I’ve seen a lot of progress with advisory businesses over the last few years. If you’re one of those firms then you’re clearer about what you do, how you do it and importantly, who you do it for.
Has your marketing and lead generation kept up?
When you are starting out, finding enough of the right types of clients is a crucial skill, and as your business and overhead costs grow it remains vitally important.
In my experience there are two types of firms when it comes to marketing and lead generation:
1. The first type of firm has a natural ‘rainmaker’ (often the founder) who typically networks and builds relationships with professional connections or the local business community. They always seem to be able to find new leads.
2. The second type of firm has no one who fits the above description. They have no option but to become skilled at building a lead generation process that fulfils this crucial role.
Both types of firms face some challenges as we head into 2016.
Firms with a natural rainmaker could always get better at targeting the ideal clients that they want more of. There is also the question of what will happen when the rainmaker moves on or wants to retire? Are their skills being passed on to others in the firm? Or is there a marketing and lead generation process being built to replace this key person in the future?
Firms lacking the rainmaker have to pursue other marketing options. For example:
- Buying leads – which can be expensive
- Using online lead generation sites (like Unbiased and Vouched For) – which can be irregular or hit and miss
- Developing professional connections – which can be very time consuming
- Content marketing – which requires a large time commitment and consistency of effort to do well
The bottom line is, there’s no quick and easy fix and it takes some serious time and effort to make your marketing work. However, let’s put it in context, it’s probably the number one issue for any small business to get right. Not enough customers, means not enough cashflow, which means staying small and having a stressful life (no fun at all).
If you think you are up for the challenge, and can commit the time and resources necessary then here are a few basics to get right. Firms that get these fundamentals in place achieve a more than acceptable level of lead flow.
Yes, there are sexier and more advanced strategies that you can pursue later if you want to take it up a notch.
However, these strategies work really well and are easy enough to put in place:
Strategy 1: Create an internal service standard for clients
I’m assuming you’ve got some brochureware that explains what you do for clients. I’ll call that your external service standard. To deliver everything contained in your service package all you really need to do is turn up for your annual review meetings. Everything you do is delivered off the back of that core activity.
However, it’s also vital, from a marketing point of view, to have an internal service standard; some simple activities and touch points that keep you front-of-mind with your clients. These activities can be systemised or diarised so that they happen consistently.
Here’s an example internal service standard for an ‘A’ class client:
- 1 x Annual Review Meeting
- 1 x Half-Yearly Review Meeting
- Phone call from Adviser in alternate quarters to review (i.e. 2 x p.a.)
- Corporate Hospitality (any of list below 1 x p.a.)
- Birthday cards/Christmas cards
- Client newsletter/email (specific and targeted)
- Investment luncheon or dinner (‘A’ or ‘B’ clients + invite a friend along)
- Annual Client Seminar (all clients + invite a friend along)
It’s really simple stuff and it really works. All of a sudden this series of touchpoints adds up to between 10 and 20 touches per year. This improves client relationships and referral rates.
Strategy 2: Hold an annual event for your existing clients
Let me be clear, holding an annual client event is primarily for your existing clients. While you’re always looking for new clients you must never forget who pays the bills; your existing relationships.
However, from a marketing point of view there are some serious benefits to holding just one event per year. It gives you about 6-8 client touches over four months:
- Save-the-date email
- Introducing the topic email
- Guest speaker email
- ‘Dietary requirements’ email
- Final confirmation and directions email
- The event itself
- Thank-you email or follow up call afterwards
Even for clients that can’t attend it provides multiple touches.
All of these touches help you build marketing momentum. When you combine them with the other marketing and lead-generation activities that you might do in any 12 months it’s very powerful.
You can also open the event up so that your higher-level existing clients (‘A’s and ‘B’s) are invited to bring a friend along. When you think that an event might cost a few thousand pounds to put on, you don’t need many new leads to make it extremely profitable.
Strategy 3: Update Unbiased and Vouched For Profiles
I’ve covered this topic extensively in a previous blog, called Get Your Arse Online (please excuse the attention seeking title, but that was one of my points).
To get yourself up and running, looking good and generating some leads from online sites, such as Unbiased and Vouched For, takes a few hours of focused work. Once that’s done, all you do is get on with everything else in your business, so it can be a very cost and time effective lead generation method.
Some firms I work with get a lot of business from these sources. Others get nothing. If you’re in the “I get nothing” camp then I’m sorry, but there’s something wrong with your listing and you need to fix it.
The last word
Getting your marketing and lead generation fit for purpose should be a major goal for 2016. This is especially important if you haven’t had a chance to deal with it in your business development to date.
Don’t let your new improved business run too far ahead of your marketing.