Does it really take money to make money?

Developing a marketing plan can be daunting for many financial advisors. Some advisors I work with have avoided the topic of marketing because they say there are too many options, fulfillment decisions, and fear of little or no return on their investment. The opportunities available to them are numerous and range from museum sponsorships and billboards to radio spots and postcards. And even after they have selected a medium, they may think: Who is going to write and design those postcards, and how much will it cost to print and mail them? And after all that, will any of the recipients even become a client?

Unfortunately, without a marketing initiative, many advisors may find their book of business on a plateau. One common misconception is that a marketing initiative means shelling out millions on a Super Bowl commercial. In reality, gaining exposure and connecting with new prospects can be done through a variety of less-expensive ways.

One way of gaining exposure is by hosting or attending an event. Through events, large or small, an advisor is able to meet prospective clients and cultivate a relationship.

Host an event

Hosting a social event is a great way to kill at least three birds with one stone. A properly planned and executed event can help you nurture your relationship with existing clients, meet new prospects and become a community pillar.

A lighthearted event geared toward catching up with your existing clients can be considered a success because it is an opportunity to reconnect. One way you can get more value out of these events is by asking these clients to bring a friend or guest. This is an almost surefire way to get some introductions in a non-threatening environment.

Social events can range from renting a box at a local baseball game to hosting an intimate dinner. Many of the advisors I work with host larger events on an annual basis to serve as a means of client appreciation. I have suggested they expand the budget a tad and open the event up to some prospects. This could mean some folks who are close to becoming clients, or even friends and family of existing clients, and tacking on a few extra tickets for prospective clients usually won’t break the bank. One advisor does an annual baseball outing at a local minor league field. Each year his clients look forward to this outing and ask to invite their friends and family. 

Host an Educational Seminar

A social event is one way to cultivate relationships and expand upon your existing network, but educational seminars are another way to gain access to potential clients. By organizing a free, public seminar you are able to draw a crowd of audience members who have already demonstrated a need for financial services simply by showing up. Through your presentation, you can showcase your knowledge and expertise to a group that is already interested in the subject matter.

Because the events are free and in public places, you may be able to get additional exposure through community newspapers and message boards. You may also able to establish or solidify your reputation as a knowledgeable expert by sponsoring these events.

A great way to start hosting these types of seminars is by partnering with a local community college, library or even your town’s recreational center. These venues tend to be free to utilize and often come with a large, built-in network of invitees. An advisor I have worked with often partners with his local library because the library publishes a monthly newsletter that features his events. Recipients of the newsletter include local businesses who have sponsored the library, and even some high-net-worth donors. The library also has a reoccurring column in the local newspaper that mentions upcoming events, free of charge.

Attend an event

Another advisor I have worked with found out about an opening at a local art gallery for a well-known artist. He invited an art-connoisseur client of his to the opening, and also treated him to dinner. The advisor met a few of the client’s friends at the gallery who became qualified prospects. This was a casual environment for these prospects to get to know the advisor on a personal level, to discuss how he knows the client, and what he does for a living, etc. If the prospects were interested, the advisor offered them his business card, thereby making it a comfortable introduction.

The cost of the entire event was only the price of the client’s risotto at dinner. This was a casual event that solidified his relationship with his client, and that introduced him to prospects and a new potential network within the art world. “I would have had to eat dinner anyways,” he joked.

You can learn about potential events simply by chatting with existing clients. Learn about the networks and communities they belong to, and do some research on upcoming events in your area.

While there are many prospecting opportunities available including fliers, postcards and internet ads, events may be a cost-effective, targeted way to establish new relationships and nurture existing ones.