The investment advisor arena is a client-centric world. The stakes are high, emotions run as volatile as the markets, and a client’s decision-making process can trend towards the dramatic. There are compliance demands. There are employees to grow and referral sources to cultivate. IT issues critical to running the business. And then there’s financial services marketing.

It’s easy to push it to the bottom of the list, but marketing is just as important to growth as in any other industry. With good habits, you can steadily grow the business even when you are out meeting with clients and fostering referrals. Without it, your ceiling will stay low. But how does it fit in with such a packed agenda? Here are three ways to make marketing a part of the business:

Sounds obvious, but…have a goal for financial services marketing

Your investment clients can’t achieve their goals unless they know what they are. Same goes for you and creating a marketing plan for financial services. Do you want to grow organically? Merge books of business? Look for an exit? Keep your assets right where they are? Not all strategies are the right fit for your firm. Identify your big picture goals for the business, then roll that back to a three year goal and a one year goal. Now you have something to tie your marketing plan to, and you can choose tactics that will get you closer to those goals.

 

Keep it right sized, even if it’s bite-sized

One of the main reasons we find financial services marketing clients are reluctant to chart out a plan is simple: it’s just too big, too foreign, and too much of a time commitment. Good marketing is intelligent marketing, though, and that means if you’re doing the right things you don’t have to conquer the universe. Figure out who you are, who you need to reach, and what you’re equipped to tackle one quarter at a time. If you keep the goals achievable for your firm, you can make steady, smart progress. At the end of the year, you’ll be surprised at the impact a few well-chosen activities had on your business – and the effects will be cumulative as the years go on.

 

Resist “chasing the puck”

As your marketing gets off the ground, it’s always tempting to divert from the plan. If you decide that getting your email list in order is the biggest priority for the summer, or revising your website is the Q4 goal, stay with it. You may find a new tactic or idea run across your plate – hey, let’s do a webinar! – but just like with long term investing, the more you chase the next great thing, the less likely you are to hit your marks.

While it’s hard to get the engine going, marketing for financial services can be managed in a way that moves your business. You’ll see a real difference if you tie tactics to your business goals, create a realistic plan, and stay focused.