Enriching Relationships with Financial Advisors: A Holistic View at the Customer Journey

Whoa! Is it really November? We will be in a sprint over the next few weeks to wrap-up projects, get our budgets in order for year-end and to solidify 2017 planning. I asked my Head of Marketing what has her “counting-sheep-at-night” moment as we head into the new year. These areas shouldn’t be surprising:

  • Better leveraging of data and analytics to drive advisors to act

  • Staying relevant in an increasingly digital world

  • Breaking through the clutter

I have had the opportunity to sit down with a number of firms over the past few months and these concerns are relatively universal. More than ever, we are being tasked to do more, with less; improve validation of marketing ROI and build on collaboration with our distribution teams – all to have a greater influence on business goals. We have excellent consultants and partners, like kasina and Cogent, that provide valuable insight, but to incorporate their findings, we may need to look at our audience holistically to enrich our relationship with financial advisors. To quote Morningstar’s Behavior Science Head, Stephen Wendel, “If you want advisors to take action, how do you help them?”


The common ground with Marketing and Sales teams lies within the Purchase Funnel and Brand Health, but this does not always align with the  advisor’s journey. (To provide context, the “Purchase” principal was first published in 1898.) Fundamentally, we are programmed to move our audience “down the funnel” while the customer journey is circular [Figure 1].


Internally, marketing and sales are collaborating closer than ever because of the need to prioritize, but the results may not be mutually aligned with our audience. This disparity makes leveraging data and analytics to drive advisors to act harder to achieve. At a high level, we sit in the middle [Figure 2], between trying to identify where an advisor is in their journey on one side of the spectrum and attempting to qualify this information for our Sales team on the other. Until we all stand on common ground, there will be a barrier to leveraging engagement data. We need to consider dropping the “funnel” and looking at the advisor’s sales process in a circular manner. I will dive deeper into this later.

Customer_Journey_Marketing_MixAnother fundamental barrier to advisor engagement, is our focus on “campaigns” and the extent to which we “plan, build & run.” When tied to large campaigns, teams are forced into being narrowly focused on solving for a specific need over lengthy periods. While centering on key insight is important in driving awareness and favorability, if you aren’t contributing value to the rest of the advisor’s process, it restricts the ability to influence consideration and/or penetration with the advisor along the way. Building a large campaign just because it addresses a single need doesn’t make a brand relevant universally. Staying relevant means being able to serve the whole journey very well, not just the initial step. Not diversifying content leaves a brand susceptible to being dropped during the middle of the advisor’s journey. An exercise for 2017 planning is to diagram your current marketing mix to see if you can better serve each step of that journey.

The complexity in all of this lies in trying to identify what stage an advisor is in with a client and how this translates to the Brand and to Sales. Because their sales process overlays a great number of clients, advisors can be in various stages of their journey at any given time, depending on the particular client. I believe this point is drastically overlooked. With a holistic perspective, you can view Brand Health and the Purchase Funnel on common ground with the advisor journey, and layering on a marketing mix that still retains a single perspective. To break through the clutter isn’t necessarily just about having a timely topic, but also about maintaining relevance to their whole process, providing the appropriate “next best action” based on where the advisor is at the time. This serves to qualify and transition them to the next stage in the process. Build marketing programs that have the agility to meet the needs at each step and transition with them through the process. An extension of the exercise state above, is to ensure your marketing has the remarketing and CTA’s bridge to bridge each step –clear path to the next best action.


To help Marketing leaders with their sleepless moments:

  • Better leveraging data and analytics to drive advisors to act means using the engagement data to determine, at any given time, where advisors are in their journey, with marketing that sees where advisor engagement stopped and why. Take those learnings, and adjust accordingly.

  • Staying relevant in an increasingly digital world can be achieved by having diversity in your marketing mix based on the steps in the advisor’s journey rather than deploying large campaigns focused on a single need.

  • Breaking through the clutter means maximizing engagement, building programs to help advisors act –having calculated CTA’s and applicable remarketing/automation to join the advisor throughout their decision process.

While Google has recently used “micro-moments” to discuss a consumer’s decision journey, the term stands with financial advisors. Since the advisor can be at different stages of their journey at any given moment, their needs change rapidly. In 2017 challenge your marketers to take this holistic view during strategic planning and ensure that tactical execution meets advisors at each step in their process to further enrich these relationships.


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