The 3 Reasons Marketing Campaigns Fail to Drive Results for RIAs

7 min read
December 20, 2021

Want more results from the marketing you do? There’s nothing more frustrating than working hard to create a marketing campaign for your RIA only to have it launch and yield zero results for the firm. Thankfully, total failure is avoidable if you have a few essentials covered from the start.

This conversation is particularly vital for independent RIAs that are doing their marketing in-house. When you work with a pro, you get a fast track to marketing fundamentals. However, XYPN’s 2021 Annual Benchmarking Study showed that only ~15% of participants outsource their marketing.

In this piece, I’ll provide you with a concise, actionable overview of the three reasons why launched marketing campaigns fail. This blog is not titled “top” three reasons for a reason—the list is all-inclusive. The marketing you do is falling flat because of one of these three reasons.

First, a look at human behavior

The answer to why your campaign didn’t work is all centered around human behavior.

In 2009, scientist BJ Fogg, Ph.D., published a simple model for understanding human behavior that has since gained significant attention in not only the psychology field but in business, too. Learn his “B=MAP” model, and you’ll suddenly know the elements required for humans to take action.

“The Fogg Behavior Model shows that three elements must converge at the same moment for a behavior to occur: motivation, ability, and a prompt. When a behavior does not occur, at least one of those three elements is missing.” (Source.)

This is why RIA marketing fails for only three reasons. If your audience isn’t taking action (doing a behavior), your marketing is missing an element. All marketing is intended to drive prospect meetings. You want the right people to find you, resonate with your offerings, and book a meeting. This is a behavior.

I recommend you memorize this model as the acronym it’s often referred to as B=MAP. Now, let’s hop in to find the culprit that’s keeping your marketing from its smooth success!

Reason #1: Your current audience has low motivation

The first requirement for a behavior to occur is motivation. In the exact moment a person sees your marketing, they must have internal motivation to act. If their motivation is low, they won’t do anything. Behavior requires motivation.

In my experience, this element of the Fogg Behavior Model is the most important to think about first. The remaining parts of B=MAP are more tactical and straightforward, but motivation is a deeply qualitative measure. You and your team need to spend thoughtful time reflecting on who you’re targeting, what motivates them (especially around finances and hiring a financial planner like you), as well as how you can speak to those motivations within the firm’s marketing.

To be candid, it usually takes a firm 2-3 months to form an educated guess about what motivates their niche, and it’ll be years before you feel like you’ve mastered this piece. But this long game isn’t a reason not to try. Make improvements to your thinking today and begin to experiment with ideas now. Remember, motivation is required for any behavior (i.e., subscribe to our newsletter or book a meeting) to occur.

Common marketing mistakes related to motivation:

  • An overall lack of consideration around what truly motivates your ideal prospect
  • Targeting an audience that isn’t motivated
  • Marketing messages don’t clearly address an avatar’s motivations

Examples of how you can increase the likelihood they’re feeling motivated:

  • Target an audience that is already motivated. It’s incredibly hard to create true motivation within another person; that’s an uphill battle. An ideal prospect is one who converts without years and years of convincing.
  • Interview people who fit your niche to hear how they describe what motivates them, in their own words.
  • Hire a copywriter to help convert what you know about your avatar’s motivations into effective marketing language.
  • Speak to the things that currently motivate your avatar in your marketing. Don’t hide these elements from your messaging. Make it easy for a viewer to connect the dots that you offer what they want.

Reason #2: It’s hard to become a prospect

Let’s assume there is a motivated person out there, and your marketing campaigns speak to their motivations. Great!

Next, they need to be able to figure things out and take action. This “ability” element of the B=MAP model is rather literal. If people lack the ability to find your RIA, understand your offering, or book a meeting, the behavior won’t happen.

A goal to think about here is a sense of simplicity. Make it feel easy to find, follow, and get to know the firm before I’m a prospect or client. Side note: Don’t take the word “simplicity” to mean you should reduce the amount of what you offer in your marketing. It’s possible to offer a strong quantity of valuable marketing content while making it a high-quality experience.

