforts, don’t discount social media. Most firms find value on platforms such as LinkedIn and Google Plus, which can also be helpful for search engine optimization efforts. Consider joining Facebook and Twitter as well if your target is active online and you have the resources to keep these pages updated. Link those platforms to accounts on your website’s homepage, and make sure your website is also optimized for mobile viewing.
Create Brand Materials
A brand kit is a useful tool to explain your services to clients quickly and effectively. It can take the form of a brochure, a pocket folder with a one-sheet or services summary, or a PowerPoint presentation that can be emailed to potential clients or downloaded from your website. You may want to include testimonials, recent media coverage, and examples of your newsletter in these pieces. You can also narrate a PowerPoint or hire a videography company to create a video highlighting your services and expertise.
Leverage Your Connections
While networking is especially important when starting a new firm, it’s also useful for financial services professionals in any stage of their careers—you never know what connections will lead to new business. Marketing is most effective when it’s done continuously, so try to stay active and dedicate a few hours each week to catching up with colleagues. Set goals to reach out to a certain number of people every week, month and year, and find ways to keep yourself accountable.
Financial services firms will benefit from implementing the above strategies in their strategic marketing plans. By clarifying your message, determining your budget, refining your online presence, creating brand materials and leveraging your connections, you will gain traction with potential leads and increase the chances of turning potential business into loyal customers.