Measuring the ROI of Advisor Marketing

Beverly Flaxington

Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev:

Our practice has grown by word-of-mouth. A couple of my advisors want me to advertise and spend on expensive marketing programs. No one can show me the ROI for this. Is aggressive marketing a predictable way for advisors to get new clients? I just don’t see someone answering an ad who has $2 million (our minimum) to invest.

Tom R., New Jersey

Dear Tom,

This question comes up quite a bit. I addressed the issue of advertising in some detail in an earlier column. Marketing and business development costs for advisors should always be examined.

Marketing is a supportive set of initiatives that can build brand awareness, increase name recognition or generate new sales. It sounds to me like your objective is to find new prospects and increase revenue. In order to determine whether you can leverage marketing and make it work, you and your team should answer some of the following questions:

  1. What is your firm “story” (see my column last week)
  2. Do you know your competitors? Who are they?
  3. What’s different about your firm from your competitors?
  4. What do you do best, as a firm?
  5. Where could you improve?
  6. If asked, what would clients say about doing business with you? What do they like? What would they like to change?
  7. What three words would you use to describe your firm? Your process? Your staff?
  8. What would success look like to you from a new business perspective, six months from now? Two years from now? How will you measure success?
  9. How do you currently obtain new business for the firm?
  10. How successful have you been in these different areas: (a) Referral marketing, (b) center-of-influence (COI) marketing, © general new business development? What’s worked and what hasn’t?
  11. What’s your selling process? Steps? Materials?
  12. What would you expect the marketing initiatives to do for you?
  13. How will you measure success in these initiatives?
  14. What if you didn’t do anything at all – what is in place to help generate new business?

The questions you ask can be more important than the answers I would give. Take some time to review these answers and have all of your advisors participate in the discussion. Be sure you know your goals for marketing campaigns and tactics, and how to measure success. This can be a very fruitful way to find new business but you have to be ready to take advantage of it.

Dear Bev,

One of our clients has been a great supporter of our firm. He and his wife have referred business to us and often introduce us at events to people they know. I would like to do something especially nice for them. We have sent “thank you” gifts and my wife and I have taken them out for nice dinners. Any thoughts on other ways we can acknowledge how important they are to our firm?

Carl B., Midwest

Dear Carl,

What a nice problem to have! I have far too many advisors writing to ask me why their loyal and valued clients don’t refer.

Some of my favorite acknowledgement gifts are found at the following sites:

  1. One of my preferred ways to show someone how special they are and how much you appreciate them is at You can write a story about the client and his wife. It sounds like you know them well. You could really have fun with this and it is a one-of-a-kind gift. Very memorable.
  2. Another unusual site is, where you can give someone a certificate to have a memorable experience. Send them ballooning or out to be a fighter pilot for a day! If that’s too aggressive, give them a golf lesson. Loads of ideas here and reasonable prices.
  3. An outing could be a nice way to acknowledge them, too. If they are wealthy they may not want “things,” but experiences are always in style! Visit to learn more.
  4. You could always make a donation to their alma mater or favorite charity in their name.

Beverly Flaxington co-founded The Collaborative, a consulting firm devoted to business building for the financial services industry in 1995; in 2008 she co-founded Advisors Trusted Advisor to offer dedicated practice management resources to advisors, planners and wealth managers. She is currently an adjunct professor at Suffolk University teaching undergraduate students Leadership & Social Responsibility. Beverly is a Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst (CPBA) and Certified Professional Values Analyst (CPVA).

She has spent over 25 years in the investment industry and has been featured in Selling Power Magazine and quoted in hundreds of media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal,, Investment News and Solutions Magazine for the FPA. She speaks frequently at investment industry conferences and is a speaker for the CFA Institute.

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