Our annual 100 Best list is 100 percent reader-generated and offers insight into what’s working for working advisors today. Thanks to all of you who made this list our best ever. Make your voice heard and vote on the top ideas or add your own in the comments section. We look forward to hearing from you!
1) Niche Market
I have specialized in working with teachers for 18 years. Becoming a specialist in this niche market has allowed me to grow my business. This is still a very untapped market that is waiting to be serviced. I will never run out of new prospects.
2) No pressure cooker
A low-pressure sales style along with very informative dinner seminars works for me.
Volunteer your time to assist seniors stay independent.
4) Coffee Talk
We conduct a “Second Cup of Coffee” public meeting at a local restaurant. We specifically note in the ad that we are there to feed their mind with useful information. We detail the next two month’s topics for discussion. We also list the name of any professional, i.e., elder law attorney, CPA, etc., who may be on
the agenda. We take reservations for 40 and are consistently booked.
5) Get a PR Pro
Hiring a public relations firm part time to get local TV interviews and articles written in local newspapers has been instrumental for our positioning as the local financial expert.
6) Show You Care
While there are many technical skills that we need as advisors, the thing that rings in my mind is that we must be client-centric. People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care. When I sit down with prospective clients, I spend at least two meetings, spaced a week apart for about two hours each, before I even let them give me a list of their assets.
7) Info Bingo
Put questions to basic insurance topics on a bingo-style card so attendees can then win prizes for providing answers. (This is used after a seminar.)
8) Target the orphan policy holder
I personally work with orphan policy-holders from different companies. An already sold customer is easier to do business with than a new prospect.
-Arthur E. Cambridge
9) Focus Groups
10) The annual review
Right now, annual reviews and service calls are the best.
11) Adult Education
What has been the most successful for my practice is teaching an adult financial educational course in the evening at a local university. My most significant and largest high net worth clients base has come from people enrolled in my class who provide me “introductions” (referrals).
-James R. Veal
12) Master the Media
I do two radio shows as well as running ad spots on the radio. This, in combination with two to three client events annually where I invite my current clients to bring guests, has resulted in good ROI for my marketing dollars.
13) Radio Guy
I host a weekly radio show addressing important issues in retirement and brand myself as the “Retirement Guy” in the Denver Metro area. I find great success through a weekly call to action to request one of my free “Special Reports” mentioned in the radio show.
14) Internet Leads
We book appointments from our Internet lead program. The following day the prospects receive a Federal Express package with the annuity information and other materials. This appears to solidify the scheduled appointment, since the prospects are very impressed with the speed and service of my firm.
15) Take Along the Kids
Ninety-five percent of my business is with mature clients. I found after 30 years in the business, my prospects were beginning to dwindle. My baby boomers were getting older and their incomes and investments were usually invested with me. I began to invite their children to sit in on reviews at least once a year. I found they became clients as well.
16) Sense of Urgency
Regular and consistent emailing to my customer, prospect, and networking list has produced fantastic results. The key is to be relevant, topical, and instill a sense of urgency into each message. This type of messaging practice makes you a trusted and sought-after resource of information.
Find out what the individual really likes and keep track of it in a CRM system. For holidays and birthdays I send them gifts that they love and will use. I’ve received a number of referrals that indicate the reason they want to work with me is because they have heard I really listen and care about what is important to them, including their non-financial life.
18) Many Mediums
Market in more than one medium. For example, direct mail, referrals, clients, ads. This will give you more names coming in that you can contact.
19) Network with Market Associations
We market our products through both AARP and ASBA. Also I find volunteering at the senior booths at state fairs, church health expos, etc., gets my face out there.
20) Do What You Say You are Going to Do
Sounds simple, but to guarantee completion, write it down, give it to your wife or fellow employee with a date that you will have completed it. Have them check on you and reward them with lunch for doing so.
21) Give Thanks
I never send holiday cards to my clients except at Thanksgiving, the appropriate time to thank them for their business. It gives me the extra opportunity to get referrals. Clients really like getting a card at Thanksgiving, when no one else is sending them anything. It doesn’t get lost in the end-of-year holiday shuffle.
22) Above and Beyond
One of the most important aspects of this business is treating your client as if it were yourself. This, in turn, helps make clients more at ease and they will feel you are authentic and trustworthy. In return, you have a good referral partner/client that will be selling you to all of their friends and family members. But you have to be you and go above and beyond the call of duty.
23) More Than an Advisor
The most important sales and marketing ideas are the ones that show you and your firm as a provider of valuable and timely information, apart from the role of advisor. Providing CE classes to CPAs that are relevant to the people they work with that is not directly or indirectly tied to life insurance, long-term care or other services you offer is important. If you have specific knowledge about family business issues, such as a CE course about the challenges they face, that’s a great way to start.
-Thomas P. Donahue
24) Crossing Over
Selling annuities as a cross-over sale after selling long-term care insurance to a senior.
25) Direct Mail
Do direct mailings that offer free booklets or reports regarding information on retirement planning, alternating with IRA and annuity information.
26) When There’s a Will …
I have found that many individuals and couples have not yet completed their necessary will, living will, healthcare power of attorney and durable power of attorney-related documents, and don’t fully understand the implications of not having these documents completed. Offering them an explanation of these documents and the importance of getting them completed is a way to built credibility and trust with potential clients.
27) Private Client Dinners
I will contact a group of four to six clients and let them know that I want to keep them up to date with what’s going on in the economy and would like to invite them along with their family and friends to a complimentary dinner seminar. Most clients bring two to five guests each and I’ve been able to acquire new clients as a result, all with no marketing costs.
