Financial advisors, you know who you are and what you do. But try looking at yourself through the eyes of a potential client. Imagine . . . you know next to nothing about investing and money management. You are nervous about what could happen to your nest egg (which represents your next home, your retirement, your kids' inheritance) in an era of extreme economic uncertainty. And when you need a financial advisor and all you see is a long gray line of sober corporate logos, faceless suits and identical-seeming mutual fund literature, choosing one is a daunting, confusing task. How in the world would you, our hypothetical prospect, decide to go with, well . . . you?
The answer is clear: to avoid being seen as a commodity, you must consistently and compellingly prove that you are different.
You must prove that you are better. You must prove that you offer your clients something above and beyond the services offered by your competitors. You must prove that you, better than anyone else, can help them manage the murky and confusing yet opportunity-filled world of investing and money management. That's what marketing is about—it's not about sending slick brochures to your mailing list once a year. It's a very creative, very human process, making clients feel secure and appreciated and even delighted.
The succinct, bite-sized tips in my book makes it clear that a good financial advisor makes the dry, often-intimidating world of dollars and cents not just understandable, but fun—and this philosophy isn't surprising. After all, I am a devoted football fan who regularly draws analogies between my favorite game and the rough and tumble world of marketing. (Indeed, my company's name is a reference to the unmarked territory between the defending team's 20-yard line and the end zone: the most critical and magnified part of the field.)
Here are eight tips, excerpted from my new book, you can follow right now:
Add an MVP to your team . . . the "NBC."
Have you ever thought that you could bring in tons of new business if only you had the time to deal with current clients? I suggest hiring a New Business Coordinator ("NBC" for short) to ensure that the necessary follow-up work is being done. The NBC joins you at every new business appointment . . . hears firsthand what needs to be done in order to transform a prospect into a client . . . schedules the follow-up appointments, prepares the paperwork, etc.
He or she creates a relationship with the prospect by giving that person another point of contact in the office (besides you). If you're worried that you can't afford an NBC, think again: many financial advisors have found that such an individual pays for him/herself countless times over. So bite the bullet.
Give video marketing a try.
If you're thinking that financial planning doesn't evoke the most exciting visual imagery—computer software? Mutual fund documents?—consider what your clients can buy with the money you help them save and create. Grandkids playing in front of a charming beach cottage, say, or a new luxury car zipping around curves. A spectacular sales video can hit people on an immediate, gut level. So why not create one and send it to your top prospects? If you need more convincing, consider this: a study by the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania found that prospects who watch a video make their buying decision 70 percent faster than those who only read a brochure. Pretty impressive, huh?
Don't let your Internet home collect cobwebs.
Have you updated your website lately? You should. You might write a regular column on current economic news and make it an integral part of your site. This will give clients and potential clients a reason to bookmark your website and maybe even establish it as their home page! Alternately, regularly add a thought-provoking quote or bit of humor to your site. Anything to prevent repeat visitors from getting bored and going elsewhere!
Use e-mail to "Keep In Touch."
I am a big proponent of establishing a "Keep In Touch" (or KIT) Program to stay connected to clients. One of my myriad suggestions for doing so is the use of e-mail. For instance, you might send e-greeting cards to your clients on their birthdays or holidays.
Or, if you come across something you know a specific client would be interested in (say, a fascinating article about one of his hobbies), e-mail it to him with a "this made me think of you" note. The beauty of e-mail is its immediacy and its casual, "off the cuff" nature. It makes clients feel that they are a part of your life, which in turn is likely to make them think of you as part of theirs.
Offer a targeted seminar (NOT "General Investing for Every Investor"), mail invites to a targeted list, and provide a targeted message filled with potential solutions.
A good example: "Unlocking Your Retirement Funds," presented for individuals who work at a particular Fortune 100 company. Even if ten or twenty people attend, it will be a great seminar because each and every one of them will be getting to retire with a rollover or they would not have come. One proven source for generating lots of attendees to your seminars is Response Mail Express/Seminar Success (www.seminarsuccess.com). Their system absolutely puts people in seats. The rest is up to you!
Leverage your events to create a buzz.
Got a great idea for an event? You can't hold it in a vacuum! Press releases, ads and invitations will get people there and create a buzz. The more creative you can be with your event, the more "buzzworthy" it becomes. As a very hypothetical example—let's say you decided to host a "Pennies from Heaven" penny stocks seminar. You ask everyone who attends the seminar to bring a jar of pennies (actually, any and all coins are welcome) to donate to a local charity. Your firm agrees to match whatever amount is collected. Voila! You have a great hook for your press releases, ads and invitations. With such a creative and goodwill-inspiring idea, the local newspaper may well show up. And your name becomes known throughout the community.
Consider a creative name change.
Take a look at the business listings in the white pages of your local telephone directory. Do you see lots of names like The Morgan Company, Brown & Associates, Smith & Green, The Anderson Group? Notice that these names say nothing about what they do and who their customers might be. Does your name convey who you are and what makes you different? Now, I'm not suggesting that you adopt a lowbrow name like “Investments R Us.” But, just for the sake of argument, let's say our USP is that you help clients integrate charitable giving strategies into their overall money management plans. Couldn't you call yourself something like The Caring Investment Group, Inc.? It's catchy, to-the-point and immediately conveys what makes you different.
Form a strategic alliance with someone who shares your target market.
Let's say your specialty is advising middle-class families who are concerned about saving for their kids' college educations. Obviously, these families should start saving right away, so you need to catch them when their children are small. You decide to team up with Dayna's Daycare Center. You can work out a deal whereby Dayna invites her customers to attend an exclusive financial planning seminar hosted by none other than you. In return, you hand out brochures about her daycare center (and glowing verbal recommendations) to your clients. Such strategic alliances are practically painless, and all they require is a dash of ingenuity and a pinch of cooperation.
If you consider some of these ideas to be a little "out there" that's just because you've bought into the stereotype that financial services has to be a buttoned-down, humorless industry.
Financial advisors can be very creative with their marketing efforts—and when they are, they reap big rewards. I've had clients adopt my ideas and completely turn their companies around. Yes, money is a serious subject and you must manage it proficiently, but in the final analysis clients interact with people, not profit reports.
Touch them on a human level and they'll see you as having that something extra that your competitors don't. This is what marketing, performed with sincerity, innovation and passion, can do for you.
Editor's Note: You can learn from Maribeth LIVE on December 8th at her special web class:
First 25 to register and pay will get a hard cover copy of The Connectors, absolutely free.
Find out more here: