Always be promoting.
Over the years, I’ve heard numerous strategies for marketing and growing a thriving advisory practice. Sometimes the strategies work well without tweaking – other times you have to add your own spin to them. But here are seven proven ways you can attract notice – and build your brand:
- Cold walk your neighborhood. It never hurts to introduce yourself to your business neighbors. One advisor I know took homemade cookies around to all the businesses within a half mile. Remember, new people move in all the time. Make sure you get to know them, and plant the seed (if applicable) that you help businesses set up SEPs and 401(k)s. Offer to be a resource whenever they’d like a second opinion on business succession planning, retirement planning – or wealth transfer planning.
- Volunteer in at least four community groups. Pick groups that you believe in – and then get involved. It could your church, your favorite country club, a service organization, or an organization supporting the arts. Business coach Bryce Sanders recommends you make sure the groups you pick meet at least monthly and have a good reputation in the community. At each meeting, try to meet 4-6 people. This means that you’re regularly meeting at least 24 people every month. And the experts say that if you constantly build your network, you’re more likely to hit a critical mass of potential clients.
- Write a regular column or article. Whether it’s for your own blog or for publications serving your target audience, look for ways to stand out, and become a thought leader. You might just be taking your wisdom and experience for granted. Many people out there don’t know what you know. If you need help with the content, consider hiring a ghost writer. Develop a library of timeless, helpful articles you’ve written that you can post on your website (and tweet out on social media). And then look for news articles that relate to your expertise so you also can comment on current issues. Stuck for writing ideas? Check out Susan Weiner’s great 2014 book Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients.
- Create a workbook for clients and strategic allies. People love visuals – and they love taking an active role in their finances. An advisor specializing in the divorce market created an effective 30-page workbook she was able to use as a marketing tool with divorce lawyers. They showed it to their clients. This practical workbook guided those who were soon to be divorced through critical financial steps and timelines. Do you have worksheets you use with clients that could be turned into a workbook? Another advisor created a workbook containing questions that graded potential clients on how financially prepared they were for their futures. People loved seeing their progress and knowing what elements they lacked.
- Perfect the story of your business. The most successful advisors I know deliver a consistent marketing message. The shortest versions – something you might call an elevator speech – might be as short as 30 seconds or less. Longer versions include a narrative about how you started, and whom you serve best. But you need to explain what makes you different, and more importantly, why people should do business with you – as opposed to the advisor (or robo-planner) down the street. Make sure your entire team uses the same words when describing your business to clients and potential clients. Consider hiring a public relations professional who specializes in financial services marketing.
- Take client couples out to dinner – with their friends. This is especially effective if you work with a niche. Say, for instance, a large number of your clients work in a particular profession – say, doctors. You can build your business organically by inviting a client couple and their friends, who are also in the same industry. Get to know the new couple. During the dinner, ask the client couple to reflect on their experience working with you. Cue them up with, “I’ve really enjoyed working with you. What have you valued most about this process?” You are essentially asking them to deliver a testimonial – so you can gauge the response of their friends. This gives you a chance to promote the story of your business, and invite new people to learn more about your unique process. You’re attempting to create an “exclusive” club feeling.
- Cold email. Email may seem mundane compared to texts, Tweets, and Snapchats – but it can still be effective. One advisor I know researched the emails of physicians who had recently passed the state licensing board exam. He put together a list, and then sent personal invites to a dozen or more doctors to come to a dinner and financial presentation. He addressed each doctor by name and explained that his practice focused on the needs of emerging doctors – just starting their careers. About eight doctors and their spouses showed up to the dinner. Several became clients – including yours truly. Who says cold emailing doesn’t work!
Promoting your business doesn’t have to be daunting. Any of the above strategies can be enjoyable – and simple ways – to let others know you’d love to help grow (and protect) their wealth. Give one or more a try! Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comment box!