Having worked with more than a hundred financial and professional services companies over the past six-plus years, we have heard some pretty interesting things when it comes to marketing. It’s not uncommon for folks to call with preconceived notions about what they need to better market their practice or organization.
Whether it’s an individual business owner or a representative from an enterprise level firm, everyone seems to have their own, unique take on marketing. We get that. Marketing is personal and opinions can vary based on the individual’s level of understanding of core marketing principles or previous experiences.
The problem is we hear a lot of misconceptions about marketing every day, primarily from those in the financial services space. As marketers and public relations professionals, we feel a responsibility to address some of those things. Here are five of the most common misconceptions about financial services marketing and the realities we see working with individuals in the industry every day:
It’s Difficult to Differentiate Yourself in this Industry
Many financial services firms struggle to stand out. This is something we often hear as a reason NOT to invest in marketing, which we think is hilarious. If this were the case, that would be an even GREATER reason to develop a marketing strategy. In our experience, financial services companies have extremely strong value propositions and differentiators, they just need help getting the word out about them. As a business owner or representative of a larger firm, you worked hard to craft your value proposition so you owe it to yourself and your employees to work with a team who can help garner the awareness your company deserves.
You Don’t Need a Digital Presence to Be Successful
I’ve never invested in marketing and my business has thrived. My business is based primarily on referrals so I don’t need marketing… these are things we hear a lot. In rare cases, they may be true, but the vast majority of us need Mr. Google in our corner. Question: what would we find if we were to Google your company’s name? Your company website? Your blog? Your social media profiles? Local and national press coverage? All of these elements come together to form the foundation for your marketing strategy and your “digital footprint”. If you don’t have a strong presence on the web and your competitors do, leads you should be securing will be looking elsewhere.
Compliance Gets in the Way of my Marketing Strategy
Ah compliance. Everyone’s favorite subject, right? With apologies to those who work in this department, compliance often gets blamed for limiting how financial services professionals can market their practices. Having worked with compliance departments at many of the largest independent financial services firms, we can tell you the reality is that compliance does not typically get in the way of marketing efforts, as long as you know the rules. Avoid promissory or unsubstantiated claims, use the proper disclosures where necessary and allow time for an analyst to review your materials and you’ll be in great shape more often than not.
I Can Invest in Marketing Short-Term to Increase Leads
Every day we get calls from individuals in financial services that need a press release for their big announcement or a new company overview brochure to “make a splash”. These can be effective tools if leveraged correctly, but should never be considered “marketing” on their own. A press release or a brochure will not generate the leads you are looking for unless they are part of a broader, long-term strategy. To effectively market your value offering, you need a comprehensive, multi-channel marketing campaign that includes things like a mobile-friendly website that communicates your brand, content development and other inbound marketing initiatives, an engaging social media presence, press releases and media outreach, video marketing and more.
The Size of my Business Doesn’t Matter When it comes to Marketing
Numbers play a critical role in the financial services industry… everyone knows that. What everyone doesn’t know, is those who work in the field often have a specific number in mind when it comes to their marketing budget – regardless of the size of their firm. We typically recommend that somewhere between five to 10 percent of revenues be reinvested in the form of marketing and PR. For the same reason you can’t pay for a new brochure and expect the phone to start ringing off the hook, you have to dedicate the appropriate level of resources to your marketing initiatives in order to initiate a well-rounded campaign.
Marketing can be a sticky subject for people, but it really doesn’t have to be. When done right, an effective marketing strategy can help take your business or organization to the next level. The key is to establish goals for your marketing efforts so you can measure success. Once you have a better understanding of what success looks like, you can start to gather information about the specific tools and tactics that will help you get there.