You and your vendors come from different worlds. Vendors love to work with large companies that have deep pockets and teams of experts to guide the project along. When they look at financial services, they see a vast opportunity representing one-twelfth of the entire U.S. GDP. What vendors don’t realize is that they aren’t dealing with 300,000 advisors in a single market, but 300,000 small businesses, each operating in its own market. Advisors’ needs vary widely, their budgets are tightly managed, and they may not have a fully dedicated internal contact to teach vendors the ropes. That’s why your most important goal in your due diligence and selection is to make sure your vendors understand your business. Do they know the difference between a broker and an advisor? Between fee-based and commission-based business? Are they aware of the regulatory, sales and marketing review you are subject to? Do they even know how you get paid? If vendors don’t understand these basics, how can they possibly offer you anything useful? I’m going to come out and say it: You should only use vendors who have worked with advisors before.
I admit it. I didn’t get it for a long time. There I was, working in-house at advisor firms, putting out RFPs to marketing agencies and consultants as part of my daily job responsibilities. The proposals would come back. I’d review them, cheerfully nodding at all the big promises, all the corporate happy talk. We’d sign the deal. Do the project. And then—nothing. The benefit to the firm, or advisor, rarely outweighed the cost. Eventually, I realized it was all wrong. The consultants were selling a high-sounding bill of goods that did very little for our business, largely because they didn't actually understand our business. When I started FiComm, I swore I would never do that to a client, and I’m still passionate about that commitment. (Maybe I’m just mad they had me fooled for so long.)
At FiComm, we attend conferences with a certain passion that can only be explained by our fangirl/fanboy like view of the independent wealth management community. We love the energy, the people, the networking, the content, and the access that we get at the conferences we choose to attend every year. But we often hear from fellow industry vendors a different tune. Generally speaking, hard working sales teams show up at conferences tired from all the travel, completely disenchanted, and wondering why they bothered to show up in the first place. They ask us questions like, "Why do we keep wasting our money, year after year, expecting different results but getting the same-old same old?" One answer to this question, as the Millennials say, is FOMO: Fear of Missing Out. We worry what might happen if we don’t show up this one time. People will talk! Or what’s worse, they won’t talk. They’ll forget about us. And so, once again, hope triumphs over experience, and back to the conference they go, setting out the collateral, putting on lanyards, and smiling. There is a better way. Here are some ideas to make your next event pay off:
I'm just going to get right to it, drones are everywhere. Every agency I know has or rents them, everyone has one on their Christmas list, and let's face it: they're pretty damn cool. But are they a valuable marketing tool for your business? No. Probably not. I mean, maybe...
This is the second half of a two-part post. In the first, I gave you homework—a few questions to identify what you really need before you hire marketing staff. Now, I’m going to offer a few specific staffing suggestions.
That is the question. You may not need a marketing department at all if your business is cruising along at a good pace and you’re happy with your success. Even if you are trying to grow, you can still choose to outsource rather than hire. The question is, which direction is right for you?