An RIA’s Guide • Financially Simple

As a business owner and business coach, I’ve discovered a common theme among entrepreneurs. If there’s one area of our businesses that seems to frustrate us all, it’s marketing. You see, we know our product, our service, and our customers; that’s easy for us. But we don’t always know how to communicate the value of our product or service to our ideal customers. While this is true across all industries, it’s especially true of financial advisors. In this entry, I’m going to look at how Registered Investment Adviser (RIA) firm owners can master their marketing investment to improve satisfaction.

Follow Along With The Financially Simple Podcast!

This week on The Financially Simple Podcast:

  • (01:25) Declining satisfaction

  • (03:19) Some questions to think through

  • (05:24) The Power of a defined marketing strategy

  • (09:27) Beware of the “all or nothing” mindset

  • (11:50) The value of content marketing

  • (14:10) Protect your reputation

  • (16:05) Navigate toward the industry norms

Marketing Investments For the Independent RIA

As a financial advisor, you know the importance of making informed decisions, especially when it comes to your marketing investments. Marketing can be a daunting venture for RIAs, and it often leaves many wondering if they are allocating their marketing budget wisely. The challenge lies in the fact that marketing is a long-term game and can be notoriously difficult to measure accurately. So, it’s no surprise that RIA owners often find themselves dissatisfied with their marketing results.

In fact, according to the Fourth Annual Trends Report by Broadridge, advisor satisfaction with marketing Return on Investment (ROI) dropped from 77% in 2021 to 68% in 2022. Likewise, a substantial number (32%) of respondents expressed their dissatisfaction, falling into the categories of either “somewhat dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied.” But why? I think it’s because marketing doesn’t always operate linearly. It isn’t always a dollar in; a dollar out.

When you engage with a marketing firm, you may find yourself faced with a budget proposal that’s significantly larger than what you initially expected. This budget, however, is typically based on your own articulated needs and goals. Before you commit to such an investment, it’s crucial to ask yourself a few key questions.

1. Are You Prepared to Negotiate the Best Use of Your Marketing Budget?

First and foremost, do you have the business acumen required to assess if this significant marketing investment aligns with your goals and priorities? Are you equipped to negotiate effectively to ensure you’re getting the most out of your budget?

2. Can You Start Small and Grow Your Marketing Over Time?

If the proposed marketing budget seems daunting, consider how you can start small and gradually scale up your marketing efforts as you gain confidence and see results. Taking a gradual approach can help manage risk and ensure sustainability.

3. Is Your Firm Prepared for an Influx of New Clients?

If your marketing efforts bring a sudden influx of new clients, can your firm sustain this growth without compromising service quality? Preparing your team and systems for such scenarios is crucial.

4. What’s the Best Use of Your Time, DIY, or Professional Assistance?

Finally, you must evaluate whether it’s in your best interest to handle marketing in-house or collaborate with a professional marketing firm.

ROI: The Marketing Investment Challenge

One of the most significant challenges for RIA owners when it comes to marketing is measuring the ROI accurately. Surprisingly, according to Broadridge, one in five advisors don’t even attempt to measure their marketing ROI. Without a clear understanding of your return, it’s nearly impossible to determine if your marketing investments are accomplishing their intended objectives.

To understand the value of marketing efforts, you must be able to measure and assess their impact. Metrics like Current Revenue Per Client, Churn Rate, Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), and others play a vital role in gauging the effectiveness of your marketing strategies. But measuring ROI is only part of the equation. To optimize your marketing return, you need a well-defined marketing strategy. So, what is a marketing strategy?

Applying a Defined Marketing Strategy to Your Marketing Decisions

According to, a marketing strategy is a “long-term vision outlining a business’s value proposition to its customers.” This strategy outlines your business goals, target market, buyer personas, competitors, and the value you offer to your customers. In essence, it provides a roadmap for your marketing efforts, both now and in the future.