-Anthony A. Saccaro
28) Establish a Need for LTC Sales
While every statistic points to the high probability of needing care (70 percent of us over 65 years of age), most of us are in denial and think it will only happen to the “other guy.” It is important to help the client picture themselves and their spouse needing care. It’s important to help them understand how this would impact their family if it happened to them: What if their health changed? What if the unthinkable happens?
29) Get Referrals
There has not been, nor will there ever be a better way to meet people then the referral you get from the prospective client’s friend.
30) Each Client is Unique
I look at the whole client and not a part of them. I then put a unique plan together to help them reach their goals. I believe each client is different and so their plan should reflect their goals and objectives.
31) Mind the Gap
I stay in contact with all of my clients by telephone, mail, and email. I bring them up to date on their policy particulars. I compare the benefit amount with the going amount in the local area, and sometimes they ask about getting another policy to fill the gap.
32) Veteran Affairs
My most effective marketing idea for 2011 (besides referrals) is veterans’ benefits consulting.
Always put the customer first by listening to the client/prospect and by asking comprehensive questions to get the overall view of their assets. Together, you can map out a retirement plan that works for them.
34) Get the News Out
Send out mailers to very select clients or future clients as a newspaper piece.
35) Sell, sell, sell!
36) Medicare Supplement
We have found that a perfect gateway to the annuity business is through the Medicare Supplement business. Therefore, we mail Medicare Supplement leads and assist those that respond with their Medicare Supplement choices. Once an agent/client relationship is created we cross sell annuities. It works.
-Edwin Oom, Jr.
37) Do Not Call
In 40 years in business and at age 67, I have found one thing that works: buy a good list with “do not call.” I use turning 65 for med supps and final expense life. Send yellow postcards (cost 24 cents), and then follow up three to five days later asking for an appointment. I know it’s an old system, but it still works.
-John E. White
38) Book It
Follow up the initial meeting with a new prospect by mailing them a short, easy-to-read book or booklet, mailed in a book box. We use a financial parable book. Follow up with a phone call a few days after the book has arrived and your second appointment ratio will increase significantly.
-Steven G. Johnson
39) Make the Time
You need to take your time with seniors.
-Annette M. Quillan
40) Constant Contact
Keep in constant contact with clients, either through email, snail mail, telephone, or in person. The more contact you have with your clients, the more they will remember you when their family and friends have a need for any of your services.
41) Happy Anniversary
The best way to generate new sales with an existing client is when the fixed indexed annuity comes up for the reallocation review. The insurance company sends out a letter to let the client reallocate their strategies each year before their anniversary. I have found that the client has additional money that they didn’t tell me about in our initial sale. They will get another annuity because they see how good the original annuity that I sold them has done without any loss.
-James F. Cadle
42) Put it in Writing
I personally send approximately 50 hand-written letters, with a personal label and a real stamp out weekly. In my letter, which includes my picture, I say that I am their local “senior specialist” and that if I do not hear from them I will be stopping by next week–no exceptions. On the outside of the envelope in a huge green lettering I also write, See you next week. This grabs their attention, too. After my mailer I get a few people who call me and say, no thanks. Then I go to my PO box to see whose letter might have been returned because of moving or passed away, etc. Then I hit the road that week and have been closing at least two annuities a month and about 10 to 15 final expense appointments.
43) Have a Great Fact Finder
Create your seminar around it. My fact-finder is six pages long and somewhere in those six pages is someone’s hot button issue or problem to solve. If they fill out the fact finder and bring it in you have a 95 percent chance of getting a client. When you use a financial software program and make it personal and bind it in a binder for them with the solution you have a 100 percent success rate.
44) Go Team
I moved from Buffalo, N.Y. to Jacksonville, Fla. about three-and-a-half years ago. One thing I noticed after moving to Florida was the huge amount of former New Yorkers, especially from the western New York area, that were living in North Florida. As a big NFL football fan, I joined the local chapter of the Buffalo Bills Backers club and watch my favorite team with some hometown fans. I decided to start my own website that caters to former New Yorkers who now live in North Florida. I am working on a “Service Provider” section for us former New Yorkers who have professional services/businesses to offer to the other members. All I ask the providers to do is treat our members fairly and to network and share referrals with other former New Yorkers.
It has been the single best marketing tool I’ve ever used. The system is so easy to use and is fully automated. When I get a new client, I just enter them into the system. I have a thank you campaign and one for referrals, birthdays, Thanksgiving, and anniversaries. I get three to four referrals a month using this system.
46) Valentine’s Day
I have found sending a simple Valentine’s Day card to my lady clients (widows usually) is successful. I include a $5 Starbucks gift card. I’ve had a couple of widow clients remarry this past year and sent cards to them. Amazingly, in both cases, the new husbands thanked me. Also, I received three referrals from the husbands and will do/have done business with both. This year we mailed 42. I have received phone calls, e-mails, notes, and personal “thank you’s” from 40.
47) Event Planning
Client events have increased our production dramatically. Sponsoring these programs puts both you and your client in a very relaxed atmosphere. We also encourage them to bring a friend or two to these events. No selling issues are discussed, just a good time is had by all. After these events we usually make appointments with not only our clients, but the friends as well.
-Michael T. Papa
48) Avoid Jargon
Ask questions first and determine the client’s expectations, then listen to the response. Present the best alternatives in plain English.
49) Focus Groups
Maximize your impact and relationships with new clients by creating focus groups. Invite recent seminar attendees that became clients to your office in small groups to get their feedback on your presentation. Run through the important points of your seminar and new ideas that you’d like to present at upcoming events. It keeps your clients engaged with you and sets the stage for future referrals. The bonus is the feedback you receive should help you become a better presenter as well.
50) In Their Best Interest
I just treat my clients with respect, and develop an open and honest relationship with them. I try to build a team atmosphere that lets them know what I propose is going to be in their best interest.