The Five Habits of Highly Successful Marketers: A Guide for Independent Financial Advisors

7 min read
July 04, 2019

Why are some people better at marketing than others? And how can you be one of those people who's a cut above the rest?

The bad news is there's no magic recipe to become a master marketer. The good news is there are a few habits that set highly successful marketers apart from the mediocre (or just plain bad) ones; better yet, these habits can be learned.

For many independent financial advisors, marketing is mysterious, mercurial, and downright miserable. But it doesn’t have to be.

The most effective marketers have mastered five simple habits that help drive their marketing success. Sure, some are seemingly gifted with an innate marketing savvy. But most honed these habits over time—and you can too. 

Follow the five simple habits outlined below to control the chaos that comes with being a modern-day marketer.

Habit #1. They Know Their Audience

There’s a common saying in marketing: effective marketing is as much about repelling the wrong customers as it is about attracting the right ones. 

The gist? Not everyone wants or needs the service(s) you provide, and that’s a good thing! You’ll save time, energy, and money by only marketing to your ideal client and forgetting the rest, because guess what? They. Don’t. Matter. You don’t want "the rest.” You want the best.

The goal of inbound marketing is to create valuable experiences that have a positive impact on people and your business. You do this by attracting prospective clients to your website through relevant and helpful content. Once they’ve found your website, you engage with them, or rather nurture them, using tools such as email marketing, content offerings or "freemiums", and virtual events, and overall, by promising continued value. You continue to nurture that relationship over time, repeatedly showing the value you bring as a financial advisor and the pain points your services help solve.

By creating content specifically designed to address the problems and needs of your ideal customers, you attract qualified prospects and establish yourself and your business as credible and trustworthy.

But the only way to get there is to first know who your ideal client is.

Only by intimately understanding your ideal client—their values, their motivations, their fears, their struggles, their goals—can you actually provide relevant and meaningful content that will improve their lives. If you don't truly understand who your ideal client is, you'll find yourself shouting pointlessly into a void. 

Repeat after me: there is absolutely no success to be had in inbound marketing without first understanding and defining your ideal client.

Once you’ve developed a clear image of your target client, you can better tailor your messaging to their wants and needs. The focus should always be on them. 

Whenever you’re crafting a message, imagine you’re having a conversation with your ideal client. Do you think your message would be convincing, or would it fall flat? Where might they push back? What questions might they have?

Use the answers to these questions to inform how you speak and relate to your target client. Always remember that financial planning is at its core a helping profession. The goal of your marketing should always be to help—not sell—your target clients. 

Habit #2. They Have Well-Defined Goals

How do you know how effective your marketing is if you don't know what you want it to accomplish? You don’t.

Without goals, and metrics to measure those goals (more on this later), you’ll have no idea what marketing success even looks like. That’s why it’s critical to clearly define goals before implementing an inbound marketing strategy. Simply put, your goals are the building blocks of your marketing plan.

Harvard Business study revealed that people who have goals are ten times more successful than those who don’t. If that alone isn’t enough to convince you that setting goals is well worth your time, then you might be a lost cause.

Ask yourself what you want to achieve in 3, 6, 12, and even 24 months. Do you want to attract at least 25 leads a month? Do you want to secure 15 new clients by the year’s end? Do you want to build a base of followers on your social media channels? Or publish two blog posts per month?

The beautiful thing about goals is that there is no right or wrong, or should or should not. There is simply what’s right for you. Your goals are yours and yours alone. Own them.

Once you’ve set your goals, you can get to work solving them one at a time, thinking strategically about how you can focus your efforts to achieve your desired outcome.

Habit #3. They Measure What Matters

Modern marketers are faced with an interesting problem: there’s almost too much data. We’re surrounded by data that provides plenty of insight into the success of our marketing efforts (yay!), but it can quickly become overwhelming and weigh us down (boo!).  

I know what you’re probably thinking—there’s no such thing as too much data. But guess what? Not all marketing metrics are created equal. Some metrics simply don’t matter.

So, what do you need to be measuring? Results.

How? By identifying and tracking your key performance indicators (KPIs).

The "Marketeers" here at XYPN only formally track a small handful (nine, to be exact) of KPIs every week. This list includes things like number of engaged prospects, number of new XYPN members, and growth of our prospect list.

We have a reference goal for each KPI so we can clearly see where we stand from week to week. If we notice a dramatic change in a KPI, or we're consistently falling short of our goal(s), we work to pinpoint the reason why and take action to get back on track.  

