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4 Elements of a Successful Advisory Practice Marketing Effort

by Marty Telles

The marketing function in the typical small to mid-size advisory practice tends to be viewed as a secondary priority.  Some of the reasons given; “No tangible result”, “we’re not marketing people’, “It’s all about performance”, “We do it when we have time” – to name a few.  Further, advisors generally focus on material like brochures and flyers not realizing that there is a bigger dimension to an effective marketing effort. Mathias Hitchcock, VP of practice management at Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services says he thinks many advisors reluctance to embrace marketing is that many of them “are not comfortable with it.”

Notwithstanding the point and counterpoint of an advisory practice’s marketing process, let me outline what I believe to be the critical elements and areas that, if done with relative diligence, will greatly assist in sustaining and growing your business.

1.      Focus

Financial Advisory is no different than most other businesses, there are generalists and specialists – and there is certainly room for both.  From a marketing perspective, it is best to choose which one your practice is. The fundamentals of marketing are consistent messaging and repetition of that message.  Having a focus for you practice, developing the messaging for that focus and communicating that message sets the stage for a successful marketing effort.

2.      Prospecting Communication

There are two types of steams of communication that need to be develop – one for prospects, i.e. future clients, and one for clients – which I will discuss in a short while later.

Essentially, as business people we are always looking for clients.  We hand out business cards, ask for referrals, advertise, promote ourselves, etc.  Unfortunately all those we touch don’t become clients instantly.  Prospects have to be nurtured.  That nurturing can be effectively done through regular communication.

•  That communication process starts with creating a good method to capture and retain contact information.  There is a number of reasonably priced client management software that can simplify this task.

•  Use a source(s) of regular communication:

♦  Monthly/Quarterly Newsletters

♦  Personal quarterly/semi-annual letters/emails (that reiterate your practice’s message)

♦  Personalized holiday greeting and birthday cards

The object is that once you have a potential client’s contact information, stay top-of-mind through regular, tactful communication.

3.      Convey Trust Through A Clear Standard(s) Of Operation

You advise people on what to do with their money.  When you think about it, someone has to really trust you to take that advice.  What better way to convey that feeling of trust than to tell a prospect how you work and what they can expect from you. Tell them things like:

•  They can expect clear – to the point – unbiased information, advice and recommendations.

•  If you are a fee-only advisor tell them that you work entirely on a fee-only basis which means that their situation(s), needs and requirements are your only focus. You work for them and receive no compensation from anyone else.

•  That you are committed to making sure they completely understand all aspects of the work you do for them.

•  And that you will work collaboratively with them and that they can expect consistent communication and a full explanation of choices and options.

4.     Client Communication

As I said earlier, the second form of communication is to your clients.  If they became a client they had to put a high level of trust in you.  That trust must be reinforced.  Performance isn’t the only thing a client cares about; they care that someone they trust is looking out for them and for their money.

•  You can use many of the communications tools for prospects mentioned earlier.

•  Determine – from them directly – how they prefer to be communicated with, i.e. phone, email, letter. Then reach out to them   regularly using that method.

•  Personally calling or having a person from your office call them – to “check-in”.

•  Hand written notes, to follow up verbal communication, are received well.

•  Proactive communication in times of volatility, uncertain times, etc. is very important.

It has been proven time and again that advisors who speak with clients at unsettled times have a high client retention rate – with the opposite (no communication) increasing the likelihood that they will lose clients to competitors.

You don’t have to be a marketing expert to set in motion an effective marketing effort for your practice and that effort does not have to be costly or time consuming.  Next to the actual advice and services you provide to your clients, acquiring and retaining them is a critical to sustaining your business.

Marty Telles is the Principal of The High Tide Group LLC that provides consulting services to independent financial advisors and firms.  Visit The High Tide Group at www.TheHighTideGroup.com .

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