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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Hourihan

401k Advisors: Don’t Be the Ugly House in the Neighborhood

As a modern consumer living in the digital age, we all have choices. Like most savvy buyers, we first notice the appearance of that option because we live in an image based society where looks really do matter.

If you’ve ever house hunted before, you’ve come across pieces of property that are visually unstimulating; however, the inside might be a different story. Let’s be honest though because the appearance of the property is not up to par with your standards, you probably would never go inside.

As a retirement plan advisor, you most likely have seen your fair share of finalist meetings. Well, have you noticed that lately, those ‘BIG Ws’ are getting harder? Want to know one of the secrets to closing more business and increasing your retirement plan business?

We’ll give you a hint, it starts with your appearance.

Plan sponsors are going to research your firm, they will Google™ you, check out your LinkedIn™ profile, and of course, visit your website. Think of the results of that search as your digital storefront. At any point that decision maker can easily move their curser to the top right of the page and simply – close out. However, if every time a plan sponsor visits your digital storefront and they find constant, engaging, interesting, and trusted information – not only will you have more inbound leads, you’ll also experience a shorter sales cycle because you have digitally demonstrated experience and built trust. Simply stated, you’ll gain more retirement plan clients.

Marketing can either help or hurt your brand.

Every touch point either increases or decreases the credibility of your firm. Each time your prospect experiences your brand you are introducing them to what their professional experiences will be like and what it will be like for them to be your retirement plan client.

For example, if your website is ‘older’ looking, one might think that you don’t embrace technology. If your Executive Overview is a Word document, one might think that you don’t have pride in your business. If your Finalist presentation is a mismatch of different slides mixed together, maybe the retirement plan committee is thinking you’ll be disorganized. Each interaction is a direct reflection of your brand.

Your external image can work to open more doors, increase referrals, and boost your business – or it can hurt your business. The better you look, the better your clients and centers of influence look. So, why not look amazing?

Can you charge a premium?

Let’s try an experiment. Below are three real estate offices. They are all selling the same house and it’s a home that you are interested in purchasing. Based on the websites alone, where would you book your appointment?

As we review the examples, I want you to notice how you associate a value with services based solely on the look of the website. Let’s Examine:

  • Website 1, the webpage has a lot going on. It’s cluttered with distractions which makes it difficult for leads to decipher what to do next; they might even forget why they came to the page.

  • Now Website 2, decent and average. It still lacks enthusiasm and it’s difficult to find the call to action.

  • Website 3, WOW, clean and professional! The image demonstrates a clean, open home, and the call to action button is in plain sight. Based on the look of the website, there is perceived VALUE that they are a professional real estate firm, they take pride in their offerings, and you feel like they would provide you a great buying experience.

You may be surprised to learn that your website, marketing materials, and digital presence is part of your value currency. The better you look, the higher your perceived value. Thus, the more plan sponsor prospects might be willing to pay you for your expert retirement plan and fiduciary services.

Let’s not cheapen our offering.

As you know, our industry is highly complex with ERISA, DOL regulations, IRS rules, Broker/dealer requirements, FINRA oversight, SEC oversight and RIA requirements, and now with the Conflict of Interest Rule, it continues to be more complex. Yet, as retirement plan experts, you have the knowledge, skills, and experience to genuinely help plan sponsors follow a prudent documented fiduciary process – and more important, increase participant outcomes.

By investing in your professional image, you are working to strengthen the entire retirement plan industry. You are elevating the expectations of plan sponsors. When your brand is on-point, you may find the ability to increase your fees. Plan sponsors recognize your value and they are willing to pay a premium to work with you, a professional retirement plan advisor.

If it’s been a while since you have reviewed your professional image, take a moment and gather all of your current marketing materials. Then look at them. Or share them with a trusted professional (maybe your local Regional Vice Presidents (RVPs) or your Home Office Team) and ask their option. They have seen lots of marketing materials and most likely can give honest feedback. Lastly, if you find that your materials need a renovation, that’s okay, the internet is editable!

Even though the saying goes, buy the ugliest house in the nicest neighborhood. Most people don’t want to live in the ugliest house. Instead they want to buy that house (at a bargain) and then renovate it to be the nicest house.

Going back to our house analogy, which you can apply to your retirement plan practice, when you have the nicest house in the neighborhood, more people will want to visit your home, view your offering, and ultimately, you’ll command the best price. And therefore, when you have the best retirement plan advisory office in your neighborhood, more plan sponsors will want to visit your office, view your offering, and ultimately, you will gain more retirement plan clients.

Thanks for reading and Happy Marketing!

About 401(k) Marketing

We believe the retirement plan industry can do better. Our clients are the best professional retirement plan advisors and TPAs in the business. They care deeply about saving America’s retirement future. We are proud to share their voices through industry writings, professionally-designed marketing materials (including websites), and expert content collateral. We lend support by promoting businesses through ongoing awareness campaigns.

About Retirement Plan Marketing

Retirement Plan Marketing is a product of 401(k) Marketing and is an ongoing turnkey marketing solution for retirement plan advisors. It is an easy-to-follow, consistent marketing program designed to get you noticed in your community and generate new retirement plan sales. When you deliver relevant plan sponsor content, you add value to your conversations and can work your way up to become known as the “go-to” retirement plan advisory office.

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