We talk a lot in the financial services industry about market trends that are impeding our growth or challenging the future state of our industry as we know it, and millennials are a big one. Do a quick Google search and you’ll be inundated by studies confirming that the most powerful consumer group today – people born after 1980 and before 2000 – are a much different generation than the Gen-Xers and Boomers who came before them.
They’re proficient in technology and prefer direct and digital communication, seek transparency and are skeptical of traditional investment vehicles. To top it off, while they recognize the importance of financial responsibility, they aren’t necessarily placing the highest priorities on retirement or insurance planning.
But before you think I’m placing the blame for our industry’s stagnation on my children or their friends, we have to look at the other side of the equation. Are advisors really moving fast enough to get with the times?
A lot has been reported on this topic (my blogs included), but I’m not sure it’s been enough of a wake-up call. Recruitment of younger professionals to the industry is not keeping pace with the masses who are retiring. The advisors who remain face a considerable risk in maintaining the future of their businesses if they don’t start actively attracting more millennial clients.
If you haven’t already started to change your marketing and communications approaches, let me be as candid as possible in saying you may have already missed the boat.
Here’s how I respond to some of the most common excuses I hear from advisors who have been hesitant to evolve their marketing efforts:
- I’m limited in how I can use social media because I work in a regulated industry – The reality is there are rules we need to follow. But for me, ensuring compliance is pretty simple – offline compliance equals online compliance. To get more comfortable, start by translating your compliance manual into a social media policy that more explicitly defines the swim lanes you need to follow when communicating to clients via social networks. Develop a pre-approved content library that can incorporate more “evergreen” topics that aren’t just focused on your business or the industry. Large companies are already doing this to streamline their approval process and paying big bucks for services like Hearsay Social that automate digital communications. On a smaller, but just as effective scale, advisors can check out the newly launched Life Happens Pro from the nonprofit organization, Life Happens. They’ve created thousands of customizable, pre-written social media posts, videos and other content related to insurance and financial planning ready to drop into your marketing efforts, all for a monthly subscription that’s less than most gym memberships.
- I don’t have time – I’m always surprised at how many planners lack a plan! You need a marketing game plan and developing one will provide you with a roadmap for making the time necessary to execute it. It’s also ok to bring in help such as a marketing agency or advisor who can help you hone your elevator pitch and prioritize the ways to get it out there. To save time, consider social media aggregation tools, like those provided from Hootsuite and TweetDeck, which schedule content for all of your social platforms in one easy place. You can also alleviate some of the pressure of developing fresh content in real-time simply by reposting or retweeting content from others. RSS feeds (Really Simple Syndication) are another great way to keep a constant stream of content. Since they’re automated, you simply need to select feeds that parallel your interests or content needs and decide how often you’d like the feed to stream to your platforms.
- I’m a financial expert, not a web expert – As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. If you’re not investing in your website, you might as well be hosting your client meetings from your garage since most prospects won’t even agree to a meeting if they’re turned off by what they find out about you (or don’t) via Google. Don’t take my word for it, the 2015 Insurance Barometer study found that 85 percent of consumers research life insurance online before purchasing it and that’s not just millennials – research shows that is the case for consumers as old as 45. There’s no shortage of cost-effective website builder services out there to help you launch a professional-looking site. The important thing is that you personalize and maintain it and then drive people to find it with Search Engine Optimization. It comes back to content. Do you have videos, articles, blogs or other utilities on your site that give people a reason to go there and come back? Again, Life Happens Pro has you covered with embeddable insurance needs calculators and customizable video players that can literally be cut and pasted into your site.
Keep in mind that overcoming these excuses can pay dividends not just on attracting new prospects, but with your existing client base too. At the end of the day, it’s about creating new business and to do that, your marketing efforts need to align with what your target clients are looking for. The best marketing tools and advice will only get you so far. It’s up to you to execute them. Make time to learn and get acquainted with what’s out there before you get left in the dust.
April J. Rudin, Founder and President of The Rudin Group, is a financial services marketing strategist.