<p>Image: patpitchaya / <a href="http://www.freedigitalphotos.net" target="_blank">FreeDigitalPhotos.net</a></p>

Often I have advisors ask me, “Exactly what are your top advisors doing to grow their business?” It’s an interesting question, because most advisors believe that they just need to make more sales and they will grow their business. This approach can work, and it’s certainly better than nothing, but I’ve found that the most successful advisors take a different approach. They focus on what leads to sales: generating prospects.

Of course, every advisor is looking to generate more prospects, but what makes the top advisors different is how they choose to go about it. Rather than individual tactics and one-off campaigns, the top advisors focus on creating a brand and a marketing strategy that brings a constant stream of qualified prospects to them. I call this the “marketing machine.”

To build an effective marketing machine, you need to make it repeatable, so you can replicate it and achieve predictable results. Even better, it should leverage your time, allowing you to reach prospects even while you’re not working. Finally, it should not only approach prospects, but also present you as an expert in a certain area. Let’s look at three pieces of a successful marketing machine. 

1. Publish a booklet on a topic that you are familiar with, then offer it to people in your local newspaper for free.

Make it easy for people to get your booklet, by asking them to simply call and leave a message on a dedicated voicemail box. (You can get a voicemail box that will do nothing but record the number of the person who called looking for the information.) Then, call that individual a few days later and ask a few simple questions to discover if they are a qualified prospect. 

A bonus to this approach: Being a published author can help you secure radio or TV appearances as a guest expert on a specific topic. For example, let’s say that you specialize in helping retirees roll over their retirement plans. You could write an 8–12 page booklet that examines 7 mistakes retirees make when taking a distribution from their retirement plan. The title automatically positions you as the go-to advisor for this specialty. Add a bio to the back of the booklet that shows all of your qualifications and expertise, and you add credibility to the information in the booklet. You also show the potential client why they may want to look to you to help them with this critical decision.

2. Create a monthly newsletter. 

Are you publishing a monthly newsletter?  If not, are you utilizing one of the sources available out in the marketplace to ghostwrite the newsletter for you?  You likely should be.  Many of the advisors that I work with utilize this tool to regularly “touch” their clients and keep the advisor at the top of the prospect or client’s mind.  You want that client or prospect to immediately think of you when they decide to retire, or come into an inheritance, or need to purchase long-term care insurance, or need to make any other financial decision. You’re right there at the top of the client’s mind because you have been regularly in front of the client with thought-provoking articles that are relevant to your specific marketplace. 

3. Host seminars. 

Many advisors that I work with have seen a decline in effectiveness of the seminars that they provide, unless it is a very specific topic that will drive prospects to talk with the advisor. For example, one topic that has come to the forefront of retirees’ minds is the decision about when to take Social Security. Helping married couples maximize their Social Security benefits may seem like it has no direct affect on an advisor’s income because the planning doesn’t directly generate assets that the advisor can manage.  Yet studies have shown that prospects want this advice and expect it from their financial professional. In fact, Social Security has proven to be an effective way to reach full planning clients who want the advisor to look at all their assets and to provide a plan for them to maximize their retirement assets and to minimize the risks that could eat away at those assets.

To develop a robust marketing strategy, all three of these prospecting ideas can be used together. Your booklets should be targeted at your specific niche and should tie into topics covered in your seminars. The same is true for your newsletter, and both the newsletter and booklets should be given out at seminars whenever possible.

Now, occasionally advisors will tell me that they haven’t published anything before.  Keep in mind that the client often doesn’t have significant knowledge on the topic and simply wants to be educated as to what they should be thinking about when making decisions about their financial planning. So my question to you as an advisor is, if not you, who? If not now, when? Make a decision to get started today. It has often been said that knowledge is power. I think it is more accurately stated that knowledge IN ACTION is power. Go create your own personal marketing machine, so that you can reap the rewards of a flourishing business, even in this tough economy.