Established financial advisors who aim to accelerate the growth of their firms often look to increase their marketing efforts to attract more prospects and bring in additional new clients. In practice, this is often done by taking the main components of a firm’s brand – value, verbal messaging, and visual design – and refining, in particular, the firm’s visual design, with a new website and new marketing materials designed to instill new and faster growth. Yet, in reality, the biggest driver of accelerated growth is often to improve verbal messaging first… and upon doing so, many advisory firms discover that it’s even more appealing to leverage that new messaging as internal marketing to generate more referrals from existing clients instead!
In this guest post, Angie Herbers – Chief Executive and Senior Consultant at Herbers & Company, an independent management and growth consultancy for financial advisory firms – talks about the core components of a brand, and why these components are important to drive firm growth. As while the value of a firm lies in its services offered, the client experience as a whole, and how the firm delivers on both, many advisory firms make the mistake of investing too early and heavily in visual design upon recognizing the value they provide, without first working out the verbal messaging which defines and communicates their own identity and values. The end result of this disconnect between the value and the messaging about it is lackluster lead flow; accordingly, the visual design should actually be defined by the verbal messaging and will be most impactful when it can serve to communicate the firm’s values and convey its identity. Which is only possible when the firm’s verbal messaging has been clearly defined in the first place.
The two primary modes of marketing communication are internal and external. All new firms must start out with external marketing efforts to grow their client base in the first place – in other words, they need to target strangers, website visitors, and prospects to simply convey that the firm exists and to identify the services available. In addition to prioritizing the main components of a firm’s brand, understanding the firm’s different audiences and knowing how to effectively communicate with each are paramount to effective external marketing to increase lead generation.
However, for existing firms, especially those with well-established client bases, internal marketing can be a much more valuable marketing approach, if done correctly. Internal marketing targets existing clients exclusively, providing not only updates about the firm’s growth and progress, but also reminders of the firm’s value through educational content and the ongoing provision of outstanding client service. In fact, ideally, internal marketing strategies should provide exclusive marketing value and messaging that is only available to existing clients. If done right, internal marketing can leverage clients themselves as promoters who generate referrals for the firm. Because with the right branding, client service experience, and exclusive internal marketing outreach efforts, clients will be enthusiastic about telling other people they know about the firm and will eventually become the firm’s own best marketers!
Ultimately, the key point is that firms who are just starting out will need to rely on external marketing efforts to cultivate clients in the first place, but firms with a well-established client base can leverage their own clients as effective promoters of the firm by using an internal marketing strategy that targets clients exclusively. However, this is only effective if the firm has invested in creating a well-defined brand with verbal messaging that clearly conveys their identity and values (which is then communicated consistently with internal scripts for client review meetings), developing employees as part of the brand, and specializing their marketing communications… all available only to existing clients who may then refer the advisory firm (even more often than they did before!).