What Financial Advisors Need from Marketing
Our financial services group at the Chicago AMA hosted a panel last night of financial advisors to talk about the challenges of reaching customers. We recruited three advisors of different types: Todd Johnson from New England Securities (MetLife), Michelle Dunigan from BMO Harris Financial Advisors, and Patrick Cote from AssetGrade. The panel was moderated by Pam Passon, VP and Senior Marketing Manager at BMO Financial Group.
What struck me at first was how little the panelists talked about marketing. Here we were, the Chicago AMA, ready to learn more about marketing financial services, and instead the panelists were talking about the everyday difficulties of dealing with different types of customers, the emotional entanglements of couples, educating people about the basics of money funds versus equities, and so on. Finally I realized, “Of course they’re not talking about marketing. Unless you’re in marketing, you don’t really care about marketing—you only care about what it can do for you.”
I raised my hand. “OK, you’re on the front lines doing your job, trying to build your businesses, and you’re not professional marketers. So imagine you had a whole marketing team behind you ready to help with whatever you need. What do you need most?”
Here were the answers:
1. Help finding new customers. Todd Johnson said he’s using the standard tools for lead generation and prospecting, such as web referrals and demographic targeting. He needs new ways of finding and engaging prospects that will bring him new business.
2. Help developing communications materials. Michelle Dunigan works in a bank branch and she needs materials to give prospects (like sales brochures) once they walk into the bank seeking help. Her challenge is to explain to customers what exactly they will get if they decide to work with her as an advisor.
3. Help building a brand. Patrick Cote is just starting out as an independent RIA. While he has a wealth of experience from over a decade at Fidelity Investments, his biggest challenge is establishing the AssetGrade brand so that prospects feel confident giving him control of their money.
These panelists reminded me (once again!) that customers can’t really tell us what we should be doing to make our products and services better, and salespeople can’t tell marketers what the next great campaign should be. They can only tell us what they’re struggling with and what they need to do their jobs better. Then it’s up to us to develop the marketing solution.