It has come to my attention that many financial advisors have completely stopped marketing over the last couple of years. Many of you are not getting an opportunity to talk to new prospects. This is a serious problem. Every business must do some kind of marketing, or it will go out of business. So let’s get back to some basics.
What Is Marketing?
Let’s start with the definition of marketing. The American Heritage Dictionary defines marketing as “the commercial functions involved in transferring goods from producer to consumer.”
Sales is part of this process, but it is different from marketing. For our purposes, marketing means everything you do before you are face-to-face with a prospect. It means creating an environment for a meaningful sales conversation.
What Your Peers Are Reading
Once you are face to face, you move into the sales process: converting that motivated and qualified prospect into a client.
I like to think of marketing as letting people know you have what people want, while sales is trying to get people to want what you have. Effective marketers conduct research to find out what people want. Then they make offers to prospects, and see which offers they respond to.
Salespeople, on the other hand, try to overcome objections to get people to buy what they are selling. Because of this, salespeople tend to create resistance and negative emotions during the sales process. Just think about it: Whenever you feel like you are about to be sold, don’t you go into a defensive mode? Well, everyone does. That is just natural, normal human behavior. We do not want to be manipulated into doing something that we do not feel is in our best interests. Salespeople ask, “How do we sell this product?” But marketers ask, “How can we serve these people?” If you try to sell to people, they resist you. If you try to serve them, they help you. The difference is like night and day.
The classic marketing question is this: “You are about to open a restaurant and you can have any marketing advantage that you want. What is the one thing that will practically guarantee the success of your restaurant?” Most everyone will answer great food, low prices, friendly waiters, or a great location.
But those are sales answers–they’re all about the product. The marketing answer is “a starving crowd.” If you can find people who are hungry, you do not have to have great service, great food, or a great location. They will be glad to pay for your services. If you have a great product or service also, so much the better.
This is one of the key marketing challenges for financial advisors. How do you find people who are hungry or eager for your services? In today’s crowded marketplace, this is more difficult than in the past, unless you have very specialized services that meet the needs of specific groups of people.
Create a Written Profile
First, create a simple profile of the people who can benefit the most from your services. If you think of your prospects in terms of transitional events, it is pretty easy to determine who would benefit the most.
By the way, if people are not going through a transitional event, their desire to discuss their personal finances and make changes is typically very low. When they are going through transitional events, their desire and need are both very high. These are the best times to attract them.
When successful business owners sell their businesses, they receive a large amount of cash. It may be the biggest single chunk of cash they have ever had in their lives. They need someone to help them make smart choices about their personal finances and the management of that money. Rather than selling to these people, what you need to do is position yourself as an expert who can help them make smart choices during this critical transition point in their life.
Another classic example is the retiree. When people retire, they often get a large chunk of money through a 401(k) rollover. At this juncture, they have critical decisions to make and problems to solve.
When these people go through these major changes in their lives, they need the help of a competent professional financial advisor. However, if you act like a salesperson and try to sell them things, they will tend to back away and try to find someone who can advise them instead.
What Do You Provide?