With all of the lawsuits being filed against retirement plans, sponsors are more likely than ever to look for an adviser who can help them with their fiduciary responsibilities, says Brian Hart, president of Flackable, a public relations and digital marketing agency in Philadelphia. “Now is the time to invest in prospecting,” he says.
One emerging way that advisers can find new clients is by creating an “inbound opportunity,” he says.
“As opposed to outbound marketing conducted through cold calling and emails, if an adviser creates a downloadable asset on their home page, such as an ebook, a white paper or an infographic, it could draw potential clients to their website,” Hart explains. “We always recommend that when you put a downloadable asset on your home page that you connect it to your CRM [customer relationship management] program so they are inputted into your database.”
With this strategy, should the adviser pick up the phone for a prospecting call, the potential client will already have some basic familiarity with the firm. The conversion rate on this process is high, Hart says.
Another method that retirement plan advisers may not have considered is Internet search engine optimization (SEO), Hart says. “Google now takes location into consideration, so make sure that your home page includes your geographic location, states that you are a retirement plan adviser specialist, and lists your title and the industries you serve,” Hart says. In addition, the tab above a retirement plan adviser’s website should include their name, state that they are a retirement plan adviser and list their location, he adds. Google considers the information on this tab for searches, he says.
Furthermore, if an adviser succeeds in placing an article in a financial publication, their biography listing at the bottom should include a link back to their website. “This is hugely helpful with Google searchers,” Hart says.
Monika Hubbard, institutional retirement consultant at Unified Trust Company in Lexington, Kentucky, agrees with Hart that retirement plan advisers need to distinguish themselves with fresh, timely content.
“The retirement plan marketplace has become very crowded,” Hubbard says. “It has become hard for advisers to differentiate themselves. Advisers know what they do and how they do it, but very few know why. Ask yourselves why you want to work with plan sponsors and participants, what feeds your soul to serve this industry? Once you have defined your why, you can build marketing strategies and find good strategic partners.”
Beau Henderson, CEO of RichLife Advisors in Atlanta, concurs that generating content to educate potential clients about how they can improve their retirement plans is essential.
“I am seeing more and more retirement plan advisory practices hosting podcasts, speaking at conferences, hosting workshops, writing books, writing blogs or posting to social media,” Henderson says. “The goal is to create a dynamic where the customer finds you and asks for your help. Position yourself as a resource rather than a salesperson.”
Asking partners for referrals is also very helpful, says Jim Sampson, director of retirement advisory services at Hilb Group Retirement Services in Warwick, Rhode Island. Sampson says he has had the most success working with employee benefits brokers, health care brokers, third-party administrators and recordkeepers. But it is important to keep your partnerships to only a handful, because these groups “expect it to be a reciprocal relationship and for you to recommend them to sponsors,” he says.