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What advisers are saying: Don’t let busy-ness get in the way of business

Phil Wickenden Technical Area 200

Word of mouth communication remains one of the oldest but most vital tools available to us in business generation. But too often our old school funnel approach to marketing seeks to put random people in at the top and trust that loyal customers come out at the bottom, telling all and sundry about how wonderful we are.

That’s the obvious (and ineffective) path of outbound marketing. True loyalty, though, usually comes from within, from a story we like to tell ourselves and (importantly) others. We’re loyal to football teams and products (and yes, to people) because being loyal makes us happy. Why else would anyone be an Arsenal supporter for the last seven trophyless seasons? Some customers like being loyal. Those are good customers to have. And you’re very welcome Mr Kroenke.

So you need to tell a story that appeals to loyalists, part of which I addressed last week when I talked about how, in order to generate more referrals, you need to first be referable by developing a simple, powerful value statement that both resonates and can be re-told.

But there’s much more to it than a punchy raison d’être. Much rests on circles of influence and the 52 rule (which has nothing to do with Harry Potter). Research shows that each of your clients has an inner circle of approximately 52 close friends & family who form your best possible list of prospects. People within these inner circles share demographic characteristics and have similar needs making them easier to target. Broadly, every advisory business has: suspects, prospects, customers, clients (‘honeymooners’ and more long-standing ones) and advocates. The latter three groups are the key to unlocking referrals but will need to be targeted very differently.

And so a more structured approach than most businesses are currently taking is a must: be intentional about asking for referrals ahead of any client meeting; build referral teams; schedule meetings to discuss who’s referring who; set up an advocate committee with clients; thank your referrers! – surprisingly it just doesn’t happen often enough.

The world is becoming far less deferent to single sources of authority and increasingly influenced by broader, more personal sources. With every man and his dog planning to play in the £100k+ AUM pool, what will truly differentiate your business? Why should your clients recommend you, why should prospects come to you, why should professionals partner with you? And, more importantly, what can you do to facilitate this?

Phil Wickenden is managing director of So Here’s The Plan phil@soherestheplan.com

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