Almost all advisers and planners have one thing in common: a desire to engage more clients of the right type.
Some only want to take on a handful each year; others have more ambitious goals.
Whichever applies to you, developing an effective marketing strategy is vital.
That said, too often we see efforts hampered by the belief in myths and misconceptions. Here are our top six:
1. “I get my new clients from referrals; I don’t need a website”
You will get no argument from us that the best type of new enquiry is a referral or, even better, an introduction from an existing client. However, most firms are not getting as many as they should.
Our research shows 40 per cent of clients say they have made a referral in the past year. With an average client bank of, say, 150, that equates to 60 new referrals over the past 12 months. Yet most advisers and planners get nowhere near this many.
Why? Your online presence – or lack of it – might be playing a part.
Before getting in touch, it is likely the prospective client will head online. Some might simply need your contact details; others may want to carry out more detailed due diligence. Either way, if you are invisible online, or your website is unimpressive, they may decide to look elsewhere.
It is not a binary choice: generating enquiries through referrals or your website. They should complement each other, with a positive online presence making you more referable and increasing the chances of a prospective client getting in touch.
2. “My clients won’t read a monthly newsletter”
Regular communication with clients, prospects and professional connections is fundamental to demonstrating knowledge, adding value and giving a gentle touch with your brand.
It will increase the referrals you receive from clients and professional connections, while reminding prospects you are ready to engage when the time is right.
Our research shows that monthly newsletters are well-read. Click-through rates are high and open rates are over 70 per cent in some cases.
3. “My clients aren’t on social media”
There is no need to be active on all social media channels. However, it’s clear a large proportion of the type of people advisers and planners target use such platforms. For example, there are currently 7.8 million Facebook users over the age of 55 in the UK.
The key is to take a targeted approach, understand which channels are relevant and then build a strategy.
4. “I’ll only win an award if I buy a table”
Not all awards are equal. We have all had emails congratulating us on our victory for an award we have not entered, inevitably followed by the opportunity to use their logo for a “modest price” (usually a few grand).
However, other awards are different, requiring a detailed submission often followed by a searching interview. The judges are well-known in our profession and usually give their time for free, so to suggest they allow commercial factors to influence their decision is to question their ethics and integrity.
5. “I’ll add regular content to our website”
Regularly adding content to your website has many benefits: it demonstrates your expertise, can be published in newsletters, promoted on your social media channels and Google will reward you by sending more traffic to your site.
Many advisers and planners intend to add content, news articles, blogs and so on to their site once it has launched. Occasionally, some do. But most do not. That means their site remains static or, worse, contains a news section last updated months or even years ago.
In our experience, it is only those who enjoy writing that will do it on a regular basis. If that’s not you, then be honest with yourself. Outsource the task and get on with the jobs you actually enjoy.
6. “Adviser directories are rubbish”
Three adviser directories dominate the market. Unbiased was the first to launch over a decade ago, followed by VouchedFor and more recently AdviserBook.
Each has their frustrations. However, our research shows that if you can take a pragmatic approach, accepting the elements which are less than perfect, you will be rewarded with a significant return on your investment.
Don’t hold yourself back
Believing these myths and misconceptions will hold your marketing back.
It does not have to be that way, though. An open mind, coupled with a strategic approach and rigorous testing of ideas, will open up more possibilities that will help you achieve your goals.
Phil Bray is director of The Yardstick Agency