The first article in this series
explained the importance of a solid foundation and noted that it inevitably includes a plan and a clear vision.
Now that you have decided what you want, written out your mission and affirmative goals, created HVFDAs for each goal, and chosen your niche market, the next step is to is to learn how to serve them successfully... guaranteed.
One of the best methods, I have found to achieve this, is a research and interview process I call the AskLearnRiches(TM) questionnaire process!
This simple technique will give you valuable insights and generate a flood of referrals -- even from people who don't like to give them.
When I began working with affluent women and decided to write my book, "If Only I Had Known: What You Need to Do NOW to Avoid Devastating Financial Mistakes," I knew I needed to talk to as many qualified women as possible. This was when I began to understand the power of research as a revenue producing, marketing activity.
I set up an automated campaign to notify and remind my clients, prospects, and centers of influence that I wanted to interview divorced and widowed women. I explained that the purpose of these interviews was to help me better serve my existing clients, and to gather information for a book I was writing to help other women facing a life transition. I also shared that I would not try to sell my services to anyone they introduced me to: If these people wanted my advice, I would schedule a separate meeting. The floodgates opened, and I had more research referrals than I could handle.
The AskLearnRiches(TM) Research Process
The process is so simple and powerful, I wish I had discovered it earlier! To make it work for you, just follow the four simple steps I outline below:
Step 1: Identify clients, prospects, and centers of influence that can help you gain insights into your niche market.
Create a list of all the clients you already have in your niche, prospects you'd like to meet, and leaders of organizations, churches, support groups, clubs, and other advisors who service your ideal clients. You may need to spend time at the library or online to create this list, but its well worth it! Write down names (or better input them into your contact manager) and contact information and keep your list organized so you can track who you've talked to and who you need to follow up with.
Step 2: Set up and conduct your interviews.
Contact a sample of the people on your list to schedule half-hour appointments. It's best to meet these people in person, but initially when you are still confirming that this is the best rich niche to serve it makes sense to do these interviews over the phone, if necessary. Be polite, and assure them you want to pick their brain because you respect their expertise and opinions. In the section below, we'll talk about what to ask while conducting your interviews.
Step 3: Automate your follow-up.
I believe that automated, consistent follow-up is what separates superstars from average producers. Immediately after you conduct an interview, send a thank you note and maybe even a small gift of your appreciation. This is a great time to ask for referrals from your interviewees. You'll also want to keep checking in with your interviewees on a regular basis, with additional questions and ideas. I've found that a 90-day follow-up cycle is extremely effective.
Step 4: Create your AskLearnRiches(TM) questionnaire.
Once you schedule your interviews and set up your follow-up system, what do you do when you actually get to the interviews? Your interview style will evolve over time, but go in with the goal of gaining information you can use to better serve your chosen niche market and market yourself more effectively.
Here's an example of some of the questions to ask affluent women:
- What were the best financial decisions you made?
- What challenges, if any, did you encounter?
- What would you have done differently if you could do it over again?
- How did you cope with the stress of your life transition?
- What support groups did you attend? Which were the most beneficial?
- What church affiliation did you have? Was it helpful?
- What hobbies do you have? Did they help during the life transition?
- Where did you get your financial advice? Do you still get it from that source?
- What magazines do you read?
- What radio stations do you listen to?
- What clubs do you belong to? (make sure and get the contact information and find out if they have guest speakers)
- How do you prefer to receive information (mail, email or fax)?
- Do you want me to provide the information I learn about how to avoid financial and life mistakes from these interviews to you?
- Do you have other friends or acquaintances I could interview?
Be sure to be friendly and flexible. Even if your interviewee makes comments that are wrong- never argue- you are there to gain information and insight. Lastly, be very respectful of their time- especially if you are interviewing a non-traditional woman. And remember practicing is the key- the more interviews you do, the more comfortable you'll become.
When you conclude your interviews, be sure to ask your subjects if they'd like to receive updates from other interviews you're conducting. Specific questions work best, such as, "Would you like to receive information from my interviews that will help you make better financial decisions?" Most will want the information, and this is a great way to add people to your automated prospect list.
Step 5: Compiling the data.
As you start your AskLearnRiches(TM) marketing process, make sure you spend time compiling the data you collect from each interview. Soon, you'll begin to see similarities among your subjects regarding the clubs they belong to, the way they prefer to receive information, etc. I find it best to use an Excel spreadsheet and organize my data by category, so I can keep reviewing what my target market wants and think of great new strategies to meet their needs
The more research you do, the more expert you'll become in your Rich Niche. And that means your ideal clients will look to you for the best advice they can get.
Next month, you'll learn how to create your ideal client profile, so you can fill your pipeline with research interviews and potential clients. Please interview at least three to five people you identified in Step 1 (above) to confirm your chosen rich niche is the right one for you.
*To contact this author, or to request information on the automated follow-up system Annette uses to maintain contact up with clients, prospects, and centers of influence, leave a message wit5h your e-mail address in the forum below.