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How financial advisors can do marketing successfully in 2021
Author Terence Leong Co-Author Candice Neo
Financial advisor friends, are you still approaching people at the bus interchange, MRT station or through cold calling? It's one of the oldest trial-and-tested approaches, and it can work if you have good charisma and an excellent closing strategy.
However, it's a known fact that it might potentially annoy prospective clients because most people don't like to be approached like this. I don't know about you, but for me, I also started my career as a cold-calling salesperson. It has clinched me some 6-figure deals, but deep down inside me, I didn't like it, and neither do I like picking up cold calls when people want to sell me something.
Besides that, cold calling has a notoriously low close rate – it's pure hard labour and you have to be very disciplined in your approach because most of the time these prospects are not pre-qualified. They either have no immediate need for your products/services or they do not trust you enough yet to give you business right away.
We understand that being a financial advisor in Singapore is not easy. The industry is heavily regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore and fiercely competitive. Now with the pandemic, it's even more difficult to schedule a face-to-face physical meeting.
Not to mention now with the rise of robo-advisors and AI, people can now easily do their own investments with a few clicks on their mobile apps, and they feel that they don't need to rely on financial advisors.
Hence, many financial advisors are now jumping onto the trend of going online to do digital marketing and content creation.
And all these can be very overwhelming, from setting up your own campaigns, brainstorming for creative content ideas, getting leads, going for consultation calls, follow-ups, and more. There are only so many things you can do by yourself.
The reality is that the financial advisory industry is fiercely competitive, and you have to know the important key elements to stand out among your competitors.
Fortunately, this is no rocket science, and with the correct guidance and experience, you can stand a chance to ace your digital marketing game and start getting in good-quality leads and prospective clients.
Here, we will share with you 5 important key elements you should pay attention to if you are new to the digital marketing game, especially content marketing.
1. Establish your unique positioning and branding – Why is it so hard to stand out?
Many financial advisors are now very active on social media. They are doing bite-sized edutainment financial advice on Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok. And some are even starting webinars, investment classes, and so on.
The rise of content creation in the finance industry – the bad and the opportunities
However, do you realise that many finance blogs or finance social media pages out there generally have similar themes?
How to manage your finances
Investment tips – Best time to buy stocks
Pitfalls of planning for retirement
It's not so good news if you are trying to do the same thing, as it's way too competitive. Lots of content like these have been recycled many times by many different finance blogs. But this also presents you with an opportunity to stand out – if you can create unique content.
The unspoken truth: Creating expert unique content becomes much easier when you have a clear positioning (niche)
Here's what positioning is essentially about:
- Finding a specific target audience: Who are you specifically targeting?
- Pain points: Does your services solve their needs?
- Unique selling point (USP): What makes you different?
- Proof: Can you prove that you can solve their problems?
Read more about positioning here.
Some of our clients shared with us that they wanted to target lawyers, doctors, etc, who are within a certain income range. But using occupation is probably not enough because these people might have different needs. For example, a lawyer who is married with kids would have different needs compared to a doctor who is single.
A better example of audience targeting would be focusing on young families. People with families, especially young kids, will have different financial needs as compared to those who are single. So for families, you can start looking into their pain points, which could possibly go along the lines of having enough money to fund their children's education as well as take care of their elderly parents.
Or if you want to target single career-minded independent women, you can focus on their lifestyle needs or first-home financing tips.
There are many more ideal customers you can zoom down into, such as soon-to-be retirees and more.
Next, share your USP – your unique investment strategy that suits their risk appetite to help them achieve their financial goals.
So putting it all together, for example, you can tell your prospects that you are a financial advisor who helps young families with their financial planning through your defensive stock strategy – this, my friend, is your unique positioning.
2. Structure a clear offer on your landing page (your silent salesperson) – Why most prospects don't understand what you do?
With the stigma that surrounds pushy financial advisors in Singapore, it will be better to let people understand the value of your services by letting them read all about what you offer silently, instead of advertising your services aggressively (which might put most people off).
