Marketing Tip: Really Speak with your Clients, Don't Just "Market" to Them

By Amy McIIwain, President, Financial Social Media on Thursday, March 24th, 2011

One of the challenges that I hear from RIAs is “how can I grow my business”? As a marketer I can relate to this problem. Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet to address it. We are armed with an ever-expanding toolbox of tools to attract new clients (e.g., Twitter, blogs, search) but these come with increasing demands on our time (e.g., creating professional profiles, Tweets, blogging, updating Facebook) I can understand why some advisors choose to outsource their marketing activities.

It seems to me that if there is one solution to marketing your advisory business you shouldn’t outsource to someone else it should be really listening to, understanding and conversing with customers and potential customers. People do business with people, not companies. Investors want to work with advisors they trust, who understand them and their financial goals, and who will safeguard their financial portfolio.  That’s why I was surprised to find in our Q1 survey that many advisors are missing an important marketing opportunity when it comes to fiduciary responsibility.

Put yourself in your client’s shoes for a moment. What if you had to select a financial advisor to safeguard your retirement? What would you do? If you are like most investors you’d probably ask your friends and family for a referral. You might go online and research those advisors. Did s/he have a code of ethics on the site? Did they have multiple designations such as CFP or CPA? What do those mean?   Then you’d probably arrange to meet a few advisors. What is their fee structure? Is this a good fee structure?

 Now put on your marketing shoes. Can you simplify the decision-making for investors? Do you understand what their needs are? Here’s a way to stand-out:

  • Be Clear: If you have fiduciary responsibility clearly explain what it means to your potential client in terms they will understand. Make sure they understand why this makes you different from other advisors they might choose. You’ll stand out from other advisors we surveyed who aren’t mentioning fiduciary responsibility in their materials. 50.7 percent of financial advisors agree that having a fiduciary standard or code of ethics is an extremely big/very big differentiator when attracting new clients.
  • Be Conversant:  Establish a real dialogue with your clients. Use newsletters, emails, your website, your professional profile and other tools to remind your clients that you are their financial quarterback. Take the time to really understand their financial goals and review them periodically. Marketing is a two-way conversation, not merely a one-way rant. 62.5 percent of HNW investors surveyed in Q2 2010 said “doesn’t listen” would influence their decision to leave their advisor. 60 percent said “doesn’t communicate often enough” would also influence it.
  • Be Comprehensive: If you have, or want to have, your clients’ interests at heart then take the time to develop a full and complete picture of their financial holdings. Our research shows that reporting and advising on all of a client’s assets is one of the top three things two-thirds of advisors say is indicative of putting their clients’ interests first. How can you give them the best advice possible if you don’t know what amount of their total investable assets is in their employer sponsored 401(k)?   

To read more about the survey download an executive summary with key findings:
Q1 Survey on Fiduciary Responsibility: Executive Summary

Cynthia Stephens is Vice President of Marketing at ByAllAccounts. Previously, Cynthia was Director of Marketing at Compete, one of the fastest growing technology companies in New England. 

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