• Rebecca Hourihan

How Your 401(k) Business Can Go Farther and Reach New Destinations

Updated: Sep 12


Vroom, whoosh, whir. It takes a lot of thrust to get an airplane off the ground. But once lifted and at cruising altitude, it can accelerate towards its destination.


However, what if something malfunctions? The plane doesn’t just fall from the sky. In most cases, it slowly loses altitude and descends for landing.


Marketing is like an airplane. It takes a lot of thrust (work, time and energy) to build a firm’s brand, begin marketing campaigns, fill prospect pipelines and generate new business (i.e., get off the ground). But once the branding is set, the website is built, the campaigns are active and the sales materials are compliance approved, the business can reach cruising altitude.


But what happens if you stop putting that energy into your marketing? The engine sputters.


Nothing will happen overnight; your business won’t fail. Just like a plane won’t immediately fall out of the sky, it will take time before your business starts to feel the effects. When the pipeline is dry and the consequences are noticeable, it’s going to take a lot of fuel to fire up the engines and accelerate your business back into the sky.


Clearance for Takeoff

To get started and off the tarmac, there are a few ground rules: know your prospects and give them a place to find you.


Who are your prospects?

First, you need to know who you are marketing to: you need a defined prospect. By clearly defining your ideal clients, you can tailor your marketing to address their specific needs.


One word of caution, however, is that advisors often want a massive prospect list. However, we have found that targeted lists usually bring more new business. So instead of the whole nation being your prospect territory, select a region and create a direct path. The following prompts will help you define your ideal prospect:

  • Location

  • Industry

  • Company size

  • Niche

  • Other characteristics

How can they find you?

Next, you need to build a digital presence to be easily found online. You need three things:

  1. Website

  2. “About Us” section

  3. LinkedIn profile

The more you can customize your digital presence to your ideal client, the more they will feel compelled to connect with you. So, it is important that you first understand your prospects then you can attract them.


Those are the basics. Now, you can take flight.


Accelerating with Force

Education sells, so use your content to teach. Your marketing pieces should speak directly to the roles and responsibilities your audience takes on as an involved plan fiduciary. It should inform your clients, prospects and centers of influence that you understand their challenges and are the best 401(k) advisor for their plan.


There are many types of effective marketing you can use to accelerate your business:

  • Hosting a client appreciation event

  • Presenting an ERISA updates webinar

  • Sending drip email campaigns

These activities will create buzz and an awareness about your retirement plan advisory practice; they can propel your business forward, making it grow faster and go further.


Lift, Speed and Accuracy

There are many different types of airplanes, each built for a unique purpose, from the original Kitty Hawk Flyer used by the Wright brothers to the Super Hornets expertly piloted by the Blue Angels. To understand what kind of vehicle you need to drive your business, it is important to outline what you want it to do.


Increase lift

Try targeting a very specific, niche market and become obsessed with plan sponsors’ problems, challenges and opportunities.


Actionable ways to increase lift:

  • Write a case study about the prospects’ specific hurdles.

  • Research keywords that prompt your website to appear on the first page of Google.

  • Setup a landing page for additional insights and accessible contact information.

All these actions will optimize your digital presence and satisfy your specific niche prospects’ needs, while your website provides an easy path for prospects to meet with you to learn more.


Increase speed

Use the power of the internet to your advantage with paid search ads. Write down the top three questions your plan sponsors ask you about, then set up ads that provide answers to questions. Be the very first paid result on Google with interesting teaser text such as, “What do missing 401(k) participants and herding cats have in common? Download 10 Tips Employers Need to Remove Former Employees.”


Interesting eye-catching text will lead prospects to your landing page, where you can ask them to fill in their email, title and plan size. Using this form, you can add them to your email distribution list. This presents an opportunity to use remarketing ads to follow them around on the internet with your company name, logo and other pertinent information. The best part of all this? Every one of these steps can be automated through user-friendly technology and with nearly zero additional work.


Increase accuracy

Build out client personas within your lists so you can segment your contacts based on who they are (clients, prospects, centers of influence). Prospects should receive content at least once a week and clients once a month. For participants, segment contacts by company and generation (age); from there, determine what content each generation likes to consume. For example, millennials and Gen Zers like videos and short-form content.


Pro Tip:

Try using personalization throughout your drip campaigns to pull readers in. People love seeing their names, leading to higher open and click rates. So, consider personalizing your subject lines to include the prospect’s first name, then open with a friendly “Hello First Name” and use their business name within your email body.


Maximum Altitude

To bring this all together and achieve maximum altitude, your brand is mission critical. That includes a crisp logo, consistent branding and clear values.


Brand creates trust. Trust breeds loyalty. Loyalty keeps businesses in business.

When marketing comes to a stop, business slows down. Leads stop. Fewer prospects convert into clients. Business declines.


Marketing should never stop. It is the jet fuel propelling your business forward, bringing it farther and faster than ever before. It pushes you closer and closer to your next milestone destination. That is why advisors should invest in consistent marketing, so your business always has fuel in the tank and is flying towards your future business destination.


Thanks for reading and Happy Marketing!