PANC 2021: Telling Your Story

Financial advisers have new opportunities when it comes to marketing, branding and thought leadership, but there is fine line between what is trendy or new and what goes against policy.

The last day of the virtual 2021 PLANADVISER National Conference (PANC) featured a panel discussion on the use of social media, digital marketing and ways advisers can enhance their branding and advertising communications.

Being a successful retirement plan adviser doesn’t mean you are good at marketing, John Curry, chief marketing officer at CAPTRUST, said. An organization may have a good CEO or a talented lead salesperson, but marketing falls under a different discipline.

Missy Schoedel, vice president of business development at 401(k) Marketing, said there are many different types of marketing that advisers can use as they move through the sales cycle. She credited some advisers for being early adopters of the key strategies that are getting a lot of focus today, including social media marketing on LinkedIn and content-driven thought leadership.

“Other advisers still want to cold call or they want to go door to door,” Schoedel noted.

Looking to the compliance department for advice on what is and isn’t allowed in a marketing strategy is important, said Sasha Cibrian, retirement plan marketing manager at 401(k) Marketing. There can be a fine line between what is trendy or new and what goes against policy or regulations. Adding to the complexity, the rules for what types of adviser advertising are permitted under Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations have recently changed in a substantial way.

Advisers understand that in order to get sales they need engagement, but they often lack a long-term branding or marketing strategy, and they don’t know where to start, Schoedel said.

According to the panel, LinkedIn is king, and keeping an updated profile with accurate information is one of the first step to building a successful social strategy. Your profile or the company bio will be one of the first things that will appear when someone is searching for you, Curry warned. Sharing posts or writing your own are good way to create more engagement.  

Schoedel said you want your online presence to be seen­—so make sure your profile is public. Custom URLs using your name and company name will help to improve searchability, while incomplete profiles will make finding you harder.

“My biggest tip for you is any time you go to share something, create excitement around it. Email your team, email your colleagues,” Cibrian suggsted.

She recommended telling colleagues about the post and encouraging them to comment and engage with it. In terms of content visibility, the first hour after posting on LinkedIn is the most important hour.

Email can be used for marketing as well, especially when an adviser harnesses an email marketing platform, Schoedel said. One can spend time setting up automated outreach campaigns in the beginning, so that the platform “does the work for you in the future.”

Finding prospective contacts to build up an email list can be as easy as downloading a LinkedIn contacts list or collecting business cards at a conference, Cibrian said. It is important to confirm with these contacts that they want to receive the marketing or thought leadership emails. Most platforms already have welcome emails that allow users to opt-out built in.

While it is important to have good content, it is just as important to have a way to measure success or return on investment. Email reporting, social media engagement numbers and Google Analytics can all help determine where resources should be focused, Cibrian said.