Marketing can feel like a risky expenditure, with returns on investment not guaranteed.
And marketing to get new clients can be a costly exercise, as robo-advisers have shown.
Although it may be tempting to promote a company's strengths, a marketing strategy with a client-led outcome should follow an emphasis on the client at the outset.
Understand your target market
“Under no circumstances should you start marketing your business until you’ve developed a deep understanding of your target market,” says Phil Bray, founder and director at The Yardstick Agency.
Lee Robertson, an adviser to the board at ClientsFirst, a financial services marketing agency, agrees on strategising before anything else.
“Who are we marketing to – existing clients, prospective clients, professional connections, some or all?” Robertson asks.
“Why are we marketing – is it for new business, repeat business, referrals or retention? Which audience? The better you know your client or professional connections, the more relevant you can make the messaging.”
Regardless of whether you concentrate marketing on a platform such as Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, depending on your targets, Robertson adds that every person in a business effectively engages in marketing.
“From great service from the administration and operations team, to the way phones are answered or timescales are met, to writing blogs, to making sure websites and content are fresh, relevant, informative and useful. It is better to think of marketing as just good embedded business practices and culture rather than a specific set of actions,” Robertson says.
Define and review current success
Bray suggests defining success as the next stage of a marketing strategy: “What do you want your marketing to achieve? Without this information, you can’t build a plan or calculate your return on investment.”
Success comes in many forms, as the saying goes, whether it be growth in client numbers, assets under management or income.
Defining success will also enable reviews of any existing marketing to assess what is working, what is not, where money is being spent and where returns are coming from, Bray says.
Develop and implement a marketing plan
Equipped with knowledge of the target market and what success looks like, the next stage is to develop and implement a plan.
If your aim is to develop new enquiries while on a budget, for example, Bray suggests building social proof such as Google and VouchedFor reviews, and client videos.
“Showing potential clients the benefits of working with you will always be better than telling them,” Bray says. “At its best, financial planning changes lives, and client videos are the best way of explaining this.”
Just as the aim is for clients to spread the word, Robertson at ClientsFirst suggests scattering client testimonials across the company's website, rather than limiting them to a single page.
Next is to focus on developing a recommendation strategy, according to Bray.