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Creating Buyer Personas for the RIA Channel | GK3 Capital

“Know Your Customer” Has Never Been More Important

“You can’t be all things to all people.”  It’s as true with financial services as with any other product.  Being an asset manager, you’ve put a lot of hard work into developing a product with a distinct thesis.  As appealing as that product is in concept, not every advisor is going to need or want it.  There are three possible reasons why an advisor may turn away:

  1. It’s not the appropriate product for their clients
  2. It’s the appropriate product, but the RIA already has filled that bucket in their diversification strategy
  3. Your marketing and messaging strategy are off the mark

Target the Advisor That Can Invest in Your Product

To avoid issue #3, you need to know your target audience.  This starts with defining your buyer personas.  Buyer personas are representations of your ideal clients and the key to unlocking access to your target RIAs.  They are comprehensive portraits that include demographic information, AUM, risk profile, and account minimums.  Other basics can include firm size and title/position.  But they also go deeper, looking at your the target Advisor's pain points and goals.  If you don’t understand what drives your target audience, you will be at a loss on how to reach them and craft messaging that motivates them.

Buyer Personas—Where Do We Begin?

In developing buyer personas, one of the first places to begin is with current clients.  Here you want to probe questions from Marketing 101:

  • Who are the advisor’s clients?  An RIA’s clients are the ultimate driver of an investment strategy.  An RIA who caters to retirees will invest very differently from an advisor whose client base is mostly Millennials.
  • How does our product function within your investment strategy?  These nuggets of information will reveal not only the need you are fulfilling but also the products they consider to be your competition.
  • How did you find our product—website, social media, networking, industry event, word of mouth?  How do you like to receive information?  You want to dig into the details such as organic search key words, social media posts, event sponsors, and who’s your advocate.
  • Who makes the investment decisions within the advisory team?  Is it one person, a team?  Are there levels you need to work through?  Identify the people and their process.
  • What are your biggest challenges?  Open-ended questions like this are extremely illuminating.  They also present the opportunity for you to be a problem solver, a subject matter expert (SME), and valuable resource.

It would be extremely unusual that all your RIA targets fit into one neat uniform package.  Instead a picture of several personas will develop—each requiring a tailored strategy and messaging.

Don’t Just Look at Who Invests—Look at Objectors, Too

As we said earlier, your product is not going to be right for every advisor.  Who doesn’t invest can be just as insightful as who does.  You may find that the issue is the advisors you are targeting.  Or it could be that your message isn’t clear or isn’t effective in overcoming objections.

The Big Reveal: Analytics

Feedback from your sales team is incredibly valuable but it can also be skewed.  One of the best scenes in the movie Moneyball is when the scouts give their reports to Bill Bean.  It’s filled with all sorts of preconceived notions—some valid and some laughable.  Numbers tell an unbiased story.  If you are not looking at the analytics from your website and social media posts, you are missing out on one of the easiest, least expensive, and most objective sources of information about your audience.

Visualize Your Best Prospect

Ad agencies and marketers know this extremely well: they create inspiration boards, complete with a name for each persona.  By the time you complete the persona profile, you can almost picture this person.  If fact, it can be helpful to assign stock images along with the name.

Buyer personas are the embodiment of who is most likely to invest with your firm.  Having a deep understanding of who they are, what motivates them, what challenges they face, and what objections they hold gets you closer to reaching out to them and to turning them into a client.

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