As basic as this may seem, let’s get a few financial advisor marketing definitions out of the way before we dive into the high value content of this article:
What is a Lead?
A lead is an investor (individual, business, institution) that has an immediate need for a financial advisor who provides planning, investment, or both services. Leads initiate contact with financial advisors because they want to schedule appointments for initial interviews.
What is a Qualified Lead?
This is the same as financial advisor leads, but in this case the lead meets the minimum requirements of the financial advisor. For example, the advisor’s minimum asset requirement.
What is a Contact?
A contact is an investor (individual, business, institution) that is seeking financial information. The topic could be a solution to a financial problem. It could be an answer to a financial question. It could be information about the firm or a professional who works at the firm.
What is a Prospect?
The financial advisor and the lead have communicated with each other and “mutual interest” is established. At this point a lead becomes an active prospect for the financial advisor’s services.
What is a Sales Funnel?
The top of the funnel represents the way investors find financial advisors. For example, they enter keywords in search engines to find financial advisors on the Internet.
The bottom of the funnel is a Yes (they hire financial advisors), a No (they do nothing or hire other financial advisors), or a Deferral (check back later). These are only three outcomes.
What happens between the top and bottom of the funnel is frequently referred to as nurturing processes that start when investors visit financial advisor websites to learn more.
Every financial advisor should have a digital marketing sales funnel that produces qualified leads that are converted into prospects and clients.
Why are Contacts Important?
At any point in time, a small percentage of investors are actively seeking financial advisors on the Internet. This percentage will double or triple when the markets are turbulent and investors are seeking replacements for their current advisors.
There is a much higher probability they are seeking information about financial topics, firms, or professionals. Since they do not have immediate needs for financial advisors they are contacts and not leads.
Contacts are important because they may have deferred needs for financial advisors. For example, they are gathering information now because they plan on retiring in six months and will begin interviewing financial advisors in four months.
Contacts will end-up in financial advisors’ drip email systems. Advisors will keep their names in front of the investors by sending them high value, relevant content. This content will help advisors build relationships and competitive advantage.
Financial Advisor Leads Can Be Screened on Landing Pages
What if financial advisors do not want to talk to leads who do not meet their minimum asset requirements? At what point do advisors screen leads to make this determination - in this case, whether or not they even want to interact with the investors. Of course, this is a two way street and the advisors must also meet the requirements of investors.
Why is this important? Remember the definition of a qualified prospect - there has to be mutual interest. This may not apply if investors do not meet the advisors’ requirements.
When does this screening process take place? Let’s assume investors are going to end-up on a landing page when they use Contact Us or register to obtain an eBook or another type of free offer. One or more questions can be added to the landing page to qualify the potential lead. Some advisors are reluctant to do this because they are concerned they may drive away some good quality leads.
The next step after investors complete the landing page is the telephone call for some more in-depth screening and the scheduling of the initial interview. Financial advisors have a lot more control when the screening is conducted during the call.
Control can be important. Consider this real life example. Dr. Smith is a board-certified plastic surgeon who just completed his residency. He is loaded with school debt and has no investable assets. On the other hand, he just signed a contract with the largest medical group in New York City and his starting salary is $750,000 plus bonuses.
Why work with Dr Smith? First, he will need a sophisticated financial plan, which is a source of revenue. Second, he will be accumulating assets at a rapid rate. Third, there could be family assets. And fourth, a relationship with Dr Smith could give the advisor access to other doctors in the medical group and the group’s retirement plan. But, advisors would not have this information unless they talked to Doctor Smith.
Nurturing the Right Way
A major part of any sales funnel is the nurturing process that financial advisors use to build rapport, relationships, and competitive advantage.
The most frequent strategy is becoming a trusted source for financial information. This is usually in the form of blog articles, pillar pages, eBooks, and drip emails. There is not a lot of promotion in these documents, it really is information with no strings attached.
In this manner, financial advisors gradually build trust, credibility, and positive relationships so when investors are ready to select financial advisors they are at the top of the list.
Digital Marketing is More Than Finding Financial Advisors on the Internet
Most advisors will judge the success of their digital marketing strategy based on the number of leads that are produced on their websites each month. This is where the rubber meets the road. Advisors need leads they can convert into active prospects and clients.
However, it pays to look at the processes that investors use when they spend time on the Internet seeking the right financial advisors.
There is no question that increasing numbers of investors are using the Internet to find financial advisors. They enter a few keywords in Google and they have hundreds of choices at their fingertips.
Even more investors are using the Internet to research financial advisors. This makes sense. There are a lot of ways to find financial advisors: Internet, referrals from family and friends, centers of influence, etc. However, the Internet is by far the best way to research particular advisors while maintaining the investors’ anonymity. They can visit advisor websites, input advisor names in search engines, and view content on third party websites. Even Google has a validation service for advisors who advertise on its platform.
It is fair to say financial advisors need a strong presence on the Internet because what investors see impacts who they interview and select. And, the smaller the firm the bigger the need for that presence.