Your Responsibility As A Business Owner –
What are you currently doing for marketing?
What is the one thing you can do?
What is the one magic pill, so to speak?
How can you flood yourself with new clients and keep them coming back?
The truth is, there is no one answer. There are twenty or thirty different things you can be doing to improve your marketing strategy and you need to implement enough of them to achieve robust success. There is no magic, one-stop-shop, fix-all-my-problems answer.
Some people will argue that they are getting all of their clients by referral or that they are buying leads off one lead source – although it is often the case that they are doing a sub-par job converting them. Some people only do live meetings and wonder why it is not working as well.
So, where should you start?
Think of it like this: “You have an MBA, but really you were an ABM first.”
Always Be Marketing.
Most financial advisors think their job is understanding taxes and investments and having in-depth conversations with people about planning their retirement, but the reality is the technical stuff is the easy part. The important part is to always be marketing to your desired audience, to always be working on getting your message out, always positioning yourself as the authority.
The real task is to source and retain a customer. A business only really has two roles – to create a customer and keep a customer. That is all you should be focusing on.
Even when one marketing strategy or two marketing strategies are effective, even if you get an effective lead flow with referrals, you should still be working hard on additional marketing. A lot of people say they are doing okay in their business because they get a lot of referrals. That is fine, but it can wax and wane. For example, let’s say a business had good success with doing Facebook marketing. If the government changed their rules about privacy laws, that could totally dry up and they would be left without their main source of new clients. What then?
Think of it as a financial portfolio. Investors always tell you to branch out and diversify to ensure that your money is secure over a vast variety of different companies and sectors. That way, if one takes a dip, you have the rest of them there to keep things secure. It’s the same concept with marketing. You want a multitude of different avenues for new clients to come through, just in case one of them stops being effective.
There are a lot of different reasons that one marketing strategy can work for a while. It could be a home run, and there are a lot of home run strategies out there, but they may work, or they may not. A lot of strategies that can work with live events that are different from online events, and they can be a huge home run, or they may not work one month or one week.
So, the problem with being dependent on one or two strategies is that even the best ones may work, or they may not, so you have to have enough of them so that you remain a healthy business. You need a healthy practice, and you have enough people coming in that you can be comfortable with the number and type of clients. It’s all about sustaining those comfort levels.
Maybe you want to work with clients that have better assets to allow you to get some higher assets management under your belt. Ideally, you want to work with people that you like to work with. Maybe you want to work with clients that fall under a certain niche. For example, you might want to work with doctors or dentists or contractors. If that is the kind of client you want to work with, that’s great, but you have to be good at marketing to be able to reach that niche. All of these things tie together to create the kind of business you want to have.
Many businesses out there are unhappy with the standard or type of clients they are bringing in. If there is one question people ask just after the magic pill question, it revolves around frustration at clients. That is a huge complaint we see in the industry.
The important thing to remember is that there is always another client around the corner.
If they choose not to buy, if they are not the right person, if they are not qualified, there is always another bus coming. This new bus will come around the corner and they are going to unload, giving you another group of people to work with. However, if you are not good at marketing, these buses may be few and far between.
Ideally, you only want to surround yourself with people who are a joy to the spirit, people who you want to work with. In an ideal world, you would only ask someone to become a client if they are a 100 per cent perfect fit. After all, a perfect fit customer is a happy customer. A happy customer makes a happy business. A happy business gets more referrals. However, this all depends on your marketing actually reaching and interesting your perfect customers.
A business we came across a little while ago woke up one morning and decided to fire their bottom 20 per cent of clients. While there was a huge initial drop off from the lack of business, the remaining 80 per cent of clients were suddenly a lot happier. In fact, everyone was happier. The company referrals went up, the revenue went up… everything went up! This is a technique that is used a lot these days, even though it may be controversial. Around 80 per cent of your business problems come from the bottom 20 per cent of clients. 90 per cent of your problems come from the bottom five per cent. So, naturally, by removing them altogether, you also cut away the vast majority of your problems.
