It’s our birthday! So, here are our top 10 tips for creating new enquiries
It’s three years ago today that we launched The Yardstick Agency.
We’ve come a long way since Michael, Dan and I would meet each morning in a coffee shop before heading to our tiny office which you couldn’t even fit a cat in, let alone swing it.
When we launched the business, we had three aims:
- To help financial advisers and planners market their businesses more effectively
- To connect more consumers to advisers and planners
- To create opportunities for the talented people of Nottingham
We passionately believe in the benefits of financial planning, so it’s the second of those aims which is perhaps most important to us. Over the past three years, we’ve helped many firms develop their marketing so that they attract new enquiries.
Therefore, on our third birthday, it seems appropriate to bring you our top ten tips for successfully generating new enquiries.
1. Think strategically
Just as you do for your clients, my financial planner (take a bow Tom Morris at Ovation) has developed a financial plan to help my wife and myself achieve our aspirations.
That strategic approach is crucial for your clients, so why should it be any different when it comes to your marketing?
In our experience, employing individual tactics and hoping they work is a recipe for marketing misery. It’s far better to spend time developing, implementing and monitoring a strategy specifically designed to achieve your goals.
Developing a strategy starts by understanding your growth goals; turnover, number of clients, ongoing fee income and assets under management (to name a few). You can then use your conversion rate (see tip 10) to calculate the number of new enquiries you need to deliver the required level of growth.
Only then can you start to develop a strategy which bridges the gap between the number of enquiries you are currently receiving and the number you need.
2. Get the basics right
There are three basic things you need to understand:
- What you do
- Who you do it for
- Why someone should choose you
They are such basic questions that they often get overlooked. To market your business effectively, it’s important to put in the hard yards now to:
- Nail down your proposition
- Understand everything you can about your target clients and how you can demonstrate the benefits of financial planning
- Understand why a consumer would use you.
If you were put on the spot right now, could you succinctly explain each of the above for your business?
3. Develop a referral strategy
In three years, we’ve had more than 300 new enquiries from financial advisers and planners. They each want help with something different but, usually, the underlying need is to generate new enquiries. It’s therefore astonishing that a firm has never asked us for help with developing more referrals, despite them being the best type of new enquiry.
Central to successfully generating referrals is delivering a service which turns clients into advocates. After that, you need to deal with the ‘dirty dozen’; the 12 reasons why financial planners don’t get more referrals.
There’s another benefit too. Referrals have the lowest cost of acquisition and the highest conversion rate of any type of new enquiry. Get it right and you will have to spend less money on the likes of us!
4. Impress online
Sat between a potential client becoming aware of you or your business and them taking action is Google.
Some prospects will use Google to carry out detailed due diligence. Others will simply be looking for your contact details. Either way, potential clients need to be able to find you online and be impressed by what they see.
Remember, what they see online will dictate whether or not they get in touch.
Ideally, you will dominate the results for an online search for your name or that of your business. Your website and site links should appear first. Your Google My Business listing should also display along with the reviews you have diligently collected. The rest of the page should be links to blogs, directory profiles, social media profiles, the FCA register and even Companies House.
Now, put yourself in the shoes of your client and search online for yourself and your business:
- Are you easy to find?
- Do you impress?
- If you were a potential client would you get in touch with yourself?
If the answer to any of those question is ‘no’, you’ve got some work to do!
5. Develop an effective website
The obvious place for people to head when they’ve found you online is your website. Unfortunately, although things are getting better, the standard of many adviser/planner websites is still very low.
In the context of new enquiry generation your website has three jobs:
- Turning the right visitors into prospects by encouraging them to take action
- Explaining what you do, who you do it for, and why someone should use you
- Signposting visitors who aren’t right for you elsewhere
It’s a cliché, but your website is your shop window. Along with the search results page, your website is also where most of your potential clients will first meet you. Therefore, it’s vital that you get it right.
Take a critical view of your own website:
- Does it really achieve these three things?
- Does it include all of the top ten pages consumers expect to see?
- Is it converting visitors into enquirers?
Again, if the answer is no, perhaps you have work to do.
6. Communicate how financial planning changes lives
We know financial planning changes lives. You know financial planning changes lives. Your clients know financial planning has changed their lives.
Everyone else doesn’t know.
There are two ways to convince them of the benefit of planning before they experience it:
- You tell them
- Your clients tell them
No prizes for guessing which is most effective!
That’s why we are such advocates of filming your clients’ stories, explaining how they have benefited from financial planning, and how their lives have changed.
Be honest: are you effectively communicating how financial planning has changed your clients’ lives? And, no, a single testimonial page isn’t good enough. As we’ve said before: traditional testimonials are dead!
7. Adviser directories are still useful
We might not make ourselves popular when we say this. But, used correctly, the two main directories, Unbiased and VouchedFor, will produce a very acceptable return on investment.
We are currently conducting some in-depth research into the results advisers and planners achieve from Unbiased. We’ll publish a white paper in February, but it’s clear that there are vast numbers of people searching the site for an adviser or planner.
To engage those people, you’ve got to build both a compelling profile and a process for dealing with enquiries. You will only get the best out of the directories if you do both of those things.
We’d hate to think that any advisers and planners miss out on the enquiries they might otherwise generate because they’ve listened to the negative stories about the directories when the evidence shows that it works.
8. Content is king
Marketing your business successfully is hard work if you’re not producing content.
Interesting and relevant content, distributed to the right people:
- Demonstrates your knowledge
- Educates and informs
- Touches the recipient with your brand.
Adding unique, long-form content to your website is still a crucial search engine ranking factor. And remember, people who reach your website via Google usually have an immediate need. They are highly engaged and motivated to take action.
The key to any content strategy is to remember it’s a two-step process; producing it, then distributing it. If you stop at the first stage, it won’t work.
9. Collect data
Your marketing will be more successful if you make decisions based on evidence. That means regularly analysing:
- Your enquiry log: Whether you collect enquiry data on your back-office, a bespoke CRM or a spreadsheet, it should be analysed on a regular basis. We believe there are nine data fields which should be collected, if you want to know what they are, please click here to drop me an email
- Google Analytics: This is free to access and shows you how your website is performing
- Directory dashboards: These help you to understand how these are working for you and the return on investment (ROI) you’re achieving
- Newsletter engagement: Understand your open rates, click-through rates and what’s being read.
If you’re not collecting data or regularly analysing it, it’s impossible to make evidence-led decisions. In turn, that will mean you’re not as efficient as you might be and you’ll probably spend more on your marketing than you need to.
10. Remember: it isn’t all about enquiry numbers
Low conversion rates hit profit margins, impact efficiency and reduce morale. We’ve identified three reasons why conversion rates might be poor:
- The wrong type of new enquiries are being generated
- The sales skills of the adviser or planner are poor (yes, we are all selling something!)
- The onboarding process isn’t efficient, leading to delays
Monitoring and improving your conversion rate is just as important as generating new enquiries. Unfortunately, so few firms do it.
Three years and counting…
Hopefully, this list has given you some food for thought.
We’re passionate about the benefits of financial planning. The better we do our job, the more consumers will benefit from financial planning.
If you have a marketing challenge, or 2020 is the year when you want to grab your marketing by the scruff of the neck and shake things up, then we’re here to help. Email [email protected] or call us on 0115 8965 300.