It may not seem like it on the surface, but now is a good time to be in this business -- no question about it. The reason is simple: it's more important than ever for your clients to make sure their assets are protected. Confidence and reliance on the banking industry and the stock market has been shaken to the core. So, who are your clients going to turn to?
As discussed in my previous article, now, more than ever is, an important time to reach out to your clients and help them understand their alternatives. But for you, the advisor, it is important not to mistake the fear and concern in your clients' eyes for dollar signs. They are scared; and many clients may recall what it was like after the Great Depression, or have heard stories from friends or relatives who survived it. Others may just spend their days watching the stock market suck their hard-earned retirement funds dry. In either case, one thing is clear: Your clients are looking for assistance from someone who is qualified to help and understands how to do so.
That is where the psychology of market intelligence comes into play. Not familiar with the term? It means to understand and be proactive in determining the current and future needs and preferences of your marketplace. In short: to understand what your clients want now and for their future.
You're probably thinking, "That's what I do already." In essence, you're right. But to employ market intelligence means to delve a bit deeper; to get a better understanding of what leads your clients to make the choices and decisions that they do. It may sound a bit more difficult than it really is, but market intelligence (MI) is used in just about every aspect of advertising and marketing around. From the commonly known to the obscure, MI has had a hand in determining how that product or service is marketed and to whom.
For my purposes in this article, I'm going to talk about one of the most important components of MI: psychology. As mentioned, it's a scary time for retirees invested in the stock market and holding larger sums in banks. But this fear has been a long time coming; the demise of the sub-prime mortgage industry was the trigger to both the current stock market troubles and the banking failure scrambles. Your clients aren't clueless; they know what's going on. The media has grabbed this story and is running for the finish line. The concerns of your clients are based primarily on fear -- a very human emotion. But that emotion can also make us do things we wouldn't (or shouldn't) ordinarily do. As an advisor, it is your job to assuage those fears, and present your clients with other alternatives.
That's where your MI comes in to play: Listening to your clients' fears and having the answers to their difficult questions makes you the superlative person to offer advice on what their best course to follow is at this point. Now, I don't mean just listening to their desire for a strong, safe-and-sound source for their retirement dollars, I mean really listening to your client.
Try to understand what their fear has done to their sense of judgment when it comes to the future of their money. While your client may be telling you one thing out of that sense of fear, you, as a qualified advisor, may have a better option that provides your client the peace of mind they are searching for. By listening to the words your client is speaking, you will be better able to dissect their actual meaning. Subsequently, this process can lead you to a solution that will give your client just what they are looking for: stability and a sense of security. It may even lead you in a direction that you hadn't even considered before. Sure, the commissions may not be as attractive, but that's OK. Your clients' fear has vanished. At the end of the day, the fact that your customer is happy should always outweigh the potential for a huge commission. In your case, if that's not correct, you may be in the wrong line of business -- especially at this volatile time with emotions running so high.
By introducing MI into your business, you have the potential for a better understanding of what it is your market wants instead of spending money on a plan your market doesn't want. As I mentioned before, it doesn't take a great deal of work to better understand your market, just a bit of research. By simply spending some time at your computer doing a bit of desk research, you can begin to discover more than you thought possible about the marketplace you are trying to reach.
Desk research is what professional researchers use to track down useful, existing pre-published information (also known as secondary research). Many companies use this method to discover the efforts of their competitors, or to get a better understanding of their current market trends. You and your business can benefit in the same way. By doing desk research, you can obtain a lot of information without spending a lot of money on market surveys and research from a private source.
Our country is in an economic crisis. Depending on who you talk to, some say it's worse than others. That is why it is so important to those of us in this industry to blaze a trail of recovery for those scared individuals. Offer them the safe haven that you know exists. Someone's financial future and peace of mind depends on it.
In my next article I'll discuss some of the techniques to use when starting a desk research project.
*For further information, or to contact this author, please leave a comment and your e-mail address in the forum below.