Finding more, higher value, more profitable clients is one of the key challenges for advice businesses in today’s market. Indeed, probably the most common question I get asked during my work with advisers is, how can we attract more high-net-worth clients?
The days of working with anyone who can fog a mirror are disappearing due to the costs of running an advisory business. While low-touch, technology-based propositions will allow advisers to operate profitably in the mass market, genuine face-to-face relationship-driven advice will need to generate significant revenue per client to be profitable.
Successful marketing starts with recognising your business exists solely for the purpose of making a positive difference to the lives of your clients, rather than just money for you. Marketing activity has to communicate what that positive difference is in a clear and compelling way. It also has to create a perception in the minds of potential clients that your service is both distinctive and valuable.
Many advisers I come across have no clear marketing strategy or plan and much of the marketing activity they undertake is poorly targeted and somewhat sporadic, perhaps only gaining any real focus when there is a need to generate revenue.
Marketing is like farming: it takes time. You cannot expect instant results. You have to plough, sow and tend the fields before you can harvest the crops.
Many advisers get off to a great start with ‘marketing’ and do not sustain the activity, either because other priorities come along or they feel their strategy is not working.
Understanding the needs of your niche and where and how to find them, packaging up your services in a compelling way and getting your message out in a consistent way using a variety of strategies and tactics are the marketer’s equivalent of ploughing, sowing and tending.
Marketing is about deliberately creating and maintaining relationships with clients and prospects. How do you do that? The same way you create and maintain any relationship: by what you say and what you do.
Where do you find all these prospects and how do you reach them? They are just people living their lives and doing their jobs, so you will find them doing what they usually do, day in, day out: at home; at work; meeting in their clubs or professional organisations; at seminars and conferences; reading their mail; on the phone; or reading the newspaper or their preferred professional journal.
Write to them, call them on the phone, write an article for the magazine they read, give a talk at an event they will be at, join their clubs and go to meetings. Marketing is not rocket science and does not need to be expensive but it is a discipline. It takes time, energy and some creativity, and it does need consistent and sustained activity. If you are not going to be able to sustain it, don’t start in the first place.
Steve Billingham is owner and director of Steve Billingham Consulting