What It Takes for Advisors to Win With Marketing Today

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Financial services professionals need to develop a better understanding and appreciation for what it takes to successfully operate and compete in a business environment of accelerating change. Every firm needs to rethink and elevate its business strategies from just tactical efficiency to strategic effectiveness.

Even in the core areas of marketing and technology, this exploration needs to go beyond traditional thinking about mixing technology and marketing toward an efficiency goal over the short term to a more encompassing strategic solution of how you will compete and thrive in a hyper-competitive marketplace. Essentially this strategic thinking is not just about marketing, nor even about technology, but going beyond to how you are future-proofing your business and how you are adapting and building resiliency. It also becomes a cultural issue for your firm internally and externally with strategic FinTech partners and a growing number of digitally savvy clients.

As the Institute keeps reinforcing, innovation does not merely equate to technology. Technology is the greatest tool of innovation, but the proper mindset and strategic application of technology are the primary drivers of successful innovation.

To explore this further, we reached out to new Institute founding member, Niharika Shah, general manager of Clout, which is an AI-powered, FinTech growth marketing platform and a subsidiary of the fintech platform TIFINWe asked Niharika to share her thoughts and experiences in designing her platform at the intersections of marketing, financial services and technology.

Hortz: What was the thesis or friction point that Clout is trying to address for the wealth management industry? 

Shah: In a recent report from McKinsey, 76% of consumers reported receiving personalized communications as a reason to purchase from a brand. While many brands in the fashion and retail space have prepared to respond, the thesis behind Clout is financial services need to close the gap to win with this and the next generation of clients.  

That is why we created Clout by TIFIN, which takes a modern approach using AI and II (Investment Intelligence) to hyper-personalize the marketing campaigns of financial advisory firms and does it at-scale. 

Why does it matter? In a world where every investor is unique, we believe relevant content and insights will help advisors stand out amidst a ton of ambient noise. It demonstrates the three pillars of engendering trust, which as we all know is THE most important currency in this business of credibility, care and congruence.  

Hortz: Why do you think that financial services firms need to rethink their marketing approaches? 

Shah: I think marketers at large firms get the imperative above. Their challenge is twofold: adoption and their tech stack. For smaller advisory firms: the challenge is similar from an adoption perspective but is compounded by the lack of a programmatic approach to marketing. 

On the second point, many financial firms today struggle to understand the value of marketing as a growth driver for the business. It is seen as lesser in importance to sales, and often bucketed as a cost center or some type of distraction or overhead to the bottom line. And then even when we speak to firms who have made investments in their marketing efforts, they often boil these efforts down to simple direct response through lead generation. The reality here is if a firm is going to adopt a marketing mindset, they need to view this from the full funnel and incorporate a thoughtful application of marketing tactics across the entire customer journey. That means from lead generation and prospecting through client conversion and then delighting existing customers. Success on all those fronts can then create a virtuous cycle of firm and advisor growth.

From a tech stack perspective, there are a myriad of offerings on the market today. From marketing automation solutions to marketing agencies, to social media amplification platforms, an advisory firm is not short on solutions. However, many of these platforms lack specialization in financial services or will require time and/or staff to manage. Not to mention, that some of these options can be high cost (e.g., agency services) or are not simple and easy to use for non-marketing people.  

This is where we seek to differentiate our efforts at Clout. 

We have built our platform from the ground up to meet the needs specific to the financial services industry and coupled that with an affordable, turnkey solution that drives quick impact to our clients. But most importantly, we are able to take firms from basic digital marketing to empowering them into a true growth marketing mindset.

Hortz: What is the distinction you make between digital and growth marketing? 

Shah: The distinction in my opinion boils down to three things:

  1. Growth marketing looks to optimize marketing ROI across the customer lifecycle – awareness, conversion, retention, referrals and advocacy – versus digital marketing that is most often measured and designed for pre-conversion activity.
  2. Growth marketing looks beyond digital channels to leverage the entire marketing toolset (events, webinars, thought leadership etc.)
  3. And most importantly, the mindset of a growth marketer is one of agility and experimentation driven by real-time data.  

Hortz: How are you specifically applying technology on your platform to address advisors’ need for growth and scale?

Shah: Clout is a fintech growth marketing automation platform that enables financial firms to hyper-personalize their sales and marketing outreach. Powered by the idea that every investor – retail or professional – is unique, the platform creates relevance, consistency and agility in execution and scale to fuel growth. 

We are differentiated by our algorithmic capabilities powered by AI and machine learning. These algorithms are designed with deep financial and technical expertise to curate the “best match” content and the “next best” prospect and client. For financial professionals at wealth firms, RIAs, insurance producers and tax/estate/trust firms, the platform is proving to be highly effective in driving organic growth.

Hortz: Can you explain the human and tech combination you designed into your platform?

Shah: Of course, what we have learned from the market over the last two years is no matter the capabilities of the technology, implementation will not happen if a firm lacks the experience or resources necessary to execute consistent campaigns. This is often most difficult for smaller independent RIA firms. That is why for our clients, we take a hybrid approach to growth marketing. By supplying our clients with a dedicated financial marketing specialist, we can quickly onboard them, execute their first campaigns, and maintain a cadence that allows them to reach their objectives. 

We have seen that when an advisor increases their personalized outreach with clients from less than 5x per year to over 10x, the chances of them obtaining referrals increase by 10X. This is a very powerful reality and why it is important for us to help facilitate consistency and frequency through our hybrid offering. 

Hortz: What do you feel is the most helpful perspective or way of looking at marketing challenges for advisors

Shah: You are a really good financial advisor, don’t feel the need to force yourself to become a great financial marketer as well. The time and effort needed are often not worth the opportunity cost to your overall business. The same way outsourcing your taxes to a CPA or lawn care needs to a landscaper can save you time and provide greater expertise, finding the right marketing partner can give you accessible expertise with outsized returns on your investment.

Hortz: Is there any other advice or recommendations you can make to advisors and financial enterprises on learning how to ramp up the right approach to their marketing efforts?  

Shah: For individual advisors: Know yourself cold. What makes you different, what is your ideal customer profile, where is your growth opportunity, and so on. Standing out requires you to stand for something and make it part of your brand, voice and marketing narrative. Secondly, embrace the power of data intelligence to optimize your target pool and customer needs.   

For enterprises, I suggest pilots. There is no better way to learn if a solution is good for your organization until you actually try it for real. Most of our enterprise clients have started with 4-6 months of pilot programs with us before they scaled across their organizations.  

We invite you to request a demo with our team to see how Clout can help you drive impact through increased personalization, relevant content, consistency in messaging, the ability to stay top of mind with key clients and prospects and gives you the tools to develop both digital and growth marketing strategies for your firm. 

The Institute for Innovation Development is an educational and business development catalyst for growth-oriented financial advisors and financial services firms determined to lead their businesses in an operating environment of accelerating business and cultural change. We position our members with the necessary ongoing innovation resources and best practices to drive and facilitate their next-generation growth, differentiation, and unique community engagement strategies. The institute was launched with the support and foresight of our founding sponsors – Ultimus Fund Solutions, NASDAQ, Pershing, Fidelity, Voya Financial, Advisorpedia, and Charter Financial Publishing (publisher of Financial Advisor and Private Wealth magazines).

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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