Breaking Down the Martech Budget

Marketing is a continual process, and without representing your brand, your company can become irrelevant fast.  Financial clients are aware of your competitors because they are continuously exposed to digital posts and ads, even when checking their email-thanks to targeting.  Technology has figured out how to target investors when they go to their online account access.  Just typing in a web address creates a path for potential marketing entries when a prospective or current client is searching ‘financial.’ 

In this high tech marketing arena, how are you going to be found?  Digital marketing is the number one way clients engage with you and prospects find you-but only if you’re participating and developing a yearly budget for MarTech.  The adage of 8% of the total operating budget devoted to marketing may or may not be a reasonable estimate, and you may need to spend 11-12% of your overall budget to stand out from the crowd.

Why?  If you’re a new advisor with your DBA or breaking away to independence, you need to rebrand yourself and announce it digitally.  Remember those ‘rules’ about transferring clients away from ‘them’ and over to you?   You can do it quietly, intentionally, and aside from direct client contact if you use digital technology.  Think about social media and your website for starters. If you’re a small office you will likely need to hire outside talent to accomplish goals because you can’t effectively digitally yourself or manage the MarTech software- you’re an advisor

Expenditures to consider in Your MarTech Budget:

Original Content Creation- blogs, video, podcasts, market summaries, etc.  Expect to pay $250+ for one page or up to $125+ per hour for other content creations through outside sources.  Tip:  Hire agency writers who specialize in the financial industry or have worked in it!

Custom Website Design- $3500+ and website hosting may be an additional on-going expense and make sure you own the rights to your website (unless through a vendor).

MarTech Management- Expect to pay $4000+ per month retainer aside from overhead expenses including all deployment, analytics reporting, and management of other vendors you may utilize.  Social Media account management should be a part of this- LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Apple News, and other public media platforms.

Automated Content Solutions- Digital Newsletters or social content posts that keep you in front of clients such as freshFinance or if you work for a corporation freshMerge software to create in-house for your entire team.

Secondly, If you’re a corporation that’s experienced negative press, you need to increase your spend.  The only way to propel forward quickly is by spending more on MarTech solutions (software, website) and platforms (Facebook, LI, Twitter Ads, Google AdWords and others) to offset the noise from mistakes and misfortunes created internally.  You may have a team of marketers that specialize in specific areas or digital software platforms (such as digital creation and lead generation). 


Regardless of office size, digital marketing is estimated to take 41% of marketing budgets in 2018 (2018 CMO Marketing survey) with Social Media utilizing 25% of spend in digital (content is part of this cost).  The good news is that digital marketing and MarTech solutions cost less than traditional marketing (local TV, radio, or print) and can level the playing field between a small and large company.  Besides, who watches traditional TV, reads the newspaper or listens to local radio anymore?  It’s likely your clients and potential clients are using the internet and mostly personal devices for their news and entertainment.  Let them find you while they’re doing their ‘surfing.’


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Content Marketing Basics

Digital content marketing continues to evolve at an astounding rate as technology companies give marketers a buffet of affordable software products to position companies and products front and center with clients and prospects.  Whether a digital marketing strategy is B2B or B2C, content remains the number one component that drives customers and prospects to engage with a brand and its sales team. Do you have an effective digital content strategy?

Throughout 2018, We'll provide tips for using content as part of a marketing technology strategy.  Although our blog articles are not intended to be a ‘soloed’ approach, each application should play a part in your overall strategy for 2018. 

Before we begin:

Not all markers are savvy content creators, and we want to outline some tips that may help you with content creation in your 2018 digital marketing strategy.  It’s always a good idea to have a ‘team of eyes’ review your content so your message doesn’t become an ‘HR issue’:

Tip #1- Create Ethical Content to Promote Public Trust (of Your Company)

According to the Society of Professional Journalists, there are four main principles to follow that should apply to all forms of media when creating marketing content. They are: seek truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently, and be accountable as well as transparent. Following this necessary code helps to avoid any issues in your digital marketing content strategy.

