Stand out in a crowded marketplace

By Ken Olmsted

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My company works with hundreds of advisors that use seminar marketing to attract new prospects. As with many businesses, the 80/20 rule seems to apply: 80 percent of our business comes from 20 percent of our clients. I’ve been doing a lot of analysis on what makes that top 20 percent so successful (and, of course, how I can find more like them.) One thing that struck me is that a good percentage of our most successful advisors position themselves as specialists. Some focus primarily on working with specific market segments, such as women or baby boomers, while others specialize in particular areas of financial planning, like income planning or wealth management.

It makes sense. Think about doctors for a minute. If you were faced with a heart ailment, would you settle for the care of your family physician, or would you seek out the guidance of a cardiologist?

Your prospects are the same way. They want to work with an advisor that has the knowledge and experience to understand and cater to their unique needs. By choosing a specialty and making it the foundation of your seminar marketing, you can establish yourself as the local expert and demonstrate a clear difference between yourself and your competition. This results in better qualified prospects, improved appointment ratios and more new clients.

If you look at the seminar invitations that are floating around your market, chances are that most of them contain some combination of the same six or seven bullet points. For a long time, the philosophy has been that if you throw enough different bullets on an invitation, something is bound to stick. But in today’s crowded, competitive marketplace, sometimes just looking different than everyone else can be the key to getting noticed and is a good first step towards building a brand.

As an example, we have a number of advisors that use IRA/401(k) planning as the main topic of their seminars. Our experience shows that narrowing the scope of the subject matter often attracts better qualified, more motivated prospects than invitations that try to cover everything but the kitchen sink.

IRA planning is a good example of a specific seminar topic that still has broad appeal. Sure, some of the invitations will land in homes that don’t have IRAs or 401(k)s to deal with, but these days, it’s a relatively small percentage.

Proper list selection also helps minimize the number of invitations that miss their mark. But it does bring up a key point: Your specialty can’t be so specific that it becomes too difficult to target effectively with a mailing list.

Here's a few other specialties we've had success with:
  • Women
  • Couples
  • Baby Boomers
  • Business owners
  • Physicians
  • Estate planning
  • Wealth management
  • Income planning
  • Safe money
  • Social Security planning
All of the above meet the criteria of broad appeal combined with a specific, identifiable audience that is easily targeted. If your seminar results are declining or stagnant, switching to a more specialized approach could be the shot in the arm you’ve been looking for.