The most successful inbound marketers are able to view their marketing funnel from a high level, identify weaknesses, and pinpoint the metrics that need attention with surgical precision. They know which metrics matter and focus their time and energy there instead of spinning their wheels tracking meaningless data points.

Your time is a precious commodity; most independent financial advisors consider it their most valuable resource. You therefore need to constantly question what you're doing (and why you're doing it) and substantiate your efforts with data so you can optimize how you use your time. 

Use data to test, analyze, refine, and test again. By focusing on results, you’ll know which marketing efforts aren’t worth your time and which ones are worth repeating.

Successful inbound marketers constantly measure their results and look for ways they can improve their efforts. They monitor their progress regularly and pivot quickly if something isn’t generating the results they planned.

In today’s data-driven age, marketers should no longer rely on instinct to determine whether or not their marketing is effective.

Habit #4. They Know That “Good Enough” is Better than “Perfect” 

Have you ever heard the saying “Perfect is the enemy of good”? 

As a recovering perfectionist, this is almost painful to write; but as a marketer, I know this is overwhelmingly true.

You should never let perfection impede performance. A good blog post published today is better than a "perfect" blog post published two months from now.

Striving to make something perfect can actually prevent you from making it good, or worse, from making it a reality at all. Perfection is not only the enemy of good, it’s also the enemy of done. Why? Because perfection simply doesn’t exist. (According to Stephen Hawking, this is one of the basic rules of the universe.)

The most successful inbound marketers understand when something is “good enough” to see the light of day. You obviously do not want to publish sloppy work that you rushed to complete; but you also don’t want to get trapped in the never-ending cycle of trying to tweak finished work that’s “good enough” to make it “just a little bit better.”

Perfection does not facilitate progress—it stands in the way of it. 

Tip #5. They’re Not Afraid to Fail

Okay, maybe we are, but that doesn’t stop us from trying. 

To keep with the theme, I’ll share yet another one of my favorite quotes: “Failure isn’t the opposite of success—it’s part of it” (Arianna Huffington). 

Humans seem almost hardwired to be averse to failure. World-renowned psychologists and Nobel Prize winners Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky found that the effect of a loss is twice as great as the gain from a win. This is why so many of us go to great lengths to avoid failure.

Yes, failure can be painful, and yes, as human beings we have developed a strong aversion to it, but failure can actually allow us to unlock incredible and previously untapped potential. But to do so, you need to reframe your relationship with failure.

Instead of viewing failure as detrimental to your success, view it as instrumental.

Now more than ever, marketers need to experiment, push boundaries, and try things they’ve never done before—possibly that no one has ever done before. The chance of failure is pretty darn high. This may understandably scare you, but do not let it stop you. 

Everyone makes mistakes and has missteps, even the most successful inbound marketers. One of the major differences between successful and unsuccessful marketers is that successful marketers learn from their mistakes; unsuccessful marketers lament them.  

Viewing failure as a learning experience is a much more productive choice. I use the word “choice” because this certainly doesn’t come naturally. No one likes to fail. But your failures aren’t what define you. It’s what you do with your failures that really matters. 

If you never fail, you’ll never learn how to appropriately adjust your marketing tactics to build a better business moving forward. Highly effective inbound marketers are willing to experiment and occasionally fail—and sometimes even fail spectacularly.

We’re constantly challenged to think of new and creative ways to approach problems, and not all of our proposed solutions will be that silver bullet we’re searching for. As long as we learn why that one thing worked and why that other thing didn’t, we don’t lose anything. Rather, we gain something quite powerful: insight.

Did a piece of content fall flat with your target audience? Take the time to figure out why. You might learn something incredibly helpful about your ideal client along the way. (Or you might learn that your most recent blog post was never auto-emailed to your blog subscribers, or auto-published to your social channels—remember, the technology you use isn’t fail-proof either!)

So there you have it—the five habits of highly effective inbound marketers. Master these and you'll be well on your way to becoming a master marketer. 

Kelly Moorman_300x300

About the Author

As XYPN’s Content Manager, Kelly Moorman is tasked with communicating the Network's value proposition to the world. For years, Kelly has helped organizations tell their stories in ways that inspire others to listen, and to care. Her penchant for a well-crafted sentence, good grammar, and clever wordplay has earned her the moniker “Word Whiz” around the XYPN office. She’s thrilled to share XYPN’s story with you and the rest of the world.

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