31/05/18Making yourself the ‘go-to’ local expert
This article was originally published in Money Marketing on 30th April 2018.
One of the most successful ways to grow your practice is to make yourself, or your business, the ‘go-to’ planner for your niche in your local area. The long-term aim is to achieve such local dominance that, when someone thinks about your niche, they immediately associate your name with it.
So how do you do that?
First things first, you must know your niche.
Niches are a good thing; they allow you to become a true expert and they certainly make marketing easier.
However, it needs to focus on people, not product. Remember though, you’re a specialist in helping people retire successfully, not in pensions. Alternatively, you specialise in helping people rebuild their financial life after a divorce, you’re not an expert in pension sharing orders.
Forget faking it before you make it too; you genuinely need to be an expert in your chosen niche.
Demonstrate your expertise
Naturally, you need to be suitably qualified and experienced in your niche. Ideally you will also be a member of the relevant trade bodies and associations: for example, if you specialise in financial planning for divorcees, then Resolution membership would be advantageous.
Communicate your expertise
Your website should explain the types of people you specialise in advising. But you need to do more; you have to prove it. The best way of doing that is by telling stories:
Content: Writing informative, relevant and interesting blogs will demonstrate your expertise, add value and show you are prepared to give before you receive. Then distributing the content via a newsletter and promoting on social media will maximise its reach.
Case studies: Descriptive stories, explaining how you have helped your clients, are hugely powerful. Case studies accompanied by the client’s photo are great; videos, even better.
Testimonials: Powerful endorsements of your work, testimonials should ideally be 100 – 150 words long, written by the client themselves and explain how they benefitted from working with you. Ensure they include their name, location and the length of time you have been advising them (to prove you give consistently great service and advice).
Keep it local
So, you’ve demonstrated your niche. It’s time to start becoming more visible locally.
Begin by identifying the area where your target audience lives. We always recommend producing a list of place names; this will give you a list of keywords to include in the blogs and website copy you write.
Make the most of your office: If you’re based on a high-street, or have an office where people walk or drive past, make the most of that opportunity. Ensure your branding and signage gets your key messages across in a powerful way.
Train existing clients: We can all agree that best type of new enquiry is a recommendation from an existing client. Therefore, make sure they know that you want to build your business (not at the expense of your service levels though!) as well as the type of client you want to work with. This could be done face-to-face at the end of a review meeting, or in a regular communication perhaps once or twice a year.
Be found online: A proportion of people will look for an adviser online; search volumes are often lower than most people expect, but it’s still important to rank well on Google, especially for local searches. You want to appear in the first few results of searches for advisers and planners in your area and niche. That means, among other things, making sure that the SEO basics are complete on your website and suitable keywords are included.
Engage on social media: The targeting options Facebook allows, as well as local discussions such as Twitter’s ‘business hours’, make social media an effective way of engaging with local prospects. Understanding which social media channel your target audience uses, then how you can harness its power locally, is the key to success.
Get involved: We know some advisers and planners who’ve had great success in raising their local profile through sponsoring events or raising money for a local charity. Attending events as a delegate or offering your services as an expert speaker are also excellent ways to raise your profile.
Local advertising and editorial: Locally produced publications often focus on the community, both in terms of events and businesses. They can be an excellent source of new business, just don’t forget to include a method of tracking the returns you get.
Making yourself the ‘go-to’ local adviser or planner takes work, but we’ve seen how effective this strategy can be in building a great local reputation and a sustainable flow of new enquiries.