If you ran into an old buddy at your high school reunion, you’d probably be asked, “So what do you do?”
As an independent financial advisor, you have several ways to answer the question. What comes to mind first?
“I am a certified financial planner.” Or “I am a financial advisor.”
If he was curious to learn more, you might describe your approach to financial planning, estate planning, or risk analysis. You might talk about the financial markets, indexed annuities, or CD rates. You might mention the value of annual reviews and portfolio re-balancing.
This answer focuses on the main operational focus of your firm. It touches on your education, experience and what’s on your business card.
Yet in a big way you’d be wrong!
While you might really rather focus on planning all day long and every day of the week, the reality is that you need to see yourself as a “Marketeer.”
Just what is a “Marketeer”?
A “Marketeer” focuses on defining, reaching and serving his target market. This is job #1.
A Marketeer sees every aspect of his business as a way to enhance (or detract) from defining, reach and serving his targeted market. What does this look like?
- Whenever he meets someone new, he wonders how he might help him reach his financial goals.
- When the telephone rings, it’s not a bother but a chance to speak with someone who discovered his website and wants to learn more.
- Every client interaction is an opportunity to earn (or lose) future referrals.
- Marketing, like breathing, is done all the time…not just when the appointment book is getting slim.
- Hiring a new receptionist is a BIG deal.
Think the last bullet is a joke? Let’s take a closer look at this one.
If you only get one chance to make a good first impression, your receptionist will likely be the person to make it.
Will your clients care if she knows the ins and outs of six major phone systems? Or types 100 words a minute? Or has a degree in business from your local community college?
None of this matters if your receptionist greets your office visitors with a frown or a grunt.
If your receptionist has to “turn on the charm” because her default position is “strictly business” you have a problem in the making.
Your receptionist ought to care enough about people to chit chat while the client waits. Perhaps offers some coffee, tea or water upon their arrival. Ideally she knows what they like to drink and gets it without asking.
This does several things for you:
- You learn more about your clients lives and what’s driving them that day.
- You gain a bit of slack if you’re behind schedule and you can’t start the meeting on time.
- People like doing business with people they like and your receptionist has made YOU more likeable.
Of course knowing your phone system inside and out can help your receptionist better connect you to your clients. And typing 100 words per minute can keep your files up to date. And a business degree might bring new ideas into your practice and enhance customer service.
Yet do these things really matter if your receptionist greets visitors with a frown for a split second before the smile kicks in? Or makes callers wish you had a direct dial number so they didn’t need to “bother” the receptionist when they had a question?
In short, your marketing mindset causes you to hire the right person for every job, train them to know what’s really important (treating people kindly and with respect), and the all-importance of supporting the marketing vision of the firm.
When you develop a marketing mindset, you’ll view every aspect of your firm from the eyes of an A-List client. You’ll see many areas to improve:
- Is your reception area clean and inviting? Or does it look like a receiving dock?
- What do your clients see as they walk from your reception area to your office or conference room? A kitchen with a sink full of dirty dishes?
- Does your desk make you appear disorganized, overwhelmed, and out of control?
- Does your website look the same as when you got it back in 2002? Do clients or prospects have any need to come back a 2nd time?
- Do you use a Yahoo email account to correspond with clients?
- Do your clients only hear from you when it’s time for their annual review? Or worse, do you only speak with them when they call you with a problem?
- Do you spend time doing administrative tasks which could be delegated or outsourced?
- Do you use your planning abilities to create and follow a Marketing Calendar?
I think you get the idea. A marketing mindset, once developed, can liberate you from the administrivia which drains time and energy and keeps you from growing your practice and turning your clients into raving fans.
Yes, your business card should say “Certified Financial Planner Professional” or “Financial Consultant” or “Financial Advisor.”
Be sure to give one to your friend at your high school reunion.
But tell him, you “help baby boomers plan for and enjoy a prosperous retirement” or however you benefit your targeted clientele.