Marketing your business better
For financial advisers working in today’s competitive arena, it’s as important to market new products to current clients, as it is to find new clients in the market.
Marketing is important. It’s a great way to stay in touch with your current clients and, ideally, generate new business. But if you’re busy writing up fact finds, researching products and submitting applications, then it’s little surprise that marketing activities can become a low priority.
Use ideas outlined in the DICE technique on these tabs to take some of the ‘gamble’ out of your marketing strategy. Share these pages with your colleagues and don’t forget to contact us if you’d like more information, or help with the ideas shown here.
- Define your business, decide how to market yourself, be sure of your proposition
- Identify clients effectively, use segmentation, maximise business opportunities
- Contact – choose how you contact clients, and make the most of your contacts
- Evaluate your marketing strategy’s effect, and start growing your business with Aviva
Start with the basics. Remind yourself what it is that you have to offer, before you start marketing your services.
So, do you have a business plan? Do you talk to colleagues about what you’re offering? Can you define your business – is it a holistic range of independent advice, or a specialist proposition? You don’t have to invest money on marketing campaigns, expensive brochures, or complicated websites to communicate this to clients – you simply need to be clear in your own mind, what it is that you can offer them.
- 1 – define your business
It’s a challenging market, so potential clients need a good reason to choose you over your competitors. They need to know who you are, what you do, and why they should ask you for advice. It may be that you can offer a ‘good deal’ on a specific policy, you’re local to them, or that you cover several aspects of financial advice – but there’s a short exercise that could help you think about how clearly your ‘offer’ is defined:
- Write down a list of the products you’ve sold recently
- Now write down other services that you could offer to clients
- Think – when you’ve spoken to clients, how often have you told them what else you could do?
- Ask – do all of your current clients have up-to-date details about your business?
Be proud of the business you’re building. Establish an identity – associate your name with your services at every opportunity. Get your brand known in sports clubs, local clubs, community centres, free local newspapers, Doctors’ surgeries: make sure your name and contact details are always included alongside regulatory information and details about how you could help clients.
- 2 – decide how to market yourself
From the years of experience you’ve had selling products, to the location of your business and the contacts you’ve built up – every financial adviser works in a slightly different set of circumstances. However, all advisers rely on the same available providers, products and services.
So you need to work out what you’re offering, what you can offer that could be different to your competitors (even if that’s personality, rather than a specialism), and with which clients you’d like to work most. Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in a particular sector, perhaps; empty nesters approaching retirement; young families needing advice on protection, or individuals of high net worth who want guidance about making investments and looking after their family’s health and wellbeing.
Having a clear idea of the clients you’d like to work with helps you narrow down your proposition, and offer specific advice. Ask yourself these questions:
- Which products do I sell well – where have I had most success?
- Am I an expert in a specific field, or is there a product suite I could explore in more detail?
- Am I ignoring a potential client base, are there obvious potential clients that I haven’t targeted?
- Are there common denominators among my clients – age, location – that I haven’t spotted?
- What plans do my current clients have for the future, how would I like to be part of them?
- Could I simply cross-sell more services, or should I consider a new client base completely?
- Are you an adviser who wants to work mainly with large businesses? If so, then spending time at networking events with individuals may not be as productive.
- Do you prefer working one-to-one with young people, or are you happier being seen as someone from whom older people would seek advice?
- Would you like to promote your business as covering ‘all areas of financial advice’, or would you benefit from specialising in one area – like Private Medical Insurance.
- 3 – be sure of your proposition
You may want to concentrate on building the healthcare side of your business, or you may want to add a range of healthcare and wellbeing products to your portfolio. Ask yourself how these products tie in with clients’ needs in other areas of financial advice. This will help you offer services more naturally.
- Are you selling pensions? People are more aware of health issues as they age. Including Private Medical Insurance in your portfolio is a natural step.
- Do you talk to individuals who are employed? It may be easier than you think to make a transition from offering personal advice, to advising businesses on Private Medical Insurance products.
- Are you focusing on one type of healthcare product – such as general private medical insurance – or could you offer another product, such as a diagnostic insurance.
