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The Top 4 Financial Advisor Marketing Mistakes

by | Mar 25, 2023 | Marketing Tactics

One of the biggest pain points with financial advisor marketing is that it’s often a financial advisor in charge of the marketing. In fact, you may have landed on this blog because you’re an advisor spearheading the marketing for your RIA – whether it’s by choice or not – and you’re attempting to refine your approach. 

Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with having marketing duties as part of your role at your firm. So, what’s the issue then? Well, your time is valuable, so spending it on marketing is a cost to your firm, even if it may not feel as direct as spending money. To illustrate this point, the 2022 Kitces Marketing Study found that nearly 70% of marketing costs were attributed to soft dollars, almost entirely comprised of advisors’ time. 

So, to save you time (and money) on marketing, I’ve developed a short list of mistakes many financial advisors make with their marketing. More importantly, I provide some tips on how you can get on the right track. This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list by any means, but it’s a good place to start for many. If you have in-depth questions beyond this list, feel free to reach out

With that in mind, here’s what we’ll cover. 

  1. No plan for developing new business outside of referrals or COIs
  2. Not communicating about your financial advisory firm’s ideal clients
  3. Your advisory firm’s website is missing calls to action
  4. You don’t have a place prospects can directly schedule a meeting with an advisor

No Plan For New Business Outside of Referrals

In the same Kitces’ marketing study referenced above, there was a section analyzing marketing tactics used by financial advisors. Not surprisingly, 93% of advisory firms in the study used client referrals as a way to obtain new clients. The next highest marketing tactic? Centers of influence, used by 60% of firms in the study. Now, let’s be honest, while COIs are different than a client referral, they’re still referrals. The most-used digital marketing tactic from the study was social media (broadly speaking), leveraged by 41% of firms in the study. Without knowing the Venn diagram intersection of firms using referrals and digital marketing tactics, the large dropoff between referral tactics and true digital tactics is still concerning. It signals that a large percentage of firms are likely only relying on some semblance of referrals as their line of new business. 

If you’re a lifestyle practice or you’re comfortable with where your firm is at in terms of households and revenue, then only using referrals is probably all you need to cover any client churn. But if you’re here, you’re probably looking to grow. And if you’re looking to grow, you’re missing out on potential prospects and new revenue if you’re only growing through referrals.

So, what should you do to fix this? Many in the financial advisor marketing sphere will rattle off tactics like starting a podcast, creating videos, leveraging social media, writing an e-Book, and more. But those are pieces of how you can grow. First, you need to establish whom you’re going to target as part of your growth. Which leads us to the next point. 

Not communicating about your financial advisory firm’s ideal clients

Every strategic marketing plan or one-off marketing campaign — yes, even the bad ones — has a target audience the campaign is built around. It’s a nearly impossible task to build strategy, messaging, and ad creative without knowing to whom you’re speaking.

Financial advisors are no exception to this. Yet, there are many advisors who don’t have their target audience — sometimes lumped in with the terms ‘niche’ or ‘target avatar’ — defined. And an even larger chunk of advisors doesn’t incorporate target audiences into their messaging and marketing campaigns, including their website copy. 

Now, I’m not here to blame advisors for this. As I’ve talked about in other content, I believe a big reason for this is the historical background of the advisory industry. It’s not that advisors have blatantly ignored general marketing practice for years. They just haven’t had a need for it until the dawn of the digital age. Before search engines and social media took off, most people found an advisor through word of mouth and referrals. Even today, a large chunk of advisor business comes from those avenues. 

So, if that’s the case, why do advisors need to define and communicate with your target audience in mind? Well, the times are changing. And the number of digital opportunities for advisors right now is almost limitless. Those who have embraced digital marketing and have incorporated their ideal client, or clients, into their strategy have had resounding success. Explore any online advisor group or forum (like XYPN’s VIP group on Facebook), and you’ll regularly see advisor post success stories about their digital marketing efforts centered around niches. 