Tip #2- Give Credit When Credit is Due

Paying close attention when creating content should be the most obvious- don’t copy other people’s work! “An ethical writer ALWAYS acknowledges the contributions of others to his/her work” (The Office of Research Integrity) is an essential rule but an easy one to infringe upon when creating content topics you’re not entirely familiar with and when research is required.  If you do use someone else’s work, give credit! You can do this by including hyperlinks in your text or refer to the exact source in your writing. Including outside sources to support your content helps to boost credibility and gain trust within your audience.

Note:  If you are writing about a complex topic with no evidence of the use of outside research, your audience might be hesitant to believe you (and your company).

Tip #3- Strive to Build and Maintain Relationships for Your Brand and Team

Content marketing should create a relationship with your audience.  Ensure that your content is appropriate and won’t be viewed as excessive and won’t be a ‘turn-off’ to your audience.  Pay attention to imagery that coincides with your content as well as the content language so that both are inviting to all, offensive to none.

Proficient Marketers know that by creating positive messages, your audience has something positive to talk about and share with others.  The content can be services based, helpful information, or even sharing a company initiative to make the world a better place.  But in no way are you trying to ‘sell’ them; you’re engaged in positive ‘relationship building’.

Showcasing community involvement through content can be a great way to create a positive relationship with your audience no matter how small your business is. Volunteering as a company is a great way to get involved in your community, and it shows that you are willing to be a part of something bigger than just your business

Tip #4- Include Other Employees in Your Content Marketing Strategy

Companies that are successful are focused getting not only the company’s message across but giving their sales team and other employees content to share.  Whether it’s a product or a service your company offers, smart marketers know that when they create content that employees and their sales team share, the result is in revenue for the company while maintaining control of the message.  Leaving social media, blog posts, and customer communication up to employees may not produce the positive image your marketing team is looking to accomplish.  Other employees are not marketing professionals; allow them to do their job while you focus on how you can help their individual messaging while making your company’s content marketing strategy successful.

Tip #5- Know your Industry’s Permitted Words and Imagery Policy

Too often free-lancers or in some cases, actual vendor companies, are hired to create content having no experience in the financial services industry.  Care must be taken to ensure there is a compliance overview  of everything produced that the public will see:

Content- Use of the words should, always, guaranteed (and in some instances) money and wealth is NOT allowed.

Imagery- Image(s) of money, gold, anything that depicts currency is NOT permitted by industry regulators (forget using the picture of a bird’s nest with golden eggs…).

Content is king as more companies are developing an on-going content marketing strategy that aligns with other sales and marketing initiatives according to The Content Marketing Institute’s 2017 ReportAn on-going content marketing strategy feeds the sales pipeline.

Content Must:

                  1.  Be ranked for keywords/searches and your industry

                  2.  Be used across all business channels- advisors, management, and support staff

                  3.  Be shared as part of a marketing strategy

This article originally appeared in the Digital Marketing Technology section of Iris 


Embracing Technology to Enhance Your Client’s Experience and Grow Your Business

Change can be hard for advisors and their firms, but have you considered the consequences of not changing your ideas or upgrading your systems when it comes to technology?  Regardless of the ‘type’ or age of clients you work with, they ARE using technology daily.  Banking, email, bill pay, work communications, account access, and almost half of their entertainment and media access comes through technology via the internet. 

The investing public wants to take the complexity out of managing their money, make each transaction more transparent, and access information any time they want to.  If you aren’t providing access your clients may not stay; the ‘gate-keeper’ philosophy is long dead.

Where does that leave you if your ‘technology’ isn’t up to date or is frustrating for your clients to use?  It leaves you behind the competition.  It positions you as outdated or incapable of changing to meet your client’s needs.  Consider evaluating these forms of technology your clients use:

Account Access:  If accessing their account is complicated due to slow loading systems or a website that doesn’t format to all mobile devices, clients have to phone in to access information that should be available to them anytime.  Real-time information for clients has been open for years making it more transparent for them and less time demanding for you as an advisor. 

