by Maribeth Kuzmeski, MBA
Advisors and agents have tried for years to develop successful prospect generating strategies. Some strategies have worked and others have produced disappointing results. Today, it seems everything we’ve known is changing as it relates to marketing. And that’s good news for those who want to grow their business!
Amidst all of the uncertainty in the market and the financial industry, the marketing of financial services is having seemingly unusual results. Strategies that may have had limited success in the past are now generating significantly more interested prospects and producing more new clients. Really! But how and why is this happening?
The economy and the stock market are the number one story almost every day in the news. There is an elevated sense of urgency and a need for answers and advice and investors who may have thought they had their financial situation under control are realizing they need help. Today people are seeking out a trustworthy, intelligent, calming voice in all of this uncertainty that will provide an individual approach, analysis and solutions to their financial situation. There has perhaps never been a time when advisors and agents have been needed more. In the past, advisors and agents may have had to “sell” services to get someone to do business. Today people are looking for you!
Red Zone Marketing has been conducting an ongoing survey this year asking financial advisors who manage assets between $250 million and over $1 billion what they are saying to clients and what activities have been working to continue to grow their business – right now. Also, in the past 2 months, as I’ve traveled across the United States presenting to groups in more than 30 cities, I have been asking ‘what’s working right now.’ Here are the findings.
Are seminars working?
Public Seminars/Social Event: Just when many people had written off seminars as an expensive strategy that hasn’t been as successful as a few years ago – they are working again! And dramatically!
According to one of the seminar marketing firms, things are looking up!
"Like in past downturn years (i.e. after 911), we see activity levels rise in mailing orders and in seminar attendance,” said Jorge Villar, President of Response Mail Express, a seminar marketing firm in Tampa, FL. “Folks are looking for something better or different in these types of times. And, consumers are looking to learn about newer options, alternate solutions and trends.”
The truth is, the large public seminars are generating more qualified attendees than ever before. By using a proven seminar marketing system, advisors are starting to see response rates that have doubled in the past 3 months!
Referral based seminars: A seminar idea that has worked in the past and continues to work with low risk and low cost is niche based referral seminars. One strategy being used is called the “5-5-5-20” seminar. You simply pick 5 or more of your clients that are in a niche (ie. they retired from the same company). Mail each client 5 invitations to an upcoming workshop on a seminar like How to Retire from LOCAL COMPANY in Volatile Market Conditions. Then make phone calls to the 5 clients personally asking them to pass those invitations along to others who are getting ready to retire from this company. Right now this strategy is generating more than 20 people in attendance at each seminar for advisors. It costs very little (about $2.00 for the whole mailing), attendees are very interested in the timely and targeted information, and you don’t even need to serve dinner! Advisors are conducting these seminars at community centers, libraries and in their offices.
Presentations for Existing Groups: Recently, there has also been an increased interest in having financial professionals speak at meetings of groups and organizations. One advisor we talked with is an active member of his large Chamber of Commerce. He has been asking for years to speak at one of the Chamber’s monthly luncheons. Again and again he was told ‘no.’ In early October he went to his Chamber and mentioned he had a presentation called, “What NOT to Do With Your Money Now.” They cancelled their previously scheduled speaker and put him on the agenda as the main speaker. Have times changed! Now, people really do want to hear you!
Do inexpensive grassroots-type Initiatives work?
An advisor in Illinois didn’t want to spend a lot of money finding new clients right now. So, he copied a strategy that some politicians were using. He and his staff go to the train station once a week during morning rush hour. They purchase coffee from the local provider and then pass it out for free to riders boarding the train. They also give out a flyer that says, “Nervous about your investments? Call xxx-xxx-xxxx.” It includes a picture of the advisor, a list of services, and their compliance information (of course!). They have scheduled appointments, have already identified millions of dollars in potential, and closed a $1,000,000 sale. You see, just about anything you do right now to reach out to investors is working – even this!
Are referrals Increasing or decreasing right now?
Even the simple strategy of asking current clients for referrals is working better than even a year ago. In the past, a typical question asking for referrals may have produced an answer like, ‘I really don’t know anyone.’ But today when you ask the question, ‘Do you know anyone nervous about their investments?’ - the answer you get is dramatically different. The answers are ‘yes’ and ‘everyone’ and the referrals are coming in!
How about advertising?
The same advertisement that an advisor has been running in his local newspaper to generate exposure only in good times is generating phone calls from interested prospects in these volatile times. We have heard from many advisors that simple ads with a strong call to action are producing interested prospects. Many of the ads simply ask the question, “Are you nervous about your investments?”
Yes, it takes confidence to increase your activity in turbulent times, but that’s what clients are looking for… Confidence!