Stop chasing the marketing key

By Robert Sofia

Platinum Advisor Strategies


Very few marketing ideas are bad, but problems arise if we rely too heavily on a single method. A balanced practice-management portfolio should include multiple ways to engage clients and prospects.

Does it ever seem like all the so-called hot new marketing ideas are really just old ideas being re-circulated? How many times have you been told that public seminars, email marketing, client events, social media or some other marketing idea holds the key to increasing your production?

In reality, there is no single key to achieving success in our business, despite what many marketing organizations would like you to believe. In fact, when a practice relies too heavily on a single marketing strategy, the success of that strategy diminishes over time. A classic example of this can be seen in public seminars.

During the 90s, many advisers built their business almost entirely by hosting lunch or dinner seminars. Today, the effectiveness of this marketing tool has decreased dramatically.

More recently, we have seen the rise of social media as a marketing tool. With this rise, there has been a small number of particularly vocal “experts” who insist this is the wave of the future — the key to greater success. Unfortunately, many advisers who are trying to capitalize on this resource have been disappointed with their results.

Does this mean public seminars or social media should be avoided? Certainly not. Leveraged properly, both of these can be effective platforms for engaging prospects. Very few marketing ideas are bad. It’s just that problems arise if we rely too heavily on a single method.

Compounding the problem, many advisers have a tendency to get caught on the marketing rollercoaster – a cycle which basically runs like this: When business gets slow, they step up their marketing efforts in one area (e.g., hold a seminar). Then, as a result of this added effort, their prospect pipeline fills up. Once their pipeline is full, they no longer perceive an urgent need to market — that is until the pipeline dries up again. Then it’s onto the next marketing idea.

This cycle causes many advisers to miss out on the opportunity to generate consistent, predictable revenue because they are only engaging in revenue-generating activities part of the time.

So if there is no key to success, what actions should be taken by an adviser who wants to grow his book of business?

Simply put, give clients what they want, and they will give you what you want. Sound like over-simplified mumbo jumbo? It’s not. Consider a few examples that demonstrate the power of this approach.
People want you to be professional

Imagine for a moment you are shopping for a new attorney. You have some important family business you need this person to care for, and there are two lawyers you are considering. Attorney one works out of his car, sports a golf shirt and khakis, and doesn’t have a company brochure or website. Attorney two has an attractive office, a professional assistant, wears a tie to work, and has professional collaterals. Strictly based on appearance, who would you choose?

This aptly illustrates the position investors find themselves in when they are looking for a new adviser. One of the best ways to stand out from your competition is to ensure everything about the way your practice operates exudes success.

In a world where Bernie Madoff made off with billions, people are leery of financial professionals. Knowledge of this fact should motivate you to ensure your image instills confidence.

People want you to watch over their assets

Investors have faced many challenges during the last decade. The severe ups and downs of the market have left them needing reassurance. Clients expect their advisers to keep them informed about any events that have the potential to impact their financial affairs. They expect frequent and meaningful communication along these lines. When they don’t receive it, studies show they move their money to other advisers.

This is precisely why maintaining account minimums is so critical. If you accept every client who fogs a mirror, there is no way to give them the attention they deserve and expect. It is also why utilizing a CRM tool to automate contact activities is essential. Left to chance, your client contact strategy will be sporadic at best.

People want you to make them feel special

When was the last time a business made you feel special? Chances are, if you think about it for a minute, you’ll be able to remember. I remember the last time it happened to me. And you know what? I can’t wait to return to that business.

Even if I had a bad experience during my next visit, I would be more patient and understanding. That’s human nature. We appreciate it when people acknowledge us. We like receiving gifts and special privileges. We enjoy the sound of someone using our name.

When you let clients and prospects know they are important to you, they will be more loyal and quicker to refer their friends and relatives.
The only way to accomplish this consistently is by implementing written service standards and the corresponding systems. It is impossible to deliver a high quality experience 100 percent of the time without having the right procedures in place.

What can we learn from these three examples? Within these areas exists everything elite advisers do to attract and retain high net worth clients. They put practice management procedures in place. They communicate constantly with their clients. They make people feel special. When an adviser learns to do these three things consistently, his practice grows.

It is from these three areas that all marketing strategies are born.

Seminars provide a way to educate people and communicate your professionalism. Email marketing is a way to stay in touch. Client events make people feel special. But, and this is a big but, none of these things are key — all of them are. A well-rounded growth strategy utilizes multiple tools concurrently.

As financial advisers, we are always teaching our clients about the importance of diversification. Isn’t it time we diversified our efforts?

A balanced practice-management portfolio should include multiple ways to engage clients and prospects. Different people will respond to different activities. Reviews. Phone calls. Educational events. Social events. Email marketing. Social media. Acts of kindness. All of these efforts need to be consistent — organized into reliable, predictable systems. This is one of the ways we can give clients what they want.

In our practice for example, we send an email update weekly, we call every client quarterly, we review every account twice annually, we host four social events and two educational events each year, and we surprise our clients with kind acts. This doesn’t cover everything we do, but this short list provides 65 points of contact per client, per year. These activities generate referral activity and new business from existing clients to the tune of $40 million a year.

So rather than looking for the next hot new marketing idea, here’s what we encourage you to do: Start implementing systems that will demonstrate your professionalism, show clients you are watching over their assets, and make them feel special. There is no single key to success, but the sum total of these activities is sure to provide you with endless growth.