This is the second in a series of blog posts on how advisors can market themselves by developing and strengthening their branding, which we argue will result not only in more referrals, but will produce more right-fit referrals. Last month’s post “Make Referrals Stickier With Strong Branding” discussed top of mind awareness and the unique value proposition (UVP). This month’s continuation of that article looks more specifically at how your UVP, consistently applied across multiple marketing tactics, supports client referrals, makes those referrals stickier and results in more “right fit” clients.
If you have a steady flow of referrals, but only a portion of those are right fit, you may have inconsistencies in your UVP. Your referral sources like you and think you do a good job, but they are not entirely sure what it is you do, or what kind of people you work with. Clients will assume that you are looking for clients like them. Your UVP helps them understand exactly what characteristic(s) they have that make them a good fit for your practice. That in turn helps them identify family members, friends and colleagues who would also be a good fit for your practice. Those characteristics might include:
- Need: college, retirement, estate planning
- Net worth: high net worth, mass affluent, working people
- Special need: disabled family member, nontraditional family, single parent, sandwich generation
The training advisors receive on how to get referrals often focuses on asking clients to refer anyone they know who could use the advisor’s assistance, and that strategy might garner a few referrals. Your clients, however, have a lot on their minds— job duties, kids’ activities, parents who need help, household chores, dry cleaning, dog vaccinations, car repairs—the list never ends. How likely do you think your clients are to remember to talk about you to their friends and family?
Far more likely are the tipping-point conversations introduced in last month’s article. You can also think of these as opportunity referrals. They occur when, during the normal course of a conversation, your client’s friend says, “It’s been so hard since Mom died. Now I’ve got to figure out what to do with the inheritance. I wish I knew someone I could trust to help me.”
If you were a fly on the wall, you’d be thinking, “Mention me! Mention me!” For that to happen, your client needs to have you top of mind. And you can only be top of mind if you have employed a consistent, memorable UVP and reinforced it multiple times in multiple ways.
The great thing about top of mind awareness is that it doesn’t rely on you asking your client for a referral; it happens spontaneously. Better yet, it doesn’t have to come from a client at all! You can build top of mind awareness among non-clients who are in a position to influence members of your target market.
Let’s look again at some of the tipping points that can cause a person to seek out a new, or a first, advisor relationship: marriage, divorce, death, inheritance, problem with the current advisor, job change, birth of a child, starting a business and selling a business, just to name a few.
Next, think about the people (nonclients) most likely to be in contact with your target market members during those times. Of course, many of those tipping points will involve accountants and attorneys, but think beyond the obvious. For example, a bereaved family may mention worries about organizing and settling complicated financial issues to a funeral director. By making funeral directors aware of the services you can provide to surviving spouses and children, you increase the chances that when such a conversation occurs, the funeral director will mention you.
In cultivating non-client referrals, it is important to make them aware of your right-fit client profile. You don’t want to be crass and say, “I don’t want anyone with less than $500,000 in investable assets.” Instead, say, “I enjoy working with people facing the task of organizing and settling large, complicated estates.” You want non-client referral sources to view you as a resource for the people they come in contact with, not as a fisherman expecting them to hold the pole for you.
Another way to make referrals stickier is to expand the prospect’s knowledge of you beyond the conversation with your client or non-client contact. Marketing tactics that involve more of the senses tend to be more memorable than those that involve a single sense. While we often talk about people who are “visual” learners, it means visual media is their strongest learning method, not their only learning method.
Events provide an excellent way to involve multiple sensory “ticklers” to help increase your top-of-mind awareness among clients and prospects. Seminars, workshops, charitable events, speaking engagements and special-interest get-togethers, especially when you invite clients and encourage them to “bring a friend,” can provide highly memorable experiences. Try to incorporate as many senses as possible in all your events—as appropriate, of course! For example, hosting a seminar on a financial topic can be enhanced with music before the presentation starts, good visuals, and some fresh baked cookies. Did you know the sense of smell is our strongest memory trigger? So what do your events smell like?
A strong UVP consistently applied across multiple marketing methods and enhanced with strong sensory input will enhance your “stickiness” factor. You will not only stay top-of-mind among your clients and prospects when a tipping point or opportunity referral arises, but you will increase the number of right-fit referrals for your practice.
View part one of this series of blog hosts by Kirk Hulett on advisor marketing and referrals.