Successful marketing is hard work. Most people will agree with that. But the payoff is well worth the extra effort.
Advisors who don’t have the expertise or the desire to handle their marketing efforts on their own certainly can find a number of experts to handle their “get out the good word” efforts, people who will tell them what makes a solid marketing campaign. What about the other side of the equation? The things that advisors shouldn’t do. What are the things advisors should avoid doing, or not forget to do?
For the answers to those questions, we turned to a handful of marketing gurus and business coaches. They broke down the mistakes into two categories: internal marketing and external marketing. Here is what they had to say.
Advisors’ existing clients should be their best source of new business, but many neglect to tap into the potential there. There’s the potential for referrals and recommendations, and there is the potential for further sales to existing clients. That cannot be overlooked.
“Too many people do not work with existing clients,” says Mel Schlesinger, president of Client Creation Academy ( www.clientcreationu.com ) in Winston-Salem, N.C. “Your best prospects are your current clients. In the time it takes to find one new client, an advisor can go to five clients and upsell them.”
With that thought, what follows are some things to avoid when it comes to internal marketing.
Financial advisors who work with seniors tend to overlook those clients’ families as prospects because of a perceived age gap, but today’s seniors – especially the older ones – are the parents of adult children, many of them baby boomers already thinking about their own retirement. Plus, showing a genuine interest in a client’s family goes a long way toward that client trusting his advisor and thereby referring him to others.
“Advisors need to understand the family dynamics,” says Gerri Leder, the founder of Baltimore-based LederMark Financial Marketing & Communications ( www.ledermark.com ). “There is nothing worse than a client dying and the advisor knowing none of the family.”
It’s bad for professional and personal reasons.
This suggestion from Schlesinger may find resistance from many advisors who specialize, but it makes sense from an overall planning perspective and from an internal marketing perspective. He says people think of being a specialist in the wrong way.
“Too many people are product specialists instead of market specialists,” Schlesinger claims. “LTCI specialists, annuity specialists, they have to find new people to sell to all of the time.”
Advisors don’t have to know everything about every product, he says, but if they are going to be senior market specialists, knowing a variety of products allows them to serve their clients in more and better ways – and can be more conducive to a healthy bottom line.
An alternative to learning more products is to form alliances with people who do. LTCI specialists are particularly adept at this, finding other advisors who work with everything except LTCI and establishing a referral pipeline back and forth. Even with a commission split, many LTCI experts say the alliance route is the best way to go.
The world’s a stage
If the ultimate goal of internal marketing is the coveted recommendation a client makes to a friend or family member, then advisors have to earn it. Stan Hustad, business performance coach, PTM Group ( www.ptmgroup.com ), Tucson, Ariz., firmly believes advisors need to perform for their clients and create an experience. The easiest place to control that experience is at the advisor’s office, not the prospect’s home, and the experience should begin the moment prospects walk through the door.
One advisor Hustad has worked with treats clients like respected guests before she even sees them. As soon as prospects hit the door they are met by a secretary who welcomes them, hands them a personalized menu of refreshment choices, takes their coats if the season calls for it and asks them what they want from the menu. Coffee is served in China, soda and water in glassware. The secretary serves the drinks and tells them the advisor will be right with them. As they sit in the waiting area, they are surrounded by pictures of satisfied clients. These touches may seem simple, but they are overlooked far too often in the rush-rush world we inhabit.
Once the advisor is in her office with the prospects, it’s time for her to perform. Different advisors will be comfortable with different methods of performing, but the goal should be the same: to secure a new client by showing how a particular plan can help the prospect and to make the new client trust the advisor enough to offer recommendations.
“Don’t forget the experience,” Hustad says in a voice that would be in all caps if he were communicating via e-mail or text message.
To stand out in clients’ minds, advisors have to go the extra mile. Sometimes, going the extra mile can be as simple as offering a personal touch, such as a birthday or anniversary card, a just-touching-base card, or a hand-written note.