Despite all of this, all of the frustrations and headaches and heartaches that come with those bottom twenty per cent of clients, if your marketing is bad, you are desperate to keep them. Without a decent lead flow and without attracting an abundance of ideal clients, you have to take what you can get, so to speak.
When it comes to marketing, the key is to be really good at all the tactics and the individual pieces. Whether it’s a live event, a webinar, a referral system, you need to be really good at the tactics and elements. In the past, we have organized some incredible events with loads of clients coming in from far and wide, only for it to get cancelled due to a tornado or something. The same can happen online, you can have everything set up and ready to go, then the internet drops out and cancels the entire thing. However, if you have a lot of stuff going on and a load of different events, the tornado or internet outage won’t hurt you as much. You are just losing one stream of new clients rather than your only stream. You should never be utterly dependent on one single event.
In an ideal world, you have a palette of prospects. You have people to choose from. You can be selective. You can pick and choose. This is why so many people are really afraid of niching. There is the feeling that you need to go out and get absolutely everyone you can get. You can’t be afraid of really targeting in and creating the customers that will make your business thrive, and the customers you can confidently provide a great service for.
You don’t want to run a business out of a fear of scarcity. You want to run it out of an expectation of abundance. An expectation of abundance is when you expect there to be enough leads coming in, no matter what. How you do that is by having enough things happening simultaneously, not dependent on one another. Not only should there be different things going on at the same time, but you also need to make sure that each of your strategies is actually effective. After all, there is no point in having ten sources of marketing if none of them is actually working. Even if you are great at live events, if your marketing is ineffective then none of the clients you want will actually show up.
Out of the twenty or thirty different marketing things you can do, as we explained earlier, you want to make sure that each and every one is as effective as it can be. That way, you will feel good about maintaining these twenty streams of marketing and will eventually reap the rewards. So many people claim to have tried this and to have tried that, claiming it does not work. The truth is, often it does work and can work, you just missed the little pieces to complete the jigsaw, little pieces that make all the difference in the world.
Our first question for people is always, ‘What have you done in the past?’
What have you done?
What were the results?
What should you do?
Plenty of people close themselves off to doing a certain thing or trying a certain method because they think it failed the last time. Often, it did fail, but it’s the reason behind the failure that is important.
How many leads did you get? How many did you turn into appointments? How many of those did you actually have a meeting with? How qualified were there? How many turned into a client? In 98 per cent of cases, the failure comes from a mistake in the system rather than the concept of the system itself. If you are having a tremendous success rate once you get a face-to-face meeting with a potential client, but are still experiencing problems, the issues are with marketing. The more people you get in front of you, the more you can close.
In almost all cases, it is flaws in the earlier part of the system that are the problem. The majority of the time, these do not require any more work or money to do correctly. What it requires is the know-how and the proper strategies. The difference between a really successful business and an unsuccessful business, even if they are both working equally as hard, is that the former has a better strategy. This better strategy comes in the form of more marketing activities, with each of those being done correctly.
Of course, sometimes it comes down to a bad strategy being a bad strategy. But almost all of the time, results could have been drastically improved by implementing better tactics within the strategy. If you tweak the tactics in a positive way, your results can multiply by five, ten, one hundred, etc.
As Dan Kennedy says, once you go in business for yourself, you are now forever and a day in the business of marketing, whatever it is you’re doing. After all, it is not the expert in investing that creates money-making opportunities but the person who can get the clients in the room in the first place. Also, the person who can put the systems in place to keep the clients and multiply the clients by turning them into referrals. Retention and referral is the name of the game.
Too many businesses outsource marketing without thinking about a grand plan. You can be our LinkedIn marketing person. You can be on Twitter. You can be on Facebook. There is nothing wrong with outsourcing, but you must first master the marketing and understand the process. Logging on and spending an hour a day randomly clicking around Facebook is not going to bring you marketing success. You don’t have to be an expert or a programmer, you just need to be smart and understand marketing in order to intelligently outsource with a plan in mind.
