If advisors want to keep growing, they’re going to have to get smarter about local marketing, consultants say.

Buoyant markets and preretirement clients have helped most advisors sustain three to five percent annual AUM growth, said John Curry, senior director of marketing at Raleigh, N.C.-based CAPTRUST.

Curry warned, however, that the future will be less conducive to such easy growth.

“We can debate about the low return environment most people are predicting, [but] that’s not going to help,” said Curry. “Demographically speaking, more and more of an advisor’s book is going from accumulation to distribution, and withdrawals will become a bigger drag on assets.”

Referrals are still the holy grail of marketing, said Curry, but advisors are also fighting against a slippery slope of intergenerational wealth transfers. As family wealth becomes diluted among a pool of heirs, advisors have to work harder to keep and grow assets. That makes an advisor’s community, whether a locality or a niche group, a valuable resource for clients and referrals.

Rather than abandon referrals in favor of marketing, Curry believes that a coherent local marketing strategy should be used to augment the effectiveness of referrals from both clients and centers of influence.

Media Relations

It’s difficult for the little guy to be noticed by national publications, but local newspapers can help elevate an RIA’s standing in his or her community, he said.

“If an advisor has the opportunity to talk to a personal finance reporter in their local newspaper, they should get fired up about it,” said Curry. “Every market has its own media ecosystem with a paper—maybe a business journal, a weekly or monthly magazine or two and a community of journalists. Figure out who those people are and do all the basic stuff like following them on social media. It helps to raise your brand.”

Curry also recommended putting together a media kit and sharing it online so journalists can easily learn an advisor’s subject matter expertise. It’s also important to share direct contact information with the media.

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