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Why advisers are turning to Facebook ads to fill seminar seats

The social networking site is tailor-made for targeted marketing

Jul 24, 2018 @ 12:35 pm

By John T. Jones

Financial planning seminars share much in common with the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's curly headed little girl. To paraphrase, when they're done well, they're very, very good — and when they're bad, they're horrid.

That's right; most experts agree that seminar marketing remains one of the most successful marketing tools in any financial adviser's arsenal, whether with respect to attracting new clients, gaining referrals or winning add-on business. However, when it comes down to hitting a home run with these seminars, the key to success clearly lies in attendance — not only filling the seats but filling them with the right prospective clients.

While direct mail has long been the gold standard for seminar marketing, poor execution can lead to costly mistakes. Issues include failing to test, mailing out the exact same thing as your competition, and marketing to prospective clients too frequently. In most cases, these miscues aren't intentional; rather, they are a function of the limitations of direct mail.

(More: What if you found out you were really a ghost?)

Facebook as a cost-effective solution

How does a savvy adviser address this issue? Nowadays, the answer frequently lies in turning to Facebook, a resource tailor-made for target marketing. It enables you to cost-effectively reach your prospects right where they live with a minimum of waste. Why Facebook? Here are just a few reasons:

• 71% of those with a net worth from $100,000 to $1 million are on Facebook.

• Facebook enables granular targeting like no other medium, so you can focus on this audience to select for any characteristics you like.

• With these targeting capabilities, there's almost zero waste in your budget.

• Generally speaking, Facebook advertising in support of your seminar will offer a lower cost per attendee than alternative forms of advertising — while enabling you to secure quality participants.

• Tracking ad effectiveness, response rates and ROI is extremely easy through digital marketing channels like Facebook.

(More: 5 easy social media resolutions for 2018)

There's a lot to consider when developing an effective Facebook campaign, however. The first step is to ensure that you have a thoughtful and well-rounded Facebook page for your business so that prospects have a place to go when they view your ads. Once that's done, getting underway with your first Facebook advertising campaign is as simple as 1-2-3.

1. Identify your target audience. If you've never performed this exercise, it's an incredibly valuable one that can steer parallel marketing efforts. Examine past leads that you've converted into ideal clients, and note the characteristics they share. Review your existing client data to see what commonalities you can uncover — and be sure to consider characteristics small and large. It's these intersections that will provide a data set that you can wield on Facebook.

Once you have this information in mind, log on to the platform and get to work on customizing your ideal prospect. Narrowing down this audience will help you in focusing your message, in eliminating waste and in getting the best return on investment.

2. Tailor your message. Now that you have your ideal prospect in mind, develop your pitch to appeal specifically to this group, incorporating what you know about them from the exercise performed above. For example, if you've figured out that they're wine drinkers, perhaps incorporate something witty about wine into your copy or include an image of people enjoying a glass of wine into your visuals.

3. Learn from the analytics provided. Facebook provides an array of data points. Don't let all the numbers and charts spook you — dive in and learn what's working and what's not. Look at the times of the day or the days of the week that are working the best for you. Is your best audience really who you think they are? Are there segments that are outperforming what you'd imagined? Take all this into consideration and tweak your variables. Unlike direct mail, you can do that in real time on Facebook.

If this all seems like too much to take on board given your busy schedule, the good news is that there are many consultants out there who specialize in Facebook marketing and will be happy to come to your aid. Be sure to choose a partner who understands the intricacies of marketing within a regulated industry, as well as marketing to your particular target audience.

Retrofitted with Facebook advertising, your seminar marketing program will be 21st century-compatible. Try it now, and you'll soon find it's very, very effective — and cost-efficient, too.

(More: Social media helps gain clients, but changes relationships, study finds)

John T. Jones is the digital marketing and communication manager at USA Financial, a comprehensive financial services institution.

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