Sometimes it's the little things that make all the difference. If you’re like most financial advisors, you are ultra-busy serving your clients and generating new business. But have you handled the marketing fundamentals?
Marketing Fundamental #1: Who is your ideal client?
If you are not 100% clear on whom you best serve –and why – you will not be an effective communicator and your messaging will be “off.” Furthermore, you won’t be asking for the right introductions or pursuing the right relationships. You’ll waste time and money (and most likely be quite frustrated with your marketing results) without a very clear and intentional focus. A good way to get clear on who your ideal client is, is to create a Prospect Profile (also known as an Ideal Client Profile). The story of an advisor in rural Missouri who took the time to create a good Prospect Profile shows how helpful this Marketing Basic can be.
Marketing Fundamental #2: Why are you and/or your firm the best choice for your ideal clients?
Once you are clear on your target market(s), it makes sense to work on your value proposition and core marketing materials. One of the most essential elements in your Marketing Tool Kit is a Power Bio. Your Power Bio should clearly articulate your values, focus, experience, credentials, education and touch lightly on your personal interests (this will give the reader a glimpse into you as a three-dimensional human being and hint at what’s most important to you outside of your work life).
Your Power Bio and Prospect Profile one-sheets can be used together or separately, placed in a pocket folder along with your company brochure, used as the basis for content on your website, left out at seminars, and serve as a guide for strategic partner meetings.
THE PROSPECT PROFILE
An advisor in rural Missouri was perplexed. Although he felt his firm did an awesome job for its clients, referrals were few and far-between. While there were several other advisers in town, he ran the only truly independent investment advisory firm. A twice-published book author who was often quoted in the local and national press, he was the quintessential hometown boy who'd made good. But he knew he could never convince the upper echelons to fire the local bank trust department, so he decided to target the middle spectrum and newcomers to town. Still, he was having a hard time articulating his firm's value.
Knowing that he would benefit from professional help, this advisor hired a marketing consultant to review all of his essential marketing and client communication materials. They started by reviewing the 3-Ms Process which, in a nutshell, says that determining who your market is before developing your message and/or your materials is the smartest and most effective way to produce results.
While this advisor had, in fact, identified two good prospect pools and was attempting to make inroads in correlated circles, he had not created a detailed plan. Part of the planning process included creating a clearly written statement describing his best clients.
This Ideal Client Profile would communicate exactly who he was looking for and why he and his firm would be their best choice. The Ideal Client Profile that he would ultimately create and print on his letterhead included demographics (where his best clients / prospects lived, their ages, incomes and professions) and psychographics (their values and motivations, problems, issues and aspirations). He also determined where these ideal clients congregated and how to reach them (the “how to reach them” portion of his research became the basis for a written marketing plan).
After working up the Ideal Client Profile, he began meeting with key clients and advisory board members. The one-page profile, which was branded with the firm's logo on top and contact information on the bottom, clearly outlined in concise, bulleted form whom he best served and why he was the best choice for middle-market families, busy professionals and business owners.
The Ideal Client Profile served as a good meeting agenda and conversation starter with influential people in the community. It provided all the talking points he needed for dedicated lunch and breakfast meetings. After a focused 15-minute discussion about what he could offer, the conversation turned naturally back to kids, hobbies and other mutual interests. His credibility, clarity and commitment were apparent and impressive at these meetings.
The meetings fostered relationships and left dozens of referral partners with a handy reference guide explaining who the adviser was looking for and how to facilitate an introduction. When the referring party thought someone might make a good client, she was asked to say a few positive things about her experience working with the adviser, provide his Website address—which was easy to spell and remember —and ask if she could facilitate an introduction. If the prospective client seemed open, she would suggest that they have lunch or golf. If the three of them shared a common interest or membership in an organization, she was asked to connect the adviser and the prospect personally when the occasion arose. Finally she was asked to call or e-mail the adviser, just to check in and discuss possible other ways to establish a connection.
A happy byproduct of the process was the adviser's own clarity about his message and target market. As a result, he is able to talk about the firm's value to the right people much more easily.26
THE POWER BIO
In addition to the Ideal Client Profile, the advisor also created a one-page Executive Summary (or Power Bio), which summarized his values, focus, credentials, education and experience in one page. The document also touched lightly on his personal interests, giving a glimpse into what mattered most to him outside of his work life. It was branded with his logo and included a good, professional headshot (captioned to show his
The purpose of this document is to showcase your expertise and establish credibility. Here are a few tips for developing yours:
-- Write your profile in the third person, as if a professional biographer had interviewed you.
-- Warm up the narrative by quoting yourself. Place the quotes in logical places to break up what may otherwise become dull content. Personal statements and assertions—anything that is better said in first person—can carry greater weight if they are inserted as quotes.
For instance: Janice Smith has long been active in the community. “It’s a real privilege to serve on the local school board,” Janice said. “As a mother of three young children, it’s important for me to take an interest in education and the school system. It ties right in to my roles with the PTA.”
-- Make a few statements about your client service or investment philosophy, why you got into the business and how your business model is unique.
-- Add a bit of personality at the end by giving the reader a glimpse into your personal life. Mention that you volunteer at the Girls Club, serve on a foundation board, enjoy sailing, have traveled to third-world countries on humanitarian missions, collect fine wines or invest in sports memorabilia. You want to stimulate a sense of trust and affinity.
-- Include a call-to-action, even if it is a simple “visit www.SmithFinancialPlanning.com to learn more about how we can help you reach your financial goals.” and place your contact information at the bottom.
This multipurpose document can serve as a handout at seminars and networking functions, a follow-up to an in-person meeting or a page on your Website.
An Oklahoma City advisor with 12 years' experience had never developed a one-sheet Executive Summary or Professional Bio. He had a Statement of Qualifications, which talked about his firm and its services, but the credibility builders such as his experience, background and education — all the items that made him worthy of a client's trust — were buried in the middle of the company overview. Now he uses his one-sheet Executive Summary as well as a revamped company Statement of Qualifications to build rapport and trust before and after meetings, seminars and promotions. He feels more confident in articulating his value and has tangible materials to reinforce key messages.
With an Executive Summary ready to go, you will be better equipped to sell yourself and your firm. Include the printed version in the introductory packets, press kits and mailings. The Executive Summary will give you great positioning with the media, prospective clients and other influential people within your market. Annually update the profile and include it in a newsletter mailing. Every few years, update your photo and your team's photo for your Website and brochure. This creates a positive impression and reminds recipients of the firm's driving force, the adviser behind the wheel.
People want to do business with people they like and trust. Why not help them understand your background, qualifications and values with an easy-to-read one-sheet about you?
COMPLETE MARKETING MATERIALS
Your marketing tool kit should also include a client-centered brochure; a compelling Website; professional looking stationery and business cards; a branded PowerPoint template; a personalized e-mail signature; a newsletter template; an executive note card; seasonal postcards; and a handful of branded promotional gift items such as pens, coffee mugs, post-it notes or note pads.
You should also produce a core issue article that demonstrates your know-how. It should be an informational piece that shows that you are competent to help your clients. Good formats are "The 10 Biggest Mistakes People Make with Their Money" or "What You Absolutely Must Do to Enjoy a Secure Retirement."
Creating these materials should help you get a clearer understanding of who you are, whom you serve best and the value you provide. In the process, you will gain the confidence to speak and write in an engaging and even passionate manner. As a result you will impress people with your clarity, focus and professionalism.
If you develop these essential marketing tools, you'll have built the foundation you need to launch an effective drip marketing campaign. Whatever you do to promote your business — event marketing, networking, public relations or drip marketing — don't let your business image tarnish.
As the old saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.