Nowadays, people Google anything, so if you have a good landing page, you have a good chance to be discovered by people who are searching for your services. It's important to do this before you start creating content on social media because otherwise, you might just get followers but not qualified leads.
It's very easy to create a website nowadays – you can use free solutions like WordPress, Wix, Weebly and more. And many agencies can offer a decent 1-page landing page from S$1,000 onwards before they run your lead generation campaign.
But is it really that straightforward?
Are you creating a product/service-focused landing page or customer-focused landing page?
Many people create websites and landing pages with the idea that they have to showcase their services, their prices, or the company, such as:
"We offer comprehensive retirement planning..."
"We specialise in investment and insurance..."
"Our team of advisors has 10 years of experience..."
There's nothing wrong with this, but your prospects are likely not going to care much about these. They are often more concerned about what's in store for them.
Here are the 3 crucial elements of what we mean by being customer-focused:
- Instead of stating what you offer, share how you can solve your customers' pain points.
- Instead of stating what you can help your clients achieve, paint them a picture of the goal or dream they can envision.
- Instead of sharing about your company, share what you believe in. (People don't buy what you do, but they buy why you do it.)
❌ "Our investment strategies are tailor-made for your needs"
✅ "Earn passive income by investing without giving up your lifestyle"
❌ "We have generated positive returns for most of our existing clients."
✅ "You don't need to give up completely your weekend fine dining, Europe trips, buying your condo or car. With our investment strategy, we have helped more than 90% of our clients achieve better than average returns, and this is what we can achieve for you too"
❌ "Our company is a licensed financial advisory firm in Singapore, specialising in investment, financial planning, insurance, and wealth management."
✅ "We believe that integrity is one of the most important values of a financial advisor. We value the trust that our clients place in us to help them achieve their financial goals and we understand the responsibility we have. Hence we always place our clients' interests first."
Notice the differences?
When done right, your landing page would be your 24/7 salesperson.
And of course, don't forget to communicate your unique positioning (what we mentioned in point #1) on your landing page too.
Not sure how to start?
We have created 10 crucial building blocks that will help you turn your landing page into a conversion machine instead of a static website. Download it for free below.
Download our "Landing page best practices"
3. Content marketing strategy for financial advisors: How to create social-media-friendly content that builds demand for your services?
With the ease of use of social media and creative tools, any financial advisor can easily create content. Some gravitate to hire freelance writers who might not be smarter than their customers and expect to use that content to convince their customers (who might actually be intermediate investors).
As a result, it's common to see topics that have been recycled 10,000 times posted everywhere. They are what we call "beginner content":
5 things to consider when purchasing insurance
How much do you need to retire in Singapore
6 things to know before you invest in unit trust
For example, "6 things to know before you invest in unit trust" – you probably already know what the content is going to be about: risk profile, time horizon of your investment, fees and charges, etc.
Any non-beginner investor (who are educated about the importance of financial literacy) will be able to smell the stench of generic blog posts like these just from the title, as they probably can't expect to learn something new from your article.
Instead of producing generic content, have a specificity strategy and share expert content that builds authority and demand
If you have done your positioning right, you will have a specific target audience in mind and understand their pain points well. From here, you will understand what they are asking and searching for to solve their pain. Creating relevant content that builds demand becomes much easier when you know what questions they are thinking about.
1. Pain-point driven keyword research
By approaching keyword research from a pain point perspective, you will be able to better match the search and purchase intent, thus reducing your risk of creating content that targets your fellow competitors instead.
For example, most people who are searching for "Certified Financial Planner Singapore" are probably financial planners who are trying to become certified financial planners. So trying hard to rank for this keyword may not be a good idea.
Try to make use of keywords tools like Keywords Everywhere, SE Rankings, or UberSuggest to reveal long-tail keywords related to your original searches, which can reveal what your prospects may be Googling about that you can create content for. They are one of the best free tools available if you can't afford paid tools like ahrefs.com.
Some of these tools even have keywords' competitiveness analyses so you can tell which keywords to prioritise.
