From the November 2010 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

November 1, 2010

The Only Proven Way to Add New Clients

Recent marketing changes dramatically affect your business

Marketing techniques for financial services practices have changed dramatically in the last 25 years, but some of the most significant changes have come about in just the past three years. Most of the marketing strategies you previously used to grow your business are now either illegal—or just plain ineffective.
When you first started, you probably used some of the following:
• Cold Calling
• Forced Networking
• Direct Mail for Lead Generation
• Yellow Page Advertising
• Public Seminars

If these marketing strategies are working for you, by all means continue with them. If they are not working for you, stop wasting your time and money.
Here’s what works now.

The following up-to-date marketing strategies are proven to work for a majority of financial advisors. If these strategies don’t work for you, it’s because of peculiarities in your area or, perhaps, poor execution on your part.

Client Referrals − Generated because of a perceived expertise or specialization, solid relationship and superior service. If you aren’t receiving client referrals, frankly, your service stinks.

Professional Referrals (CPAs, Estate Planners, Attorneys, Human Resource Managers) – You can cold call to build these relationships, or you can deliver CE credits, but the most effective way to build relationships is to meet them via a client or by networking within the community.

Client Communication – Probably the easiest and most effective marketing strategy to maintain and improve client relationships. Consider using direct mail and direct e-mail to “touch” clients 12, 24 or over 60 times per year.

Client Events – You should host at least four of these per year; hosting 12 is better. Many of my most successful advisors go beyond 20 per year.

Website – Don’t expect leads; don’t expect to generate inquiries from wealthy prospects because your name popped up in a keyword search. Rather, your website builds credibility between the time someone hears your name and the time you call. If you don’t have a high-quality website, you’ll lose potential referrals. Social media tools, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, a blog or Twitter feeds, can help you extend your online presence and build relationships with important people.

Networking – You should belong to at least four “groups.” A group can be religious, social, political, non-profit or educational. You should attend meetings regularly, participate and be passionate about the cause. It’s simple: your clients are a direct reflection of your networks. If your clients have no friends and no money—you’d better change networks.

I’d normally insert a case study of successful advisors who are using these channels, but for this article I don’t have to. Look no further than the top advisors in your area or the top advisors in your broker-dealer. I’m willing to bet that they do all or most of the six relationship marketing strategies listed here.
Today’s technology makes it easier than ever to automate the process of keeping in touch with clients and prospects. Getting good content for your campaigns and ensuring quality output is still very important. Firms such as BoulevardR and Financial Advice Network offer solutions for building your online presence. Ghostwriting services are available via firms such as Impact Communications, Wired Advisor, Wealth Management Marketing and Triton News. Bob Veres, publisher of Inside Information, also offers a subscription plan for advisors who like his writing style and client-oriented content.

However you proceed, keep in mind that consistently publishing good information, whether it’s online or print, helps build share of mind and credibility. Adding personal touches to educational campaigns will strengthen bonds and help generate introductions to other right-fitting clients.

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