That famous line from the 1967 film “Cool Hand Luke” was delivered by Captain (actor Strother Martin) after giving Luke (played by Paul Newman) a whipping in response to a smart aleck comment Luke made while toiling on the chain gang. In the movie, this communication problem didn’t turn out so hot for Luke. Failure to communicate (effectively) also trips up some of the best financial advisors.

Mastering the fine art of communication is critical for advisors who want to grow their businesses. In fact, it’s one of the seven key elements to building a million-dollar business that InsurMark’s Virtual CMO Jack Martin has discussed in recent episodes of the Breakthrough Advisor Podcast.

The seven million-dollar elements go hand-in-hand like a Russian doll, so you’ll want to check out our earlier blogs, Riches in the Niches and Advisor Messaging Matters. Plus, keep an eye out for future blogs in this series.

Communicating well starts with playing in traffic with your target audience

Communication—how you deliver your marketing message—needs to take place in the “spaces” where your target audience hangs out. It also needs to occur in the spaces where that target audience would prefer to receive information from you, their advisor or financial professional. That’s what playing in traffic is all about.

For example, your prospects might like to hang out at Rolling Stones concerts or at the finest restaurants but they would rather hear from you through other channels, like email, phone, text message, face-to-face meetings and occasionally, social media.

While your target audience (have you should read that Riches in the Niches blog yet?) and the advisor across town’s target audience may be vastly different, a recent consumer survey performed by YCharts provides some solid insight on where most people prefer to receive information from financial advisors.

Email is KING! It’s our clients’ top preferred communication channel

That’s right, email! When YCharts asked, “What channels (respondents could pick more than one) would you like your advisor to send you interesting statistics, visuals and/or articles relevant to your portfolio holdings?” email topped the list at 79% (75% for those under 50, 87% for those 50+). Text messages at 29% (33% under 50, 22% 50+), face-to-face at 26% (24% under 50, 30% 50+), newsletter at 26% (both age groups) and phone calls at 23% (25% under 50, 19% 50+), rounded out the top 5.

The respondents’ answers were slightly different when YCharts asked “What channels would you like your advisor to send you perspectives on the market and economy, saving and planning tips or other financial ‘how-tos’?” Email still topped the list at 66% (62% under 50/71% 50+), followed by phone call at 44% (41% under 50, 47% 50+), face-to-face at 39% (both age groups), text message at 31% (38% under 50, 22% 50+), Facebook at 19% (28% under 50/7% 50+). LinkedIn also scored well with the under 50 crowd at 25%. Your target market may have different preferences but this data serves as a good starting point.

TIP: During the intake process, make a point to ask clients how and when they would like to hear from you, and what type of information they would like you to share.

Email delivers HIGH ROI for marketers but it must be permission-based and offer value

Not only do consumers prefer email to other marketing channels, email delivers some of the highest ROI for marketers, with an average $38 return for every dollar spent, according to the Direct Marketing Association. No question, it’s one of the most cost-effective forms of marketing you can use.

So, we’ve established that email communication should be included in your arsenal of marketing tactics (it’s one of many). However, that doesn’t mean you should rely strictly on purchased lists of people you’ve never interacted with. The best email lists are the ones you build organically over time, by proving to prospects you have something to say that is worth paying attention to.

(Here’s why you should be sure to read our earlier blog on messaging … Emails should provide value via tools or insight that solves the recipient’s unique problems. Product pitch emails are a BIG NO-NO.)

Listen to Seth Godin: Permission marketing is the way to go

Eons ago (OK, the year was 1999), marketing guru Seth Godin wrote a book called, “Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers.” The wisdom he extolled then is just as valuable today as it was, well, eons ago. His 2008 (republished in 2010) blog on the topic of “Permission Marketing,” while a tad bit outdated on the technology front, is also well worth a read.

Godin opens his blog with this nugget: “Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.” Later in the blog he adds, “Permission is like dating. You don’t start by asking for the sale at first impression. You earn the right, over time, bit by bit.” Ponder that for a moment …

How do you build a great email list for an advisor practice?

An incredible email list that people are clamoring to sign up for because they believe you have valuable info to share? Decide what valuable pieces of content, information, tools, insight, problem-solvers, activities, video tips, etc., you would like to share. Regularly add to the list as fresh items become available in response to economic trends, tax law changes, political climate, etc.

