top of page
  • Writer's pictureRebecca Hourihan

How 401(k) Advisors Can Level Up with Advanced Marketing

Marketing is a crucial part of any business, but it can be difficult to select the best strategies. Luckily, there are many ways that 401(k) advisors can benefit from investing in diverse marketing tactics to attract more clients and enhance your reputation.

Marketing Approach

401(k) advisors can choose from three primary marketing experiences:

  1. Traditional

  2. Digital

  3. Tangible

When most advisors think about marketing, traditional activities come to mind, including client referrals, COI introductions, networking, client appreciation events, service meetings, cold calling, trade shows and other activities that require the advisor’s time.

Then, there is digital marketing. This style centers around building a trusted digital reputation. This type of marketing takes place online, where you are leveraging the power of the internet through thought-leadership campaigns to grow your business.

Marketing materials may include blog articles, email communications, podcasts, webinars and maybe even a YouTube series. However, the two most important aspects of digital marketing are a robust website and complete social media profile. Because 80% of prospects are going to do their own research online before choosing you as their financial advisor, so your digital presence needs to be in tip top shape.[1]

The third type is tangible marketing. Think of it as literally anything that you could hand - print or email - to a client, prospect or center of influence. These pieces include business cards, marketing brochures, books, newsletters and more, all the way to finalist PowerPoint presentations.

Together, these three marketing types create your client experience.

Audience Interactions

The most popular strategies by advisors are client referrals, COI introductions and networking. So, to level up and advance your marketing efforts, it makes sense to look at how you are directly meeting, communicating and demonstrating service within your professional relationships.

By building upon different marketing experiences, you create 360o of awareness around you and your retirement plan business. Let’s explore how:

Clark Client

Twice a year, Clark Client and you get together to review the 401(k) plan. During your meetings, he experiences traditional marketing through face-to-face interactions and tangible marketing through a presentation that reviews the investment lineup, performance, participation rates, asset allocation, match formula, regulatory updates and industry news. Your meetings demonstrate your expertise and strengthens your client relationship.

Allison Attorney

Each quarter, Allison Attorney and you try to meet up for coffee. However, schedules and life seem to prevent regular meetups. To keep Allison updated, she is on your email list. Each week, she receives digital marketing communications about 401(k) news and firm updates. This way when calendars do align, Allison is already in the know and up to date.

Pat Prospect

Pat Prospect oversees a $5m retirement plan. He has a “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” mindset; however, he understands that the 401(k) is an important employee benefit and finds the motivation to review it when he has time. So, from time to time, Pat Prospect opens your digital marketing emails. He signs up for your tangible webinars and checks out your tangible website. He has even scheduled a traditional meeting, only to cancel it the day of because of pressing matters. Can you think of a Pat Prospect similar to him?

Powerful marketing campaigns use all three types of marketing - traditional, digital and tangible - to build your business through different interactions that keep you, your firm and services top of mind.

Protect + Prospect

“Retirement plan clients are sticky business.” This common phrase rings true. It takes a lot of work to earn retirement plan business, and an equal or greater amount to unseat an advisor once the relationship is established. But - as you know - it can happen.

This creates an opportunity and is a potential threat. It’s important to implement a digital marketing strategy to protect your clients and create buzz for prospects. If you don’t, these tactics may be in play for other hungry advisors.

The beauty of digital marketing is its scalability. These 3 outlets can help you insulate and attract by demonstrating your superior service model.

Email Marketing is a great way to show your clients and prospects that you are always there for them. It demonstrates consistency while offering insights and support.

Social Media is a powerful tool to boost your reputation. Regularly posting content positions you as a reliable and accessible thought-leader.

Webinars & Recordings have come a long way in the last couple of years; it is now even easier to host, record and replay webinars. Share important updates and answer common questions with a quarterly webinar.

Use your comprehensive digital strategy to attract new clients, so those finalist meetings are a “check the box” exercise rather than a big, scary “yes or no” moment because they already know you’re the right firm for them.

Client Advocacy

Your clients know you, like you and trust you. If your marketing is consistent and high-quality, your clients know they are working with an expert. Your updates inform them on the most important topics, your thought-leadership answers their burning questions and your interactive guides provide the latest education on trends.

This makes your clients feel comfortable that you are the right advisor for them. It removes any shadow of a doubt and provides clarity on their mission as a plan sponsor. Consistent, valued communication makes your relationship iron clad and deeply appreciated.

Another bountiful benefit of marketing is that it helps all aspects of your business. As your clients see your communications, articles, infographics and regular content delivery, it breathes new life and encourages conversations. Your campaigns teach clients more about what you do and how you can help them. Use this as an opportunity to explore topics that span different interests (e.g. ESG funds, Lifetime Income, HSAs).

When you share a range of relevant information, the content amplifies your expertise and may generate 3x as many leads while costing as much as 62% less than traditional marketing.[2] These repeated touchpoints remind your contacts more often of all the services you provide.

Level Up with Digital Marketing

To take your marketing to the next level, consider how technology can maximize your marketing reach. Here are few examples:

  • Optimize your website for SEO

  • Advertise online through digital ads

  • Host a podcast

  • Record a video

  • Write a book

  • Publish a blog

All these digital marketing techniques are exponentially scalable. Once implemented, they don’t require any more of your time, and you can reuse them over and over again. For advisors looking to dramatically increase the effectiveness of their marketing, the power to scale and repurpose content with technology is essential.

Multichannel Integration

Marketing amplifies your brand story and shares it with your target audience, enriching your trusted reputation. When your brand is in harmony and your marketing campaigns utilize all three techniques, your business will consistently remain front and center.

It takes time, effort and resources to work effectively. But by investing in your strategy, you demonstrate a commitment to your business. And it will reward you over and over again in the form of happy clients, empowered centers of influence and a pipeline of new business.

Thanks for reading and Happy Marketing!


401(k) Marketing is the modern marketing agency for the retirement plan industry. We are proud to support our clients through custom engagements, content marketing campaigns, sales material innovations, thought-leadership consulting, interactive workshops and speaking events. Our mission is to empower the retirement plan industry with high-quality marketing, ultimately inspiring Americans to become financially prepared for their future.


bottom of page