If you are still unsure and would prefer to work with experts to create content that builds demand for your services, fill up this form and we will be in touch regarding our content marketing services.
if you prefer to do it on your own, we offer content marketing courses where we will show you step-by-step how you can use these tools.
2. Instead of a wait-and-see approach to generate traffic, focus on creating content that closes the knowledge gap
In this crowded social media space, we all tend to gravitate towards something that generates reach and traffic. But this can be a dangerous strategy.
If the content you are creating is not relevant to what you are selling, you might be collecting many irrelevant followers who might not be interested in the products/services you are selling, thus driving down ad conversion rate and increasing your ads' cost.
This is a great mismatch and one of the main reasons why some people complain that their leads are junk.
So instead of creating content that can only generate traffic, try to focus on creating content that addresses and closes the gap.
For example, most of us have heard of insurance or financial planning before, but few people actually understand the exact lifetime benefits versus cost, if we are overpaying for our policies, or when should be the right time for us to make the purchase (and 101 other questions).
In short, we are not sure if we will be scammed.
This is a knowledge gap that has not been addressed (the knowledge mostly stays with the financial advisors) but many insurance agents and financial advisors are desperately trying to sell their products before the gap is closed. This becomes a hard sell and it rarely works.
However, if you create content that addresses and closes the gap, it will make your clients aware of the problems they are facing. If you handle their potential objections and concerns well, when they are ready to buy, you will be the first on their minds.
Some common content topics that address and close the knowledge gap might be along the lines of:
- Addressing clients' common mistakes when doing financial planning/investing
- Addresses misconceptions and myths
- Address their fears/objections/uncertainties
- Comparing Financial Instrument X and Y...
And so on.
Make sure that you showcase your expertise with insightful and useful analyses for your target audience. Try not to copy and share a market analysis directly from financial news sources such as Bloomberg – anyone can share a link, but not many people can provide specific insights or opinions. People want to hear about your honest opinions and recommendations. That's why sites like Seedly thrive.
3. Take care of your content quality, they can make or break an awesome content
Throughout the years of running our digital magazines, we have published over 1,000 content and driven over 78 million visitors through our rigorous testing. What we have learnt about quality content essentially boils down to:
- Storytelling and delivery
Having a great title will mean almost 6-7 times difference in clickthrough rate (that means 6-7 times more visitors!)
If you have spent hours creating great content, it is certainly worth the time to craft a great title that can maximise the potential of your content. Besides that, we also recommend having more than one title and use AB testing to single out the winner. If you would like to learn more about title-crafting techniques, you can check out this post.
Having great images to go with your story is also essential in keeping your audience engaged. Finance-related topics are often dry, so having a simple infographic like the one below will often perk up the reading experience and make it less heavy, and these can be easily created using free tools like Canva.
In our course, we detail case studies and free tools that you can make use of too.
There's little use if an awesome analysis goes unnoticed because of the dry writing style. Besides breaking down difficult-to-understand concepts and having better explanations, you can make use of this effective framework that has been tried and tested in the movie and advertising industry for many years – the three-act narrative structure, comprising of the hook, conflict, and resolution.
If you are interested to find out how you can use it for your content marketing, you can read more here. But you might need to pick up some copywriting skills and understand your prospect's pain points well to make use of it effectively.
If you need some guidance, we have developed 4 effective frameworks of 3-act narrative structure that you can apply straight away in your digital advertising. You can find out more in our course here
Lastly, in our Content Marketing Strategy, we address common misconceptions and objections that people have towards financial advisors and build demand for your specific services and expertise.
If you're interested in working with us on content marketing for your financial advisory services, reach out to us by filling in the form here.
4. Build a conversion funnel that consistently generates high-quality leads
Most digital marketing agencies will boost ads to get leads to leave their contact details (usually for a free consultation call), who might potentially turn into prospects who might purchase irresistible lower-priced offers like insurance products, and from there, they might then commit to higher-value products or services like investment, whole-life insurance and more.
This sounds good on the surface, but the problem is that this strategy often leads to low-quality or unqualified leads, where your prospects either don't return calls or simply do not have the right expectations to work with you.
