News article

The single most important piece of information many advisers fail to collect

Almost every advisory firm spends money on marketing. The amount, will of course depend on their business objectives. We’ll look into the important information in more detail next week when we ask: “How much should you spend on marketing?”

However, before we get to that next Friday, we want to talk about the single most important piece of information (in marketing terms, anyway) which many advisers and planners are failing to collect.

The importance of results

The rules for investing in your marketing are like anything else. You need to understand what’s working, and the return you’re getting on your investment.

To do that, you need accurate data which you, or someone in your team, needs to collect. Without it, there’s no way you can effectively assess the success (or otherwise) of your current marketing strategy.

I often have conversations with planners which go something like this:

Me: “How many new clients do you want to take on this year?”

Planner: “Six would be good.”

Me: “How many new enquiries do you need to achieve that?”

Planner: “Er….”

Me: “Ok. Can you tell me where your enquiries are coming from right now? What’s working? What isn’t?”

Planner: “Er…”

If we are in a planner’s office, we might ask them for their enquiry log. That’s often met with sheepish glances and an admission that they don’t have one. Or, if they do, it’s not kept up to date.

You can see where I’m going with this.

If you don’t have even the simplest information at your fingertips, you can’t possibly assess how effective your current marketing activities are. Which ones are producing the best return on your investment? And which are frankly a waste of money?

Simple system

We recommend putting in place a simple system where the source of each enquiry is collected. It might be something as basic as an Excel spreadsheet (on a shared drive, if more than one person will complete it) or using your back-office functionality.

However, it has to be completed religiously (no scribbles on post-it notes or desk jotters which could be lost). And to prevent enquiries falling through the cracks it needs to be completed at the time the call, email or enquiry form was received.

For calls in to the office, that means training the team who answer the phone to ask the potential client how they got your details. If it’s a referral from an existing client or professional connection, then ask if they’d be happy to tell you who referred them on.

That means you can say thank-you.

Alternatively, for example, if they simply say: “I was on your website” ask how they found it, was it a Google search? Did they see you on a directory such as Unbiased or VouchedFor.

We aren’t recommending rerunning the Spanish Inquisition, just a couple of simple questions.

Half the job

Collecting this information will help you understand the sources which are most effectively generating new client enquiries. However, to be truly useful over time we’d also recommend including information to show:

  • If they became a client (this will help you understand conversation rates, which are fundamental to building a marketing strategy)
  • The initial fee paid
  • The potential long-term value of the client

The Yardstick DIY Corner

If you aren’t collecting this data, or your systems could be better, we recommend:

  1. Designing a simple method for collecting this information (an Excel spreadsheet with the relevant headers added to a shared drive is usually sufficient, to start with at least)
  2. Explain to whoever handles initial enquiries the importance of this task (they are more likely to do it if they understand what it’s important) and exactly what you want them to do. This could even involve a few short role plays to make them feel comfortable with asking the questions
  3. Over time, as the data builds up, analyse it and take action based on what you see.

Only by collecting this information can you make educated and evidence based decisions on your marketing strategy and where to allocate your budget. Ask us for more details.

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