After boot-strapping your way to wherever your financial planning firm is now, you’ve set aside some money for a marketing budget. But how are you going to spend it?
As a career marketer for start-ups, I’ve lived the dream of building companies (and marketing budgets) from the ground up. After an acquisition of one company, we went from boot-strapping to an open checkbook literally overnight. The new parent company splurged on billboards, radio ads, celebrity endorsements and more. If an advertising salesperson showed up at our door, we became their biggest customer. Spending was excessive and perhaps a bit reckless, but the suits upstairs wouldn’t have it any other way. For me personally, it was a great education. I got to try everything.
Based on my experience, I have a few recommendations for financial advisors on how to spend those first dollars allocated to marketing.
Because you’re in the business of selling yourself, high-quality professional photos of you are an absolute must. They tell prospective clients that you are polished, successful, and invested in your career. Hiring a professional photographer may seem indulgent when everyone you know has a perfectly good camera on their phone. However, consider what poor-quality photos say about you. It’s too easy for prospective clients to associate you with low quality. If all they know of you is a grainy, shadowy photo, they can easily make the assumption that the service you provide is low-quality as well.
Tip: Get photos taken in both portrait and landscape position. This will give you flexibility when designing marketing collateral.
Expect to spend: Prices vary dramatically, but you should be able to get nice portraits for $250-$500.
Along the same lines is your logo. It’s worth spending the money to get your logo produced in all of the high-quality formats you’ll need for both print and online use. You can spend tens of thousands on a logo design, or you can use an online service like 99 Designs. Here, you can choose from dozens of designs based on your specifications for as little as $299. (XYPN Members pay even less with an exclusive discount).
Tip: Be sure to get your logo in multiple file types such as .eps, .jpg, .pdf, .gif, .png, and .svg. It’s also wise to have a black & white version of your logo produced in addition to your full-color logo.
Expect to spend: Packages on 99 Designs range from $299-$1299
If there is one single expenditure you add to your budget, make it labor. Time is your most valuable resource. Any task that you can hire out rather than doing yourself will typically be money well spent. You don’t have to hire a full-time marketer to lighten your load. You can outsource marketing tasks on a per-project basis utilizing sites such as Fiverr or Upwork.
On Fiverr, you can browse through freelancers, or “sellers” as they are called, who offer their services for as little as $5. The site is full of contractors offering to do work like graphic design, content writing, SEO and more. You can get help writing blogs, press releases, business copywriting, or even just copy editing. Whatever your marketing pain point is, you can likely find help.
When outsourcing blog writing, how do you ensure the finished product aligns with your financial planning philosophy? Simply provide an outline or bulleted list of points the writer must include in the story. The more you provide, the happier you will be with the result. This works especially well if you know all the points you want to make but struggle with organizing your thoughts and presenting them in a clear way.
Tip: Sellers are rated by customers on Fiverr, so be sure to check out reviews before hiring. Also, run completed work through Copyscape or a similar free online plagiarism checker.
Expect to spend: Some may say “you get what you pay for,” but I think it’s worth a shot to see what you can get for $5!
When allocating marketing dollars, don’t underestimate the power of good SWAG. This is something XY Planning Network does really well. As a company, we have a gazillion walking billboards all over the country. The secret to our SWAG success is two-fold: first, we invest in good-quality t-shirts people actually like to wear. We could get cheaper shirts, but they don’t do us any good sitting in the bottom of drawers. Second, XYPN t-shirts go a step further than standard corporate branding; they often include a slogan that speaks to the person wearing the shirt. A couple of examples…“Financial Planning: Not Just for Boomers Anymore” and “Financial Planner: Because Freakin’ Miracle Worker Isn’t an Official Job Title.”
Tip: Invest in quality
Expect to spend: A good quality shirt will cost at least $10/garment and order minimums will apply.
As previously noted, time is money. If you can afford to purchase marketing automation software, I highly recommend it. XY Planning Network uses HubSpot, but the options are endless.
What can marketing automation software do for you? For starters, you can set & forget several repetitive tasks that typically suck your time. For example, when you post a blog, your marketing software can automatically tweet a link to your blog. It can automatically post it on other social networks as well, including LinkedIn, Facebook, and Pinterest. Your software can also automatically email a link to your blog to your list of blog subscribers, or send the entire blog if you prefer. You can set the automated email to include an offer to drive subscribers further into your marketing funnel or perhaps send a link to your calendar to schedule an appointment.
Your software will track those who clicked the link to schedule an appointment, and it will go even further. It will track those who clicked the link but didn’t actually schedule. You can configure the program to send another prompt to those users or it can automatically schedule a task in your calendar reminding you to give them a personal call instead.
For each subscriber on your list, you can track every blog they read, every email they opened and clicked, and every page on your website they visited. Somebody consuming a lot of your content on a regular basis is a client waiting to happen. Your marketing software will identify these super-users for you, and a whole lot more. Good software will support and enhance every step in your marketing funnel.
Tip: Make time to properly learn the system to ensure you are getting the most out of your investment.
Expect to spend: No two systems are priced the same. I’ve seen pricing from $49 per month to $3000 per month. Most systems charge based on the number of contacts in your database.
In summary, there is no shortage of ways to spend your marketing dollars. If time is your most precious commodity, start by investing in tools that allow you to free up your time. I also favor spending more on quality image-builders, such as headshots, logos, and SWAG. As your budget allows, experiment, measure, and refine your marketing plan. What works well for you today may not be as effective tomorrow.
About Jennifer Mastrud
Jennifer Mastrud is tasked with sharing the movement at XYPN. Her expertise is in branding, marketing, and public relations. She’s as passionate about the XYPN message as she is about innovating new ways to share it. Before joining XYPN, Jen accumulated several years of experience representing national brands in diverse sectors including technology, gaming, TV, and education. She’s based in Minnesota, but travels frequently to warm up.