In a new survey by Fidelity Clearing and Custody, released Thursday, the company asked people at RIA firms who consider themselves leaders in marketing skills what they do differently to determine how other firms can adopt their techniques.

Thirty-five percent of respondents to the 2014 Fidelity RIA Benchmarking Study (which polled 411 RIA firms) consider themselves marketing leaders. This group is 42 percent more likely to prioritize growth and spends 33 percent more on business development and marketing. They are also seeing 40 percent more client growth, 23 percent more asset growth and 20 percent more revenue growth.

“Investing in marketing can pay off, but it’s not just about what you spend,” says Mathias Hitchcock, vice president, practice management and consulting, at Fidelity Clearing and Custody. “An investment in time can be just as important. Committing time to even the most fundamental areas of marketing, such as developing a plan or creating a referral process, can yield big gains when it comes to overall growth.”

The survey shows marketing leaders are more than twice as likely to have written marketing plans and two times as likely to meet regularly to discuss business development goals, progress and recent developments.

These leaders say they have a compelling firm story, too, one that explains how they are different. And they have specifically tailored this story to the needs of their target clients, improving the chances the story will resonate, Fidelity says.

Marketing leaders also take a disciplined approach to building a flow of referrals. They are three times more likely than other RIAs to say they have a clear plan for proactive outreach, and they are three times more likely to tell their clients who their target clients are.