- Are employers benefiting from access to services you can recommend, such as the reduction of absence costs using the benefits of Private Medical Insurance.
Understanding your clients’ needs is fundamental to growing your business – but identifying clients who would be willing to engage with you is the key to a successful marketing campaign.
To remain compliant, you’ll be keeping accurate and up-to-date records of who your clients are and the activities you’ve engaged in to date. Most advisers have some form of electronic database, which includes basic information such as the client’s name, age, occupation, contact details and policy renewal dates; for corporate clients, this data would include number of employees, type of business and perhaps industry.
This information is useful from an administrative perspective, but by noting ‘soft’ details during fact finds, you can identify traits about your clients that could help you market products and services more effectively – perhaps using direct mail in a campaign, or by outbound calling about a specific product or promotion.
- 1 – identify clients effectively
When you think about the clients you’re already helping, it can focus your efforts and resources on activities that target them more effectively. So by ‘identify’, we mean categorise rather than recognise – it’s about understanding who your clients are at the moment, which can help you find new business in the future.
- Keep a record of what you find out about people and businesses you come into contact with, even if they don’t use your services. It helps you recognise opportunities and refine your marketing strategy.
- Think of everyone as being a potential client, and every client as a potential referee.
Never be afraid to ask for referrals and remember, there’s no harm in asking clients if they’re happy with the service they’ve received, either from you or your colleagues. It makes sense to monitor the quality of your work and gives you an opportunity to benefit personally from their feedback – good or bad.
- 2 – identify client segments, use segmentation
‘Segmentation’ is a priority for effective marketing of any product or service – we’ve included a whole segmentation section, in addition to the information you’re reading now. It’s about identifying your target audience, and then being able to meet that group’s needs with your service, product or offer. To do this, you’ll be asking:
- What does your client base look like, which clients do you attract?
- Do you deal with a diverse range of individuals and businesses?
- Have you found success in one area of expertise or service?
- Who are your most valuable clients?
- What do clients ‘look’ like, and what do they bring to your business?
In all likelihood, you earn your living by either charging a fee, recommending products or services from which you take a commission, or adopting a combination of both remuneration policies.
For many advisers however, the true value of a ‘good client’ is not necessarily the amount of money earned directly from business submitted – but the number of new contacts you find, through that person or company. Once you’ve identified those ‘good’ clients, it can be relatively simple to prioritise them in your marketing plan – and use segmentation to grow your business even further.
Find ideas to help you segment your own client base and use that information to help grow your business.
- 3 – maximise business opportunities
Retention activity (work that helps you keep existing clients), can be a more inexpensive way to maximise opportunities than running a marketing campaign to attract new business. So think about the clients you’re currently working with, and ask yourself – are you maximising opportunities that are ‘sitting in your filing cabinets’?
- How often do you contact clients?
- Who contacts them – do you, or do your colleagues make the calls?
- Are there any clients you’ve simply lost touch with?
- Do you have a system in place that ‘flags’ clients with policies due for renewal?
- What do you discuss?
- Do you record what you’re talking about in a database?
Think of renewal dates as opportunities to identify gaps in cover, to recognise your clients' needs and help address them with professional guidance. It may sound obvious, but a diary or a piece of software that helps you keep a note of each client’s policy renewal date is essential. Don’t wait until providers send out renewal notices. Contact clients at least four to six weeks beforehand; let them know the policy is up for renewal, and ask them for an opportunity to make sure it’s still meeting their needs.
Successful marketing activity relies on you getting in touch with current and potential new clients. All you have to do is decide on the method of contact you’d like to use.
It would be good if the phone rang incessantly with new business – but that’s unlikely. Your role is to offer guidance and make recommendations that are appropriate for your clients and their circumstances. To treat customers fairly, that involves not only discovering their needs (during the fact find), but in its purest form it also means working out if they’re open to talking about the services you can offer in the first place. So you need to choose a contact method, to get that message across.
Follow the links below to get a brief overview of these marketing methods:
- Outbound Calling
- Direct Mail campaigns
- Email campaigns
- Newsletters and articles
- Social Media
- Running a seminar
Your marketing strategy
It’s important to decide which marketing methods you’d like to use, what you’re comfortable with, and what ‘works’ for you and your colleagues – whether that’s mailshots to customers; online forums; blogging; social media; outbound calling or simply networking.
