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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Hourihan

The Pinch of Losing a 401(k) Client

A few weeks ago, we spoke with a new prospect that had just lost a 401(k) client. They were bummed out. That client had been with them for over 10 years and it was a nice $12m plan. The advisor felt hurt, confused, and reflective about the loss. This brought that advisor to give us a call to learn more about what we do and how we might be able to help him.

The advisor shared that his firm served as 3(21) co-fiduciaries, had semi-annual retirement plan committee meetings, and had recently conducted a fee benchmarking report. We asked the advisor, “What did your former client say when they said they were moving forward with another firm?” The advisor paused and slowly revealed, “They felt like they needed an advisor who was “more modern.” Hmm… what does that mean?

When we heard “more modern” we immediately opened Google Chrome and looked at three key things.

  1. Website. What does your website look like? Is it new, shiny, and up with the times? Or is it 3, 4, 5 or more years old? This is a goofy analogy but websites are a lot like landscaping; they need regular maintenance, monitoring, fertilizer, and consistent upkeep. Plus, every spring, you need to buy new annuals to spruce up the lawn. Of course, you will keep your perennial value proposition language, and each year you can add to the depth and maturity of your experience.

  2. LinkedIn. What did their social media profile(s) look like--both their professional page as well as their company’s page? This advisor had a professional photo (good), 500+ connections (good), and virtually no social media posts (bad). Then for their company page, it did not have a logo (bad because this image icon will pull through profile page; and the more the icons, the more it looks like you work at a professional organization), no write-up about the company (bad), and no contact information about the firm (bad). To an outsider who does not know this really fantastic retirement plan advisor, their search yielded a haphazard hodgepodge of disorganized information that does not instill confidence.

  3. Internet at large. The next search is the big blue ocean. What does the Internet say about you? This includes Images, YouTube, Facebook, and other clickable links. We typed in a few defining key strokes (advisor’s name, company name, city, state) and 0.63 seconds later – ta da! On the first page of Google, we found that the advisor hosted an event in 2007, sponsored a charity golf tournament in 2015, and have one blog post from 2012.

From the perspective of a potential client – or in this case an evaluating client – the results weren’t good. Even though the advisor was doing a good job servicing the retirement plan, following a fiduciary process, and educating participants, it wasn’t enough. The plan sponsor saw something in the other advisory firm that their current advisor was missing (“more modern” advisor). This led to the loss of a long-time client and a reliable revenue stream.

This advisor is faced with some serious business questions. Should I update my website? It is going to be an investment, we just lost a client, and can we afford the cost? What if other clients feel the same way? Should we contact each one to re-affirm our value proposition? What if this opens a full RFP advisor search? Or, should we sit tight and not rock the boat?

Truth be told, this advisor decided to sit tight and not rock the boat – and that’s okay. It is a business decision. As a business owner, it’s important to know where to dedicate resources. However, as a marketing company, and one that believes strongly in the unique value of retirement plan expertise, we feel that he should have taken this as an opportunity to breathe new life into his business.

What we would have recommended

First thing first: what do you stand for? This is developed through a series of conversations to understand your marketing strategy. What is your value proposition – or what makes you really, really, really, really excited to be a retirement plan advisor? Great! Let’s build a brand around you and your passion.

Next, how do you want your clients, prospects, and centers of influence to experience your brand? Is it an image of professional business people in suits? Sweeping views of your local geography? Icons and cartoons? And a million things in between. It’s about you – so feel free to have some fun!

Once your brand standards and mission statement are ready, it’s time to tackle the bigger content pieces. Traditionally, we start with a 4- or 8-page brochure. It has a lot of copy and is very versatile to email to clients, prospects, and COIs. It can be posted on your future website. It can be printed and handed out at institutional retirement plan meetings.

If you said website next, you’d be right. Landing pages, biographies, services, explanation of fiduciary process, plan design, case studies, and contact information. Every sitemap is different; however, it is important to have certain key search terms placed throughout the website to increase Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Then it’s time for social media. Hire a photographer and say cheese! Update your biography. Create a copy page. Link all the pages together to increase SEO through credible links. And, if we are going to get fancy, we’d recommend starting a blog. This is a longer conversation – and definitely worth exploring.

From here we might recommend other ideas to increase immediate reputation and authority; however, you have a good starting point. It’s the surround-sound professionalization of your digital brand. This way, the next time a plan sponsor is thinking about evaluating their advisor, either you and your amazingly professional website appears, so you can win the business – or if your client is casually browsing to confirm that you are still the right expert for the job, then your digital presence re-affirms and confirms that, yes, you are the right advisor for their plan.

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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