“If you don’t determine your firm’s niche, your clients–each and every one of them–will do it for you.”
– Maria Marsala, Business Transformer
Most financial advisors attempt to attract more clients to their firms with “Spaghetti Marketing.” This entails throwing different marketing strategies against the wall and seeing what (if anything) sticks. Spaghetti Marketers stay very busy, but are not as productive or profitable as they know they can be.
Prospects gathered via Spaghetti Marketing rarely, if ever, develop into ideal clients. These prospects only have one thing in common: breathing. Chances are, they’ll be clients from hell. You’ll waste time and money while engaged in this unfocused marketing mode. Many aspects of your life will also suffer, including: the quality of service you provide, your personal life, and your sanity.
You know that you’ve been “Spaghetti Marketing” when you’ve paid for a new website, marketing materials, and a newsletter distribution – but aren’t targeting or connecting with a specific audience of your ideal clients!
Smarter Marketing 101
Smarter marketing requires connecting, planning, strategy, and execution. Smarter marketing aims to position your firm as the obvious choice for prospects. You want new clients to seek you out or, at least, recognize that you’re the right advisor for them – versus the chore of constantly hunting for prospects. Smarter marketing involves creating these systems:
- Determining (or updating) a viable niche for your firm’s brand personality.
- Specifying the ideal or best client for your firm.
- Creating a business and marketing plan.
- Segmenting your client base into categories.
- Determining a service level of “touches” for each segment.
- Designing a Go/No Go Decision Matrix.
- Choosing and developing your pricing strategies based on your niche.
- Developing a client acquisition, engagement, and management process.
- Taking action and monitoring the processes you’ve created to run your business.
NOTE: The above systems may contain many other mini-processes and procedures, determined by your business model and needs. Monitor the processes you create weekly in the beginning, tweak them where necessary, and include these processes in your yearly planning week.
Niches help advisors build a connection with prospects and an even stronger connection with clients. A niche is a broad category of people or companies with a specific commonality. A niche can be based on a product or service that individuals or companies need and want. Your niche can also be based on a segment of the population or a passion you share with other individuals or companies. I call them the 3 P’s of Niches: population, passion, and product. If you can create a niche that encompasses all three P’s, great!
Ideal Client Profile
An ideal client profile narrows down a niche into bite-sized properties that describe specific criteria. When creating your ideal client profile, you look deeply at the demographics, geographics, psychographics, and technographics of the group you are choosing to work with. Your firm’s ideal client profile is a list of attributes your ideal clients share, a story about your ideal client, or both.
For example, “women” constitute a niche (a general population of people). Female business owners of million-dollar companies narrow the niche more. Your ideal client profile would include this information and much more.
Create a Business and Marketing Plan
This is a document stating your vision, goals, strategies, and action plans for achieving your goals. It is a document you use every day to guide your decisions. Read more: Why Haven’t You Create a Business Plan?
Although you want to help as many people as possible, when you own a business, you also have the goal of earning a great living and the value clients bring to your firm. Value should not just consist of AUM or revenue; factor in the fulfillment you experience by using your expertise, being around others who think like you and share your passions, and if they’re apt to recommend your services to others. I recommend segmenting clients into categories that are easily relatable to the industry: AAA, AA, A, and B. Then, determine the level of “touches” for each segment.
Service level is based on three criteria: the specific ranking of a client (AAA, AA. etc.), the level of service the client expects, and the level of service you feel comfortable providing the client, based on the revenue generated. Touches are the specific ways you’ll connect with clients, such as in person, by phone, texting, email, video, mail or “presents” – something special you give or do for a client. When clients expect a higher level of service than you can comfortably give them, you’ll have to determine what’s best for the client. Often, firms refer these clients elsewhere or hire a junior associate to work with them.
Go/No Go Decision Matrix
The Go/No Go Decision Matrix is borrowed from the project management, engineering, and construction industries. When you create a Go/No Go Decision Matrix, you’ll stay focused on the best and most profitable clients for your firm. You’ll have a spreadsheet with weighted criteria, so decisions about which clients to serve can be made objectively.
Many concepts and strategies go into pricing your services. In the 21st Century, the most important pricing strategy is transparency. You’ll want to determine if you’ll be commission-based, fee-based, fee-only, or a hybrid and determine what those commissions or fees will be. Naming each of your services will productize them and make them memorable.
Client Acquisition, Engagement & Management Process
Every business needs a consistent client acquisition marketing strategy, ways to maintain existing relationships, and software to help you monitor and manage client relationships and touches. You do all three by creating procedures, processes, and systems for each part; utilize these systems consistently and monitor your efforts.
Monitoring System and Process
Since you’re conducting business in the real world, not a vacuum, make sure to evaluate your branding, marketing, client acquisition methods, and client management efforts consistently. This means setting aside time, at least monthly, to review the systems and processes you’ve developed to gauge what’s working and what’s not working. Tweak your systems where necessary to yield the greatest efficiencies and profits for your firm.
As you utilize Smarter Marketing, you’ll stop Spaghetti Marketing and your efforts will bring you more profit and joy.
(c) 2014, Updated 2018 Elevating Your Business