Financial advisors who want to stand out in college planning need to create an effective marketing strategy that focuses on educating potential clients about the topic.

So says Joe Messinger, co-founder and director of college planning at Capstone Wealth Partners.

“The way the financial planning profession is structured, very few advisors are successfully marketing and positioning themselves in the college planning space,” Messinger said.

College planning begins and ends with 529 plan for most advisors, who historically have ignored college funding all together because it is not an area where they have received training, he added.

There hasn’t been a “standard” model to market and serve college-bound families in a meaningful way, Messinger said.

But with the sticker price for college exceeding $50,000 at many private colleges, Gen X parents and their kids are desperately looking for answers to their college planning questions, he said.

Creating high-quality education content should be the cornerstone of an advisor’s marketing strategy, Messinger said. The content should include key areas such as how to navigate federal financial aid, understanding the “net cost” of colleges, how to weigh the pros and cons of different schools, ways to budget for college costs and deciding whether the parent or the student be responsible for taking out student loans.

Messinger suggested promoting the content on social media sites LinkedIn and Facebook.

“Many advisors believe that paid advertising is the only way to leverage social media. While paid ads on Facebook or LinkedIn can be useful, there are plenty of organic, 100% free ways to promote your college planning content on social media. First and foremost, make sure that you’re posting to the right channels at the right times,” he said.

Advisors also can also market their content by joining Facebook groups focused on college planning or other topics of interest to families with college-bound children; teaming up with other local businesses on Facebook to cross-promote content; connecting with clients on LinkedIn and inviting them to like the page on Facebook; and connecting directly with local parents, or mutual connections of clients, on LinkedIn, he said.

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