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Practice Makeover: Season 5

Episode 4: Is your marketing addressing what makes you unique?

September 01, 2016 @ 12:01 am

Runtime: 7:13

Watch episode 4 of Practice Makeover and learn simple marketing strategies that you can implement now.

The Renovation Room

Industry experts and executives offer strategies, tips and ideas on how practices can improve their business.

Lindsay Troxell

Lindsay Troxell

Senior Consultant, TD Ameritrade Institutional - Business Performance Consulting Group

How can I know my clients better?" is a question that every advisor should be asking themselves. At the beginning of this episode, Aaron Klemow wisely stated that "any advisor, no matter how good they are at building relationships, can be more successful by simply differentiating themselves." In my opinion, one of the best ways to avoid the competitive convergence trap is by getting to know your ideal client better and then creating a brand strategy that tugs at the heartstrings of that individual. Sounds obvious, right? Unfortunately, as many advisors know it's not as simple or as intuitive as it might sound.

Sean McGillivray spoke about the importance of keeping great notes in your CRM such as the birth of a grandchild so that you can be sure to have meaningful client interactions. This example makes a great point, but my recommendation would be to take it a step further by diving deeper into the unexpected. Research and document all the major psychographics for your clients such as their lifestyle, activities, passions, motivations, values and social circle. The psychographic research takes the most time and energy, additionally it will be the area that yields the highest return when you are working on your messaging, marketing, and overall client experience. In this example the birth of a grandchild may very well be part of the psychographic profile, however, the critical aspect for you to understand is how that ranks in importance for the client and how you will use the information to differentiate yourself.

Psychographics will also help when developing a differentiated center-of-influence and event strategy. Richard Little, like many other advisors, found success hosting traditional financial seminars with such typical centers of influence as CPAs and attorneys. This strategy is fine, however when your market isn't more narrowly defined – such as students coming out of dentistry school – you may struggle to find a compelling draw to your seminar. Psychographics can help you determine what type of event will be compelling and what type of centers of influence you might want to include. For example, you may find that your ideal client's psychographics reveal that they value an active and healthy lifestyle. If that's the case, they may be more motivated to attend an event focused on living a life of abundance, rather than a seminar on social security or family trusts. Your active lifestyle event might include centers of influence like yoga instructors, mindfulness experts, gym owners and nutritionists.

It is my belief that our industry is poised for creative disruption, and that those advisors who open their eyes to that possibility are going to be positioned to shift the investor experience significantly. Those that don’t might struggle to stay afloat in the sea of indistinguishable financial services firms.

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Nina O’Neal

Nina O’Neal

Partner, Investment Advisor, Archer Investment Management

Many financial advisors struggle with marketing mainly because – well, they aren’t marketers. Whether you are an independent, wire house, or bank advisor, most of us do not have extensive marketing backgrounds or know always how to capture our brands effectively. Also, it takes financial resources to help to build your brand identity and develop a marketing strategy. That in itself can become overwhelming to some that do not even know where to start as it is. Mark discussed how marketing does not necessarily immediately equal sales, and he is right. Advisors have to remember to be patient with marketing and have a multi-faceted approach with a consistent way to measure results. Tracking social media and web traffic, client appreciation or seminar results, or mailing campaigns does not have to be time consuming. However, it is critical in understanding where you are having success in order to keep building upon that marketing plan. Marketing in our regulatory environment can be challenging, but it can be done with the right marketing plan and tools to verify success.

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Joseph V. Maugeri

Joseph V. Maugeri

Managing Director, Corporate Relations, CFP Board

With so many advisors and firms reaching out to consumers these days, the message from this week’s episode resonates with me, especially around differentiation and the “WIFM.” In regards to being seen as trusted, advisors can often show this without having to say it outright. By working toward and earning well-known credentials or designations, it does the work for them, leaving advisers with more time and space to connect with their clients in a more effective, meaningful way.

For example, more than half of the advisors in the industry do not have CFP® certification, so obtaining this designation – which has high awareness by the public – is an efficient way to demonstrate your competency and differentiate yourself from others promoting similar services. The designation has awareness (aided and unaided) in the 85 percent range. What’s in it for the prospect? Rigorous certifications that are recognized by the public send a message that you will ask better questions and provide more intelligent solutions.

