Advisors can’t afford to rest on any assumptions about what client acquisition strategies work.
Significant growth for an advisory business usually comes from one source – new clients. Even when you can get more business from existing clients, expanding your client base often remains the best way to increase your firm’s assets under management. Consider the following seven strategies if you want more success engaging prospects and turning them into clients.
1. Deploy a variety of strategies
Advisors often focus on just a few strategies for bringing in new clients, like asking for referrals or e-mail campaigns, based on their experience of what has worked. They may have given up on strategies, like cold calling or offering seminars, that didn’t generate the results they wanted. However, it’s best not to depend on only one or two approaches. Your results will likely be better if you have more resources for attracting new clients. Any strategy that didn’t work several years ago might work now or be effective with a different target audience. The key is not to give up on any approach until you thoroughly test it. For example, if seminars didn’t work, did you try different topics? To get more attendees, consider inviting other professionals like accountants or estate planning attorneys as guest speakers or try new ways to promote the seminars, like Facebook advertising or invitational calls to your prospect list.
Making every acquisition strategy a research project to test and learn how to deploy it will help you determine whether the strategy itself doesn’t work for your client base or if your approach to it needs refinement. Expanding your client acquisition efforts doesn’t have to be overly time-consuming. Use efficiencies like automated e-mail campaigns that will expand your reach whenever possible without using up all your available time.
2. Build a content strategy
Providing people with helpful information is the best way to promote your value. If you don’t already, consider writing a blog on financial topics. Focusing on particular areas of expertise can help you differentiate yourself. Start broad but then cover topics that resonate with people with a specific financial challenge. For example, if you want to bill yourself as someone who helps clients manage life transitions, write blogs on topics like managing finances after a divorce or the death of a spouse. Disseminate the content as broadly as possible. Post it on your firm’s website, email it to clients and prospects, promote it on your social media channels, and put it on platforms like LinkedIn that allow you to post articles. See if financial publications or local newspapers are interested in having you be a guest columnist.
Always make sure that your content is easy-to-read and highly visual. Infographics and “listicle”-style articles, like “10 immediate steps to take when retiring,” will get the best engagement. It takes time for people to start noticing and remembering you, but that can happen when you post a steady stream of content. Before the start of each year, plan your content calendar so that you are ready to offer insights on issues that are on people’s minds at various times of the year, like taxes during filing season or college planning in the back-to-school weeks of late summer and early fall.
3. Strengthen your social media presence
It’s not enough to have a Twitter or LinkedIn account. To be effective on social media, you need to post regularly. Engage with other people’s content, so your online presence doesn’t appear to be simply self-promotional. Make sure your profiles are search-engine friendly. For example, have keywords like “financial advisor” in your LinkedIn profile. Take advantage of all the tips for increasing engagement that each platform provides, like using a headline that clarifies who you are and what you do on your LinkedIn page. Be sure to deliver content on each site that is appropriate for that channel. Provide your expertise on financial matters on a business-oriented site like LinkedIn, and use Instagram to post fun photos of activities in your office and the community.
4. Be conscious of every component of your brand
Prospects may discover you in a variety of ways. It may be from a social media post, an online or print ad, or the greeting they receive during a call to your office. Ensure every touchpoint conveys your firm’s culture, and don’t overlook any detail. For example, the décor of your office says much of what clients can expect. An organized, well-lit, welcoming office sends a subliminal message about how you and your staff will treat people. Be careful about what gets posted online and by whom. Sarcasm, even when lighthearted, is often misunderstood on digital channels. Better to always be positive and upbeat if your firm’s mission is to make major financial challenges manageable for people. An easy-to-use website or app that enables your clients to do more self-servicing will appeal to everyone and especially to Millennials, who will evaluate you, in part, by how advanced and user-friendly your technology is.
5. Capitalize on your niche
If your practice has gravitated toward a particular niche, like small business owners or technology professionals, ensure you use client acquisition strategies targeted to that audience. An e-mail campaign or seminar on a topic of keen interest to a group, like understanding the differences between SIMPLE vs. SEP IRAs and other retirement plans for small businesses, will identify your value to prospects who are similar to your existing clients. Be sure to ask clients for referrals from within their professional network. Now that testimonials are allowed, financial advisors can ask clients for endorsements that will resonate with prospects who have similar needs.
6. Track your efforts with a good CRM
Remembering all the steps you and your colleagues have taken in a robust client acquisition strategy can take time and effort. A powerful customer relationship management (CRM) system can make tracking your progress much easier. It will let you know whom you have contacted, what types of communications or marketing they have received, and the next steps with each prospect. Measuring the results of each acquisition strategy easily will lead to discoveries, like how many calls or e-mails are needed to generate a specific number of warm leads, which may motivate you and your colleagues to keep applying each tactic. Ensure your firm uses the most up-to-date and sophisticated CRM your technology budget will allow.
7. Commit the time and effort required
The more time you can commit to client acquisition strategies, the greater their odds for success. If you have not done so already, you should track how you spend your hours each week. You might discover that much of your time has been devoted to internal and administrative issues. Clearing your plate and ensuring more of your time each week is spent engaging with clients and prospects could be the critical difference that helps you expand your client base.
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