By David R. Peters, CPA, CFP, CLU, CPCU | SCACPA Member Since 2016
I take pride in my quick trigger finger for making unwanted advertising disappear.
Every morning starts with a race to see how fast I can zap junk email from my inbox. Sales solutions? Delete. New financial products? Gone with a click. Consulting services that can grow my business? Not worth my time. I watch most of my television on-demand, and I steer away from shows that won’t let me fast forward through ads. I am a radio station flipper in the car too. As soon as I hear a commercial, my trusty trigger finger is hitting my preset buttons, relentlessly hunting for music. I can’t imagine that I am much different from most media consumers.
With more on-demand entertainment and instantaneous information, we are used to getting what we want right away. No fluff – just what we want, exactly when we want it. If you are a consumer, it’s great. However, from a business standpoint, this trend makes things tough. How do you get noticed when technology is making it ever easier for customers to avoid you?
If you are a CFO in 2020, it is nearly impossible to avoid this question. Simply put, there is a lot of noise out there competing for the attention of potential customers. Your marketing efforts need to stand out. If they don’t, you are throwing money down a marketing black hole. How do you not look the same as everyone else?
One solution that has been offered in recent years is inbound marketing. While outbound marketing efforts, such as television advertising and email blasts, are aimed at finding customers, inbound marketing is aimed at helping customers find you. When a customer is looking for your product, your blogging, SEO efforts and webinars make you easier to find. If I am looking for a good tax accountant and I see a blog about small business tax credits, I am more likely to seek out the services of the CPA who wrote it. Inbound marketing efforts target customers who are already looking for your product.
Give Your Clients What They Want
While inbound marketing is conceptually simple, it is hard to do well. Most financial services firms have shied away from it. Some worry that blogs could leave the firm open to liability due to the perception that they are giving financial advice. Others worry that they could be giving away their “secret sauce.” However, this reluctance results in many financial services websites that all look the same to the consumer. While face-to-face conversations and referrals might still be the best way to build a client base, more and more consumers are becoming comfortable with buying services online. While we could fight this, it would seem more practical to give people what they want – more information about us and our services at their fingertips.
How do we do this? I read a book recently called “Youtility” by Jay Baer, where the author implores companies to be more useful to their consumers. By simply being helpful to the consumer, the business becomes top of mind when one considers their product. For a financial services firm, being useful could mean many things. Putting more forms online, such as fact finders or yearly tax organizers, can be useful to clients because they won’t have to reach out to the firm to figure out what they need for an initial meeting. While we certainly need to be mindful of laws, a company can still post online content about general financial matters, such as common tax deductions. Online portals allow clients to submit documents more easily, and online chat options are becoming more popular with banks. Even providing information on price ranges for services, or the type of client who the company specializes in serving, could be useful to potential consumers.
By doing these things, we increase our usefulness. The easier we make it for the potential client to interact with us, the more they will gravitate toward us.
This is not to say that inbound marketing can exist solely on its own. Traditional outbound marketing efforts, such as television advertising, are still effective in creating consumer awareness. However, if used effectively, inbound marketing can have a pivotal role within the marketing mix of a financial services firm.
You don’t need to necessarily be innovative – just useful to your consumers.
Make yourself easy to find, and customers will find you.
David Peters is the founder and owner of Peters Tax Preparation & Consulting in Richmond, Virginia, a financial advisor for Peters Financial LLC in Rock Hill, and SCACPA’s advisor and speaker on Business and Industry topics. He has more than 14 years of experience in financial services, including three years in the hedge fund industry and six years in insurance. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions and comments.
Peters Financial, LLC
454 S. Anderson Road, Suite 124, Rock Hill, SC 29732
Registered Representative offering securities through Cetera Advisor Networks LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Carroll Financial Associates, Inc., a Registered Investment Adviser. Carroll Financial and Cetera Advisor Networks, LLC are under separate ownership and are not affiliated with any other named entity.