Delegate, not abdicate.
Understand what the results are for marketing and understand the numbers. Understand the marketing well enough, because tossing money over a wall and hoping the person it hits is going to throw leads back at them is not a good strategy.
When you’re responsible for your own outcomes, you’re not on salary with somebody doing the technical aspects behind the scenes, but when you’re really there as a producer, you’ve got to create your business. We recommend using a simple method: the blank pad. Start every day by sitting down with a notepad and writing down, what am I going to do today? What am I going to do this week? What am I going to do this month? What’s my quarterly? What’s my annual marketing plan look like? Start looking at what your new client flow is each day and focus on what the right strategies are, and what tactical implementation is needed to keep my client flow. When you go to bed at night, put your subconscious to work on what you need to do to grow this, and your brain will come up with the answers overnight.
We can’t tell you how many meetings we witness or sit in on where the team discusses what they need to do each morning, mainly about existing clients, but they never seem to cover where the referrals are coming from. Where do we get them from? How can we improve? What do we have to do? Who is going to work on that? If you do not nurture your referrals, you will find it a lot harder in the long term.
One of the most successful businesses we have ever worked with had a mysterious piece of paper hanging behind the reception desk. Whenever we went in, the number would be slightly different, and we eventually asked what it was all about. It turned out; it was the number of different referrals they currently had in the pipeline. They liked to keep track of the number and make sure everyone at the company knew it. If the referrals were below 20, they knew to panic and get together to figure out a fix. If it was above 20, they would concentrate on maintaining that and converting the referrals into regular clients. Knowing what your pipeline is and keeping it active in the company conversation is half the battle.
Keeping track of your pipeline numbers is both an indicator and motivation. Many businesses we work with do not know their pipeline number, at least not off the top of their head. Frequently, that number is very low. It might be one new client every month. That would be 12 a year, and that’s pretty anemic for what can be accomplished. In these cases, we often ask them what they want their assets under management to look like from now until the end of the year. That is the magic number and then you can work back and find a pipeline target from that. Some of our clients are getting 10 new a month, every month. Those are all doable numbers if you have the right marketing strategies in place. However, at least have that number in mind as a starting point, otherwise you kick things off with a guess and that is never good. You’re kind of just hoping. You’re throwing it to the wind, and if you get zero, you get zero. If you get one, you get one. If you get three, you get three, and you’re going to end up having whatever results you get. That is a very stressful way to live.
You have to know what the lifetime value is, what the current year’s value is going to be, how much money is going to come in immediately and what each new client is worth. You start with what your end in mind is. So, what do we want the revenue to be this month and this year? What do we want the assets under management to be? What will our reoccurring revenue to be?
One common mistake to avoid is asking your few clients for referrals during meetings. Say you have three client meetings in a week and you rely on asking each one for a friend referral. While, you never know, they may come good and present you with a great referral, it comes across as a little desperate. It makes it seem as if you are scraping the bottom of the barrel. The very clients you are asking for referrals are now wondering, why can they not find customers on their own? Am I placing my trust in the right person? You want to look busy, and you definitely don’t want to beg for referrals. You want your clients to be excited about what an expert you are, which is what will trigger the natural referrals.
The area that everyone is lacking when we talk to them is creating new clients and getting referrals. Of course, retaining customers and providing a great service is hugely important, but without putting the plate in front of you, you can’t fill it up with food.
This is the area that is holding you back from your business, and your lifestyle, and everything that you’re looking for, which is why we are emphasizing it so much. This idea that you have got to have enough things going on is the concept you need to get your head around first. Fortunately, we are here to talk you through all the tactics and strategies you need to actually make that happen. For now, we just want to be clear that new clients and a referral pipeline are the starting point for any business.
