Interview: Abbie Tanner director of A Business Innovation
Rob Kingsbury talked to Abbie Tanner, director and business consultant at A Business Innovation about how financial advisers can build successful marketing strategies both offline and online.
Rob Kingsbury: A lot of adviser firms are reassessing their business model and what they will offer to clients. At what point should they be considering the marketing mix within this assessment process?
Abbie Tanner: It really must be from the outset – that’s non negotiable. If you look at the service you are going to offer, you need to consider who you’re going to offer it to, what the pricing point will be and also how you are going to promote that service. You have to consider marketing from the beginning so your entire planning process is cohesive and your marketing hits the mark when you launch your revised proposition.
RK: I think it is fair to say that in the adviser world marketing strategies often have been ad hoc in their approach. Have firms got to be more scientific and analytical about their campaigns?
AT: It’s time for a different approach. In the post RDR world we have to figure out the best way to differentiate our businesses and that does come down to how to get a system behind a business’s marketing to make it more effective? Gone are the days when you could have a haphazard approach and start a campaign that quickly runs out of momentum because you run out of resource. You have to think about how you can get your message out there in the best and most efficient way. Nowadays there are tools and methodologies that will enable you to do that more effectively. You can start to automate a system around your communications and with social media you can measure absolutely everything you do online. This enables you to focus in on what’s really working and what isn’t and then just pull those levers as needed
RK: Are there key elements every adviser firm should implement if they want their marketing strategy to be successful?
AT: You can’t be successful in your marketing unless you have a plan and the cornerstone of that plan should be a clear articulation of your value proposition. This should feed into absolutely everything that you do.
So, your online strategy, your website and social media, your case studies and testimonials and the way you use those in your marketing, as well as how you partner strategically with other professional firms and how you engage with your current clients, all of this should be part of your marketing strategy. But the base on which everything sits has to be your value proposition.
RK: You’ve talked about having a website and online activity. To what extent should these be core to a strategy these days?
AT: It’s imperative that you have an online strategy. I don’t think a business in this day and age can be successful without a website. The penetration of smart phones is more than 50% of the population and if you’re looking to grow your business whether through marketing, professional connections or referrals, the first thing anyone is going to do now is Google your name. So, if you don’t have a website, or you don’t have one that converts or positions your proposition appropriately, you’re absolutely missing an opportunity. In fact, you could be doing brand damage if you have a website that looks old and out of date or doesn’t accurately reflect what you do today.
RK: What about social media channels like Twitter? How useful are they?
AT: There is no doubt we are seeing an explosion in the use of social media, including Twitter, and that’s because clients want to engage with you in a two-way dialogue.
They no longer feel satisfied with a website that is static and gives them no means to communicate or even engage in a conversation with you.
So as part of any online strategy you have to look at Twitter and how that might work for you. You must also have a LinkedIn strategy. This is particularly important when dealing with professionals who are using LinkedIn on a regular basis.
What will drive what you do is finding out the way your clients are using social media and the way that they are going to want to communicate with you now and in the future. The online channels are changing people’s expectations because of what they are seeing and getting used to in other industries. What people are looking for now is instant access to you.
RK: What about blogging. Is this as a good way to get your message across online?
AT: Blogging is imperative. It positions you as an expert in front of your potential and your existing clients. It will help with your search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy as well, but above all it is a great way to show your personality. A corporate website is important because it displays what the company is all about but a blog can give the company a voice. That is really, really important because people buy people.
RK: Every adviser firm will know the ideal clients they want to work with. Is it possible to design a marketing campaign to attract just that kind of client?
AT: Absolutely. You should have a marketing strategy that alienates everyone who isn’t your ideal client. I know that sounds insane but the perfect business model is to have a business that is only talking to one client, one segment and delivering one great proposition.
RK: In your experience what are the most common mistakes made by advisers when setting up a marketing campaign?
AT: There are a number of mistakes that I see all the time. Three that stand out are:
1. Not having a plan or a strategy to drive their marketing forward.
2. Not appointing a resource that is focused purely on marketing. They may have an assistant or someone on their team that haphazardly approaches their marketing strategy but they need someone with the responsibility to properly drive the process.
3. Not having a clear definition of who they are talking to - who their ideal client is and what their wants, needs and desires are. And if you don’t know that, then you don’t know how to communicate with them effectively.
RK: Finally, do you have any quick tips you can give advisers wanting to kick- start a marketing campaign for 2013?
AT: The most important one is to make sure you’ve got your value proposition properly identified, because that will help you formulate your marketing strategy. For more tips, we’ve got an 8-step guide on our website that shows you exactly how to transform your business into a marketing engine that works behind the scenes without you even having to think about it.
For more information go to: http://abusinessinnovation.com