Start by looking at the pre-prospect experience of your firm. This should be created specifically for your ideal avatar and feel pleasant for them. Ask yourself questions like: Have we made it incredibly easy to understand pertinent information? Are our service packages kind of hard to figure out and relate to? Have we equipped people with everything they need to take meaningful action?  These things are your responsibility under the “ability” element of B=MAP.

Common marketing mistakes related to ability:

  • Targeting motivated people that are unable to pay your fee
  • A lack of awareness of the firm
  • People are unable to book a meeting with your firm if they don’t know you exist.
  • Choosing marketing channels that the avatar isn’t paying attention to
  • If you run Facebook ads, but your avatar doesn’t log into their Facebook anymore, they are literally unable to take meaningful action with you
  • Cluttered website pages make it hard to understand what you do, exactly
  • Broken links send interested people to error pages

Examples of how you can increase someone’s ability to act:

  • Generate more awareness that your firm exists. The marketing term for this is using “top-of-funnel” strategies. If more people know you exist, more people will be able to express interest in what you do
  • Leverage and maintain marketing channels that your avatar is active on
  • Make it feel easy to understand what you do and to find pertinent information about the firm. Imagine your avatar looking at your messaging and asking, “Am I able to figure this out?”
  • Routinely test the links on your firm’s website and in your marketing content

Reason #3: You're not prompting them successfully

The third and final element of B=MAP is “prompts.” In marketing, prompts are often referred to as CTAs (calls to action). This is the moment you invite people to do the next appropriate thing, effectively advancing them down the marketing funnel and toward the prospect conversion.

Please know it’s your marketing’s responsibility to prompt people to take action. Imagine there’s a motivated, able person listening to your latest podcast interview, but the episode lacks an effective call to action. They listen, they like it, they’re feeling good, but the episode ends, and they move on with their day. In this example, your marketing missed the third piece; you didn’t prompt them to take the next appropriate action (i.e., get a lead magnet worksheet related to the topic, book a 1:1 session with you, visit the website to get an exclusive part two of the interview).

Common mistakes with marketing prompts:

  • The dominant CTA is to book a meeting
  • Growth-focused firms can feel eager to get more prospects, so they put “Book a meeting” everywhere. This will only work for the small portion of viewers who are ready to book a call right now. Everyone else is left hanging, with no helpful guidance from you
  • Requiring too many steps to complete an action
  • Buttons or hyperlinks look untrustworthy
  • Some marketing pieces will prompt viewers to take the next action, but the CTAs themselves look odd, so people feel nervous to click

Examples of how you can improve your prompts:

  • Use prompts that move people to the next phase in your marketing funnel.
    • When choosing what to say in your prompts, take a moment to acknowledge their stage in the marketing funnel. For example, if you’re launching a top-of-funnel Google Search Ad, the CTAs should drive these newcomers to options in the middle of your funnel (i.e., “Follow along on Instagram” or “Subscribe to our podcast!”). Additionally, if you’re trying to move more email subscribers to take meaningful action, you can prompt them to enter the bottom of your funnel (i.e., attend office hours or an in-person event).
  • Offer two different CTAs at every turn. 
    • When you offer more than one idea for what to do next, you increase the chance they take action because you’ve offered options for different levels of readiness. This also gives people a nice sense of being in control (like “choose your own adventure”).
  • Use professional-looking CTAs.
    • Presentation matters. Hire a graphic designer to work on some clickable graphics for the firm to use, and stick to using the professionally-made button templates offered by your website provider. When hyperlinking, be sure to select.

What now?

There’s a lot you could do with the information here. To start, look back at a recent marketing campaign you tried. If it had lackluster results, consider which of these three elements may have been weak and what you would do next time. This process of learning from our past efforts is a powerful way to turn a former “failure” into a valuable experience. After all, marketing is nothing more than a series of experiments, so keep at it and improve as you go.

I also highly recommend using the B=MAP model when outlining your next marketing campaign. Keep this framework by your side, and you’ll supercharge every idea with these three vital elements of human behavior.

Craving 1:1 guidance when it comes to your RIA’s marketing? We get it—who wouldn’t be? That’s why XYPN members get dedicated coaches alongside other invaluable benefits to help you promote and grow your firm. Check out the rest of our member benefits here.

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.

Subscribe by email