We train advisors all over the US and Canada – in markets big and small – and we occasionally hear from smaller market FAs who say, “my situation is a little different” or “that won’t work in my market.”
In reality, there are two sides of the small-market story. Some advisors blame the size of their town for any shortcomings in their client acquisition. Rationalizations like, “my clients are Budweiser and cowboy hat kind of people - they don’t come to events. Which is a lot easier than saying, “I need to work on my social prospecting skills and host better events.”
The other side of the story is from elite advisors in small markets (there are plenty) who say it’s a great place to be. They thrive on being a trusted, longtime member of their community and they “own” the local market for high-end financial advice.
For those of you in the former category – the first step is changing your mindset (unless you plan on moving). Think about your small market as an opportunity, rather than a hindrance. Your goal should be to dominate the local competition.
From our Q3 2015 research on small (<100,000 people) vs. large market (>1 million people) prospecting, here are five tips to improve your client acquisition in small markets:
1. Develop Big Market Positioning with a Small Market Trust Factor
You are a resource that your community should be glad to have. You bring them sophisticated financial advice with the trust factor of being a local. How does this type of branding happen? Not by bragging! Showcase your thought leadership through educational programs – online and off. Whether it’s a market update event you host or an article you post on LinkedIn – demonstrate your abilities.
2. Become a Local LinkedIn Expert
66% of those in small markets use LinkedIn vs. 75% of those in large markets. You, as a financial advisor with access to more LinkedIn training than you know what to do with, could be a local LinkedIn advocate. You’re helping others get on-board, use it properly, and in the process, you’re building your network as well.
3. Be Assertive with Long-time Contacts
You might think everyone in town knows what you do, but they probably don’t really know. Take a chance and ask them to lunch to catch up on what both of you are doing professionally. It works!
4. Build your Expertise
48% of affluent investors in small markets have a financial plan designed by a CFP vs. 57% of those in large markets. Learning stops for many people when they graduate – become a lifelong learner!
5. Prospect a Vacation Market
Let’s say you live in a small town in Eastern North Carolina, but you have a condo in Wilmington. Treat that as a secondary market and prospect there as well. Get involved in local causes, introduce yourself to local professionals, and make an effort to meet all of your neighbors. After all, landing new clients near your vacation home gives you more reason to go there.
Take the challenge – dominate your market – no matter how small, then move out regionally (or to a vacation home market) as needed. Never again will you let a small market become an excuse.
Stephen Boswell and Kevin Nichols are coaches with The Oechsli Institute, a firm that specializes in research and training for the financial services industry. @StephenBoswell @KevinANichols www.oechsli.com