Our journey from suspect to advocate is almost complete.
Last month we considered how to turn prospects into clients.
Now it’s time to consider the final leg, looking at how you turn happy clients into willing advocates for your business.
Let’s start by defining an ‘advocate’.
Simply put, it’s someone who has experience of working with you and talks favourably about you and your business to others.
They believe in the benefits of financial planning and want their friends, family and work colleagues to experience it as they have.
In short, it’s someone who believes in you and your business and who quite literally advocates for you.
So far, so good, but turning clients into advocates takes time, effort and hard work. So, let’s look at some of the key benefits of creating advocates.
Refer you to others
We all know that referrals are the best type of new enquiry. They:
- have an immediate need
- are pre-sold on working with you
- have the highest conversion rate of all types of new enquiry, and the lowest cost out of all sources of new enquiries
Advocates believe in your service and want others to benefit, so will actively look for opportunities to refer or introduce their friends and family to you.
This will create efficiencies due to the improved conversion rate, while reducing costs and improving margins.
Leave reviews online
Online ratings and reviews are an important part of the social proof jigsaw. They help to impress prospects who search for you or your business after becoming aware of your brand.
In our experience, most clients are happy to complete a review on Google or VouchedFor (our two preferred platforms).
However, advocates will be prepared to write multiple reviews, often including more detailed feedback.
This will help impress prospects, some of whom might be people referred to you by the advocates themselves.
Tell their story
We all know financial planning changes lives.
You can probably think right now of clients who’ve taken big life decisions after working with you. What better way of convincing others to work with you than have your clients tell their stories?
This is where advocates really come into their own.
They will be prepared to appear in videos telling their stories or be interviewed for case studies. They will also be delighted to speak to the occasional prospect who requires an extra nudge to become a client.
Attend advisory panels and boards
A growing number of planning firms are forming client advisory boards and panels. These small groups are prepared to share their thoughts to improve the experience for all clients, and can offer invaluable feedback.
If you run client events advocates will not only attend, they will speak positively about their experience of working with you to others. They are also likely to bring guests who might become clients.
Share social media posts
If social media is part of your marketing strategy, connecting with clients will make it easier for them to share your posts with their connections.
One final benefit...
An advocate will also be a critical friend.
There will be times when things aren’t going quite right.
Perhaps poor decisions have been made, growth has outpaced capacity or service standards have slipped. Or perhaps things just aren’t as slick as they should be.
It’s your advocates who will pull you to one side and tell you while remaining loyal.
They won’t rant and rave or leave negative reviews online. Instead, they’ll be constructive - helping you work through what’s wrong until it’s put right.
Going beyond clients
Remember too, it isn’t just clients who make great advocates.
Accountants, solicitors, key centres of influence, even other advisers and planners - all can advocate on your behalf.
An advocate can be anyone who believes in what you do, is happy to tell others and support you in some or all the ways we’ve outlined above.
I’m delighted and humbled that we’ve benefitted first-hand from the power of advocacy since we launched The Yardstick Agency in January 2017.
Our clients have given great feedback in public when they’re happy and constructively in private when things haven’t gone quite right (we are human after all!).
Plus, we’ve also benefitted from people who have advocated on our behalf and recommended us without ever being clients.
Developing advocates is crucial to the growth of your business. Next time we’ll look at some of the practical steps you can take to turn clients into genuine advocates.