Your RIA firm is ripe for growth in 2017: Here’s how to make it happen

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Since 2002, Gregory FCA has worked with close to 250 RIA firms on various marketing and PR initiatives. In every instance, the long-term objective was to accelerate the firm’s efforts to grow revenue. In most cases, that revenue growth was monitored via increases in assets under management. In some, the idea of acquisitive growth shared the stage with organic new client growth. But, in the end, it was all about growth. Given this experience, it came as no surprise to me that, in talking with some friends in the RIA business at the tail end of 2016 about their plans for the New Year, the G word was at the epicenter of their game plans. New year, same story. So, what will make this year different for the growth-minded RIA firms?

If you are an executive, owner or marketer for an RIA firm, 2017 starts with great promise. Now, more than ever, the channels for marketing are ripe for accelerating your firm’s growth. In fact, given the increasing fragmentation of how marketing communications reaches audiences, there are more ways to play and win. There is very little that I will lay out here that you have not heard of before – but the devil isn’t in the details, it’s in the execution. In 2017, your marketing mix better include the following if you want to take advantage of a ripe market for growth:

  • Social media: If you haven’t been beaten over the head by this message yet, consider that done here. The use of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, etc. is table stakes for ensuring that you are keeping the lines of communication open with your entire client audience footprint. Social media plays a role in network (ahem, referral) development, search engine optimization (SEO), information sharing and lead generation.
  • SEO domination: You don’t need to have a huge budget or an army of marketing staff to win this game – at least in terms of how you and your firm rank in geographically sensitive searches. Google and Bing are directing users to the most relevant content related to searches. It’s not just a keyword game anymore. Tailor the custom content you are deploying in your social media and website channels to boost your rankings in relevant searches.
  • Submitted articles: Traditional and upstart media outlets sustain themselves on well-written content delivered by people that used to only show up as sources in staff writers’ articles. The name of the game is content and you can insert yourself into the rapidly evolving news gathering, information sharing media world we live in successfully by finding outlets that not only accept written articles, but maintain editorial standards that create desirable and – even more importantly – shareable content.
  • Media relations: Even those who have a robust organic, custom content engine and a great email distribution program paired with a hefty social media audience need to get in front of people they don’t already know. Whether you are being thoughtful about packaging up your firm news or offering your staff’s thought leaders out for comment on trending topics, having a presence in the media keeps your firm name from growing stale by putting it in front of potential new audiences.
  • Video: Whether it’s use of live streaming apps like Facebook Live or Periscope on Twitter – or short-form clips on Instagram or disseminated in email marketing – video remains the most compelling and shareable means to engage your audience. Also, for those trying to organically boost SEO, video carries a lot of weight in setting these rankings.
  • Targeted ads: With the rise of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram, the digital advertising landscape allows marketers to target prospective buyers by zip codes, affinity groups and other means traditionally reserved to old-school direct marketing mail campaigns. Coupling a savvy digital advertising campaign with quality content on your website can really amp up the impact of increased web traffic.
  • eBooks, cartoons, podcasts and more: Your website should be populated with content people want to listen to, read, view and share. Perhaps that material might even motivate them to provide an email address for access. Invest the time into deploying a multi-media mix of content that will allow you to see what your audience is responding to. Then use your web analytics to help you decide which content formats are working best.
  • Email marketing: With a more fragmented audience, email is still a viable channel for reaching people. While engaging people via social media or catchy content is a very real imperative, making sure you push “touches” to your target audience via email is an area you can’t afford to pass up. Even if only 20 percent of your recipients open the email, that’s still a hefty group of people interested in what you have to offer. If not from you, those clients, prospects and referral sources will hear from someone else just like you.

The biggest challenge for those trying to tackle this tremendous growth opportunity is having the bandwidth and the organization to take it all on. In leading your RIA firm to growth in 2017, what steps are you willing to take to fully capitalize on the growth opportunity knocking at your door?