Does Your Marketing Match Your Business Structure?

Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor PerspectivesKristen Luke

Independent investment advisors and financial planning firms adopt one of three business structures:

  • The solo firm – a single advisor who may employ support staff.
  • The silo firm – multiple advisors who share office overhead and possibly staff, but work independently and maintain their own client bases.
  • The ensemble firm – multiple advisors who work together as one firm with overhead, support and staff covered by the firm.

For solo and silo firms, individual advisors are responsible for their marketing, whereas with an ensemble, the firm is responsible for marketing on behalf of the advisors. 

Marketing strategies differ depending on the structure of a firm. Solos and silos focus on marketing the individual advisor while ensembles market the firm.  Ensembles also tend to have more sophisticated marketing campaigns since they generally have larger marketing budgets and higher revenue streams than the other models (see here).

Does your marketing strategy match up with your firm’s business structure?  Let’s review the strategies commonly associated with each of the models, and you can decide for yourself.  (Note: Solo and silo firms share common marketing strategies, so I have grouped them together.)

Solo and silo firms

Solo and silo firms focus on marketing and branding the individual advisor.  The relationship with the individual advisor is the most important factor for a prospective client when engaging their services.    There is also emphasis on maintaining and nurturing existing relationships to generate referrals from clients and centers of influence (COIs).  Solos and silos have more flexibility and can take advantage of social media strategies that are restricted by larger firms. 

Here are a few ways that solo and silo firms acquire new clients:

  • Attend networking events to meet prospective clients
  • Volunteer on boards and committees
  • Write articles and blogs with the advisor’s byline
  • Host intimate client appreciation events for a select set of clients
  • Network with COIs
  • Engage in informal referral relationships with COIs
  • Participate in social media marketing including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn
  • Utilize email marketing to stay top-of-mind with prospects, clients and COIs

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