XYPN Roundup: How to Market Your Financial Planning Firm

12 min read
June 08, 2020

If you ask any financial advisor what their favorite part of their job is, they're unlikely to say marketing. Novice and seasoned firm owners alike can feel stuck in their marketing efforts, unable to tell if they're spinning their wheels or gaining ground. (If you feel this way, it's probably because you aren't measuring the right things, or, gasp, you aren't measuring anything at all. More on that below.) 

We know that most firm owners aren't natural-born marketing masters. That's okay. You don't need a massive budget or years of experience to effectively market your services. But you do need to understand the basics.

Below, we've rounded up our top 19 marketing blogs that will help you understand the principles of marketing and guide you in marketing your firm.

8 Marketing Experiments Every Independent Financial Advisor Should Try

We use informal experiments on a daily basis as a way to test-drive decisions, especially those with long-lasting consequences. This is often a subconscious process and can happen in just a few seconds. 

We test primarily as a means of risk management. Would you move forward with a costly marketing strategy for your firm with the basis for success resting on nothing more than wishful thinking? I certainly hope not. Experimentation (if done correctly) gives you the confidence to move forward with decisions, both big and small.

Marketing experiments, in particular, offer insight into how well your marketing methods will perform before you fully implement them. Below, a few of my fellow Marketeers share ideas of simple marketing experiments you can implement in your firm today to generate more leads, drive more conversions, and overall run a more successful business. 

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How to Spend Your Marketing Budget: An Intro to Paid Advertising

How should I spend my budget?

This is one of my favorite marketing questions. (Although, to be fair, I have many favorite marketing questions.)

If you’re asking this question, it means you’re ready to grow and feeling empowered by the resources at your disposal.

Many independent financial advisors are working within the confines of a limited marketing budget (if they even have one). The good news is you don’t need $10K to market your firm. There are many options to consider and best practices for spending what you do have in a strategic way.

Read on for an intro to paid marketing for independent advisors with marketing budgets between $40 and $2,000 per month.

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8 Totally Avoidable Marketing Mistakes Independent Financial Advisors Make

How do you get better at marketing? By learning from your mistakes.

Or better yet, by learning from the mistakes of others.

Marketing your firm is one of the most exciting parts of owning a business (no really, I swear). But it's also very unlikely you became an independent financial advisor because you love marketing.

For many firm owners, especially those who are completely new to marketing, it also involves a lot of trial and error. Wouldn't it be nice if your marketing could involve more intentional trial and less unintentional error?

Lucky for you, it can. You simply need to know what major downfalls to dodge.

Here are eight common mistakes you should avoid when marketing your firm.

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Why Advisors Should Use Tiny Marketing Funnels

Have you ever heard of a tiny marketing funnel? I’d be surprised if you had as they are my own creation. I invented tiny marketing funnels out of necessity after hearing from hundreds of independent financial planners about their struggles marketing their firms.

For many advisors, confusion, overwhelm, and blind attempts are the norm when it comes to marketing. Clarity, direction, and motivational curiosity are not.

Tiny marketing funnels are a great way to overcome the overwhelm and head towards clear action.

Before we explore how tiny marketing funnels can set you on the path to marketing success, let’s start with the basics.

What is a tiny marketing funnel? In essence, a tiny marketing funnel (TMF) is a single direct path a marketer creates to guide people from initial awareness all the way to becoming a prospect. Each step in the TMF experience is defined, designed, and can be measured.

Tiny marketing funnels are not comprehensive, dynamic, complex funnels; they focus on guiding some percentage of viewers through a single direct path with clearly defined steps.

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6 Hacks to Refresh Your Firm's Email Marketing Strategy

Email marketing can be an underrated element of marketing strategies, but did you know there are an estimated 5.6 billion active email accounts, and 49% of businesses are leveraging some form of email automation?

Like it or not, email marketing is here to stay, which means the competition for emails to be seen and opened in our inboxes is only getting stiffer.

Fortunately, there are many ways to refresh your email marketing strategy. Some of the tips below will only take a couple minutes to implement; others might require more time and attention.

Whether time-intensive and more complex or straightforward and simple, these hacks are sure to yield a high payout when it comes to a winning email marketing strategy.

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How to Exceed Your Marketing Goals as a Financial Advisor

Goal-setting is a hot topic, and for good reason. Goals help us stay focused, measure progress, stay accountable throughout the year, and provide landmarks to celebrate incremental wins as we grow.

However, not every financial advisor has the same goal, and not everyone is confident the goal they have is the right one.

I recently hosted a live workshop  to help XYPN members define strong, inspiring marketing goals for themselves.

There was resounding “Yes!” about one point in particular, so I’ve decided to give it some extra air time here.

No matter where you are in the goal-chasing journey, this tip has the ingredients you need to exceed whatever goal you're pursuing.

