Building a thriving practice takes time. Typically it includes using lots of traditional marketing such as networking and advertising. You end up with sleepless nights wondering where your next lead will come from and if that new advertising campaign is really paying off.

A great way to stop losing sleep and start adding more clients is to add inbound marketing to your marketing tool chest. Here's how to do it. (For more, see: 6 Essential Marketing Tips for Financial Advisors.)

Inbound Marketing 101

Inbound marketing draws a potential client to your website by providing the information and education that they are looking for, instead of you actively going out to them to try and sell them what you are offering. 

As an example, let's look at a clothing store that happens to have two potential customers standing outside the door. Store owners can draw customers in the store two ways. Option 1 would be to push the person in while saying "look how great our clothes are!" Option 2 is putting a sign in the window that says, "We will teach you how to pick out the best jeans for your body type." Which one do you think will have a better chance of making a sale? Hint: people don't like to be pushed.

Inbound marketing is not traditional marketing — it is not cold calling, networking, advertising, radio shows, client dinners or direct mail. The main tactic used in inbound marketing is creating content that is used to educate and build trust with your customer. Vehicles to reach folks are blog posts, videos, eBook giveaways, guest posting and social media. The goal is they end up on your website and take some sort of action because of the information that you have provided. 

How do you ensure that your potential clients engage with your marketing? (For related reading, see: How to Be a Top Financial Advisor.)

Know Your Customer

This can be the hardest part of marketing, and it is by far the most important part. Even if you get every other part of the marketing funnel right, if you are talking to the wrong market then you will not get any clients from inbound marketing.

Take the time to understand what type of clients you want to work with. Then research their demographics, psychographics and exactly what types of information they are looking for. This will enable you to create content that is specific to them and their needs, plus it will help you narrow down where you should be implementing your marketing plan.

For example, let's say that you are targeting professional Baby Boomers that are getting ready to retire. You would be wasting your time if you created marketing for Snapchat that focused on the power of compounding over the long run. You would be better off writing an article on how to access your 401(K) during retirement and then using LinkedIn to get your prospective client to read the information.

Once you have the attention of the right prospective client, then you need to ensure that they are taking your call to action. (For more, see: How Advisors Are Using Social Media.)

You Must Convert

The entire goal of marketing, both inbound and outbound, is to get the prospective client to take an action. This can be anything like signing up for your newsletter, scheduling a phone consultation or registering for a webinar. Taking an action will put them into your marketing funnel that will allow them to learn more, get to know you better and hopefully become a client. Without a call to action, you are simply creating content that you hope someone will like enough to figure out what the next step is. Don't let them guess this — tell them at the end of every piece of content what their next action should be.

Things to Keep in Mind

  • It's not a substitute for all other forms of marketing: Inbound marketing is simply one more tool to attract the right client to you. In fact both types of marketing work better when you use both together. For example, someone attends a client dinner and signs up for your newsletter. After six months of reading your newsletter and learning more about you, they call to sign up for your services. It took both the traditional marketing and the inbound marketing to nurture the client to a point where he or she was ready to invest with you.
  • It will take time: It is not an approach that will work in the first week, especially in the area of finance. There is a lot of competition in the online space so it will take patience and persistence to make it work. On the bright side, the longer you do inbound marketing, the better your results are and your content begins to build links and shares which will assist with search engine optimization.

The Bottom Line

Inbound marketing is a great way to attract clients that are interested in what you are offering, because you are providing them the information they are already looking for. This can cut down on the time you need to grow your practice. (For related reading, see: How to Target Ideal Customers.)