The financial services industry is projected to grow much faster than the economy as a whole through 2029, according to data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Outside the United States, the outlook is much the same, particularly in emerging economies with expanding middle classes driving demand for wealth management and advisory services.
Existing financial services firms and active professionals have to be happy about all this, as do aspiring financial professionals looking ahead to certification. Yet the prosperity won’t be equally shared. As always, there will be winners and losers in the industry.
Increase your chances of coming out ahead with these eight proven promotional strategies for financial services firms and professionals.
1. Claim High-Visibility Directory Listings
Early on, the most effective way to strengthen your firm’s (or your personal) organic search results is to leverage high-visibility domains over which you have some control.
These domains include social media sites like LinkedIn and Twitter as well as business or professional directories like Yelp, Crunchbase, and local or national directories hosted by professional organizations. Once created or claimed, these sites become an integral part of your search results, often showing up on the first page. As an added bonus, they may push down less relevant or less flattering results.
What you publish on these sites matters, of course. When it comes to business directories, you want to make sure your listing is accurate, comprehensive, and positive, to the extent that you can control these things. The Crunchbase listing for Asiaciti Trust, an international fiduciary and trust services provider, is a good example: a strong, comprehensive overview of the firm that informs visitors and entices them to learn more.
2. Join Relevant LinkedIn Groups
Joining relevant LinkedIn groups won’t directly improve your organic search results, but it will improve your visibility within your professional circles. And possibly beyond — if you’re able to join groups whose membership includes both fellow financial professionals and prospective clients, make them your first priority.
Be advised that some LinkedIn groups have strict membership requirements. Don’t be discouraged if your requests aren’t approved right away, or you’re simply not able to get into some groups. If you’re persistent, you’ll get your foot in enough doors to justify the effort.
3. Create a Professional-Looking Logo and Branded Marketing Collateral
Professional-looking doesn’t mean “visually stunning,” to be clear. The best corporate logos are straightforward, leaving little to the imagination.
Like the logo for Charles Schwab, a major U.S. brokerage and wealth management firm. It’s just a stylized name against a solid blue, perfect-square background. It is the antithesis of fancy, and yet it’s immediately recognizable to financial professionals the world over.
More important than your logo’s polish is its presence. Make sure it’s seen far and wide: not only on your website and in printed materials you distribute, but on every digital property you’re able to claim or control (see #1) and on physical marketing collateral like pencils and pens, tote bags, coasters, and so on.
4. Polish Your Website (Or Create It in the First Place)
Your website won’t be the most visible part of your web presence. Not to start, certainly, and maybe not ever. You can rely on your directory and social presence to do the heavy lifting for the foreseeable future.
But that doesn’t mean you don’t need a website. In fact, a business website (or “professional personal” website) confers irreplaceable legitimacy on your enterprise. You’ve surely been put off after discovering that a business you were considering patronizing lacks a website of its own. This might be acceptable in the restaurant or retail industries, but “Facebook is good enough” doesn’t cut it in financial services.
You can (and should) iterate your website over time. You need to get a minimum viable product up sooner rather than later though.
5. Start a Newsletter
Your website, your socials, your third-party site listings and entries. All are potential vectors for another type of promotion that many finance professionals overlook — or over-professionalize.
This is the newsletter, which has undergone something of a renaissance since 2015. No longer do financial newsletters have to take the form of overwrought “client notes” or research reports. Now, they can be glorified blog posts, news roundups, collections of social media posts with minimal synthesis — whatever jibes with your content creation strengths and your audience’s consumption preferences.
6. Publish Thought Leadership Content
Get into the habit of regular publishing, even (especially) before you have much of an audience. Start posting on your website’s blog and newsletter channel, cross-posting on Linkedin as you’re able. As your following grows, target higher-value platforms for financial publishers: Forbes, Seeking Alpha, Benzinga, and other outlets that accept third-party contributions. The more places your content appears, the more legitimate you’ll come off.
7. Reach Out to Influencers & Media (But Don’t Let Outreach Take Over Your Life)
Strive to attract earned media, but don’t let it take over your life. Reaching out to influencers and publishers is a lot more work than many realize — literally a full-time job for countless PR professionals. If you can afford to hire a virtual assistant, lean on them for this part of your promotional strategy and leave the higher-ROI promotional tasks for yourself and your core team.
8. Lean on Client Testimonials
Finally, leverage client testimonials as soon as you’re able, both on your website and your third-party mentions (where permitted). Ask longtime clients for succinct, in-their-own-words feedback, and make sure you get their explicit permission to post it. Don’t post testimonials without consent — the fallout is the last thing you need as you try to build your reputation.
Show Your Best Side
These eight promotional strategies will get you and your business far, whether you’re an independent financial advisor or head of a multinational trust and fiduciary services firm.
But marketing is all about putting your best foot forward. Which means it’s not something you can turn on and off at will. If you want to get the most out of the advice we’ve laid out here, you must be disciplined. You must create a plan to integrate these strategies into your existing promotional efforts (such as they are) and follow through.