A key element of any referral marketing plan is teaching your clients how to speak of your specialty and your services.
You want to get people to say the right things about you when you're not around, says Stephen Wershing, president of the Client Driven Practice in Rochester, N.Y.
Telling your story correctly could make the difference between having a referral call you and that person thinking you're "just another advisor."
Wershing offers the following three steps to getting clients to share the story you want them to tell:
1. Focus on life events
When your client tells a friend that you provide great service and that he or she enjoys working with you, that is similar to what other people say about their advisors. It doesn't compel anyone to call you or visit your website. Instead, that friend will probably call any advisor, and there's a good chance that advisor won't be you.
The financial advisory business is event-driven, says Wershing. People call an advisor because something has happened in their lives and they need expert advice. For instance, a client's friend won't be getting in touch to have a casual chat, but will have a specific and pressing issue to discuss such as a new job loss or an inheritance.
So, your clients need to understand how you can help their friends and family members in specific events — and be able to describe your ability to do so.
You've already begun that process by asking for their advice on how to connect with your target market. Now, you must back that up through other elements of your marketing strategy.
2. Reinforce your brand through your digital strategy
If you've been communicating the characteristics that make you unique, you must back up that message through your website. The Internet is the first place anyone goes when they want to learn more about a service.
The problem, Wershing says, is that advisors tend to market themselves using the same images.
"If you took out lighthouses and compasses [from the Internet]," Wershing says, "you would eliminate 80% of advisors' websites."
Those images, as well as expressions such as "peace of mind" and "customized planning" will neither distinguish you nor reinforce the message that you and your clients are trying to communicate.
So, if you've expressed to your clients that you want to appeal to young IT professionals, why does your website have a stock image of an older couple and their dog? Focus on the message and describe how you can help those software experts provide for their families.
3. Repeat your brand constantly
Your communications strategy should be used to provide constant reminders to clients and referrals about how your skills and expertise help people like them. Whether you're looking at your newsletters or thinking about how you describe yourself in public, you must be able to articulate that message.
"If you speak publicly or write an article for the local newspaper, it ought to be about that special thing," says Wershing.
Incorporate specific examples of how you provide these specialized services into your communications. One effective example is the use of case studies in your newsletters. Use various situations but ensure every case revolves around the profile of your ideal client.
Repeat your brand message to your clients through conversations and components of your communications strategy. When they know what sets you apart, they are far more likely to express your message accurately when recommending you to members of your target market.
This is the second instalment in a two-part series on generating client referrals.
For part one, see: How not to get referrals