Marketing for Advisors: Finding the Right Prospects

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

That famous quote from 1922 is still just as true today, and it came before the dawn of modern marketing. 

Even with targeted tools like third-party cookies and tracking and user profiles and more, finding the right prospects in 2021 can be as complicated, expensive and time-consuming as it was 100 years ago. 

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When you’re building an advisory firm, ineffective marketing is the last thing you want to deal with. After all, you should be spending your time on talking through financial plans with clients and creating proposals for a prospect you really want to help. 

In today’s blog, we’ll be talking about what you can do to make sure you’re talking to the right types of clients and creating an effective marketing plan for your firm.

Modern Marketing Promised Warm Prospects at Every Turn

One of the first innovations of the digital age was reaching new audiences through marketing and advertising. 

In 1994, only 2% of homes had the internet, but that didn’t stop AT&T from launching the first ever banner ad, turning in an impossible-by-today’s-standards 44% click rate. For context, the average banner click rate today is 0.25% and if you can get above 2%, then you’re basically king of the hill.

Of course, most of that original ad’s success can be attributed to the novelty of the dawn of the internet. But the promise of numbers like that has helped propel digital marketing to the forefront of every company’s outreach strategy even today. 

On top of that, the digital age promised tracking and targeting of audiences that would help companies spend less and earn more business.

But a lot has changed in the three decades since that ad ran. 

In Many Ways, Modern Marketing Lied to Us

One promise the internet has delivered on is the promise of eyeballs. If you run a campaign, people will at least see it (or glance at it as they scroll past). 

But just because we can get eyes on the content doesn’t necessarily mean the prospects are qualified as the right fit for your business. The same thing that made John Wanamaker complain about wasting half of his advertising dollars still affects us today.

Modern marketing leveled the playing field, but now we have nearly as many campaigns as users on the internet, and attention is getting harder and harder to earn.

What is the ‘Right’ Prospect?

For the purposes of this article, “right” is a synonym for “qualified.” Basically, it means the kind of prospect that you would want to work with and who would want to work with you. 

And here’s the thing: The “right” prospect for one advisor may be the “wrong” prospect for another advisor. Some advisors specialize in working with doctors, other advisors say they’ll never work with a doctor and are most at home assisting teachers with their 403(b) plans. 

What makes a prospect the “right” prospect boils down to who you are as an advisor and a few characteristics of who you want to work with, which may include:

  • Age
  • Profession
  • Investable assets
  • Goals
  • How involved they want to be in their financial plan
  • Personal Interests

Why It’s so Hard to Find the Right Prospects

So with the many marvels of modern marketing and all those known characteristics, finding the right prospects should be easy, right? 

Again, that all depends on how you define “right.” 

For starters, the targeting that modern marketing promises to deliver is actually more “hit or miss” than “seek and engage.”

Advisors are still struggling with the common pitfalls of digital marketing:

  • Unqualified leads – Getting people in the door isn’t so hard, it’s getting the right people in the door that’s proving to be difficult for so many advisors. 
  • Overpriced leads – Between the dollars and time and energy you invest in your marketing efforts, most advisors are probably severely underestimating the cost they pay for leads.
  • No funnel – When leads come in the door, it’s unclear what comes next in your process.
  • Unmeasurability – Measuring your results is harder than it looks with most marketing avenues.
  • High client acquisition costs – It can take an average of three years to recoup the cost of marketing. 

Thankfully, you don’t have to fall victim to any of these problems. There’s a better way to market your advisory business.

How to Find the Right Prospects

Ultimately, the primary categories that most advisors use to define the “right” prospects boil down to three things:

  1. Goals
  2. Investable assets
  3. Timeline

While most advisors care about more than just these three factors, they are more likely to make or break an advisor’s decision to work with a client than any other.

But with traditional approaches to marketing, those are often some of the last things you find out about prospects. 

If these are so important, though, shouldn’t they be moved to one of the first things in a conversation?

We think that advisor marketing could radically improve if they did. In fact, conversations could start faster and be more productive if an advisor knew these things even before engaging with a new prospective client.

Advisors would be able to speak with more knowledge about how they can help, and prospects would feel more seen and understood right from the start.

That’s why we created Lasso – the new app that helps connect investors who want a plan with advisors who want to help investors create plans. 

The process starts with these three critical factors. Investors pick a goal, set a timeline and add how much they have already saved toward that goal. 

Then you as the advisor can browse investor profiles and plans, giving you an immediate picture of those important factors so you can start your relationship on the right foot. 

It’s simple, and it’s intuitive. And it’s the next step forward in making sure advisors find the right prospects and have productive conversations with them from day one.

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