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7 essential marketing strategies

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Over the years, I’ve discovered seven successful strategies for building your practice:

1. Client service. Put client service first and good things will happen. Happy clients tell their friends and family about you and promote you when the opportunity arises.

When you respond quickly and thoroughly to clients’ needs and wishes, you are providing great service. When you reach out to clients on their birthdays and anniversaries and send warm greetings to them during holidays, you are striving for extraordinary service. When you send clients a hand-written note of appreciation, a fruit basket or flowers when they aren’t feeling well or are going through a hard time, you are striving for extraordinary service.

When was the last time you called a client to say hi and simply have a conversation? Or took a widow client out to tea? These are things that set you apart and display your genuine care.

Finally, work on striving for extraordinary results, too. Help clients keep their money in the right place at the right time. Do periodic reviews and keep beneficiary designations up to date and coordinated with their estate plans. Help them plan for challenges like long-term care, living too long, dying too soon or becoming disabled along the way. Help them coordinate the work of their attorneys, CPAs, P&C agents, and investment professionals, making sure the team is working together and in their best interest.

2. Client events. Consider having events that show your appreciation for your clients from time to time. Take them out for lunch, golf or fishing. Throw a holiday brunch. This month, I am hosting a forecasting event where more than 100 clients will come for dinner and hear what the pundits are predicting for 2013. We also take clients on a river cruise in the summer.

3. Passion events for clients. An advisor friend I have in Pittsburgh holds a short game school for golfers in the summer. Participants get a golf shirt, sleeve of balls and tees with his firm’s logo on it, and a golf pro from his club teaches the clients and their friends how to improve their chipping and putting. Learn what your clients are passionate about and connect your passions with theirs to make an extraordinary event.

4. Introductions to family and friends. This is one of the most difficult things to build into your firm’s corporate culture. When you begin down the pathway of asking clients to introduce their family and friends to you, you need to believe in yourself first. This movement doesn’t happen automatically; you need to communicate it to your clients.

Start with summarizing your value proposition in a few points that are easy to share. At Welshire, our value proposition is simple. We do wealth planning (fostering true wealth), wealth management (using our four-step process), and wealth services (transparent, proactive service). Teach your value proposition to your clients. Put it on your website and marketing materials, too.

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Survey your clients and ask them to refer people to you at the end of the survey. Then, call your clients and ask if they could please introduce you to their referral.

5. Collaboration. Working with CPAs, J.D.s or other centers of influence can be a process that is slower than molasses in January. This month, I am collaborating with a law firm in Madison, Wis., on an event for the firm’s clients as well as the general public. We’ll host a dinner workshop for both groups to educate them on estate and retirement planning. That’s an example of collaboration.

6. Self-referrals. Saying that you are giving yourself referrals is a new and softer way to say you are cold-calling people. Remember back in the old days when you had to dial for dollars? I started in the business back in 1984 and built my business on cold-calling folks out of the phone book and chamber of commerce directory.

Self-referrals is a term that means creating your top 100 list of the most ideal prospects you can think of in your community and starting to develop a relationship with them. Begin to get to know them through your friends, the Internet, the newspaper and other community services. Then, find the best way you can imagine to meet them on a favorable basis.

7. Workshops. This last strategy is so vast that I’ll save it for my entire column next month. Stay tuned!

For more from Brent Welch, see:

Building your business with newsletters

A year in review

Your own election campaign