Advisors and agents have tried for years to develop successful prospect-generating strategies. Some strategies have worked and others have produced disappointing results. Today, everything that relates to marketing is changing. And that’s good news for those who want to grow their business!

Amidst all of the uncertainty in the 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 a trustworthy, intelligent, calming voice that will provide an individual approach, analysis and solution to their financial situation. There has perhaps never before 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 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. 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.

Seminars

Public seminars/social events

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! 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

An idea that has worked in the past and continues to work with low risk and low cost is niche-based referral seminars. With a “5-5-5-20″ seminar, for example, you pick 5 or more clients that are in a niche (e.g., individuals who retired from the same company). You mail each client 5 invitations to an upcoming workshop on a seminar like “How to Retire from Local Company in Volatile Market Conditions.” Then you make phone calls to the 5 clients to personally ask them to pass those invitations to others who are preparing 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 mailing). Attendees are 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.” The chamber cancelled its previously scheduled speaker and put him on the agenda as the main speaker. Times have changed, and now, people really do want to hear you.

Grassroots initiatives

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.” The flyer includes a picture of the advisor, a list of services, and his compliance information. They have scheduled appointments, have already identified millions of dollars in potential, and closed a $1 million sale. You see, just about anything you do right now to reach out to investors is working–even this!

Referrals: increasing or decreasing?

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?”

While many advisors are pulling in the reins on their marketing and spending, market volatility brings a perfect time to increase your exposure. Right now is the time to let people know that you are an advisor with personal solutions. Yes, it takes confidence to increase your activity in turbulent times, but that’s what clients are looking for…confidence!

Maribeth Kuzmeski, MBA, is president of Red Zone Marketing, LLC, Libertyville, Ill. You can e-mail her at info@redzonemarketing.com