When describing our company, I often say, “We’re not just an investment advisory firm that markets, we’re a marketing company that happens to be in financial services.” So when I speak with investment advisors it’s surprising just how many of these intelligent, conscientious professionals admit to me that they don’t consistently market their firms. While numerous reasons are given for this avoidance, the most common refrains generally center around the belief that effective marketing takes copious amounts of time, money or expertise to be worthwhile.

Nothing could be further from the truth.             

Every bit as much as providing expert investment advice, ongoing marketing campaigns are essential to your success. Or hadn’t you noticed that you need a steady stream of new clients to thrive?

Whether you’re operating on a budget, or you simply won’t pull the trigger because you can’t decide which approach is best for you, you needn’t reinvent the wheel. Although between print advertising, radio, direct mailers and workshops (just to name a few), there are a lot of options, a cost-effective marketing campaign that has repeatedly proven its value to our firm is the venerable quarterly newsletter.

Newsletter Launch

To begin, create a template that utilizes your firm’s logo and color scheme. (If you have a professional website, mirror that design.)

Next comes content. Many years ago, we contracted with a provider and placed their articles on our letterhead. While I don’t necessarily recommend this, if you purchased content today you’d have a marketing piece that could be emailed this afternoon.   

But your ultimate goal should be to bring the production of your newsletter in-house. If you (or anyone in your office) can write two-to-three pages on a relevant financial topic, you’ll be able to control the message. This is important because, first, it allows you to direct the newsletter toward your specific client demographic, second, only you can produce content that consistently supports your investment and business philosophies, and third, only you can add the touches that make the piece a subtle endorsement for your firm.

Print or Electronic Distribution 

The total costs for printing a newsletter are surprisingly low. You can have 750 copies created, and then arrange for half of those to be mailed directly from your printer, all for under $1000.

But because it’s cost-effective, as well as a great way to work the kinks out of your initial product, the distribution of your first newsletter should be purely electronic. I encourage you, however, to quickly move up to producing hardcopy newsletters. Here’s why: besides being physically more substantial, printed newsletters turn-up in all sorts of opportunistic places. This means your newsletter is not only a terrific giveaway at conferences, or after appointments, copies will invariably end up in doctors’ offices or tacked to random message boards around town.

Of course, it’s not necessary to send hardcopies to everyone in your database. We email our newsletters to over 5000 people, while the printer mails roughly 1000 hardcopies directly to subscribers and selected media.

We then place copies in our lobbies and in all of our advisors’ offices.

So what is the bottom-line for our quarterly newsletter? In 2013, 7% of our new clients identified it as the primary reason they contacted us. After doing a little math, I calculated that the roughly $6000 expenditure we incurred for four newsletters in 2013 resulted in revenues equal to 24X that outlay. 

What a Quarterly Newsletter Does

Newsletters are effective because they serve your interests in both the short and the long term. The campaign that keeps on giving, they help build your credibility by positioning you as a thought-leader in your market, all while providing a consistent reinforcement of your core values and investment principles.

While most campaigns are designed to build brands and attract new clients, newsletters have the added advantage of serving as a marketing piece for your existing clients because they enable you to “touch” those who are already on board.

And you should never underestimate the importance of marketing to your existing clients.

Of all our campaigns, the quarterly newsletter just might be my favorite. Though inexpensive, its reach, consistency and effectiveness are tough to overstate. So if you aren’t producing one, you need to. Make it an ongoing campaign that you and your firm will never be without.      

Pat McClain is the co-author of Investment Advisor Marketing: A Pathway to Growing Your Firm and Building Your Brand (Irish Canon Press: 2013). He is a senior partner and founding principal of Hanson McClain Advisors in Sacramento, Calif.