Finding the right new clients has arguably never been easier. It's also never been more challenging to win their business.
Since day one as a Financial Planner, I've had great success from a relatively small number of marketing activities. Ranked highest among these were securing mentions in the national press and winning industry awards.
I know this don't suit everyone. Only a handful of Financial Planners are a regular feature in the weekend press and the same names tend to walk up on stage to collect gongs at the various awards ceremonies each year.
What press coverage and awards have in common is their combination of high effort and high reward.
It took years to build the relationship I have with journalists across multiple publications, reaching the stage where I would get 30-40 phone calls and emails in a typical month asking for comments. A winning award entry could take up to ten hours to write, with a bigger investment in time to attend panel interviews and the awards themselves.
In both cases, the press mention or award win is just a starting point; it's something to trigger a range of marketing activity which will have the desired result of securing new clients or reinforcing existing relationships.
Despite the high barrier to entry, being ever present in the media and being named an award winner is becoming more competitive. You have to be Johnny-on-the-spot these days to get the best press coverage, and our win-rate at awards is lower than it was before, despite arguably having more to write home about in our entries.
This is where new media comes into play and why I believe it needs to be at the core of your marketing strategy in 2017.
For over two years, I've been producing a personal finance podcast. This is our in-house radio show and, nearly 150 episodes later, it is starting to produce some incredible results.
I podcast for selfish reasons. It's the best excuse I've found to speak to thought leaders, experts and other interesting people on a weekly basis. It does of course create a massive amount of value for our listeners too.
Since the end of the summer, we've upped the production schedule to create three new podcast episodes each week, including two interviews with thought leaders.
Imagine for a moment what you could learn by spending a couple of hours each week researching the latest personal financial planning and investing books and ideas, interviewing the leading expert in the field, and then editing all of that into a 20 minute podcast episode. If nothing else, it takes care of my annual CPD requirements.
Two years on and our podcast is starting to deliver. We average a new client or two each month, and our existing clients find it a valuable part of their ongoing financial education. We are setting new records for downloads on a regular basis, with more than 5,000 downloads in November for the first time.
This is helped along by a lack of competition. In the US, personal finance podcasts can be found on every street corner. Here in the UK, I share the every potential listener in the country with a handful of Financial Planners.
Reaching the clients you want to reach will become more challenging in 2017. Traditional routes to market are evolving with new media infiltrating traditional journalism and our go-to source for breaking news more likely to be our Twitter feed than a daily newspaper.
Having a clear presence on social media is a simple case of adding a blog to your website, writing new articles at least a couple of times a week, and then sharing your own content and curating the best content from others across a variety of social media platforms.
For Financial Planners, I recommend having an established presence on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. If you're a visual type, then adding an Instagram account into the mix makes sense too; we use Instagram to share the sort of 'behind the scenes' content that helps clients connect with us as individuals.
All of this can take as much or as little time as you like. My social media scheduling software of choice is Hootsuite, although other options exist for batching the workload and effectively managing your online presence without being constantly online.
What I would love to see as we enter the New Year is more Financial Planners waking up to the potential of podcasting and social media. We've all got so much to talk about; 2017 could be the year we spread that message more widely and help the population understand the value of Financial Planning.
Martin Bamford CFPCM Chartered MCSI FPFS is Managing Director at Informed Choice.
He is a Chartered Financial Planner, Chartered Wealth Manager and a SOLLA Accredited Later Life Adviser