There are really only three primary marketing methods that work for independent financial planners:
-- Event Marketing
-- Public Relations
-- Client and COI Referrals
Filling each of the three funnels is a sure way to ensure you have enough qualified client inquiries come down the spout and, ultimately, become right-fit clients.
If you missed my most recent articles in the three-funnel series, check out "Building Share of Mind as a Local, Vocal Name" and "Creating Perfect Events Can Create Perfect Clients."
This week's topic: Generating a steady stream of client referrals.
The No. 1 Way To Get More And Better Referrals
My friend Steve Wershing, CFP®, better known as "The Referral Doctor" and a regular contributor to Financial Planning, says that the No. 1 way to make sure you don't get a referral is to ask for it. Why? Because studies show that clients don't refer you to benefit you - they refer you to benefit themselves.
In his speech as last week's Business & Wealth Management Forum, Wershing told an attentive audience exactly what they need to do to get people talking about and referring them. The No. 1 way to start getting more and better referrals? Stop asking.
Instead, planners must structure their practices in a way that gets clients to mention them to friends and family when the opportunity arises.
Marketing With Accuracy And Precision
An essential element of the Wershing formula is to target market with accuracy and precision. In a nutshell, you must:
-- Create a unique brand. Use client feedback to help you improve your service package and bring in new business.
-- Communicate your value clearly, consistently and effectively. The more targeted and narrow your niche, the better.
-- Learn how to harness the natural social interactions of your clients by owning a spot on the client's brain.
"One of the primary problems I see in advisor marketing is that it all comes from the advisor's head," Wershing said. "Most of the articles and presentations I have seen that discuss developing a niche, describing a target market, and developing a value proposition regularly end with something to the effect of, 'Now go lock yourself in a windowless room, and come up with it.' That's not how the professional marketers do it - and neither should you."
When serious marketers such as Procter & Gamble set out to come up with a new product or service, the marketing department brings together the sort of people the company wants to sell to and then asks for their opinions. What is missing in their product line? How can they improve existing service? Is their value proposition clearly articulated in their marketing material?
The marketing people take that feedback back to the company, and that's what they start working on. But advisors tend to do one of two things (a) they try to come up with the answer on their own (b) they copy what other advisors are doing and saying - not good.
"Most financial advisors, when pressed to come up with a target market or to describe what makes them different from other advisors, have difficulty doing it," Wershing said. "And when they do come up with a description, it tends to be in the technical jargon on which we're all trained to rely. They actually end up using non-differentiators in an attempt to describe how they're different."