We all know it’s easier to keep clients than to find new ones
by Mike Morrow, CFPMr. Morrow is a Financial Advisor, speaker, author and commentator. He is the author of The Loyalty Edge and has been pioneering his clients to their financial goals for more than 25 years, focusing on client engagement and fostering client loyalty. Please visit: www.ideasforadvisors.com.
Early on in my career, I realized I had to identify ways that would make me stand out from every other advisor. Regularly I would ask myself, “How can I effectively foster long-term relationships and give my clients a reason to talk about me?”
I wanted them to be able to answer the question, “Why do you do business with Mike?” The number one answer I wanted was, “Because he cares about me.” We all know it is much easier to keep clients than to find new ones, but I was in search of not only keeping my clients but also keeping them happy. I knew I needed to craft my unique brand and more importantly, focus on building loyalty with my client base. With a keen interest in client appreciation and a foundation for providing value to my clients, we developed a system of strategies.
What I thought was needed was a resource for professionals who want to demonstrate value to their clients, forge deeper relationships and want to stand out as the best of the best in a competitive industry. While my focus is on financial advisors, the truth is any one in any type of service-oriented business will benefit by using loyalty strategies. We took all of our successful tried and true methods and put them into one easy to use book, complete with templates and guidelines that are necessary for success. These techniques are designed to ignite energy, transform a business into an elite practice and improve client retention.
The Framework for Success
I made sure all of these strategies could be implemented with EASE. Because we understand that Advisors are looking for easy to implement ideas that will make a positive impact on their business. We liked this idea of EASE and took it one step further by identifying important elements of an Advisors business. With a focus on elements of EASE (education, activity, skills and excitement) an Advisor has a formula for success.
It’s important to learn how to integrate ideas into your practice but also understand the expenses that go into each marketing strategy. We encourage you to consider the lifetime value of a client and what it means to you and your business. We help you take a closer look at your business to better help you design your marketing plan. Look at how much you really know about your practice. Do you know your numbers? What was your bottom line last year? What was your client retention?
For example, imagine you are the steward of 200 households and 4 percent of them leave each year – that would mean you would lose 8 households per year. What would your business look like in 10 years if 40 percent of your households left you for another advisor? Achieving 96 percent retention each year may sound satisfactory but when you think of 96 percent retention year after year the dismal picture becomes very clear.
A financial advisor’s activities fall into three categories: running a business, attracting clients and retaining clients. Your time allocation and activity needs to be based around attracting and retaining clients. Running your business is essential but we need to remind ourselves that we run a revenue-generating business. Every marketing idea we present in The Loyalty Edge is scored or measured against “The Marketing Strategy Criteria for Success Checklist” which is listed below:
- Does the information establish you as a credible source?
- Is it going to differentiate you from everyone else?
- Does it have high impact?
- Does it have a long shelf life?
As an advisor, my goal is to solve our clients’ financial problems and bring value to them and future generations. This is only possible if we effectively communicate financial messages to them. Ask yourself why are you the one to bring this information to them? This question forces you to think about the credentials you bring to the table and will help you think about anecdotes. Success stories validate what you’re saying and help people see how your concepts can be applied.
Excitement: We all strive to be successful and the secret to success is excitement. If you are excited about what you do, then those who work with you will be too. Our marketing strategies and financial concepts are designed to make and keep you and your clients excited about the products and services you offer.
The Ingredients for Client Engagement
From the very first meeting, you need to ensure your clients know they are a valued asset. Whether a person feels acknowledged and appreciated can influence their behavior. You must show your clients that you appreciate their business and your drive to go above and beyond. Incorporating even small improvements listed below to your client engagement tactics can build and cultivate a mutually beneficial partnership.
- Send a handwritten note: This is a timeless and powerful gesture to show your gratitude for a recent meeting, referral or just because you are thinking of them. Consider a handwritten card for life events and holidays. For even more impact, have your assistant put a thank-you card on the windshield of a client’s car while he/she is in an appointment with you.
- Interact via social media: Using social media is an easy and cost-effective way to stay in touch with clients. On Facebook and Twitter, you can become an active voice by commenting, sharing or liking posts. On LinkedIn, you can join a group your clients are a part of and initiate a conversation. It’s important to use your best judgement when communicating via these channels.
- Have an office open house: Invite clients and prospects to your office for lunch or after work for happy hour and appetizers. You can order food and even invite a local figure to come talk.
- Send a surprise lunch: Surprise a client by delivering lunch for everyone in his or her office. Delivering it yourself is a great way to prospect.
Client Appreciation Gifts
- Create “retirement business cards:” This unique marketing tool is to celebrate a client’s retirement. On the card it has the client’s contact information and a brief (humorous) note about their schedule as a retiree. The cards will read “compliments of your firm or your name” in the lower right. This is an effective way to get people talking about what you do for your clients. In The Loyalty Edge, you can find templates to help you design your clients’ retirement business cards.
- Send a historic newspaper or magazine: Find one from the day your client was born and send it as an authentic reminder of their special day. This collector’s item is truly a one-of-a-kind gift.
When advisors launch their careers, they all have a passion to become the best in the industry. Every day is an opportunity to stay top-of-mind with your clients and nurture each relationship you have, so commit to implementing marketing strategies that will have a lasting positive impact. Your business approach should ultimately drive commitment and engagement among your existing clients and prospects. The Loyalty Edge can help you on your journey to become a trusted advisor and set you apart from the rest. ♦