If you think the quality of your service and your professional commitment speak for themselves, think again.
In this market, investors need to be convinced of the need to do something besides waiting it out, and the best tool for overcoming their inertia is a well-conceived marketing plan. You need to sell them on the idea that you can make things better — at least for them.
Many financial advisors avoid marketing for fear of appearing immodest or self-aggrandizing. But if you approach marketing the right way, it's anything but. Marketing, in the right hands, is nothing more than behavior modification, and if you remember this, your results will be all the better.
Here are some tips on how to use behavior modification as a marketing tool:
Start with a behavior that's easy to change. Asking a client to write a $200,000 check for some new investment plan has a high level of resistance. But encouraging him to attend your free financial seminar does not. Such a meeting could be the first step to an expanded relationship.
Provide motivation. In this market, clients should already be motivated to make changes, but the sad fact is most are so shell-shocked that they're inclined to hunker down and hope for the best. To overcome this inertia, try compensating your prospects for making changes. This is a page straight from the Promotion 101 textbook. I'm not suggesting you run “$100 off” ads in your local newspaper, but that's not that far off the mark. The idea is to make an offer that counteracts a client's fear of activity — perhaps a free initial consultation and basic financial plan.
Involve the people around the potential client. Once you learn a little about a prospect, use your marketing skills to bring his family and friends into the fold. The same tactic works when you want to do more business with an existing client.
Touch the prospects in some emotional way. For instance, if you're targeting people in their 40s and 50s, appeal to their desire to retire comfortably. If there is strong resistance to change, your instinct might be to ratchet up the emotional appeals: “You'd really like to leave something for your children, no?” But be careful not to take this approach too far. If people feel manipulated or pushed, they're highly unlikely to partake of your services.
Repeat, repeat, repeat. Repeating your message is critical. People generally don't change before they digest your message, and they are more likely to digest your message if you repeat it over and over. There's good reason that you see the same handful of ads over and over on TV. The marketers are spending money on a tried-and-true approach.
If you're working with a prospect who's already using an advisor, take it easy. Patience can really pay off in certain situations, and in some situations, a lack of patience is nothing more than a guarantee of failure. Prospects often need time to decide on the best course of action. You should let the process play out a little at a time. That said, it's good to anticipate and address some of the issues a prospective client might be grappling with: Does he feel guilty about leaving the current advisor? Does he blame the advisor for their shrinking assets? Is he inclined to stick with “the devil he knows”? Does he view a change of advisors in this market as a sign of weakness?
Understand that marketing as behavior modification is a long-haul commitment. With the crazy economy we have today, few people are eager to make changes, and that spells more prospecting work for a financial advisor no matter how you slice it.
But with a strong marketing plan, the hard work just might turn up some new business.
Martin R. Baird is president of Phoenix-based Advisor Marketing and author of The 7 Deadly Sins of Advisor Marketing. Advisormarketing.com