Wishing and Hoping Isn’t a Marketing Plan

In a recent conversation, we asked an advisor client, “What’s your marketing plan?” They replied, “We don’t have one.”

If that sounds like your business today, no worries—you’re not alone. It was found that 77% of advisors have no defined marketing strategy.[1] So, in this post we’re going to explain why it’s critical to have a basic marketing plan and teach you how to put one together.

If you do have a marketing plan, good work. We’ll also share some ideas on how to strengthen your existing plan and increase your marketing results.

Shooting from the Hip

As an individual, what random things do you do? Do you get in your car and guess the directions to your appointment? Do you open the kitchen cupboards and arbitrarily mix ingredients together and hope it’s tasty? Do you go into major situations and just wing it? Chances are, you don’t. Then why would you do this with your business?

A marketing plan is a roadmap for your business growth. It’s a strategy that helps you reach your business goals. Each marketing campaign brings you one step closer to achieving your desired results.

Something is Better than Nothing

Whether your marketing plan is small or mighty, something is better than nothing. To understand where you should invest in marketing, start by writing down what you want your business to look like in three years.

Three years from today, my business will look like: 




Now take five minutes and create your vision.

Congrats, you have just identified a destination.

Turn Your Goals into an Action Plan

You have a destination, but now you need directions. That is your marketing plan. Start with these basic checkpoints. If you answer “No” to any of these questions, stop. This is new your marketing objective.

  1. I have a logo and company name that I like.
  2. My company website was updated in the last 3 years.
  3. I like my company website.
  4. My LinkedIn profile represents our best digital first impression.
  5. I regularly post interesting and relevant topics on social media.
  6. My clients feel appreciated and well taken care of.
  7. I communicate regularly with my clients, prospects and centers of influence.
  8. My centers of influence can clearly explain how we service retirement plan clients.
  9. My pitch deck looks organized, professional and demonstrates my retirement plan experience.
  10. My marketing campaigns educate my target audience about important retirement plan topics.

For any statement that feels like a “maybe” or “no,” that’s good. This is your starting point. Get your team together and work through this list until each statement produces a confident “YES.” These 10 action items will produce strong results and boost your business revenues.

Optimizing Your Plan

For the advisory firms that have a marketing plan—outstanding! To help you optimize your plan, look at the data.


Read more commentary by Rebecca Hourihan here.


Open your Google Analytics account and view website traffic visitors. Where are they coming from? What are the trend lines? If you notice a flat line, chances are you need to optimize your content marketing for SEO. This task can be delegated to your website team. Send them an email noting that “Our content isn’t being indexed by Google. Please optimize for SEO.” They should know what that means. Going forward, your content will be findable online and help to produce more inbound website traffic, which you can convert into leads.

Open your email marketing platform and look at your deliverability rates, open rates and click rates.  Aim for 95%+ deliverability. This helps to keep your emails out of spam filters and places your emails into the intended inboxes. 

Next, look at your open rates. The statistics in our industry’s open rates vary widely, so aim for above 10%. This means that 10% of your contact list is opening your emails. Take a look at those names. 

Lastly, look at click rates. These are the contacts that are opening, reading and clicking within your email to find out more information about your specific topic. Look for trends over time and start to narrow down your pipeline for interested prospects. PRO TIP: Connect with these prospects on social media. 

Track social media connections. Take a look at how many connections you have on social media. Has that number increased or decreased compared to last quarter? One easy way to boost your social media network is to connect with all the contacts on your email campaigns. Here’s a simple trick, if you have 1,000 email contacts, you should aim for 1,000 LinkedIn connections.

Be Patient 

When leading indicators point up, that means your business is positioned for upward growth. By evaluating and optimizing these metrics each quarter, you can improve the results of your marketing campaigns. Just remember that marketing takes time and results don’t happen overnight, but when your marketing campaign’s numbers spike, your business growth is sure to follow.

Thanks for reading and Happy Marketing!

Rebecca Hourihan, AIF, PPC, is the founder and CMO of 401(k) Marketing, which she founded to assist qualified experts operate a professional business with professional marketing materials and ongoing awareness campaigns.