People work hard for their money, so it should come as no surprise that most clients don't pick their advisors out of the phone book as if they were ordering a pizza. After all, they want a professional in their corner with the right experience to manage their finances. Many investors do their research before they actually hire a financial professional. They may do this by reading reviews, getting recommendations from close associates, listen to advisors in action, and learn about their expertise through seminars and articles.
This doesn't mean you shouldn't do any of your own groundwork to add more clients to your Rolodex. In fact, it takes much more than running a simple radio or newspaper ad. Building trust and establishing relationships are the keys to growing your business. Keep reading to explore four ways to help expand your client book and add to your business.
- Use your existing clients to get referrals.
- Make sure you have a really great website and put your business on social media.
- Consider indirect ways to promote yourself—interview opportunities and event sponsorships are two great ideas.
- Look for speaking engagements that can allow you to highlight your expertise.
Use Your Existing Clients
The best way to bring in new clients is through the relationships you already have—your existing clients. Getting referrals is the easiest and most logical first step for a number of reasons. Your clients know and trust you because they have a great sense of your expertise. Try hitting them up to see if they know of anyone looking for an advisor who fits well with your business.
Existing clients are likely to send you prospective clients who are just like them. This means if you keep your current client list clear of whiners and late-payers, good clients will usually bring in more good clients. But don't assume they know you want them to do this. It's important to let them know you're looking for new business. Here are a few things you can do:
- bring up the subject during your next client meeting
- send an email or letter asking for referrals
- ask your clients when and if you contact them by phone
You can also give your clients a few of your business cards or brochures to hand out in order to make the referral process easier.
Follow-ups work, so make sure you contact the people your existing clients have referred you to and make sure you thank anyone who's made a referral.
These days, having a presence online is a no-brainer and is important for any business. It's the most basic way to present yourself and your company to the public. A website allows potential clients to find out who you are and about the services you offer without having to endure a sales pitch.
Your website should be more than just an electronic version of your brochure. It should look professional so hire an experienced web designer if you can't do the job yourself. And make sure it provides a lot of helpful information, along with the sales pitch. Here are a few other things you may want to include:
- articles on financial topics in the news and other hot button issues
- an electronic newsletter for which readers can sign up
But that isn't all. Remember to market yourself on social media. You'll be surprised about how many people you'll engage through sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Keep your professional pages different from your personal ones and keep it relevant to the business. Be sure to include office hours and your contact details. One good thing about social media is that you can cross-post, meaning you can use Instagram to post to your other social media pages as long as your accounts are linked together. Here are a few great tips:
- use the business options to boost your posts—it costs money, but it will get people to notice you
- make sure you use visuals in your posts—people tend to engage with posts when there are photos or videos
- take advantage of hashtags
- engage with others so your name gets out there
If you're thinking about slapping down money to create fliers and flashy ads, take a step back. Not only does advertising costs a lot of money, but you'll also have to think about how you're going to distribute and disseminate your message in the case of a flier. You can save yourself a lot of money if you use a more subtle—and more effective—approach.
Show prospective clients you know your stuff by writing letters to the editor of your local newspaper about issues in your field. Brush up on your public speaking and interpersonal skills and pursue interview opportunities in the media where you can show off your knowledge and experience rather than spending the money to advertise on radio or television. Get out into the public by sponsoring and/or hosting charitable events to get your name on people's minds. All of these actions allow potential new clients to see how you operate and see what you're all about before they commit to signing on. Think of it as an informal way to interview potential clients.
Look for Speaking Engagements
In the previous section, we suggested looking for speaking opportunities on radio and television. These can be great, but you can also find value in marketing yourself and your skills as an advisor by looking for speaking engagements. Speaking to crowds lets potential new clients know you have expertise in financial planning.
Create a list of topics that you feel comfortable speaking about and then call around to find opportunities to speak. Contact your local chamber of commerce, businesses, and civic organizations—they often look for event speakers for their meetings, seminars, conferences, and expos. If you have never spoken in public before, practice beforehand or even join an organization like Toastmasters, to get experience. At every speaking engagement, make sure to leave lots of time to speak with participants and be sure to bring business cards.
The Bottom Line
Building your client base takes time and requires establishing trust with potential clients. The side benefits of using indirect methods to do this are that they cost substantially less than in-your-face advertising and are infinitely more effective.