imgbd Marketing Wiz

Low cost - huge impact ideas from Siliguri's leading IFA

Prabin Agarwal, Fortune Securities, Siliguri

Can IFAs ever think of half page ads in prominent newspapers and huge hoardings across their cities for several months in a year? Yes you can - if you imbibe these brilliant guerrilla marketing tactics that Prabin employs in Siliguri - strategies that have enabled him to double his business in the last 2 years to a very impressive level where he now has more than 2400 SIPs, a SIP book well in excess of Rs. 1 crore, MF AuM of around Rs.70 crores and total AuM in excess of Rs. 100 crores - all in a rather small city with a population of 500,000 people.

Two years ago, when I wrote first on Wealth Forum (Click here), I had crossed 1000 SIPs with a total AuM of Rs.35 crores and a SIP book of Rs. 50 lakhs. In the last 2 years, my SIPs have grown to over 2400, my SIP book is well over Rs. 1 crore, my MF AuM has doubled to around Rs.70 crores and total AuM (including direct equity, tax free bonds, FDs) has crossed Rs.100 crores. I would attribute a lot of my growth in the last two years to guerrilla marketing. When I read Jigar Parekh's articles on guerrilla marketing (The Guerrilla Advisor) in the Marketing Wiz section of Wealth Forum, it struck a chord in me and I started thinking on ways to create low cost yet high impact marketing campaigns.

Guerrilla marketing - the Prabin way

I had built good relationships with local newspapers over the years by being a regular contributor in their papers as well as through the various social platforms that I am an active member in. I used to insert small ads from time to time in some of these newspapers, as part of my marketing strategy. Then I changed to guerrilla marketing. I struck a deal with the newspapers to place half page ads whenever they had unsold space on any day. I give year-long commitments that they can place my ad in any page on any day, without any prior approval from me, subject to only one condition - it has to be a half page ad and not a small one. Because I gave them such a convenient solution for unsold space, I bargained a very attractive rate from them, which made it very cost effective for me. I also saw that they were giving very attractive rates for socially relevant messages - so I sat down with them, and convinced them that promoting SIPs is also a highly socially relevant message - which therefore warrants a further price reduction. They agreed on the condition that I don't use this to promote my broking business, and restrict myself only to SIP related messages. My strong relationship with them also gave them the confidence that I will not disclose my commercial terms in the market - thus protecting their rack rates.


Game has shifted from product awareness building to execution

When clients see half page ads from a financial advisor, it builds tremendous recall and boosts their confidence in dealing with us. The important thing that I have internalized is that the game has shifted from building awareness of SIPs to execution of SIPs. We have to change our game accordingly. Few years ago, all of us struggled with building awareness of the concept of SIPs. Now, thanks to the continuous education initiatives by the industry, awareness of SIPs is high. Our job as IFAs is now to position ourselves clearly as people who can help investors start SIPs - the fulfilment aspect, the execution aspect. Investors need to know whom to contact when they get interested in SIPs. We need to find low cost - high impact ways of raising awareness in our areas so that they contact us.

SIPs are all seasons solutions - make the most of this aspect

I followed up the newspaper deal with a similar arrangement with one of the large hoarding contactors in our city. He too had to battle with unsold inventory on some days, which was a loss for him. My deal was similar - year long commitment to put up my hoarding at pre-agreed spots, without seeking prior permission from me, for even 3-4 days at a time if the space was unsold. Hoardings business is very seasonal and therefore suffers from such bouts of unsold inventory. The SIP business is evergreen - there is no right or wrong season - so my hoardings going up at any time of the year was good enough for me. The deal was struck at a very deep discount to his normal rates - because for him, something is better than nothing.



My observation is that my hoardings are displayed for at least 3 months in a year in total - which is great visibility for my business. When investors see huge hoardings and half page ads in prominent local newspapers, the impact is large. Existing clients willingly sign up for larger SIP amounts with confidence. New clients come to us as we have prominently positioned ourselves as SIP experts in Siliguri.

Intelligent implementation of newsjacking

I read a very interesting insight in Wealth Forum on "newsjacking" (Click Here), which inspired me a lot. The story of how Amul keeps converting current headlines into intelligent product messages to stay in consumers' minds appealed to me. I started implementing this in a small way - by tailoring my messages to suit the occasion.



So what happens now is that through my annual low cost tie ups for newspaper ads and hoardings, I am also able to create topical messages to maximize the business opportunity.

Different strategy for HNI segment

Every year, I conduct a high profile investor event, where one of the industry leaders presents his perspectives to over 500 of the top people of Siliguri - affluent clients, affluent prospects, opinion makers. This year, Mr. Nilesh Shah from Kotak MF graced the occasion, last year it was Mr. Balasubramanian of Birla Sun Life.


These annual events raise the profile of my firm considerably in the top segment of Siliguri's investors, which enables me to make much deeper inroads into the HNI segment. My message to HNIs is very different from the message to retail investors. For retail investors, its all about goals and SIPs. For HNIs, we only talk wealth creation. For somebody with 20 crores assets, goals and plans are not important. "Why not 20 more" is more appealing. Our approach, our communication is very different for this segment. In one of the Wealth Forum conferences, I learnt about the important of segmentation - and this has inspired me to follow a segmentation strategy across client segments. Even within the HNI space, our approach, our communication towards professionals and traders is very different. Segmentation helps us ensure we engage with each client segment the way they prefer most.

Technology is another low cost marketing avenue

We have been early adopters of technology and recognise the power of technology to engage better with clients. So, while we of course have web enabled portfolio statement trackers, we also have a comprehensive mobile app that is also transaction enabled, we have an active FB landing page that generates continuous leads, we have an ongoing WhatsApp broadcast initiative, we have an ongoing program of email and SMS marketing etc. Technology has become another low cost tool for building awareness and maintaining engagement.

To conclude

To conclude, I want to emphasize only one thing: the game has shifted from awareness building to execution. As IFAs, we need to change our strategy accordingly. Awareness of the product exists, now awareness has to be built around us as the execution experts. For that, guerrilla marketing tactics is what we as IFAs should employ to enable us to get disproportionate visibility at a cost that we can afford.


All content in Marketing Wiz is created by Wealth Forum and should not be construed as views of Kotak MF.

Share this article