If I asked you what you thought to be the number one marketing method for Financial Planning firms, you’d probably say client referrals. According to survey after survey, you’d be right.
Yet when I ask most firms how many referrals they generate per week, they look at me strangely. “What do you mean per week?” they say. “We get about 3 or 4 client referrals per year.” That’s when it’s my turn to look at them strangely because if that’s their number one marketing method, I’d sure hate to see their second best approach.
The simple fact is advisers want more client referrals, so here’s how you can improve your client referral rates.
It’s my belief that improved client communication is one of the keys to creating deeper engagement with your existing clients, which is a key factor in increasing client referrals.
Many Financial Planners think that simply adopting the Financial Planning model will be enough. It’s not. Doing the right thing is just table stakes to the game. Delivering a fantastic service and generating the engagement that comes from that requires more.
Once a client is on board and is being looked after via your process of annual meetings, you need to start building the relationship and adding value via an ongoing communications program.
An effective, ongoing communications program doesn’t need to be complicated. To be honest, it’s the really simple things that have the biggest impact.
- Calling your top clients between review dates
- Running an annual client seminar
- Sending regular, high quality newsletters, e-newsletters or blogs
Simple, yet hugely effective.
Well, let’s say that you meet with your best clients twice a year for face-to-face reviews. By simply adding two extra phone calls (where you just pick up the phone and call the client), sending some good quality articles via a newsletter or e-newsletter and running a client event once per year, you change the communication from being reactive (i.e. the client sees you twice a year) to proactive, with between 12 – 20 ‘touches’ per annum.
Assuming your articles and events are of a high quality, this higher frequency of contact allows clients to experience a completely different feeling of being cared for.
Benefits for Both Sides
There are many benefits to this increased client contact – here are a few for starters:
- Running one client event per year (where your whole client base is invited along) provides a chance for about six touches over a four month period with all your active clients.There’s the ‘hold the date’ email, the invitation itself, information on the venue and how to get there, as well as information on the topic, speakers and any dietary or special requirements of your guests. Then there’s the event itself and hopefully a follow up or thank you contact afterwards.All that activity can be very good for business.
- You can ask your existing clients to ‘bring a friend’ to your client event each year. Don’t be confused about the purpose of the event; it’s for your existing clients. However, if you are already going to the effort of putting it on, why not leverage that by asking a few more prospects along to get to know you and your firm?
- The same approach can be adopted with your professional connections. They can be invited to the same client event and you can ask them to bring along a client or two who may be interested in the topic. That’s even more leverage for your efforts, as they also get to see more of what you do, deepen their understanding and get closer to you in the process.
- Making unexpected phone calls to your top clients is also a great touch point. How often have you rung a top client only for them to say, “I’ve been meaning to ring you.” They weren’t ever going to ring of course, because they’re too busy. However, with a comment like that, it’s clear they have an issue that needs attention. By you calling them first, you benefit. You can take the issue off their hands and be seen as proactive and adding more value. Simple, but very, very powerful in building better relationships and fostering a deeper engagement.
- Sending good quality newsletters or e-newsletters provides another regular touch and allows you to continually reinforce your positive messages with clients. Without this, most clients are being overloaded with noise and hyperbole from the mainstream media that is often confusing, out of context for your clients’ specific circumstances or downright misleading. Don’t let that be the only information your clients take in on a regular basis.
Make it a process
The key to great communication is turning it into a process. Just as you do with your client review meetings, you need structure, lead times and accountabilities for who will do what in delivering each aspect of the communication strategy.
For phone calls between review dates, it may be as simple as setting up a reminder in your CRM or diary system. For your annual client event there might be a checklist of ‘to do’ items that begin six months before the event date each year. Make someone on your team responsible for ensuring these communication extras are delivered year after year.
If you are trying to improve your communication and marketing you can certainly add Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media into the mix at a later date. But for now, getting back to the communication basics will add massive value to your clients and your business.
By creating a simple, yet deliverable ongoing communications program, you develop your client relationships, deepen their engagement with you and in turn, improve the effectiveness of your marketing by increasing referrals from existing clients.
Make sure you’re not overlooking this quick win for you and your business.
Adviser Shout Out
Graeme and I did some work together quite a while back and I saw him featured on the cover of New Model Adviser back in July.
He runs a really nice lifestyle business in the Scottish Borders region and this profile captures some of the key decisions he worked through to get to where he is today. Well worth a read for anyone else trying to get their business working or looking to simplify things.