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18 Marketing Hacks for Independent Financial Advisors

Want to market your financial planning firm like a pro? You're in luck! I leaned on the "marketeers" of XY Planning Network, who have over 40 years of combined experience, to share some of our favorite pro tips.

Four of us marketeers on the team are tasked with marketing the Network to prospective members, plus one marketing guru assists XYPN advisors directly with marketing their firms. From Boston to LA, we're a dispersed team with no two in the same city and with very different paths to XYPN. 

Many of our favorite marketing tricks and tips are things we picked up along the way, from coast to coast. 

So, in no particular order, here are 18 marketing hacks we love, and think you'll love too.

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How to Hire a Marketing Writer

When done right, blogging acts as a powerful marketing tool for financial advisors. It helps you build your brand, attract prospective clients, create credibility, establish yourself as an expert, generate long-term engagement, and more.

But there’s also a reason why not every financial advisor has a blog. Starting a blog is a lot of work and requires time, an incredibly valuable resource many independent financial advisors are short on.

At first, it might feel like a thankless job and at times, you’ll wonder if it’s worth the effort. That’s because as with many other marketing tactics, results are not instantaneous.

But that most certainly doesn’t mean blogging isn’t worth it. A blog is one of the most cost-effective ways to become an authority in the industry and convert intrigue into leads. Through your content, you’ll have countless opportunities to interact with potential clients without spending a dime.

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5-Part Marketing Plan for Independent Advisors: Why, What & How

As an independent financial advisor, you’re like so busy that you barely have enough time for marketing. You might shoot from the hip, squeezing in time here or there to crank out a blog or post on social media. Is taking the time to put together an actual marketing plan really necessary? Before I get into the ‘why’ of marketing plans, allow me to digress for just a moment about what you don’t need.

I’ve seen many marketing plans during my time as a ‘marketeer’ with XYPN that have more bark than bite. They tend to be too fluffy, too basic, or too high-level to be useful on the front lines. Large companies have marketing plans with hundreds of pages including an executive summary, an analysis of the market situation, a SWOT analysis, and more. I wouldn’t dissuade you from working on any of those pieces if they’re meaningful to you, but keep this in mind: large companies have teams of people putting together their marketing plans and they spend at least a couple of months doing them.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should forego making a plan altogether. 

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The Independent Financial Advisor's Guide to Measuring Marketing

Recently, a friend reached out to me for a favor. She owns a growing small business and plans to hire her first full-time marketing associate. “I don’t really know anything about marketing. Can you help me write a list of interview questions?” she asked.

I responded, “You don’t need a list. There’s just one important question.”

It’s true. You can size up whether someone is a legit marketer with one simple question: How do you measure the effectiveness of your marketing? Put another way… what are your KPIs?

If a candidate struggles with this question, or does not have experience tracking key performance indicators, or doesn’t even know what a KPI is, they don’t have marketing expertise. With this one question, you can distinguish true marketers from those who have simply performed marketing-centric tasks.

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How Marketing Can Help You Build a Firm for the Future

True or false: The best way to grow an advisory firm is through referrals. For a long time, the answer was “true.” But referrals are no longer the primary driver of AUM growth for RIAs. Not client referrals. Not professional referrals. Not any type of referral, period. The days of growing ad-hoc because you joined NAPFA and you get client referrals are a thing of the past. So what is the best way to grow your RIA? A great place to start is with your marketing strategy.

In XYPN Radio Episode #134, I caught up with Taylor Schulte, founder of the San Diego-based firm Define Financial. Within the past year, Taylor pulled Define Financial out from under its umbrella firm and established his own RIA. In doing so, Taylor faced the same challenges that other advisors setting out to start their own RIA face: no safety net, dealing with compliance, high startup costs, and the many other risks and rigors that come with growing a business from the ground up. But he also reaped one of the greatest rewards: total control over his brand. As someone with innate marketing savvy, 

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Content Marketing Basics: Automate What You Can, Manage What You Can’t

Content marketing is all the rage. Many advisors who’ve been at it for a while regard content marketing as one of the biggest drivers of prospects. As a beginner, however, it can be daunting to know how or where start. There are many moving parts and it can feel overwhelming. Luckily there’s a little thing called automation. How exactly does that play a part? And how much of what needs to get done can be automated? Let’s find out. 

It’s incredibly helpful and liberating to understand the basic tasks involved with content marketing. Some core tasks can be automated and some cannot. In this blog, I will walk you through this key overview and show you what a beginner’s content marketing “machine” could look like. My high-level advice when building a content marketing machine is: automate what you can, manage what you can’t, and leverage one-on-one coaching when you feel overwhelmed.

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12 Months of Marketing Goals for Independent Financial Advisors

As I chip away at developing XY Planning Network’s marketing plan for the new year, it occurred to me that independent financial advisors should be doing the same thing about now to formalize their marketing plans for the next twelve months. Of course, I realize marketing is just one of many hats firm owners wear, so the average advisor may be stretched a little too thin to put much effort into this task. Perhaps a little inspiration would be appreciated by our readers.

