Clients sometimes come to us with self-described “dumb questions”. Of course, we know there’s no such thing. Usually, the people asking them are looking for education about basic marketing concepts they want to learn more about.

Here are the answers to five so-called “dumb questions” we hear all the time.

1. Why should I spend money on a mobile-friendly (aka responsive) website?

This question often comes from people working for B2B firms and institutional investment companies that typically generate new business through referrals, word-of-mouth or by appearing on approved vendor platforms — not through online search.

The reality is that most people, including financial intermediaries, do online research about the companies they’re thinking about working with. It helps them better understand — and become advocates for — the brands, providers and products they recommend or include in their retail or institutional portfolios. It's a standard consumer practice that’s been transferred to the B2B world.

With more than half of all web traffic coming from smartphone and tablet devices, a firm with a non-responsive website makes a poor impression on people doing this type of research. Saving a few dollars on a mobile upgrade will negatively impact long-term sales.

Updating a website to make it mobile friendly is a smart investment for your firm. Most clients find that it pays off in months.

2. Does my firm need a brand?

This is a question we often get from the owners of emerging companies enjoying initial success. They’ve achieved it without a brand, so why develop one now?

The reality is that new firms often take off because of a great original idea or product concept. It attracts interest, investors and maybe enough clients to earn a profit.

However, over the long-term, a brand is what keeps a firm on the right track. It's the guide that defines and documents what a business does, who it works with, the messages that drive sales, the factors that differentiate it from the competition and more. Prospective clients find it hard to understand a business that doesn't have a defined brand. Most firms without one lose focus over time, which makes them less likely to stay successful over the long term. 

Creating a brand is one of the best investments a business can make in its success.

3. How can I avoid compliance and legal reviews?

The reality is there’s no way to skip out on these requirements.

However, there are effective ways to manage them. 

Start by engaging with your firm’s compliance and legal business partners early and often in the development of a project. If you get them involved at the start, they can provide advice that will help you build the initiative on a solid foundation. Regular check-ins will ensure that it doesn’t go off track or that you’ll experience unexpected legal or compliance issues.

Next, structure your marketing projects in smart ways. Isolate the parts that are legally sensitive or that could have compliance issues within certain sections or components of the whole. This will make it more efficient to review them, and if there are ever changes to regulations, this approach makes it easier to revise them.

4. Social media?

For a financial or professional services company?

While this isn't really a question, the answer is “Absolutely!”

According to data reported by Statista, almost 80 percent of the U.S. population is on social media. According to the same source, people spend, on average, almost two hours each day interacting with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and other social channels. 

Those stats have made social media a key marketing channel for financial service firms. According to data from the Content Marketing Institute, 87 percent of financial firms use social media as a marketing tactic, even though many admit that they're not leveraging it effectively.

If your prospects and clients are on social, your firm needs to be as well. Providing them with helpful information will increase brand awareness, making it more likely your company will be in their consideration set when they have a need for your products or services.

Most of our clients find that social media, when done right, is one of the most cost-effective ways to build awareness, drive website traffic, improve SEO and increase business.

5. In-house or outsource?

This is a common question in today’s tight budget environment. Most firms take one of two approaches:

Own the strategy, outsource the execution. This is a good solution for smaller firms that execute a limited number of marketing strategies across many channels. A relatively small in-house team can drive a finite number of campaigns while an agency with a broad range of talent and expertise develops a broad array of creative assets in a cost effective way.

Outsource the strategy, execute in-house. In this case, larger firms with more ambitious marketing goals leverage the broad range of strategic experience available through agencies and execute on those strategies with in-house creative teams that are steeped in their brands.

Another option: Many firms we work with blend these options, leveraging both the strategic and creative resources available through an agency to complement and fill gaps in their internal talent pools.

Do you have questions you’d like to ask an agency? We’ve heard them all and are here to help. Contact us to find out how we can help you find answers to your marketing needs.