BtoB: What do you think is the most attractive audience for companies marketing to the financial planning sector?
Sonnenberg: According to the most recent research, independent financial advisers continue to post the highest annual percentage growth in client investments, higher than the major brokerage houses. There are now some 170,000 independents, most of which operate as small-business owners. Unlike the brokers at the Merrill Lynches of the world, they make their own decisions on what mutual funds, IRA plans, wealth management solutions, etc., they offer to their clients. They also run their own offices and have to purchase computer equipment and software, as well as all services and systems they need to succeed. Marketers can approach them directly.
BtoB: How would you suggest to best reach and engage them?
Sonnenberg: Most financial advisers and brokers-regardless if they're independent or representatives of large brokerages-are extremely difficult to reach. They take less than two meetings a month with mutual fund companies and travel on average to no more than two conferences annually. Advertising in trade magazines ... is an excellent way to economically get their attention. Interactive strategies have also proven to be very successful, especially Web seminars, since education is a critical component to marketing financial products. Planners are starving for as much information as they can get to make the best recommendations to clients. -Roger Slavens