Getting creative with your prospecting techniques is often the most effective way to not only build your client base, but build it with people you consider your ideal clients. While referrals are helpful, being proactive with your best clients can often yield the greatest results.

One of the most promising forms of prospecting is association marketing. The premise is simple: identify your best clients, then research the various trade associations for those clients’ industries.

Associations are groups of professionals who often share the same values, motivations and interests. If you become a vendor or presenter at your best clients’ association meetings, you can become acquainted with a group of people who are very similar to your great clients. It’s what I call “100:1 Marketing.” You go to one place and you get 100 opportunities.

Being a vendor at an association meeting can give you an immediate advantage. For instance, being a member of the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) allows me to meet a wide range of people. I noticed I had an innate sense of trust and confidence in the vendors at MDRT functions. My thought process was, if they are here, MDRT must believe they have something valuable to offer.

As advisors, trust is an important part of our business. If we can initiate a new business relationship through these association meetings, we can potentially gain the trust of our prospects, and in so doing, we can surpass one of the biggest hurdles we might encounter.

Though it may seem daunting to try to prospect with such a large crowd, some associations will make their members’ contact information available to vendors. This allows you to follow-up with many potential new clients, even if you didn’t get a chance to meet each one personally. Send each member a copy of your presentation and, since you know and understand the specific needs of the industry, customize your outreach.

Don’t be discouraged if one association’s meeting proves unfruitful. Members might attend the same meeting next year and have different needs — needs that you are more suited to address than during the previous year. You can tap the same prospect base repeatedly and not only introduce yourself to new members each time, but also build a rapport with members who attend year after year.

Referrals are always a nice asset, but being proactive in your prospecting can make a huge difference. Members attend their association’s functions to meet new people, learn more about their industry and utilize the resources offered by the organization. When you are active in association marketing, you can become the resource those members are eager to meet.

Brian D. Heckert, CLU, ChFC, AIF, QPFC, is founder and wealth manager at Financial Solutions Midwest. He has been a member of MDRT since 1989 and has attended every meeting with two Top of the Table qualification and nine Court of the Table qualifications. Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through NFP Securities Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. NFP Securities Inc. is not affiliated with Financial Solutions Midwest LLC or Million Dollar Round Table.

To read last week’s Words from the Wise, click here.

For more on association marketing, see:

Magnetic marketing brings prospects to you

A 5-Step Plan

Postscript: Marketing – Marketing to Associations