Don’t worry, it’s surprising how easy it can be to learn a new skill and get your offer out there. But it’s important to choose marketing methods that you can execute effectively. For instance, there’s little to be gained by starting a long term social media campaign, if your colleagues don’t have the time to tweet, blog, or update web pages regularly.
However, it’s also important to test your campaign – use a small cross-section of targeted recipients to see what works best. You may find that one type of client responds better than another: if your client base is slightly older, for example, then it may be more productive to use direct mail followed with outbound calling, than a social media campaign.
- … and make the most of your contacts
Perhaps first and foremost, it’s important to remember that pro-active contact with existing clients is perfectly valid if you have information that you feel – based on your existing relationship – could be of tangible potential benefit to them. Don’t miss the best opportunities: ask permission to send information when you talk to clients directly – but don’t bombard people with information. It can be counterproductive.
How do you know what’s relevant to your contacts?
To understand what’s relevant to your clients, you need to know something about them. This, you’ll have done during your fact finds. For individuals, it will include things like names, addresses, occupations, life stages (e.g. divorced, married, empty nester), financial products already owned, etc. For businesses, you should be collecting data about the type of industry, working environment, number of employees, tiers of employment and perhaps staff absence rates.
How do you use the data you have to make effective contact?
To make effective contact, you need to minimise the amount of effort you put into campaign activity – but maximise the chances of a positive outcome. Segmenting your clients can help.
How can you improve the quality of your contact data?
Regular reviews are key, and should be part of your day-to-day business. It’s as useful to take dormant clients out of your forthcoming contact activities, as it is to keep them on a ‘current activity’ list – cleansing data helps you reduce wasted effort. And there’s no problem with asking clients, either face to face or over the phone, whether or not you can briefly check their details are up to date. Outbound calling is an excellent way to do this.
Great marketing campaigns are cyclic: learning from the outcomes of one piece of activity, applying that knowledge to improve the next. So you need to measure success accurately.
In an ideal world, it’s good to measure the success of your marketing campaigns by an increase in new business, referrals from current clients or how much your profile appears to be raised among potential new clients. Without measuring your progress however, you can’t judge exactly how effective you’ve been – so it can be harder to find ways in which your marketing strategy should improve, during the next piece of activity.
That’s why it’s as useful to measure lack of response as it is to measure the number of calls to the office, click-throughs and open rates of emails returning to your inbox after an email campaign, or reply-paid envelopes returned from a direct mail campaign. Consistency is also key: think of your marketing activities as being ‘integrated’ – following up those first points of contact with an outbound calling exercise, or even a second ‘doordrop’ type email campaign, re-emphasising your key messages.
By refining the commmunications you’re sending, and tuning in to the needs of your audience, you can address their needs more specifically – and usually elicit a more productive response.
Useful tips on measuring success
- Although it may seem like a low return on investment initially, measure the cost of your marketing activity in terms of pound per acquisition from the outset. Over time, refining your message and proposition should reduce that ratio.
- Set a realistic objective for each campaign, whether that’s number of responses or number of outbound calls being made within a specific timeframe.
- Always include a response mechanism in your messages. You could be using direct mail, email, or writing an article – it doesn’t matter which method you choose to get your message out there, as long as clients have an opportunity to respond. Make it easy for them to get in touch.
- Include your colleagues in the activity, and give them targets to help you achieve the outcomes you want – such as helping to cleanse 50 clients’ details each week during an outbound calling exercise, or to set up 25 reviews with clients you’ve not seen for over a year as part of a segmentation piece of work.
- Benchmark every campaign – set an expectation, and be optimistic but realistic about achieving success. Primarily, you’re a financial adviser; marketing is not something that comes naturally to everyone, although consistent effort is usually rewarded in the long term!
Don’t forget that we’re here and happy to help you with campaign activity that centres on our health and wellbeing products. You can always contact us for more information about campaigns that centre on Private Medical Insurance.
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