Recent research from CoSchedule’s Trend Report (2022) revealed that organized marketers are 674% more likely to report success than their counterparts. When these marketers also documented their marketing strategy, they reported 414% more success. So, the value of putting your strategy in writing is clear.

In fact, studies have shown that people who write down their goals are 42% more likely to achieve them. So, creating a written, defined marketing strategy can be a powerful tool for advisors.

Benefits of a Defined Marketing Strategy

Friends, I know that it may seem like I’m tossing out arbitrary assignments and busy work, from time to time. However, there are quantifiable benefits to getting these details right. But don’t take my word for it. Statistics from the Broadridge report I mentioned before, back the importance of a written strategy:

  • 87% of firms with a defined marketing strategy are satisfied with their marketing ROI, compared to just 61% of firms without one.
  • 76% of firms with a written strategy are confident about meeting practice goals, while only 43% of firms without one share the same confidence.
  • Firms with a written strategy onboarded an average of 41 new clients in the past twelve months, compared to just 17 in firms with no written strategy.
  • Advisors with a defined marketing strategy generate twice as many leads from their websites each month.

Having a marketing strategy and a grasp of key data points can be invaluable during negotiations with a marketing firm, providing you with the acumen to make sound marketing choices.

Scaling Marketing Investments Gradually

Sometimes, the marketing firm’s proposed budget may seem daunting or more substantial than you’re comfortable with. The good news is that marketing doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach. You can start small and gradually add additional elements to your marketing strategy as you gain confidence in the data and results.

I remember when I first started marketing my own business. I spoke with a marketing consultant and decided I was going to spend $200 per month. Friends, that may as well have been $2MM per month at that time. It was scary to me. Fortunately, this particular consultant knew what to do to calm my fears and get the marketing ball rolling. She looked at me and said, “Justin, let’s do what we can with what we’ve got.” That’s all it takes, folks!

You can begin with smaller-scale marketing efforts in areas like social media, where 71% of consumers who’ve had a positive interaction with a brand’s social media are likely to recommend it. Similarly, content marketing is a powerful tool. According to HubSpot, 82% of marketers actively invest in content marketing. The key is to create quality content that engages your audience.

Gradually scaling your marketing investments offers several advantages, including cost control and sustainable growth. I’ve witnessed firsthand the positive impact of content marketing on the growth of my companies, and I can attest to its effectiveness.

Protecting Reputation Through Preparation

As you increase your marketing spend and draw in more clients, it’s crucial to ensure that your business is well-prepared to provide an exceptional client experience. Failing to train your team properly or establish the necessary systems and processes can harm your business and reputation.

Studies show that 58% of consumers won’t use a company again after one negative experience, and 48% will share their negative experience with ten or more people.

To protect your reputation, it’s vital to be prepared for growth and maintain a high standard of service.

Navigating Toward Industry Norms

Friends, as you continue to grow and expand your marketing efforts, the question arises: when should you aim to meet industry-standard marketing budgets and practices? It’s essential to take a gradual approach to reach these industry averages, ensuring that you have the data and results confidence to make informed decisions.

Taking the gradual approach means assessing your marketing efforts, measuring your ROI, and gradually increasing your marketing budget in line with your goals and business growth. Confidence in your results is the key to navigating towards industry norms.

Wrapping Up…

Look, mastering your marketing investment as an RIA requires a combination of careful planning, data analysis, and a defined marketing strategy. By understanding the value of a written marketing strategy, gradually scaling your investments, and maintaining a focus on client experience, you can achieve more satisfactory results and navigate your way toward industry norms with confidence.

Friends, I know life is hard. I do. But life is good. Mastering your RIA’s marketing can be frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be. By creating a defined marketing strategy, working toward industry norms, and proactively creating systems to handle the influx of business, you can make marketing, at least, financially simple. Hey, let’s go out and make it a great day!

To learn more about this and other ways we could help you work toward your goals, reach out to our team. We have business coaches who are ready to talk with you.

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