Maximize Your 2023 Marketing Budget to Drive Organic Growth

It’s that time of year again, when RIAs begin assessing their year-to-date spends and aligning their budgets against performance and the firm’s goals for the next year. Given continued market volatility, inflation and talks of recession, it’s a common theme these days for firms to start cutting back on spending in general, with marketing often appearing higher on the list than other areas. Why?

Historically, our industry has considered marketing a “nice to have,” not a necessity, but times have changed considerably. And while there are certainly some short-term benefits to scaling back on a budget, cutting your marketing can significantly hinder your organic growth, especially when your competitors are leveling up and snagging precious market share in your absence.

Rather than reducing your marketing spend, we’re helping RIA leaders and advisors think of these uncertain times as an opportunity to drive real growth by reassessing how and where you allocate your marketing dollars. Consider this:

  • Most firms are currently allocating about 1.5% or less of their overall budget on marketing, and some of that is mis-allocated to charitable donations. This business plan limits the type of businesses these firms can reach.
  • The top RIA firms spend 50% more than average on marketing and are laser-focused on solidifying their online presence, encouraging engagement, and building online credibility that builds trust with today’s digitally connected clients.

In my recent video interview with Gabe Garcia, Managing Director and head of RIA client experience at SEI, we discussed how firms should think differently about spending for growth into 2023. Gabe has worked with RIA owners, executives and advisors for many years, focused on helping firms grow with intention. What he’s observed is that marketing today means thinking creatively about organic growth in new ways.

Here are our top takeaways from my video conversation with Gabe.

3 Ways to Maximize Your Marketing Budget in 2023

  • Do a deep dive on your current spend. Look back at 2022 and 2021 and conduct a review of your content strategy to measure what has been successful for your firm for new business. While upwards of 80% of organic growth still comes from referrals, consider where those referrals found more information that validated their impression of you. Was it SEO? Your podcast? Social media? Existing Content? Where did your spend see the most results, and how can you get creative about elevating your game in 2023?
  • Double down on digital. The modern financial services industry was built by and for Baby Boomers who have followed a very specific buying process: build trust first, then we can do business. That process today is inverted – clients today come ready to do business first because they’ve already done their research and validated you online. They’re aware of your digital presence and they like what they see – enough so to give you a chance to build a relationship with them.
  • Get specific about defining Marketing for you. Understanding your target market and your ideal client goes a long way in creating highly personalized messaging that compliments your messaging and expertise, resulting in higher likelihoods of landing new business. And areas like SEO, content creation, social and paid ad strategies are where you and your team members can leverage that information about your ideal client personas to share messaging, shape how you’re promoting your brand, and create engagement. This takes expertise. Just like clients who rely on their advisors for guidance with their finances, it’s a budget well spent whether to spend on insourced or outsourced experts.

Considering organic growth largely comes from referrals or positive market growth, the first step to focusing (or re-focusing) your marketing efforts starts with an assessment of past efforts. Understanding what’s worked for you in the past, where your spend has given you positive results, and being super honest about where you fell short. Maybe it’s strategy. Have you started with clear goals of what you want to achieve through marketing with measurable KPIs? Have you determined a target market? What about your unique value proposition – are you able to clearly communicate this with prospects? How do your current ideas promote your credibility and show that you are an expert in your field? How’s your website? Have you conducted a content audit? Are you creating content that is actionable and engaging? Does your online presence capture your message and speak to your target audience?

While all of this may seem overwhelming, it’s necessary to perform this type of assessment to create a strong plan that maximizes your marketing opportunities (for the same reason you create financial plans for your clients). And there are plenty of education tracks, coaches, consultants, and firms that can help you get started.

Also, as no effort is a set-it-and-forget-it situation, it’s important to have a plan of how to monitor, assess and evolve over time to stay current and connected to prospects. Just remember – this is not a game of supremacy. You do not need to be Apple with your marketing strategy and execution to lead a successful business. Plenty of small businesses implement successful marketing campaigns. But you do need to have a marketing presence and an awareness of who you are trying to reach.

Watch my full video interview with Gabe here:

While we will always be a relationship-first business, the move to a more virtual world means we have a tremendous opportunity to create new and creative ways to connect with people online. That means staying the course with your marketing investment and even amping up where you can really drive results.

Ready to dig in and amplify your 2023 content marketing strategy? Start here.

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