For Stephanie Fullerton, print-based marketing campaigns are anything but obsolete. In fact, her direct mail print marketing initiatives anchor an umbrella of broadcast marketing channels to reach clients in the town of Peoria, Ariz., a suburb of Phoenix.
Surprised? Don’t be.
Fullerton, founder and president of Fullerton Financial Planning, said the top two advertising outlets where her advisors get the best results are direct mail, which sends people to her educational workshop, and a radio show.
Fullerton says she thinks she knows why: Her clientele is between 50 and 75 years of age with at least $250,000 in retirement assets.
She said that her older clients 65 to 80 years old still like the touch of hard copy, the feel of a business card and the reassurance of the old-fashioned way of connecting.
If you think about it, the success of direct mail makes sense in Fullerton’s market. Retirees soaking up the Arizona sun have plenty of time to look over printed material on their kitchen counters, and it’s no accident that the print is large enough for them to read.
Small screens of smartphones, “phablets” and tablets are hardly designed for older, jittery fingers — never mind the even smaller type that most retirees probably can’t read no matter how powerful the lenses of their eyeglasses.
“The two top outlets that get us our best results, meaning reaching our ideal client and household assets we’re looking for, is number one, our direct mailer for educational workshops and number two, our radio show,” Fullerton told InsuranceNewsNet.
Ameriprise Financial, which supports advisors around the country, lists eight different strategies that advisors can use to market themselves.
Strategies include the advisor’s website, social media, a secure online client experience with the advisor’s employer, the client and prospect contact model, referrals and networking, seminars and events, local advertising and media relationship, and branding.
Ameriprise research has also found that advisors who implement at least five of these eight strategies sell more and acquire more clients than advisors using only two strategies.
In Fullerton’s case, direct mail and radio seem to be particularly effective but that wasn’t the case for advisor Anthony Wright, founder of Retirement Specialty Group in Sparta, Tenn.
Wright, who has done “a ton of radio and TV” appearing as a guest, said a previous initiative where he recently tried to use 30-second radio spots to promote his business fell on deaf ears. “I spent a lot of money for nothing,” he said.
As financial advisors grapple with the best way to use Internet-based marketing channels, it’s easy to forget that traditional marketing campaigns anchored in a multipronged approach to reach a specific audience remain very effective in local markets.
Fullerton’s client base isn’t going to be around forever so one day she may find herself dropping the direct mail channel.
Yet her client base is living longer than ever, which means Fullerton is likely to continue with her direct mail campaigns for the foreseeable future.
She said she will have her marketing program add Google and Facebook ads as a value-added benefit but that they don’t generate a lot of interest.
“We’re just trying to tap into any vessel, even if it’s a vessel that’s not going to make you money, it’s a way to get our face and our name out to clients and people,” she said.
Like many advisors, Fullerton has contributed to the local newspaper as a columnist answering questions from readers about retirement and financial planning, which is a great way for advisors to brand themselves and connect with their local communities.
The local connection is paramount, and other advisors say they use Facebook to keep in front of clients and prospects in the community.
There’s nothing like posting pictures of family, children and weekend cookouts to reinforce the notion that advisors are as family-oriented as their clients, not the wolf-predators of Wall Street hunting for fees and commissions from Main Street.
The enduring value of older marketing techniques finds reinforcement through complementary media channels at every turn as printed material refer to and remind readers of advisors’ websites and social media pages.
A complimentary tweet, a “like” or “thumbs-up” on Facebook or LinkedIn, a recommendation on Google + or a plug on the local broadcast can’t hurt.
Patrick Munro, a life insurance agent and founder of NorthStar Financial Advisors with offices in Wilmington, N.C., and Myrtle Beach, S.C., said he also relies on direct mail and looks to integrate it with radio and TV.
Munro said advisors are best off starting with print before graduating to radio and TV as the marketing channels become more expensive.
He also said the Internet channel remains a challenge, even as he fields calls from the Googles and the Yelps of the world asking him to pay for search engine optimization (SEO).
“I’ve not been able to monetize the Internet yet,” Munro said. “It can be the most frustrating part of everything.”
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Writer Cyril Tuohy has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at [email protected].
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