In the end, marketing is not magic, but can be as simple as just having a frank, honest and open conversation with prospects about your background, experience, approach and certifications that make you uniquely qualified to handle their financial planning. It is amazing how many advisors don’t talk about these areas in more detail when they meet new prospects. In the end, it may be all the marketing you may need.

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Dan Klein

Dan Klein

Executive Vice President, Platinum Strategies

In this episode Matt Halloran’s guidance is spot on for any advisor looking to refine their focus and grow their client base. I agree with Matt that advisors (and most entrepreneurs) resist change and because marketing can be overwhelming the hardest part may be just getting started!

Matt hit the nail on the head with picking a niche. A lot of advisors hesitate to do this because they don’t want to exclude any potential new clients. What happens when advisors have a clearly defined niche is that they tend to outperform because they become the go-to resource for that segment – which increases their prospecting results. It’s a leap of faith and I’d encourage most advisors to go this direction. After selecting the right niche or niches (if appropriate) advisors should be able to answer two questions - How will investors in a particular niche benefit after working with them? What value do they provide above and beyond who their selected niche may be working with currently? These are critical questions that are essential to answer.

Once an advisor has answered these questions they need to package their message to their targeted niche and that’s where the marketing magic begins. An advisor’s brand, messaging, website, materials, and communication strategy are all tackled during this step. I see a lot of advisors get overwhelmed at this stage and this is where advisors may want to partner with an outside firm to help complete these things. This process isn’t done overnight, so it’s important to plan out how long this may take and also the specific deliverables that will be created.

The last part is activity. Specific to Matt’s point – it’s not possible to pay for some marketing initiative and then have new clients just appear. Develop the specific things that will be done to proactively seek out new clients and measure each to see if they are working. Advisors may not actually know which specific marketing tactics worked which is why it’s important to do multiple things to engage any niche market. I think that’s the “squishy” part that Matt may have been referring to.

In order to achieve above average results in attracting new clients it is essential that advisors differentiate themselves - and that can only come from being clear about who they are prospecting and then approaching that niche with familiar language and in a way that resonates best with them.

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Megan Carpenter

Megan Carpenter

Managing Partner of FiComm Partners, LLC

Advisors struggle with marketing for the same reason old-time explorers had such a tough time finding the Fountain of Youth. They’re looking for something that doesn’t exist. There is no magic bullet, no one-size-fits-all solution that works for every advisor. Each advisor business is unique.

Matt Halloran is spot on when he says that marketing revolves around the qualities that make you different—but many advisors are trying to be just like everyone else. They are searching for generic, feel-good words to put on their websites, such as “fiduciary,” “objective,” or “holistic.” Those are attributes every advisor shares. They certainly aren’t the reasons why your clients chose to work with you instead of someone else.

To build a successful marketing plan, you need to identify the core qualities that set you apart. Start by asking the same kinds of probing questions that you ask your own clients before you create a plan for them. What are your goals? What type of business are you trying to build? Who is your ideal client persona? What are their specific pain points—and how do your services address them? How do they want you to communicate with them?

You need to paint a picture of your ideal client persona in enough detail to develop tailored strategies to reach that individual. If you’re targeting tech executives, for example, learn to speak the jargon as well as they do. Become an expert in specialized issues like managing concentrated or paper wealth. Forget mahogany offices, and focus on providing 24/7 mobile access. The same principles apply if you want to work with airline pilots or manufacturing executives. Learn the lingo, immerse yourself in their needs, and try to make a name for yourself in their world.

Unfortunately, there’s no shortcut to finding your own niche. Your home office or custodian may send you perfectly lovely marketing brochures or presentations—but if they don’t capture your singular point of differentiation, they’re useless. And please, don’t copy a technique because it worked for your golf buddy—someone with a completely different business from yours. That’s how you can really lose your way. If you’re struggling with marketing, it’s time cut through all the cookie-cutter solutions and find your own unique path to success.

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