ach of us would like to be appreciated for who we are, but also recognized as being worthy of appreciation. Maybe I’m just projecting here, but if I have to prove to you that I’m a great guy, I don’t want to do it. You’re only worthy of my consideration, you only have the right to praise me, if you first are insightful enough to realize that I’m really special.
That’s a false premise. However, years of association with advisors of every persuasion lead me to argue that many of you feel the same way about yourself and your practices. Yes, you know you’re good, and you do your utmost to serve your clients while trying to build enduring businesses, but beating your own drum seems so, well, d?(C)class?(C). That’s why passive referrals are the lifeblood of the independent advisor community. You do a great job serving a client, who then doesn’t hesitate to sing your praises to their neighbor or cousin or colleague or fellow beach club member. You wind up with a very hot prospect who walks in the door for meeting number one with an already keen appreciation for your wisdom. That prospect will make a worthy client.
After all, the alternative is to be one of those distasteful salespeople with a highfalutin, overblown sense of their own importance. In fact, weren’t those the exact people you wouldn’t want your children to grow up to be, and in fact didn’t want to be yourself? Aren’t they the folks who stretched the truth at best and downright lied at worst about their own qualifications, who oversold their products and services, who closed the deal but then turned their back on the client as they jetted off to Maui to enjoy the top producers’ luau?
But this is not a question of either/or. In fact, the best “salespeople” do in fact match the customer’s needs with their own, and are smart enough to realize that while you may fool some of the people all of the time, if you want to increase your chances of survival in the advice business–in fact, in nearly every business, you’d better treat the customer right not just once and then get out of town, but do so time after time.
Many independent advisors are by their own estimation not very good marketers, and are proud of that fact. But that pride may very well goeth before their fall. Competition for clients, and for young advisors, will mushroom in the years ahead. Good marketing will not only drive more business your way, it may very well drive more good advisors your way as well. That will allow you to be a better competitor and to serve your clients for a longer time, building your business and your profits along the way. Bob Keane’s cover story this month, supported by some recent research from Rydex AdvisorBenchmarking, relates a number of different ways for you to market yourselves better, and presents the stories of your peers who have already done so. Read Bob’s story. You can market yourself well while retaining your principles–in fact, good marketing will allow you to prosper longer, which will be good for you and your clients. So get over your misplaced modesty and raise your voice in justified praise for what you do very well. It’s your right and even your responsibility.