This month we’re taking a break from our detailed look at marketing strategy. Normal service will resume next month.

    However, we are keen to highlight a trend we’ve noticed among planning firms; one that’s costing them money and making their life harder than it might otherwise be.

    The problem? Failing to focus on the marketing basics. Those simple but effective things which many firms seem to have forgotten.

    Here are three key basics, which if you implement successfully, will make a huge difference to the number and quality of new enquiries as well as your bottom line.

    1. Generating more referrals

    Our research shows advised clients are overwhelmingly happy. 96 per cent would recommend their adviser or planner and 99 per cent believe that working with their adviser or planner has helped them achieve their financial aims.

    When questioned further, 39 per cent say they have referred their planner on during the past 12 months. That means with an average of say 150 clients, every planner should have received 60 referrals.

    However, the average is far lower. In fact, I’m yet to see a single adviser or planner who has received that many.

    Naturally, we can expect some leakage, with potential clients failing to get in touch because their circumstances have changed, or they chose to go elsewhere. However, there’s no doubt that most advisers and planners aren’t getting as many referrals as they should.

    Astonishingly, most firms aren’t doing anything about the problem, yet are spending money on other forms of marketing. Surely, it’s better to turn clients into advocates and take a strategic approach to increase referrals rather than spending money needlessly?

    Win #1: Develop a strategy to generate more referrals from your existing clients; it’s the best type of new client enquiry you will get.

    2. Improving your online presence 

    An effective online presence is central to every effective marketing strategy but is especially important when it comes to referrals.

    Think about the journey someone takes to you. Once they have your name from an existing client, professional connection or other source, they will probably Google you. Some might simply be looking for your contact details, others will want to carry out some further due diligence before finally deciding to get in touch.

    As a minimum you need to be visible online. Ideally, you will do more, building or (in the case of referrals) enhancing an already favourable impression. That means doing everything you can to dominate the first page of Google for a brand search. A Google search for your business should display:

    • A link to your website
    • A fully completed Google My Business profile
    • Google reviews
    • Social media links
    • Links to the FCA register
    • Links to other statutory pages
    • Links to press coverage or award wins
    • Your blogs or other articles you have written

    However, far too many firms fall at the first hurdle and can’t be found from a brand search. In other words, they aren’t visible online.

    Many others fail to dominate the first page. Too many of those who can be found aren’t doing everything possible to differentiate themselves, for example by requesting Google reviews.

    Win #2: Ensure you can be found online, then take practical steps to dominate the search results. Once that’s achieved, take steps to create a favourable online footprint to turn suspects (visitors) into prospects (people who have made contact).

    3. Improving your conversion rate

    It baffles me why the focus is so often on the number of enquiries generated, while little or no time is spent analysing and improving conversion rates.

    It’s basic maths; the better your conversion rate, the less time and money you will have to spend on marketing. That’s a win-win right? Yes, except for firms like ours, but we’ll carry on regardless!

    Yet so few firms focus on conversion rates. We’ve noticed the problem is especially acute in multi-adviser firms; the emphasis tends to be more along the lines of “just get me more leads”.

    Some commit an even more basic mistake and fail to record the data which would enable them to calculate conversion rates in the first place.

    Typically, firms should ideally convert 25 - 30 per cent of all enquiries into clients. However, we’ve seen that figure as low as 10 per cent and as high as 60 per cent.

    It’s also important to understand the conversion rate at each stage of the onboarding process. Only by doing so, will you know where you can improve. For example:

    • If the conversion rate from new enquiry to first meeting is low, this might indicate that enquiries aren’t being followed effectively. Alternatively, your marketing might be creating enquiries from the wrong type of people
    • If the conversion rate from first meeting to engagement is low (below 80 per cent) then your proposition may need work or first meeting skills polishing

    Win #3: Calculate your current conversion rate at each stage of the client journey. Then take steps to improve until you reach your selected benchmark.

    These basics might not be at the funkiest end of the marketing spectrum, but they are fundamental to engaging more clients of the right type.

    Naturally, a strategic approach should be taken towards each, considering what you want to achieve, your current position and how you can move from A to B.

    The pay-off is worth the effort. Get the basics right and you will spend less time and money on marketing than otherwise might be the case.

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