I hate being out of control. It’s why I have a fear of flying. It’s also why I’m a terrible employee, I need to be in control!
So, I understand the frustrations of many (often younger) planners who don’t control their firm’s marketing strategy but want to generate new enquiries. If I’ve just described you, fear not, there’s plenty you can do if you’re prepared to invest a little time or money.
1. Focus on referrals
A recommendation from an existing client will always be the best form of new enquiry. The person being referred to you has an immediate need and will have heard great things about you. That’s why referrals have the highest conversion rate of all enquiry sources.
Yet very few advisers, planners or firms have a formal referral strategy in place. You can change this, at least for yourself.
Talk to your clients, explain that you want to build your business and you’d like their help. Tell them who you’d like to work with (don’t say “anyone”, because you will get no one) and explain the value you add.
Remember though, you’re not asking for referrals. Instead, you’re talking about referrals. There’s a big difference.
Next, when you’re given a referral say thank you. Pick the phone up or send a hand-written card, it’s much more personal than an email. Then, if the referral becomes a client, send the person who recommended them to you a small gift. Nothing flash. Just a token that you know they’ll appreciate. It might be a round of golf, theatre tickets, a bottle of their favourite tipple. Whatever it is, make sure it’s personal to them. Not a corporate gift with your name on it!
2. Take a VouchedFor profile
A VouchedFor profile is specific to you, not the firm you work for.
VouchedFor has two key benefits:
- It’s a great way to demonstrate the value you add by collecting ratings and reviews
- It’ll generate new enquiries
We recommend the Verified membership level. It costs £45 per month plus VAT and entitles you to up to three new enquiries per quarter, assuming you have a minimum investment level of £100,000. You can increase or decrease this to suit your needs.
To get the best from VouchedFor you need to:
- Build your profile
- Send an email to all your clients asking them to review you on the platform. You can do this by emailing a link or uploading your client details into the VouchedFor system. (Top tip: build your reviews more quickly by asking the couples you deal with to leave separate reviews).
- Ask every new client you take on to leave you a review
- Ask existing clients to leave you a review, or update existing reviews, after their annual meeting
- Engage with the reputational tools to demonstrate the value you add and encourage existing clients to refer you to other people they know
Remember, one of the key benefits of VouchedFor is that you’re building your profile, not your firms. It’s you who will reap the rewards.
3. Develop an Unbiased profile
Unbiased divides our community. Some advisers and planners love it. Others…well, let’s just say they aren’t keen!
In our experience, while there are certainly frustrations, Unbiased is a very useful way for planners starting out in their career, or who don’t control their firm’s marketing strategy, to develop new enquiries.
Unbiased is different from Vouchedfor; the only reason for having it is to generate new enquiries. Profiles are also for businesses, not individuals. That said, with the permission of your firm, we recommend investing in a profile that only you benefit from.
If you’re new to Unbiased the Growth plan is probably the right place to start. This allows you to have two locations, giving wider geographical coverage. The cost is £69 per month plus VAT with each enquiry you accept charged at £45 plus VAT.
Monitor the return on investment and then take decisions based on the results you see. Not what others say on social media.
4. Build your own blog and start writing
No doubt your firm has a website, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t develop your own online presence in the form of a blog site. In fact, we’ve said many times that it’s impossible to market yourself without producing content.
We work with planners who have no control over their firm’s website but took matters into their own hands by starting a blog, which has three key benefits:
- It adds value to the reader
- It demonstrates your knowledge and positions you as a ‘go-to’ professional
- It has a relatively low barrier to entry (anyone can write, build a newsletter and write social media posts)
5. Send your own newsletter
Writing blogs is only half the job. To be effective, people need to read them. So, we recommend sending your blogs in a monthly email newsletter.
Email has many advantages; it’s simple, cost-effective, trackable and environmentally friendly.
We recommend sending it to existing clients and professional connections. It should also be sent to prospects (including those who have approached you via Unbiased and VouchedFor) who haven’t yet become clients. This continues to demonstrate knowledge, adds value, and touches them with your brand, so it’s you they come back to when they’re ready to take action.
6. Engage on social media
Again, your firm may have social media accounts, but that doesn’t stop you from engaging yourself.
Start by establishing which social media channels your target clients use. There’s no point hanging out on Twitter if your target market uses Facebook.
- Build a profile, including an eye-catching header which includes your contact details
- Start to establish yourself as a ‘go-to’ expert by posting your blogs, sharing content and answering questions
- If you’re using Facebook or LinkedIn, look for groups you can join where you can add value
I hope we’ve shown that even if you don’t control your marketing budget or strategy there’s still plenty you can do to generate new enquiries.
Sure, it’ll take some time, or money (if you outsource the work) but, if you get it right, the long term return on investment will be immeasurable. Plus, your enhanced personal reputation will remain with you for years to come.
If you have questions or would like to learn more about how we can help you, please email firstname.lastname@example.org call us on 0115 8965 300.