As with good marketeers, good advisers are constantly gathering information about customers in an effort to provide them with a better service and to retain them as loyal customers.
So, what can you learn from tried and tested marketing techniques? In recent years, a number of techniques have emerged in the marketing world that are designed to, one, improve relationships with current and potential clients and, two, utilise these relationships to not only build stronger ties with existing satisfied clients but also to use existing clients to help locate new ones through referrals.
Collectively, these tools and methods are known as customer-focused marketing. It is not rocket science but by considering how these techniques could be adapted and used in your own business should not only add valuable insight but really help strengthen client relationships, align you more closely with treating customers fairly and, perhaps most importantly, enable you to build wider revenue streams and speed the transition to a fee-based model.
But I believe that for 99 per cent of advisers, customer-focused marketing is akin to the dark arts – skills that they think that are not relevant to their business or require a big marketing budget and an agency to deliver it.
This is simply not the case. All we need to do to really make a difference in how we communicate with our customers is to think about matching the customer with what they want when they want it. So, where do you start? Obviously, it helps to have an overall marketing plan in which you assess your current situation, competitive position, market opportunities, etc. But for smaller business, you need to start somewhere to prove that it is worthwhile. Ask yourself these three simple questions.
1: Who are my customers?
2: What have they already bought?
3: What are they most likely to need or buy?
If you can get as much as this information together as possible (and a good back-office system should be able to deliver existing customer information at the touch of a button-alternatively, a data cut from your main providers can be arranged), you are part of the way to some proper client segmentation. Getting this far will already mean you are already closer to a clear marketing strategy than most of your fellow advisers. You then need to get in place an action plan which turns the theory into business.
In recent years, the ways to communicate with potential customers in a relevant way has increased enormously and the costs of doing so have fallen dramatically.
Consider what real-time interaction opportunities work for your existing customers and will reach new audiences that are just like them.
hello Email broadcasts and newsletters.
Banners on third-party websites.
Personalised content on your own website.
Links from third-party websites.
Multi-channel interaction (via the web & call centres).
Technology has made personalisation of communications and messages as well as lead generation possible for any business, regardless of size or budget.
But let us not overlook another recent development which has been made possible by digital technology. It is now possible for individual advisers and small businesses to develop branded and personalised literature online. Due to the underlying technology, the prices under cut usual marketing development costs substantially and once the items are designed the copy and images can be changed at will. Copies can then be printed as well as electronic versions created for email communication.
Prospecting, marketing and communicating regularly with clients can be time-consuming and costly but targeted and relevant communications such as newsletters and updates can strengthen relationships with existing clients.
By targeting new clients with sales campaigns that are focused on meeting their likely needs, you can generate new business cost-effectively as well as being ahead in terms of IFAs practising customer-focused marketing.
Jo Smith is a director of integrated distribution and a consultant with Teamspirit