During a tight economy, financial advisors feel the pinch as much as anyone else in business; maybe more. Whether you are a solo practitioner or working in an advisory firm, you face the dilemma of reaching AUM and revenue goals in an economy that is less than friendly. However, you can rest assured that by “getting back to the basics,” you will be putting your energy in the right place as you plan for 2013. These tips, based on The Four Pillars of Marketing SM, will remind the seasoned financial advisor – – and focus the newer financial advisor – – of what to do to develop business—even when the economy is not on your side. The Four Pillars of Marketing refer to marketing best practices around which you should plan and implement your marketing efforts:
I. Retain and Grow Relationships with your Existing Clients and Contacts
II. Attract New Clients and Develop New Business
III. Increase Name Recognition and Awareness
IV. Create Targeted and Effective Communications
A balanced marketing strategy will contain tactics from each of the Four Pillars of Marketing. Consider the following tips below as you develop and implement your marketing plan:
Pillar I – Retain and grow relationships with existing contacts.
Tip #1 – Keep your eye on the ball.
Develop a strategy that allows you to set realistic goals—and to support those goals with cost-effective marketing and communications strategies. Take the opportunity to step back from your day-to-day practice and reassess what has made you successful to date. Take an in-depth look at last year’s revenue. How does it compare to past years? From what types of clients did your revenue come? What services are most profitable for you? What industries are you serving? Build your marketing strategies around the best of what has worked for you in the past.
Tip #2 – Focus on relationship building.
The vast majority of your clients have likely come from referrals. Past clients, other professionals, industry associations, friends, family, and business associates have all contributed to your current success. How often you are in contact with these people? Make a list of everyone with whom you would like to reconnect this year, and call a few people each week just to say “hello” and to check in to see how they are doing. Meet for breakfast, coffee, or lunch. Staying connected to the great people you have met throughout your career will lead to opportunities you may never have imagined.
Tip #3 – When in doubt, ask your clients.
Before moving forward on a new marketing campaign, expanding into another market, or launching a new service, consult with your clients. Many financial advisory firms have benefited from conducting client surveys or interviews. Particularly in a tight economy, you need to know your clients’ perceptions and what is important to them.
Tip #4 – Be a stickler for responsiveness.
If a client or contact calls you, call them back. If they send you an email, respond—the same day. Even if you have no news to report to an existing client, call them back. A tight economy generally creates more competition. One variable you have complete control of – – even in a tight economy – – is the service-oriented focus you provide your clients and contacts each day.
Tip #5 – Clarify, then exceed your clients’ expectations.
Early in the relationship, clarify what clients expect from you as their financial advisor. Find out how they want you to communicate with them, how much detail they want in their invoices, how they want you to provide updates in the regulations that affect them. You should even find out what frustrates them about having to deal with financial advisors. Every client will have different expectations (and baggage from past relationships they have had with financial advisors). It is your job as a service provider to clarify expectations with a goal of exceeding them.
Watch for Parts II, III, and IV in the coming weeks.