For many years top advisors have been telling you what your clients want, what they need, what forms of communications to use, types of events to host, how frequently to communicate, all the way down to what you and your staff should be wearing.  But what works for a practice in one area might not be appropriate in another. The only way one can really know, is by asking clients and prospects in each area directly.

The most effective way I have found is a market research event (MRE for short).  You can do an MRE for your existing clients and prospects. First, find out what is working for your client base.  Second, develop a strategy to market to demographics absent from your client base.  

Recently, I facilitated an MRE for one of my financial advisors to learn more about his existing clients. Some of the information we gleaned from the process was astounding and quite groundbreaking. This information also challenged some closely held beliefs about the practice. Here is what we found in our research:

  • Dress Code: In his location, suits are out. His clients said they were too formal for the relationship they had with him.
  • Communcation: Clients hated the weekly market communications he had been using for years. They did not think it was beneficial information and did not read it.
  • Referrals: His clients were afraid to refer due to service decline perception.
  • Services: This advisor was too afraid to come across as “salesy,” so clients had no idea what else the advisor could do for them. When I brought up a few of the things he did exceptionally well, they all said they wanted him to “toot his horn” more.

Clients sweat that this was the best way to get their message out, show a willingness to respond to local market conditions, and gain new business. So, we conducted an MRE for prospects as well. We recruited over a dozen local business leaders and prospects, none of them current clients.  Here is a synopsis of their feedback after the process:

  • Ability to Refer: They all love to refer, if they know exactly what you do and why it benefits them. It makes them look like well-connected business people in the area.
  • Services Offered to Wealthy Business Owners: Most of the business owners in this room wanted transactions not a plan. Their plan is their business.
  • How Many Advisors They Have and/or Want: Every business person in this room had at least three advisors the most had seven. Each of the advisors does something specific. They did not like generalists.
  • What Products and Services They Are Looking For: The biggest opportunity we found from this group is alternative investments. They want them, know little about them, and are more than happy to pay a commission for your expertise.

There are wonderful coaches, consultants and companies who do research all of whom offer great research and information. For my clients, I wanted to go to the horse’s mouth.  Some pieces of feedback that came out of the MREs really supported their research, but other pieces actually negated it; something to take under serious consideration. Instead of just taking other people’s word for it; have the courage and interest to actually ask your clients and prospects in your area what they really want, instead of what we think they want.