If you have engaged your clients and prospects and demonstrated your skills and experience over time, you will have succeeded in building trust with them, says Kirk Lowe, founder of TactiBrand in Toronto.

At this point, you are beginning to develop strong connections that can result in enthusiastic referrals from your clients.

The next stage, Lowe says, is to use that trust to pursue relationships, which can be done in two steps:

1. Convert
Following up is a key element to converting a prospect from someone who is reading your blog posts and white papers to someone who could potentially be a client. However, you must use the right approach.

Many financial advisors assume that a prospect who shows any interest at all would be willing to do business with them. That, Lowe says, is simply not the case.

Keep track of who is downloading your content by requiring an email address before granting access to certain resources. The frequency with which people access your various communication materials will indicate who is a good candidate for following up.

For example, someone who subscribes to your blog and has downloaded multiple items is probably more likely to be interested in your services than the person who has chosen to read only one blog post.

One tool that can help you gather this information is Hatchbuck, an online marketing program that tracks which users are downloading which items. The program is available for a monthly fee that depends on how many contacts you expect to target. (As with any third-party technology, ensure that your compliance department is aware of your intentions. )

The best way to get in touch with an interested party is to send an email thanking him or her for reading your material. Ask if that person would be interested in a casual meeting so you can answer any questions, and indicate there is no obligation to pursue anything further.

2. Create advocates — and referrals
When clients have engaged with you in a positive manner, they are more likely to want to share that experience with others. A positive client relationship, however, is not enough to keep those referrals coming.

Great marketing is critical to encourage your clients to become your biggest advocates. One reason, Lowe says, is that it helps teach your clients how they should describe the experience you provide.

For example, let’s say you pride yourself on your practice’s multi-generational approach. By emphasizing that differentiating factor on your website and other communications, your clients will learn to describe you as the advisor who can develop strong relationship with your clients, your clients’ children and even their grandchildren. That is a better way to come across than being generically described as “an advisor who does financial planning.”

Also, Lowe says, people like to refer individuals they’re proud of. Your clients know that the first thing someone does when looking for a service is research the provider online. If your website looks dated and is not full of informative resources, your clients will be less likely to “name drop” you.

This is the third instalment in a three-part series on developing a trust framework.