Attract More Ideal Clients Online with This One Shift
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Have you ever seen the movie, A Bridge Too Far?
That epic 1977 David Attenborough war film features an all-star cast including Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Gene Hackman and many others.
The movie depicted the true story of Operation Market Garden, where a small group of allied forces parachuted behind enemy positions to try to secure a bridge in the hope of breaking the German lines during the D-Day invasion of 1944.
While the broader invasion was successful and led to the liberation of Europe, Operation Market Garden failed because supporting allied troops could not link up with the insurgent unit profiled in the film before the Germans counter-attacked and retook the bridge.
The effort was a bridge too far.
Is your digital and online marketing strategy a bridge too far?
Chances are your online and digital marketing efforts are similar to our insurgent forces as depicted in the movie.
Most advisors are trying to do too much, too quickly online.
Your website tries to go immediately from cold prospect or social media connection straight to a consultation where the website visitor’s most intimate of financial and personal details could be discussed.
For example, if your website is like many others, when a new prospect finds your website, all they see is a calendar app or a generic contact-us form.
I’m sure you have also experienced this “online stranger to cup of coffee request” yourself or even tried and failed with this strategy.
I know, you are a financial advisor, you are used to working with numbers, you want data as well.
According to a study by Gomes, 80% of prospects are doing their own research online before choosing their financial advisor.
Yet, if you are like most advisors, the majority of traffic is leaving your site without going beyond the home page.
See the disconnect?
Check your website traffic analytics and I bet you will be shocked that most potential clients are leaving your website without a trace.
How can advisors make one big shift to build relationships online?
How can you warm-up suspects to prospects and prospects to leads without ever speaking to these individuals?
Here’s a process of delivering specific offers on your website that can increase conversion of web traffic to prospect download by 200% or more, according to studies by Inbound Marketing vendor Hubspot.
A stem-to-stern process
Few advisors have a proactive process from stem to stern to engage prospects at the start of the relationship, warm them up to sign on the dotted line, and nurture them up the ladder to become a client for life and one of your best advocates and referrers.
A digital content marketing strategy is such a system that advisors should embrace.
You can take a deeper dive in my recent free report, 7 Secrets to Winning Advisor Marketing Funnels, here.
What’s at the heart of content marketing for financial advisors and planners?
Three key steps
A digital content marketing strategy maps to the major steps to move a relationship forward.
Use a dating analogy: first date, going steady, and a serious relationship.
As you deliver value, trust is gained, and if done well you start to build a relationship with your prospects before you ever speak to them.
Let’s simplify your online, trust-building system to three steps to illustrate how the process can work.
- First, get permission to engage the prospect online.
This involves attracting them to your website or one of your web forms and getting their opt-in to your email communications.
This could be content like educational videos, a white paper/free report/book chapter, article, or a newsletter subscription with a specific issue/topic covered.
- Next, educate and nurtureto turn contacts into clients.
As Tom Hopkins said, “Sell them in bunches like bananas.”
This could be marketing offers like webinars, workshops, and other events, a book, or video of a longer presentation.
- Finally, earn the right to meet with them and discuss their financial life including investments, life goals, current income and future expenses.
While you can, use your consultation or meeting step to promote the value of the meeting so it is worth the prospect’s time. For example, some advisors offer a no-obligation retirement readiness review for pre-retirees.
Specificity sells here. Reduce the prospect risk and anxiety by telling them what to expect in the first meeting.
In the marketing database or marketing automation world the three steps map to something like marketing contact, marketing lead, and marketing qualified lead.
As you probably guessed, the more targeted your market, your marketing, and your content the more successful this strategy will be.
For example, one of my advisor clients in the mid-west lived in an area with a big factory with thousands of grey collar workers and had developed an effective offline marketing system with networking coffees, dinners and drinks, seminars and direct mail newsletters.
The marketing was targeted towards long-time employees, age 55+, who were planning on retiring within the next 36 months and had saved over $500,000 in their company retirement plan.
With the pandemic most of the marketing was put on pause.
Here's how we took his offline marketing system and created a simple three-step ladder online.
Online positioning, gaining permission and a “marketing opt-in”
We made sure the content on his website was geared towards these grey collar workers and we took his backlog of paper newsletters to start a twice monthly blog/e-Newsletter focused on retirement readiness.
- Permission step – retirement guide – checklist for workers before they decide to leave their jobs
These workers were not big on social media other than Facebook, so he ran ads there and with Google Ads, offering a very targeted retirement guide designed to raise the issues one must consider before making the decision to retire.
Referrals of existing contacts and clients also found the website landing page where the Guide could be downloaded.
- Dinner seminar turned to educational webinar with sponsors
The second step which also attracted new prospects and clients and friends was an educational webinar.
A twist on the strategy was to engage co-sponsors to both promote and host the webinars, anyone and everyone from the library, local accountant, and the local community college.
While these webinars were generally lightly attended, a quarterly webinar would yield one or two clients and as many as 25 registrants on a shoestring marketing budget.
The content was geared primarily towards the local factory employees, but there were a mix of attendees and a few clients gained from outside the target niche over the initial 12 months.
- Non-obligation review of benefits and retirement accounts
While the advisor offered to meet by phone or Zoom, the majority of prospect meetings occurred in person, and the advisor focused the first meeting primarily on the worker or couple, not so much the accounts or the investments themselves.
While the system is yielding many more marketing contacts, the move to primarily online has led to a lower conversion rate, for example from event registrant to client, especially versus the seminars.
Be ready for differences as you convert offline to online and don’t get hung up on any one metric.
But client and center-of-influence referrals are up so net our advisor is ahead in terms of total income and net new prospect assets.
And the advisor is optimistic that many of the marketing contacts created over the past 12 months will convert to clients over the next 24 months.
Most of all, the advisor is excited he was able to automate most of this three-step system so that it needs minimal care and feeding.
The practice is now to the point where a junior advisor can be brought in to take over this new business development as well as support client management, and the lead advisor can work less and have more freedom over his time.
In short, how do you avoid the bridge too far with online marketing?
Inject targeted marketing content in a stepwise approach and be patient while the relationship builds as marketing prospects see and consume your content.
Bob Hanson is author of Marketing Power for Financial Advisors. Get his new free report, 7 Secrets to Winning Advisor Marketing Funnels, here.