Of all industries, Financial planning seems to get the hardest rap when it comes to compliance and looking after the interests of a client. The recent Royal Commission has not been an exception to this rule.
Politicians and policy-makers are often quick to add crippling compliance on the industry, sometimes with little or no justification and with limited understanding of how hard the industry can be to operate in now.
Because of this many planners can struggle to find the right clients, ones that believe in the process of developing a sound financial strategy, and who trust the help that a financial planner can provide. And the peculiarities of the Online World to Finance as an industry can often complicate the process of finding these clients
This article is written to help these financial planners generate those high-value leads, build their portfolio, and grow their business, whilst still maintaining the high levels of compliance with ASIC and your licensee.
Step 1. Have a website
This might sound like a bit of a silly suggestion, but when I say have a website, I mean a website that is up to a customer’s expectations.
It needs to be a clean layout, easy to navigate, have highly relevant content and a way for clients to reach you. If you believe your website is not up to scratch, there are ways of getting one set up without the high fees.
1. Wix www.wix.com – an easy to use and friendly website creator, with powerful tools for more advanced users. It’s very simple to create an amazing site, and cheap with a professional site setting you back about US$14 per month.
2. WordPress – www,wordpress.com – WordPress has been around for over a decade and is one of the simpler website creators, but it can be a little tricky to set up initially without basic technical skills. Once it is set up, it is effortless to create websites, has an amazing set of plugins and features, all for free. You only have to pay for a hosting provider, which can set you back $10 a month.
3. Overseas Web Developers – Less technically fraught and time-consuming, but you have to find the right person to work on your site. You can use tools like Upwork.com to help you post a job, and use reviews to vet potential candidates.
There are some limitations to this option. You must communicate clearly the layout and structure you want your website to have, or you risk getting something that may not be fit for purpose. Additionally, these developers will usually not write content for you (many have limited command of English), and there can be significant back and forth with lots of questions. A website price can range between US$100 – US$500 but add on that the cost of hosting as well.
4. Australian developer – By far the most expensive of the options, and also the most professional. They will look at the overall structure and user flow of a site to ensure when you send clients to the site, they actually will fill out a form to send their details. Also, many web developers have content writers in Australia that can hand over a complete website with images, content, and all forms functioning and hosted. A basic website can start at $5,000 – $20,000 depending on the number of pages, and the amount of customisation the client requires.
Step 2. Have a social media presence
Many social media “gurus” are trying to convince you to write 300 blog articles a week, post them everywhere, and have videos on youtube, books on amazon, images on Instagram, and a professional profile on LinkedIn. While this would be ideal, a financial planner’s job is to help their clients, and with the continued pressure on compliance, this is taking longer and longer to achieve. With such limited time for marketing, effort must be focused on the most effective strategies.
First, ask yourself, where are your clients? If you are a high-end planner, looking for clients with over $500,000 in super, and below 55 years of age. LinkedIn is probably your best source. These clients are usually higher-level executives, that still have 10 years working left as a minimum, and they have high incomes. This is also the ideal choice for focusing on niche financial planning for specific industries. Ads can be expensive however, so make sure your content is relevant and engaging.
If you are looking for more “mum and dad” investors, and are happy with anyone with a combined super of over $100,000, Facebook might be the best choice, there are interest and socio-economic categories to help you further narrow your audience.
At a bare minimum, you should have a well-maintained page on the platforms of your choice, post regularly, and spend a small amount of time each day commenting on relevant posts, curating content from other sources on your preferred network, and opening conversations with people that resemble your preferred client.
If you have some funds to market with, a social media campaign with very targeted audiences can build some familiarity with the preferred client type, which will also improve your chance of getting in front of them. Social Media is very good at spending large amounts to advertising funds, however, so make sure your budget is sufficient for your audience size.
Step 3. Be there when they need you
Imagine social media marketing like television advertising, you’re gently reminding people that they may need your services, and hope that you are the planner in front of them when they decide they need you.
There are other potential clients, who are actually searching for a planner, that may not have seen your advertisements on LinkedIn or Facebook. They are going to Google, or possibly other search engines, to find the best adviser for their needs.
There are two (major) ways you can appear in Search Engine Result Pages. One is by paying per click to be at the top of the page, the other is through using Google’s guidelines to get what they call “organic” listings.
Step 3.1. Pay per click – This is the expensive way to get to the top of Google. Expensive because you will pay a fee every time someone clicks on your advertisement and because you are at the top of Google you will get a substantial amount of clicks. Some larger companies will spend millions of dollars a month on Google ads to dominate the highest traffic terms. This is unlikely to be your goal.
With careful research, you can find less competitive words to bid on and focus your advertisements on local areas and specific services. As an example instead of bidding for a generic search term like “Financial planning” which could cost you over $20 per click. Bid on “SMSF planner in Chatswood” which can have a cost below $3 a click.
By tailoring your ads and landing pages, you can bring that price down even further
You won’t get as many clicks on the second search criteria, but the type of traffic you will get will be better targeted.
Step 3.2 Search Engine Optimisation – This is where we use Google’s own guide book, work out what it is looking for, and we make your website fit within the criteria. Sounds simple enough, but Google does not make it easy, because it wants you to buy ads. The ultimate goal is to get listed in search results without having to pay Google every time someone clicks on our link.
When you search on Google, you will see the first 4 or so results, have “ads” written in the top left. These companies are paying per click to be there. The fifth result does not have to pay Google. They have just worked harder than their competitors to create relevant pages that meet Google’s requirements.
These companies get amazing traffic from being in that position, and if they have a good website, they get great leads as well. SEO takes time and effort but can reap lasting results.
The reality is that digital marketing can help grow your business despite the extra burdens of the royal commission and all other compliance changes that eat up time and profit margins.
Planners as always have to be more conscious about the message they are putting in their ads, and the perceived promises made in websites, and marketing material. But with a solid strategy and good content, you can’t get sustained results for your business.
We have been in the Digital Marketing Agency for over 10 years, working with all sorts of financial industry clients, and we’ve seen the impact a poor marketing strategy can have on financial planning practice. Remember, you have a service that can help change a client’s life, and with a marketing strategy that reaches potential clients at every stage of the conversion funnel, you can achieve that objective.
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