Client Portfolio Presentations:  Do your clients have access to presentations done electronically through the web?  Are you able to send documents to them electronically while presenting remotely?  Today’s lifestyles are requiring advisors to meet and present information to clients that have moved, travel, or can’t make it to your office for reviews and meetings. 

Client Documents:  Clouding, CRM systems, and internal firm programs should allow clients to access real-time statements and information regarding their accounts.  Documents for account set up should be easily accessible and not always in ‘paper copy’ but on tablets for advisors to use efficiently and accurately with clients.  Advisors should use updated document systems and transition to new technology to spend more time with clients and less time on paperwork.  Client statements should always be available for electronic delivery.

Use Technology to grow your business:

Client Newsletters:  Clients shouldn’t have to ‘link’ to anything to read your newsletter.  Is that newsletter a PDF file that doesn’t allow them to access any additional information?  Does it come directly from you or is it ending up in a spam folder due to security settings on their computer?  Is it dynamic meaning it is like an actual website or is it mailed and possibly ending up in the trash along with the ‘junk mail’?

Your Website:  Does your website format to all devices regardless of who made them?  IPads, mobile phones, and all tablet and computer screen sizes should accommodate your website information and format automatically when accessed.  If your website doesn’t do this, it is outdated even from the search engine perspective and makes potential client searches of your website impossible. 

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The Components of a Content Marketing Strategy

1.  The Website (This One Should Be Most Obvious)

Websites are a necessary component of digital marketing and should contain assets as part of the corporate marketing strategy, or an individual advisor’s website (information page) as part of a team approach. 

Assets include such things as blogs, newsletters, digital reports, video/podcasts, and any other piece of content that clients and prospects visiting your website can regularly access if you’re doing your content marketing justice. 

In discussing content strategy we are not talking about a complete website redesign, but only updating content assets regularly.  However,  the lifespan of a website is about three years before it needs updates due to newer technology- CRM, content delivery systems, marketing automation, responsiveness, and SEO (so put a website redesign on your ‘to-do list’ for 2021).

After the website development, content assets that reside on the website and how often they change is correlated to SEO ranking, and ultimately new clients.  Content assets should work for you and not just be placeholders because you think you need to have them on your website.

Website landing pages that hold the assets can be ‘hidden’ and drive traffic to the website through supporting asset links.  According to Hubspot, websites with 31-40 landing pages generated seven times more leads than those with 1-5 pages.  Those with over 40 landing pages produced 12 times more leads than those with 1-5 pages.  What’s important is the content of those extra ‘hidden landing pages,’while some of the content can reside on the visible pages too.

Website Assets Should Include:

2.  Blog Content-

·       Can be emailed out to clients and prospects; send them an article regularly

·       Post to social media so that when someone reads it they’re on your website reading it.

·       Develop a content schedule that provides weekly posts (once a month is not enough)

·       Your content should contain links to other supporting sources to validate your message

·       400+ words for a blog (up from 250 a few years ago) but the magic lies in the frequency, not the word count.

Blog Content on a website should be authentic and original.  However, there are situations where multiple people have a websites under a corporation and may not have the ability to hire someone to create content for them individually.  This is common in financial services, franchises (health club chains, B2C services), and other situations. 

There are agencies and services that can provide content at a more affordable rate, but be wary of ‘diluted content’ where the same content sells to thousands of people under subscriptions.  Our take on this is that content sold in these arrangements should be limited to 100 people using the same content and then the content piece is ‘retired.’

3.  Dynamic (is a website) Newsletter-

·       Branded to company and sales team

·       Contains ‘newsworthy’ information that educates the reader (not sales material)

·       Contains imagery and has 1200-1600 words (short and sweet multiple articles)

·       Must be dynamic (is website) and live when email is opened (no secondary link)

·       Links to support article(s)

·       Posts to your website and social media (sharable)

4.  Video/Webinar/Podcasts-

·       You need one or more that reside on your website and post to social media

·       Develop a schedule where new ones appear monthly, quarterly, etc.

