Successful Practices | PLANADVISER May/June 2013

Marketing in a Compliance-Heavy Market

Using seminars, social media and QR to reach out

By Corie Russell | May/June 2013
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Effective marketing is not necessarily about following trends—it is about following good business practices, according to Robert Sofia, chief operating officer (COO) of Platinum Advisor Strategies in The Villages, Florida.

Sofia says his company, which helps independent financial advisers attract and retain clients through marketing, encourages advisers to avoid always “chasing the marketing silver bullet.” He cites critical events as an example of when good business practice is important. Whether it is a big drop in the market, a presidential election, the fiscal cliff crisis or the recent Boston Marathon bombing, Sofia says, it is vital to have a communication strategy in place to deal with situations that make investors nervous.

It is unrealistic for advisers to call every client, in these situations, so they should plan to schedule conference calls, send email blasts and/or post videos.

Unfortunately, Sofia says, many advisers are not effective with client communication, but the ones who understand that it is the key to client relationships have the most success.

Sofia’s company also uses technology to publicize events, be they educational, charitable, intimate or large. The events are promoted beforehand with call “blasts” and social media, and guests are sometimes encouraged to bring along friends, which can provide prospecting opportunities for the adviser. “The combination of good communication followed up with events is working well,” Sofia says.

In advance of public seminars, advisers can send postcards with quick response (QR) codes to give recipients the chance to attend a virtual seminar instead or obtain a free report associated with the seminar. “These are technology trends that other companies use all the time but the adviser industry is not using that much,” he says.

So why are advisers slow to embrace technology-driven marketing? Two big reasons are simply lack of time and lack of support. If the adviser has too much on his plate, Sofia says, he should consider delegating or outsourcing to a marketing firm. When choosing a marketing firm, however, he recommends that it be connected to the financial industry and understand the adviser’s perspective.

Sofia says advisers also hesitate to use technology due to fear and a lack of knowledge. Social media can prompt unease in an adviser because of compliance restrictions, but Sofia says regulations are not as strict as many advisers think. “The regulators have loosened up considerably, [but] the firms … have to catch up,” he says. “Compliance should not be a barrier to using social media.”