This is because your prospects may still need to invest their precious time to talk to you. It's considered as a medium risk offer to them, as they may risk sitting for 1 hour to be pressured into making some purchasing decisions.
In order for them to cross the barrier, free content is the no-brainer medium to communicate your expertise and give free advice which will help build trust for you. After all, what they have to do is to invest a few minutes of their time to consume your free content.
And once they are familiar with what you have to offer, you can then extend a medium low-risk offer, i.e. webinars or lead magnets like retirement calculators, or monthly expenses cheatsheets in exchange for their contacts or emails.
A word of caution though: At this stage, it's common for people who attended your webinars or downloaded your free financial planning e-book to say this when you call them up...
"Don't call me again, I'm not interested!"
That's because your leads are either:
- Low quality who are only out there for freebies but have low/no intention in working with you
- Potentially high quality but they are not ready to buy yet
Typically what you can do is to nurture your leads through an email drips campaign before you can attempt to convert them, such as following up with them by sharing with them more quality content via email or chatbots. This allows your lower quality leads to fall away and higher quality to be consistently interested in what you have to say and your expertise.
Once you've built up enough trust with them and they are convinced that they need your services, they would be more willing to speak with you or meet up with you at the last two stages of your funnel. That's when you can close your sale.
5. Getting the word out for your financial advisory business: How to create effective Facebook ads that generate qualified leads?
Facebook advertising has been very effective for many people from around 2013-2018. During that time, your leads and ad costs would have been extremely cheap. Even simply clicking on that big "boost post" button can give you tremendous results.
However, as more people are entering the platform, Facebook pages' organic reach is dying.
And it doesn't help that Facebook ads cost is rising every year too: It costs more and more to reach the same amount of people every year.
By now you should have realised that the big boost post button doesn't work anymore.
By clicking on that button, you are letting Facebook decide how to spend your advertising money to reach an audience that may not be relevant. Of course, you can do that if you intend to make Mark Zuckerberg richer and richer.
Why you should be doing audience targeting instead
By doing this well, you don't allow Facebook the free reign to spend your money on an audience that may not convert.
Now it has become a norm that you should take advantage of Facebook's more advanced advertising features, for example specifying campaign objectives, users' age, gender, location, interests, and ads placement.
Because if you understand your audience well, you can then tell Facebook to spend money on the audience you want and where to spend it – thus making your ad spending more cost-effective. For example, if you know most of your prospects aren't on Instagram, why bother spending on ad placements that may waste your ads money?
These are the basics of today's FB advertising world, and if you have dabbled into the ads tool yourself, these are not too hard to learn. But the downside is, when everyone is trying to do the same thing, it might not be effective anymore. So if you wish to escape the stiff competition, do be on the lookout for these common pitfalls:
1. Do not only focus on just 1 ad creative
Not allowing Facebook machine learning to test things out is one of the greatest opportunities that you are missing out on.
Many people tend to come up with 1 or 2 content or ads creative and just spend money to promote it to their prospects. However, the problem with this is that if you are spending a moderate budget like $50 a day or a high budget like more than $100 a day, there's a high chance that your audience might become tired of seeing your ads creative. This results in a low engagement rate and drives up your ad costs.
By having more ad creatives and content types, you will also be able to validate which ideas work best for you and you can use these insights to double down to create better creatives.
Here at Academy T, we have a framework and best practice for testing and optimising your ads spend, so if you would like to find out more, please reach out to us here.
2. Blasting ads to a very wide audience (i.e. 100k to 500k) with a very low budget
It's a very common beginner mistake for people to place a budget as low as $20 a day trying to target a very wide audience, i.e. 100k to 500k. With that budget, you can probably only target 1-2% of that wide audience.
Not just that you are at Facebook's mercy to deliver the right audience you are looking for (and in most cases you will likely be getting totally irrelevant audience liking your posts, i.e. expats, foreign workers, students, etc), but doing so can also make you less memorable.
Most people wouldn't act on an ad/content immediately even if it is great. Personally, even for me, it takes 2 of my friends in different circles sharing the same article before I decide to check it out and read it. So you will need to deliver a certain number of impressions before people can remember you and take action.
