3.5 MIN READ
“You need to spend money to make money.”
This is true. Starting and growing a financial planning firm costs money. However, this old adage doesn’t always apply to marketing. You don't need a massive marketing budget to grow your RIA—there are plenty of free marketing tools you can leverage.
As a financial advisor, you understand the importance of cash flow and cutting costs where you can. Each software subscription you pay adds up over the years. Imagine you have three growth strategies that require 12 tools to execute. If each of those tools cost an average of “just $29 per month,” you’d be paying $4,100+ each year just to feel equipped! This fact is particularly painful when growth is a priority or breaking even is the goal.
I’m particularly enthusiastic about leveraging budget-friendly resources when trying something new. I always encourage the firms I coach at XY Planning Network to test their marketing idea in a lean manner. Should the strategy prove to be worthy after the test, then upgrading your tools or resources to the next tier becomes a responsible, informed decision ("spaghetti on the wall" marketing will only get you so far).
Today, let’s focus on a few of the main responsibilities you have when marketing your RIA, and consider the free tools you can use to get started without committing the dollars. I'll cover the following categories:
- Create a brand and website
- Connect with people
- Share your message
- Measure what’s working
Create a Brand and a Website
- Think through your ideal client persona with HubSpot’s Make My Persona Tool.
- Brainstorm domain names with NameMesh.
- Get a new logo and see how it looks on different marketing assets with Logaster.
- Make sure you choose colors that don’t clash by using Paletton’s free color scheme designer.
- Access high-quality fonts that are licensed for commercial work on Font Squirrel.
- Create stunning visuals in minutes (even as a non-designer) using Canva.
- Find stock photography that doesn’t look so stock-y on Burst, Pixabay, and Unsplash.
- Edit your photos like a pro using stunning presets available on VSCO.
- Access beautifully designed icons for your marketing assets on Flaticon.
- Communicate your vision to a designer with website mockups with templates from Moqups.
- Pull it all together on a free website with unlimited pages and a drag-and-drop editor thanks to Wix.
- While you’re preparing your full website, consider using ConvertKit to create a “coming soon” landing page.
Connect with People
- Develop a unique strategy for connecting with your ideal client persona with this Marketing Funnel Template.
- Network with millions of professionals including potential clients and/or COIs on LinkedIn.
- Send professional emails (including automated campaigns) using Mailchimp.
- Get inspired by the design and formatting of some really good emails featured on the aptly named site, Really Good Emails.
- Find anyone’s email address with the help of Norbert.
- Connect with reporters who are looking for expert quotes for their stories on HARO.
- Thumb through sample packs of example print materials from Moo.
- Turn a list of questions (aka surveys) into a friendly conversation and get better data with Typeform.
- Post your open jobs to a community of small business lovers hanging out on Angel List.
- Chat live with visitors on your website while they’re poking around by using Drift's chatbot.
- Capture leads on your website with the free tools provided by Sumo.
- Decide what keywords you want to optimize using Google's Keyword Planner. No ad required. (I explain how to use the planner without running an ad in this step-by-step guide exclusive to XYPN members.)
Share Your Message
- Make your writing bold and clear with the help of Hemingway Editor.
- Receive feedback on spelling, grammar, and even tone of voice from Grammarly's AI writing assistant.
- Get ideas for what to write about from the Content Idea Generator by Portent.
- Write headlines that drive traffic, shares, and search results with the help of CoScheduler Headline Analyzer.
- Create and self-publish a book for readers with an iPhone, iPad, or Mac using iBooks Author.
- Host videos for free on YouTube, Vimeo, or Wistia.
- Create a fancy intro and outro for your videos by uploading your logo into a Renderforest template, and consider adding tasteful stock videos to sweeten your creation on Mazwai.
- Create a podcast, distribute across platforms, and monetize it with Anchor.
- Record your podcast interview with a remote guest using Google Voice.
- Edit podcast episodes using Apple’s native GarageBand app.
- Post unlimited content to audiences on social media: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Reddit, Pinterest, and more.
- Schedule your social media posts with Buffer or Hootsuite.
Measure What's Working
Many of the tools listed above offer dashboards, reports, and ways to measure success within the tool itself, so be sure to utilize what’s offered! In addition, consider these free marketing measurement tools:
- Measure, track and learn from activity on your website by installing Google Analytics.
- Easily see where website visitors are clicking, scrolling, and where they’re dropping off with heatmaps by HotJar.
- Get basic stats about your podcast from Blubrry.
- Learn if the results of your A/B test are statistically significant with VWO's A/B Split Test Significance Calculator.
- Find out how well your website is optimized for the keywords you want with Marketgoo's free SEO report.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of free marketing tools on the internet. Do you love one that’s not listed here? Let’s continue the conversation.
About the Author
Carolyn Dalle-Molle is a professional marketer with several years of experience helping small businesses reach their growth goals. Her approach to marketing is both creative and analytical; helping people achieve a creative flow that’s unique and exciting, while using tracking and metrics to learn what actually works for their business. Based in Boston, she's honored to work with XY Planning Network from coast to coast. Outside of work, she enjoys volunteering with elderly, making videos, and traveling with her friends and family.