With the sticker price of college now exceeding $80,000 for one year, it’s easy to see why college planning and education funding is the #1 financial fear of Gen X parents. Advisors often struggle to help their clients balance their other financial goals (like retirement) with the question of education funding looming on the horizon. As a result, more and more financial planners are incorporating late stage college planning into their practice.
The way the financial planning profession is structured, very few advisors are successfully marketing and positioning themselves in the college planning space. For most advisors college planning begins and ends with saving for college in a 529 plan and, historically, ignored college funding all together because it not something they have been trained on. So they have focused on asset management, insurance sales, and retirement planning because there hasn’t been a “standard” model to market and serve college bound families in a meaningful way.
However, with new resources like College Aid Pro™ available to help advisors streamline the college funding process, and truly level up their client services. So why is that so many advisors struggle to attract and acquire families if they are desperately seeking their services. An effective marketing strategy is absolutely necessary to get college planning to the masses. Let’s talk through a few key marketing options for your college planning practice.
Creating Content: Answer Prospect Pain Points Before They Even Book a Call
The cornerstone of your marketing strategy should be creating high-quality, educational content for your audience. Gen X parents and their kids are desperately looking for answers to their college planning questions, and your content should serve them the answers they’re searching for. Your content can be used to cover the biggest college planning pain points that parents and their college-bound kids are running into. For example, you might write about:
- FAFSA timeline
- Understanding the “net cost” of colleges
- How to weigh the pros and cons of different schools
- Ways to budget for college costs
- Who should take out student loans – the parent or the student
These are just a handful of content ideas to get you started. If you’re looking for more inspiration, look through client meeting notes. What questions come up repeatedly? What are the biggest concerns that clients have?
When you use your content to answer these questions, you’re effectively doing three things:
- Your content acts as an additional touch-point and resource for existing clients. Content is just another form of one-to-many client communication. This “extra” benefit you provide to clients increases client satisfaction and retention and can generate more referrals as a result.
- You’re able to reach your prospective clients in a way that’s relevant to them. Your content answers their questions, gives them a sense of who you are, and solidifies your expertise.
- Your content helps you gain SEO traction by focusing on keywords related to college planning. Whether you’re writing blog posts, recording podcasts, or hosting a video library on your website – using keywords that college-bound families are searching for will positively impact their ability to find your website.
Leverage Facebook & LinkedIn
Once you start building your content library, you need to find an avenue to promote the content you’re creating. LinkedIn and Facebook are two excellent channels for getting your content out into the world, connecting with your clients in a meaningful way, and reach prospects organically.
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.
According to Sprout Social, Facebook posts on Wednesday afternoons tend to perform best. The same study shows that the best time to post on LinkedIn tends to be Wednesday before 12 pm. Keep in mind that algorithms change often, and these “best times” shift. Using a tool like Buffer can help you to post at the best time available for your audience on a consistent schedule.
Beyond just posting to your Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, or LinkedIn company page, you can also use these two channels in other ways to connect with clients and prospects and to get your content out into the world.
- Join Facebook groups focused on college planning, or geared toward college-bound families.
- Team up with other local businesses on Facebook to cross-promote your content.
- Connect with all of your clients on LinkedIn and invite them to like your page on Facebook.
- Connect directly with local parents, or mutual connections of your clients on LinkedIn.
Generate and Nurture Leads Through Email
Having content and promoting it on social media for clients and prospects is a fantastic foundation for your marketing strategy. Unfortunately, you don’t “own” leads you find on social media. Facebook or LinkedIn can change their algorithm at any time, and you could just as easily lose your following. This is where your email marketing comes into play.
As you’re building your content library on your website, it’s important to find a way to capture the leads who are interested in the information you’re putting out there. A lead magnet with an ongoing email nurturing strategy is the final step in your marketing plan. When someone subscribes to a lead magnet through your website, you effectively own that contact. You can communicate with them in an ongoing way, outline your value proposition, and more.
A few lead magnet ideas are:
- A free downloadable checklist or guide to college funding.
- An online course that prospects can sign up for.
- A webinar that you host about FAFSA deadlines.
The key with your lead magnet is to design it in a way that gives valuable information, without giving your audience all of the tools they need to DIY their financial plan and education funding strategy. This is why checklists, or shorter webinars can be incredibly successful.
Once someone subscribes, you can set up an automated nurture sequence in your email marketing software that sends over the course of a few weeks.
Your nurture sequence should:
- Introduce your practice to your subscriber.
- Outline your value proposition.
- Offer a way to connect with you – and a clear call to action.
As you start growing your email list, you’re also able to start sending out a regular newsletter – which acts as another way for you to share out and promote the ongoing content you’re creating for your website.
These tips can act as the foundational building blocks of your marketing strategy. However, there are a number of other ways you can capture your value proposition and start to market your college planning practice. Want to learn more? Need ongoing support? Our CAP community is a fantastic place to ask questions, get guidance from our team, and connect with other advisors to share ideas. Learn more by booking a demo here.