We’re past the point of “This is just how it’s always been.” Advisors are having success defining and speaking to their ideal clients. And if you’re not focusing on this as part of your strategy, you’re being left behind. 

Your advisory firm’s website is missing calls to action

You do a majority of the work getting visitors to your website and then crafting copy to speak to your ideal clients. But if you don’t have any calls to action on your website, you’re wasting those other efforts. Sure, there will be some potential clients who do the legwork and call or email after landing on your site. But you’re not asking for their business; you’re just hoping they’ll know what to do. 

Some advisors who have really leaned into this concept have developed a ‘Get Started Now’ page — or some version of one. On that page, they outline specifically what the next steps of working with them look like. And in addition to those steps, there are usually several calls to the same action. Typically, that’s scheduling a short discovery call. Other times, advisors will use a survey to screen out unqualified prospective clients before they have prospects schedule a call. Regardless of the process, this page is the embodiment of a call to action.

But calls to action should be deployed across your site’s key pages, not just on a ‘Get Started Now’ page. What are some examples of calls to action and where they might live? Below are a few examples: 

  • ‘Get Started Now,‘ Start Now,’ or ‘Book Appointment’ button in your website menu. 
  • ‘Get Started Now’ button inside your hero image section of your homepage (and other landing pages. 
  • Providing potential clients with a ‘Contact Us’ CTA in other sections of your homepage if they’re not ready to schedule or get started. 
  • ‘See if You’re Retirement Ready’ or a similar type of survey that speaks to your target audience. You can leverage this to obtain email addresses and contact information. 

Those are just a few examples of calls to action and by no means the only ones to consider. Go back and take a quick look at your homepage. Do you have any calls to action on it currently? If not, where could you add some in? A CTA may make you feel like a salesperson. But they’re vital to driving the specific actions you want. And having a clear path for customers to take makes their journey easier, too. 


You don’t have a place prospects can directly schedule a meeting with an advisor

This is an extension of the last point, and it’s one worth mentioning separately because of its importance. 

Take a look at your website. Is there a clear way for prospects to schedule an appointment? And can they schedule during your non-business hours? That’s a two-part question because, while it’s great if they can call to schedule, if they call during non-business hours (or if no one picks up), they have to wait to schedule. And if they have to wait, they may not call back. 

Even if someone does call, the likelihood of them actually booking the appointment still isn’t that high. Keeping in mind that this is a smaller sample size, the independent RIA I worked for lost more than a quarter of prospective clients in one calendar year simply because they either never booked a meeting or booked, canceled, and never rescheduled. I’m not saying that data is an industry benchmark by any means. And it’s not the exact figure that is the important part. It’s that you’re losing potential clients to some degree just by making it harder to schedule a meeting with you. 

Not only do you need to specifically call out those CTAs for booking a meeting to make it clear where and how to do so, but you really should have a digital calendar solution. That way, people can book regardless of the time of day. And better yet, it saves you the time of going back and forth to agree on a time. Here are some potential digital calendar solutions to look into:

As a quick aside, although some advisors may want to filter out prospective clients who aren’t a fit before getting to the appointment stage of the introductory process, the initial appointment is still the focal point. And by speaking to your ideal clients throughout your website and using tools like Calendly’s routing forms, you can pre-qualify prospective clients without needing a separate stage. 

These are only several of the marketing mistakes I see advisors making. If I didn’t narrow it down to four of the main mistakes, I would’ve written a novel-length blog post. That said, hopefully, the mistakes I covered in this piece were helpful. If you have any questions related to this blog post, or if you have topics you’d like me to cover in future blogs, don’t hesitate to let me know

About the Author: Dan Corcoran

The founder of Emerging RIA Consulting, Dan is a specialist in marketing for independent RIAs and financial advisors. Prior to starting Emerging RIA, he was the marketing and social media specialist for an independent RIA in Madison, WI. He was originally a sports broadcaster before making the leap to the financial services industry.