·       Focus on educating, not selling

·       Keep theme relevant to line of business

5.  Digital Report (aka the ‘Whitepaper’)-

·       Invitation for relevant information delivered via social, newsletter, blog post, or email blast

·       Downloadable access through entering email address (give lead to sales)

If you struggle with how to remain relevant in your message, content on your website should be one of the ways you do it.  If you’re strapped for bodies to manage the strategy, outsource what you to have it happen.  Remember these digital content marketing guidelines for your website:

·       If a visitor can relate, they are ‘reachable’ no matter what age they are

·       Keep ‘risky’ language out of your website content, period.

·       Match imagery to your content topic in your asset deliverables

·       Provide asset deliverables through multiple delivery systems that lead visitors to your website



Getting Social (Of Course!)

Social Media and Paid Advertising

Will social media marketing slow down anytime soon?  More than likely not.  What may change over the next few years is the platform that will become the leading digital marketing preference and the features that accompany the platform.  Will there be new ones developed?  Will demographics change for marketers and platform users?  Smart markers will need to keep up with technology solutions that engage with their target markets.  With FINRA ‘allowing’ social media use, there is no reason for not participating in social media.  However, be advised that sharing is considered to be adoption of whatever you post and you are under regulatory monitoring.  Keep your personal and professional social media accounts separate, only posting industry related ‘approved content’ to your professional social media accounts.

On a side note, always know what platform you’re using as confusion may happen when your ‘texting on Twitter’.

A proficient social media strategy includes the following elements:

1.  Identification of Persona- If you don’t know who you’re targeting, you can’t develop a successful Plan:

Age, Female/Male, Profession, Income, or Region, City, and Neighborhood

2.  Identification of Platform- Once you have identified your target’s persona, you’re on your way to communicating your brand or service.  Next, you need to determine what social media platform you should use:

                  Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter to name a few.

3.  Personalized Persona Content- When you’ve identified your persona, create your content for them. Regardless if it’s blogs, newsletters, or videos/podcasts, the problem you are going to solve for them should be identifiable through your content.

A study by Demand Metric indicated that personalized content is 48% more efficient than un-personalized content.  Personalized content should be categorized through these methods:

                  Segment Specific:  By industry or segment of industry (profession, entrepreneurs)

                  Persona Specific:  Personalized for a ‘buyer type’ (professional, millennial, pre-retiree)

                  Stage-Specific:  Personalized for a stage in the buying process (investigating buying stock?)

                  Account Specific:  A specific prospect organization (Regional hospital, business owner group)

                  Lead Specific:  Personalized for an individual lead (the individual)

Paid Advertising (You Need to Pay to Play)

Paid Advertising uses the same type of strategy in persona identification when developing content for paid strategy.  Regardless of the platform you use, paid advertising is an effective lead-generation strategy you should consider for your company.  Paid Advertising may be one of your most expensive digital marketing initiatives, but it also may have the highest payout, and it’s up to you and your marketing team to determine if paid advertising is worth the investment.  You have numerous options (Google Ads, LinkedIn Ads, etc.) available to help create your paid ad once you determine what digital platforms your target audience (persona) is likely to occupy.  All paid advertising should lead the reader back to your website; remember those ‘hidden pages’ on your website (week #1)?  That’s where the ad readers download a white paper, sign up for your newsletter, or sign up for a complimentary financial analysis.

A study conducted by Polar in 2017 confirmed that when branded content is used strategically together with paid advertising the reward is continuously filled sales funnels.  Branded content should appear near paid advertising to lure the reader to take further action.  For example, an informational article on a specific topic is in an online publication. Next to the article is an ad that relates to the article and offers the reader ‘more’ by signing up for something or offering them something such as a report.

If you don’t have people on your marketing team that are proficient in Paid Advertising, we recommend you hire an outside agency or vendor that specializes in this.  We believe that it is better to pay for skilled experts than throw money down the drain trying to figure out a digital marketing Paid Advertising strategy on your own.