As a way to procrastinate on writing my own annual marketing plan, To help as best I can, I’ve sketched out a basic twelve-month schedule of RIA marketing goals for you. Accept each of my monthly challenges or use them as a jumping-off point to develop a plan of your own. Either way, your practice is sure to benefit when you spend time wearing your marketing hat.

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Marketing Dollars Well Spent as an Independent Financial Advisor

After boot-strapping your way to wherever your financial planning firm is now, you’ve set aside some money for a marketing budget. But how are you going to spend it?

As a career marketer for start-ups, I’ve lived the dream of building companies (and marketing budgets) from the ground up. After an acquisition of one company, we went from boot-strapping to an open checkbook literally overnight.  The new parent company splurged on billboards, radio ads, celebrity endorsements and more. If an advertising salesperson showed up at our door, we became their biggest customer. Spending was excessive and perhaps a bit reckless, but the suits upstairs wouldn’t have it any other way. For me personally, it was a great education. I got to try everything.

Based on my experience, I have a few recommendations for financial advisors on how to spend those first dollars allocated to marketing.

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The Independent Financial Advisor's Guide to Measuring Marketing

Recently, a friend reached out to me for a favor. She owns a growing small business and plans to hire her first full-time marketing associate. “I don’t really know anything about marketing. Can you help me write a list of interview questions?” she asked.

I responded, “You don’t need a list. There’s just one important question.”

It’s true. You can size up whether someone is a legit marketer with one simple question: How do you measure the effectiveness of your marketing? Put another way… what are your KPIs?

If a candidate struggles with this question, or does not have experience tracking key performance indicators, or doesn’t even know what a KPI is, they don’t have marketing expertise. With this one question, you can distinguish true marketers from those who have simply performed marketing-centric tasks.

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Are You Making These Top-of-Funnel Marketing Mistakes in Your RIA?

The top of your marketing funnel is that magical place where a potential client first discovers your business. You’ve set up the appropriate content marketing channels for your firm, such as social media and blogs, but are they working to drive clients into your RIA? If it seems like your marketing machine is not clicking, you could be making one of these common mistakes at the top of your funnel.


Simply put, it’s not enough to just show up. We know social media is a great tool to keep businesses top-of-mind. However, if staying top-of-mind is your sole social media strategy, you’re probably not gaining traction. Simply tweeting occasionally just to remind everyone you’re there is not enough. The same holds true for your blog. If you aren’t putting in the effort to post useful content, you’re wallflowering.

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How to Focus on the Marketing Metrics That Matter

Your financial planning firm is up and running. You’ve got clients; you’re generating revenue. You know what technology you enjoy using, and you’re developing systems and processes to better run your business and serve your clients.

In short, you’re past just starting up, and the foundation of your financial planning practice is established. Now, you’re turning to higher-level tasks beyond simply starting and running your business.

This year, you want to focus on growing your firm and attracting new clients. It’s time to market yourself and what you do.

Tracking numbers, data, and metrics is a huge part of marketing. You need to know what efforts are working, and which aren’t a good use of time. Paying attention to marketing metrics can help you better understand what avenues actually generate clients.

But what metrics do you measure? And how do you weed through all the data to find the metrics that matter?

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Content Marketing: An Intro for Financial Advisors

Financial advisors are good at many things. Marketing is usually not one of those things.

As an industry, financial planning tends to get stuck in the 1990s when it comes to marketing tactics. Many firms still play by the old rules that are becoming more and more outdated -- and that are failing to attract new clients. Other practices don't bother with marketing themselves to the wider world at all, and instead focus solely on client referrals to gain more business.

But the old rules are unlikely to resonate with the new generations of clients who are looking to hire a financial planner. The old way of marketing means that you buy your audience's attention. You purchase advertising or buy email lists. Then you create campaigns and try tactics to drive that audience to do something.

But when you want to market to Gen X and Gen Y -- two groups who are more skeptical of financial advisors than the original financial planning clients, Baby Boomers -- trying to buy their attention just isn't effective.

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Not Creative? How to Market Your Financial Planning Firm Anyway

Not creative? You’re not alone.

I’d estimate that one in four advisors who come to me with a marketing problem offer up the fact that they’re “not creative” and as a result, they’re struggling with marketing. This is a common self-diagnosis. It isn’t always fully accurate, though, and often goes untreated. I’m here to offer a second opinion with a clear prognosis—and a prescription.

(That’s right. We’re going with a medical analogy for this one.) 

Here’s a fact to start with: to create is defined as to bring into existence. If you can write a sentence on a blank piece of paper, you can create. If you can hop on a Zoom call and say something aloud, you can create. If you can take a picture of your laptop right now, you can create. Humans are actually very creative by nature. We’re always creating. What you’re experiencing is more nuanced than “I’m not creative.” We’ll dive into this concept first. 

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