Next, make it easy for folks to grab some of your great stuff for free. Keep dripping your great free content, and from time to time, direct them to a landing page to grab higher value content, with the caveat they provide their email address.

Whether you gather emails following a seminar, via webinar sign-ups, on a landing page for a white paper or other helpful tool, just be sure to:
• Ask permission to add them to your email list.
• Give them the opportunity to opt out at any time.
• Deliver what you promised: Stuff they will find valuable because it pertains to their needs and can help them solve their unique problems.
• Keep your sales pitch on the down low.

TIP: Catalyst, InsurMark’s 24/7/365 automated marketing platform for advisors, makes lead generation, cultivation and nurturing easy—valuable content included. Ask us for details.

Effective advisor communication also requires a solid SEO game

A permission-based email strategy plays a key role in any ambitious advisor’s marketing plan but you can’t rely on email alone. Search engine optimization (SEO) and a killer website are the tools you need to ensure your target market finds you when they are searching for answers to the burning questions keeping them up at night.

Our top advisors agree! In fact, they attribute 30.9% of their revenue growth to an integrated marketing strategy that combines a killer website tailored to their target market’s needs, combined with SEO and other tools available through our automated Catalyst marketing platform. And get this, according to BrightEdge Research:
• SEO generates 1000% more traffic than social media.
• Organic search generates 53% of website traffic, compared to paid search at 27% (also a great tool) and organic social search at 5%.
• Consumers have overwhelming trust in Google and YouTube (the largest search engines) and major distrust for and fear of fraud on social media. For these reasons, organic and paid search are much better options for marketers than social media.

Creating a search-optimized website that generates traffic and revenue growth requires an SEO strategy. You can’t just build a website and let it sit there. You need to add fresh, new, search-optimized content (keywords matter!) on a regular basis, especially blog posts that provide … You guessed it! VALUE.

In another BrightEdge study, blogs stood out as a predominant content type in top search rankings, as they dominated rankings for both the top 5 and top 3 positions. In order to make blogs top search contenders, BrightEdge recommends:
• Making sure content focuses on what your audience is searching for (solutions to their problems).
• Prioritizing high-quality, consistent blog content, shaped by data insights.
• Using data to inform content creation (what are people searching for?).
• Updating blogs regularly to maintain relevance and rankings.

TIP: Investing in a website and SEO now will pay dividends for years to come. In fact, SEO is one of the most cost-effective marketing tools available to advisors today. If you’re looking for options, ask us about the turnkey, customizable MyWebsite and SEO platforms we offer advisors.

What about artificial intelligence? How can AI help advisors communicate?

Advisors should tune into the burgeoning world of artificial intelligence, yep AI, to find out how it can help shape their content strategy—both from a content and graphic design/visuals perspective. AI is awesome for writing emails and generating images in a breeze but blogs require the human touch. Working in tandem with AI produces the best results.

A recent Search Engine Land article on the BrightEdge study included a quote from BrightEdge founder and executive chairman Jim Yu, which provides great perspective on human-AI collaboration.

Says Yu, “The future is not just AI—it’s AI and human symbiosis. AI can inform and assist, but human creativity, expertise and skill sets are necessary to add the voice and trust of your brand. Success lies in the fusion of AI and human expertise throughout any content creation process.”

TIP: Want to tap into AI for your marketing campaigns? We’ve got some great AI tools—specifically designed for advisors—that can simplify your life. Reach out to learn more.

Advisor communication will continue to evolve, we can help you stay ahead of the pack

Email, SEO, AI, content strategy, marketing campaigns, social media, podcasting, blogging, video content … the list goes on and on. With so much to consider, advisors can feel overwhelmed when it comes to cracking the marketing code. Here’s the good news: InsurMark can help! We specialize in developing marketing programs, training, tools and resources specifically for advisors, and we make it easy and affordable to get started.

To learn more about InsurMark and how we can help streamline your marketing initiatives, contact our office toll-free at (800) 752-0207 or connect with us online.

As an ADO – Advisor Development Organization™, InsurMark provides solutions to meet the ever-evolving needs of financial professionals with a mission to protect and enhance the financial security of every home in America.