I just celebrated my 30th year of being in business for myself. Looking back, I definitely did some things right and some wrong. Learning lessons the hard way is not ideal, so I'm sharing some hard-found knowledge about marketing strategies for financial advisors with the hope of saving you from making the same mistakes. When it comes to marketing, a few basic rules can make all the difference.
6 rules to guide your marketing strategies as a financial advisor
Rule #1: You must market yourself. It's a common belief that marketing is not appropriate for professional practices. This is simply not true. No matter how much business you have, you need to continually bring in new clients. Why? Without growth, your practice will decline (due to deaths, divorces, retirement withdrawals, and natural attrition). Without growth, advancement opportunities for younger, eager employees will be nonexistent. Plus, marketing is essential to growth.
Rule #2: The best way to market your firm is to do a great job for your current clients. Providing extraordinary service not only keeps your clients happy, it gives you a resource for obtaining new clients. A referral from a delighted client will likely lead to a new client who is qualified and a good match for your firm.
Rule #3: Realize that marketing is a continual process. You can't expect to see direct one-to-one results. For example, presenting at a seminar will not necessarily bring in a new client the following week. Similarly, getting quoted in the local paper doesn't guarantee a new prospect inquiry the next day. However, doing regular activities like these will increase your visibility and bolster your reputation which, in the long run, will result in business growth. Your latest prospect might just say, "When my neighbor mentioned that you were her financial advisor, I remembered reading about you somewhere. So, I decided to give you a call."
Rule #4: Be straightforward. When you would like someone to consider becoming a client, be upfront and say, "I would like you to consider becoming a client. Would you be willing to come to my office to talk about it?" At the end of a prospect meeting, be sure to state, "I'd really like to work with you." Clear communication can result in prospects feeling valued and wanted. And this leads to new clients.
Rule #5: Be true to yourself. You're likely going to be in this career for a long time, so make business choices that will add to your happiness. Don't pursue a prospect that you know will become a problem client. Choose clients that you will enjoy. Don't join an organization solely to network. Join an organization because you like being part of it. Decide what you want your business to become and make decisions—and your messaging—consistent with that vision.
Rule #6: You must commit resources for marketing. Spending time and money on marketing is necessary for success. The degree of either or both is dependent on your growth needs, your available time and your budget. If you have limited time, you should avoid time-consuming activities, such as extensive social media presence, and focus on more targeted marketing strategies, such as presenting at seminars. If you have a limited budget, you'll need to take advantage of low-cost opportunities, such as social media postings and referrals from current clients.
Knowing a few important ground rules can help ensure that your marketing strategies produce results, feel right, and lead to greater fulfillment down the road.
Sheryl Rowling leads rebalancing solutions for the Morningstar software product group.