The Dangers Of A Multi-Vendor Marketing Approach

By Brian Hart

Cohesive and consistent communication is the foundation for strong, healthy relationships between financial advisors and their clients or prospective clients. The same concept carries over into an advisory firm’s marketing efforts.

It’s common for firms of all sizes to take a multi-vendor marketing approach. According to a 2014 survey at the Direct Marketing Association’s national conference, 30 percent of marketers report that they’re managing seven or more technology vendors and service providers as part of their daily work duties.

The problem with this approach, particularly for small to mid-sized firms, is that their internal teams are often unable to effectively manage all of the various vendor relationships. In the same study, about 20 percent of the respondents reported that their time commitment for managing these vendors is around 15 hours per week. If you’re doing the math, that’s more than one-third of a 40-hour work week, just trying to manage multiple vendors. In addition to the amount time and money required, the resulting marketing fragmentation can dilute or even derail a campaign’s overall effectiveness.

Consider the various vendors available to advisors: website design, traditional marketing, digital marketing, direct mail marketing, social media, traditional advertising, digital advertising, public relations, SEO (search engine optimization) and event planning to name a few. Financial firms are notorious for cycling through and overlapping efforts between these vendors.

A couple years ago I received a frantic call from a new advisor client regarding a mysterious press release that had been put out in the client’s name. I assured the client it had not come from us, and I promptly went into detective mode to find the origin of the release. After making a few calls to no avail, I took another look at the release and noticed it was oversaturated with hyperlinks back to the client’s website. At that point a light bulb went off in my head. I called the client and asked if they were working with an SEO firm they hadn’t told us about. Sure enough they were, and that SEO firm was the source of the problematic release that had now been permanently embedded into the internet.

Rarely do I see marketing vendors representing the same client who communicate or coordinate efforts directly with one another, relegating the client to play middleman between these entities. Furthermore, marketing vendors often have competing interests and may view one another as threats, so creating synergy among them may very well be a lost cause.

It’s also common for single vendors to lack a comprehensive understanding of a business’s goals, so they’ll instead take a tunnel-vision approach by solely focusing on carrying out the specific duty they’re tasked with. This lack of communication and understanding among vendors destroys synergy between marketing channels and robs the businesses they represent of a strong, cohesive marketing approach.

The solution to fragmentation is integration – where marketing, public relations, advertising and similar strategies work together towards common goals rather than being siloed off. Synergy among these efforts is crucial for businesses to thrive from maximize the value of their marketing time and dollars. Consistency cannot be achieved if vendors fail to pool their efforts towards the overall business goals.

For the reasons mentioned above, partnering with an integrated agency is crucial. Right off the bat, it could save your in-house employees tons of time and energy. Also, when you’re working with a single team, communication and collaboration is an integral part of every project. A good agency will take the time to strategize with you and understand your marketing goals before executing your campaign, and they should become masters of your brand. This one-on-one attention and unified marketing plan will make a powerful impression on your current and potential clients.

Want to learn more? Download Turning Press Into Profits: A PR Guide For Professional Services Firms today!

Brian Hart is the founder and president of Flackable, a national financial public relations and digital marketing agency. Learn more at www.flackable.com. Follow Brian on Twitter at @BrianHartPR.

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