A Step-By-Step Guide for Evaluating and Adjusting Marketing Ideas

5 min read
November 08, 2021

There are a lot of RIA marketing ideas out there. You might hear peers mention what’s working for their firm, you listen to RIA success stories on podcasts, read blog posts with experiments to try, and get amped by data in advisor studies (such as the XYPN Annual Benchmarking Study). However, it’s difficult to decipher which ideas to act on and which ideas aren’t a great fit for your RIA. This is particularly true when working alone, with a small team, or under pressure.

Thankfully, I’ve led this conversation with hundreds of independent RIAs over the years, and there’s a useful process for evaluating your marketing ideas for improved effectiveness. Here’s how it plays out: An advisor comes to me with a marketing idea and wants advice. This is a great beginning of a fun conversation! I love the energy of having ideas to consider; it feels like we’re at a buffet of choices, and now the challenge is to find the best stuff to put on our plate.

Faced with a new marketing idea, I begin coaching the individual through “proper” evaluation and prioritization. In reality, not every idea needs to be acted upon, today or ever. And trying an idea randomly and with little organization or forethought typically leads to more stress, higher frustration, and unclear results. Instead, I’ve developed a realistic, actionable framework and process for evaluating marketing ideas for your growing RIA.

This post will walk you through my coaching process so you can have it now and return later—please grab an idea you’ve been sitting on, and walk through this tool with me. From today forward, I invite you to coach your firm through these prompts for each idea. It’ll take 20 minutes to complete but save you 100x the time in potentially wasted marketing energy.

What You’ll Need:

  1. Ideas for marketing
  2. A spreadsheet with three tabs:
    1. “Future Marketing Ideas”
    2. “Next Up in Marketing”
    3. “Current Marketing Focuses”
  3. Awareness of the various interests, skills, and strengths within the firm
  4. An ideal prospect avatar
    1. Still need to create this asset for the firm?
      1. XYPN members: You get this all-inclusive guide and template with membership!
      2. Not a member yet? Here’s a resource for you.

How to evaluate and adjust an RIA marketing idea

“Is this idea a fit for us?”

Before executing any idea, it’s important to stop and evaluate whether it’s a fit for you and the firm. After all, jumping on every new idea is costly for every resource: time, attention, effort, and money.

The evaluation process is focused on asking three yes-no questions:

Is this idea tailored to the wants and needs of my ideal prospect avatar?
  • If yes, continue.
  • If no or “kind of,” you have two options:
    1. Alter the idea right now so it’s tailored to your ideal prospect. For instance, if your idea is to create a detailed monthly newsletter, but you know your avatar is stressed out by their email inbox, then more email might not be a strong idea. Instead, alter the idea so that your avatar would welcome the communication (i.e., short Tweets on their Twitter feed, featuring the same content you would have put in the newsletter anyway).
    2. If the idea isn’t a fit for your avatar or can’t easily be altered, tell the idea “thanks, but no thanks” and let it go. You always have that choice.

Does this idea leverage one or more of my/our current interests or strengths in the firm?

  • If yes, list the interest(s) or strength(s) you would be leveraging with this idea, and continue.
  • If no or “kind of,” the idea may be a fit for the avatar but not ideal for you or the firm. This tension is normal and important to acknowledge. There will be other ideas that fit both your strengths and your avatar’s reality. Spend your resources on those. For now, say no to this one idea and put it in a “Future Marketing Ideas” for later reference when things change. This is a great time to grab another idea you have and run it through the evaluation.

Is this idea feasible for the firm to execute on, given our current situation and resources?

  • If yes, add it to your list for “Next Up in Marketing.”
  • If no or “kind of,” this means you’re currently experiencing a constraint (time, money, or other resources). This is okay; every firm faces constraints. The good news is we can still get work done when facing constraints. Our options are to either embrace the constraint or alleviate it.
    1. In short, embracing a constraint means accepting it, and doing what we can with what we have. For instance, if your idea is a weekly podcast (which could easily fill 4 hours per 20-minute episode), but we only have 2 hours available for a new marketing initiative, we can embrace this constraint as true, and adjust the idea so it fits into the time we do have. Perhaps we do less preparation and editing.
    2. The second option is to alleviate a constraint. This is done by making a constraint feel less severe. To keep with the podcast example, we could alleviate this by “buying” time through hiring a podcast editor. This way, we can spend our time preparing and recording the content, and then someone else spends their time doing the rest—sigh of relief.

At this point, your idea has either been scrapped or landed in one of two lists: Future Marketing Ideas or Next Up in Marketing. “Future Ideas” are always there for you. Refer back to the list to get inspiration, and check back periodically to see if internal resources or decisions have changed in a way that supports a past idea to become more appropriate.

As for your “Next Up” list, this will grow to be a collection of RIA marketing ideas that have been evaluated as a true fit for your situation. While having a list of strong ideas is good, the process isn’t done yet.

Next, make your idea a reality!

Before closing out, let’s touch on the natural next step: Begin executing on your ideas. After all, marketing ideas don’t bring in leads; executed ideas do.

When we reach this step, many firms ask about what to prioritize. If we have lots of good ideas, how do we know what to choose first? For today, I’ll offer you this decision matrix. I use it with clients to help them get clear on what the firm *can* do and which ideas are a fit at this current moment. Click on “File > Make a copy” to create an editable version for your firm!

Want more on marketing prioritization? I’d happily consider a “Part 2” to this series for a deeper dive into marketing prioritization and techniques if you’d find that helpful. Let me know on Twitter.

Carolyn Dalle-Molle

About the Author

Carolyn Dalle-Molle is a professional marketer with several years of experience helping small businesses reach their growth goals. Her approach to marketing is both creative and analytical; helping people achieve a creative flow that’s unique and exciting while using tracking and metrics to learn what actually works for their business. Based in Boston, she's honored to work with XY Planning Network from coast to coast. Outside of work, she enjoys volunteering with elderly, making videos, and traveling with her friends and family.

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