3. Not having the patience to let the campaign run longer
This is one of the gravest mistakes that we have made back in those days. We used to maximise our budgets in a short time frame, wishing that Facebook will magically deliver us results immediately if we get the settings right. And if it didn't work for a few days, we would switch it off and tinker with the settings again.
But the truth is, even Facebook will need to take time to do its machine learning.
Frequent restarting and turning off the ads set prematurely may cause the ads campaign to be unable to exit the learning stage. So in this case, try to run longer campaigns like a month-long campaign.
4. Not putting deeper thoughts into interest targeting
If you still remember what we spoke about in point 1, understanding your target audience well is a prerequisite to doing digital marketing well.
However, when it comes to detailed interest targeting, most people like to add a few seemingly connected "interests" and call it a day. Doing this will likely target your fellow financial advisors who may be interested in the same thing.
And at best this gives a very one-dimensional description to Facebook about your target audience, and it does not help machine learning at all. It also doesn't tell Facebook how your target audience is actually like. For example, what pages do they like? What are their interests besides finance? Are they frequent shoppers? What kind of jobs do they hold?
Identifying these and telling these to Facebook will give you a better chance to find the right audience. Just to give you an example, people who are not evenly remotely interested in investments probably don't know what is "S&P 500" or "Fidelity Investments", even though they are big names in the investment scene.
So adding these into your interest targeting will probably give you a better chance at targeting the relevant audience, because by doing this you avoid paying for useless clicks that are "accidental likes".
What do I mean by this?
If you pull up your personal ad preference, you will be able to see that Facebook "thinks" that you have a certain interest, but it may not be the case.
In my own personal interest preference, for example (I have hundreds of them), just a quick scroll shows me that I have many "interests" that I don't even have a remote interest in nor do I even know who or what they are.
Perhaps I had accidentally clicked on some posts or I lingered slightly longer on a particular post that Facebook thinks I like these "interests". So your job is to prevent this kind of accidental interest targeting.
These are what we termed multi-layered interest targeting.
Lastly, you should also make full use of the exclusion tools, so that you avoid targeting people you may not want to target, for example, your fellow financial advisors, banking relationship managers, or worse, you don't want to attract compliance officers scrutinising your ads.
5. Not making use of lookalike audience - one of the most powerful Facebook ads tool
If you have already been running your Facebook ads for a while, chances are likely you would have some audience that is engaging with you on a regular basis. There might be people who have landed on your landing page, done a couple of things like viewing your blog, or went on to your lead form but ended up not filling up.
These are all quality audiences that you should follow up (ROI of ad spend can sometimes be 2-3 times or even more), and by setting up the right tracking system, you are able to tell Facebook to find and reengage these people or find similar audience like this.
Final words: Content marketing is a long game, and by doing it right, SEO success is just a matter of time
Content marketing cannot achieve overnight success. It takes a tremendous amount of time and effort to make it work and there are a lot of moving parts. But given enough time, if you believe in giving out values and building your authority over time, it will be a monstrous tool that generates leads for you consistently.
Besides that, to win the game in this day and age, you need to be much more discoverable than your competitors, and content marketing is one of the keys that can make it happen – it can be useful content you put out that someone shared proudly on their social media (instead of an ad that screams "buy from me") or it can simply just be a piece that's so useful it ranks top 10 on a search engine for some search terms that your prospects are Googling for.
If your content is excellent, provided that you did your on-page SEO basics right (i.e. the technical setup, internal linking, site architecture, etc), getting external sites to link back to you is just a matter of time. This was also how we grew our digital magazine from 0 traffic to a million traffic in 2 years' time.
Don't just take our word for it. Feel free to check out some of the top SEO blogs and you will realise they are all talking about the same thing.
If your business is not searchable, your business almost doesn't exist. And all these are only possible with content marketing, not ads. If you expect to generate immediate instant results from day 1 or week 1, you will probably be better off doing ads, not content.
Find out how you can supercharge your business.
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