As a registered investment advisor, you’re well familiar with the fiduciary rule: always act in the best interest of your client. And, just as this golden rule guides your financial advice, it also can help you as you look for new clients. “Knowing your customer” –and putting them first – should undergird all your marketing efforts.
Here are six ways to focus on the client’s needs in your marketing:
- Know where your clients are. To find new clients and better understand their needs, you need to know their favorite watering holes. Where do your qualified prospects hang out? Are they on the golf course at a local country club? Are they in the Chamber of Commerce or a senior center? Do they congregate at a gym? Do they attend alumni functions at a local university? Are they involved in charity work? What do they read? Are they on social media? Do they like to travel? Knowing as much about the characteristics and habits of your clients and ideal clients will help you target your marketing to potential clients like them—and better serve them. You can run ads in the publications they read or sponsor events in their favorite venues. Knowing where your clients are makes you more attuned to their interests and behaviors. You know their world. And that makes you more valuable to your client.
- Know where they want to be. Not just physically, but philosophically and financially. Your clients have dreams and ambitions ranging from funding their retirement, to traveling, to structuring their estate for their heirs—to simply not running out of money. You should know which issues your clients and potential clients are talking about, and build your marketing campaigns around these challenges. To get a better sense of where your potential clients want to be, query some of your existing clients. “What are some of the biggest financial challenges you need help with? What are your biggest goals right now and in the future?” Find three to five concerns and three to five goals that you can help clients solve and achieve. You need to be able to see these problems and goals from your clients’ point of view to adequately address them.
- Speak their language. As an advisor, you must be bi-lingual. You have your own way of thinking about and discussing investments and financial planning. But this is not how clients speak or think. They don’t really want to know about the nuances of risk or tax strategy. They want to know that they won’t run out of money, that they can help their children or grandchildren with college, that they can live comfortably in retirement, and not pay excessive amounts of money in taxes. In all your marketing efforts always address the potential client as “you” and speak in a way that conveys you understand them. You’re not marketing from your perspective—but theirs.
- Solve their problems. Once you understand your clients and speak their language, you can demonstrate that you are a problem solver uniquely qualified to help them get where they want to go. All your marketing materials should focus on your prospective clients’ problems and how you solve them. One advisor attracted thousands to his financial blog by simply writing about solutions to common problems such as when to take Social Security and how to invest and draw money from IRAs.
- Set yourself apart. Use your background and experience to offer a uniquely beneficial and memorable service. Maybe you are a retired teacher or former military officer. Frame your experience in a way that makes you memorable to potential clients—and lets them know how that experience will make their life easier. For instance, if you come from a family of doctors, you can market to doctors telling them that you understand the demanding lifestyle and the challenges they face. This makes you memorable.
- Present a consistent message. Just as you want to give consistent financial advice from client to client, you want your marketing message to reflect your client-centered approach whether it’s information you’re presenting in an e-newsletter, blog post, white paper, case study, e-book, or article in a targeted publication. Always make your message about the client and their life—not yourself.
- Work with strategic partners. To be a competent fiduciary, truly looking out for your clients, you need to work with complementary professionals like CPAs and estate attorneys. These professionals augment your own services, and add unique value to your clients’ lives when all of you work together. The same holds true in marketing your practice. If finding your own clients is exhilarating, having other people find your clients is even better. In my business, for instance, I’ve often found myself receiving referrals from business coaches or marketing firms, introducing me to clients who need copywriting services. I’d also like to pair with a graphic artist who may have clients that need writers. Together, we could provide more value, than alone. The same is true with your alliances with other professionals. And you should market yourself to these professionals in the same way you do to prospective investment clients—by putting their needs first, and addressing their challenges.
The fiduciary rule not only keeps you on track from a regulatory standpoint. It’s a great reminder for your marketing efforts: ALWAYS PUT THE CLIENT FIRST—and everything else will fall into place.