Plenty of people look at the beginning of each month and realize they have no marketing, before proceeding to freak out. Often, when we ask people what they do for marketing, they reply that they rely on word of mouth. Honestly, most of the time this answer is a clue that they do no active marketing. Even a broken clock is right twice a day and even a blind squirrel gets a nut every now and then.
Many businesses start with people asking around friends and families for a few clients to get themselves off the ground. They concentrate on these few clients and then a new one starts popping up here and then. That is never going to be a growth situation. No matter how good you are, it won’t work. We have met countless people who are fantastic at what they do and have a lot to offer in their niche, but that alone is not enough and never will be. You could be the best author in the world, but if no one has heard of your book, no one will read it.
Most people’s marketing is episodic, not systematic.
For example, someone we know who is extremely successful couldn’t really tell us how he received referrals and new clients. However, once a ran through a list of possible ways, he recognized things he had done in the past. One of these was a customer appreciation event that they can bring their friends to. He revealed he had held one in an art gallery and the clients loved it. He even got a load of new clients directly from the event. We asked when this event was… it was eight years ago. We asked when the next one is. He didn’t have one in the works. He claimed he hadn’t held another one because it was a lot of work. What he didn’t realize was that the first event is always the hardest because you are starting from scratch. The second is easier because you have your checklist and contacts to help set everything up. By the third, fourth, fifth, you have it down to a fine art and it becomes easier, although equally rewarding. Throw these kinds of events twice a year and you likely have a consistent source of new client referrals. It doesn’t always have to be a huge event at an art gallery either, it could be an online webinar, for example.
Ideally, you want to aim to have one or two client referral events each month. The reason for this is that each event may appeal to a slightly different audience. If you had 250 clients, you going to have some that have friends who need college planning and some that need succession planning and some that need estate planning, etc. Different topics for different segments make for different crowds of people, different friends, and different clients. You want seven or eight referral strategies that do not involve just asking existing clients.
You have to work out what your niche is with each client. People often ask what the one thing they should be doing is. That is not how things work. If we could pull a secret out of our pocket and hand it to you, we would, but that isn’t possible. It also would be bad business. You don’t want to use exactly the same game plan as everyone else, otherwise, you find that you lose your uniqueness and do not make the most of your individuality. You want to stand out from the crowd, rather than blending in. Clients should pick you because you offer something that no one else does, while reaching them in a way no one else does either.
This would basically be like having your entire game plan as ‘do not be worse than anyone else’ rather than ‘let’s be better than everyone else’. As soon as you revolve around what your rivals are doing, you have already lost what makes you… you. As Michael Kitces once said: It’s a horrible strategy to have clients pick you by zip code. You need more!
But hey, we’re going to run out of time here. Let’s summarize. It is you got to have a lot of things going on. In part, you have to have a lot of things going on because Murphy’s Law is real, and even the best strategy with the best tactics are going to run into the blizzard, the tornado warning, the internet glitch, whatever it might be. And frankly, sometimes they just don’t work. I mean, we get great results from Facebook, but every month is a little bit different, right? So, you got to have a lot of things going on. We call that the Parthenon, having a lot of pillars driving the traffic.
If you want 20 new clients each month, you should have 20 different things going on. We like to have 20 different things going on even if that only includes three or four real high-value ones. Just make sure that each one has the strategy and the tactics well put together.
End every night and start every morning by asking yourself where are we in our client flow? What do we need to be doing to keep that client flow where it needs to be going? Focus on marketing every day in the morning and just before bed. Never ever end a day without doing at least one thing to try to generate a new client. That is the golden rule you need to live by. It should be your mantra and it should become second nature to you and your business. If you can keep that up consistently across an entire month, you will reap the rewards. Even if some things don’t work, that puts you one step closer to finding out the things that do work. Just keep track of your new client pipeline, set your targets, and actively look for new ways to reach new people, including multiple events each month. That is the start of being successful, and we will follow up with some specific strategies later on.