Archive for the ‘Client Service & Practice Management’ Category

Reaching Out To Millennials

February 15, 2016

The current generation of young adults, the Millennials (people born between 1981-1996), are often seen as something of a riddle to their elders. When you consider that these young people have grown up in a wildly different world than even the generation before them, with so many notable technological and social differences, it’s easy to see why anyone might shrug their shoulders and ask “How do I get their attention?”

Fitness Clubs: Roughly one in five Millennials use a gym or exercise regularly. Maybe you should consider partnering with a local gym to offer discount group memberships. Or perhaps look into hiking and biking excursions. You likely have a natural area just right for this sort of outing somewhere nearby.1

LAN Parties: Millennials consume media like crazy. Some polls have them playing video games more than watching movies and sports combined. A LAN Party is where you gather a number of people with game consoles, laptops, and other platforms to take part in playing multiplayer video games. Normally attendees bring their own gaming console, but you may want to rent or borrow a device or two, just in case. Have lots of snack food available… these parties can go all weekend. Be sure to offer more than just the LAN Party as a diversion; even the most dedicated gamer needs a break! If you have an office, host it in your conference room, maybe on a weekend that coincides with a prominent game release. Do a short, 15-20 minute presentation before gaming begins. Now you have a number of young people with disposable income who know where your office is and what services you provide. You probably have one or two gamers on your staff or maybe in your family who can help advise and supervise the event.2,3

Student Debt Counselling: There is $1.2 Trillion dollars of student loan debt in the United States. You better believe that’s on the mind of a number of new college graduates. Bring in a guest speaker who talks about how to lower payments, and/or strategizes on how to resolve these burdens quickly and efficiently. You’ll probably get a number of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers in the mix, as well, as student debt is not merely a problem for the young.4

Social Media: Of course, most Millennials use some form of social media. If you aren’t already using Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, get on that immediately, if your compliance allows. Also, keep in mind that Marketing.Pro offers compliance-approved social media content every week (text posts as well as image posts.) It also offers the option to automated social media campaigns. Regular posting shows that you are in touch and easily accessible, part of their neighborhood.

1-marketingcharts.com/television/what-do-millennials-like-to-do-with-their-free-time-29750/
2-entrepreneur.com/article/238294
3-wikihow.com/Host-a-LAN-Party
4-cnbc.com/2015/06/15/the-high-economic-and-social-costs-of-student-loan-debt.html

Advertisements

Keeping Your Client Appreciation Events Interesting for Everyone

October 19, 2015

There is an unwritten social rule that we should be inclusive whenever possible. It’s important, then, to select events that will be interesting and compelling to the majority of your clients. Here are some tips for planning events with the widest audience in mind:

Ask Questions – This isn’t Perry Mason; nobody’s going to yell at you for asking leading questions. You should be taking the time to get to know your clients, anyway, with questions like “Do you (and your spouse) golf?”

Tip Your Hand – The easiest way to gauge interest is to just let the clients know what you are planning. “I’m thinking of having a skybox event at an NBA game this year and I want to know who’s interested. Does your family like basketball?” If they are in love with the idea, you’ll find out.

Vary Your Events – While you might do an annual Holiday party, avoid having the same event calendar every single year. For example: shredding parties are popular, but if you had one last year, you might not have as much enthusiasm another other this year.

We All Have Different Tastes – Of course many women love sporting events and many men enjoy the theater, but too much of one type of event might leave one spouse cold. Remember that you are cultivating a professional relationship with both partners.

Five Referral Secrets

January 28, 2014

Referrals can be so important to your practice. If you’re not sure how to get them, or what to do once you have them, hopefully these tips can help. If you’ve had a little experience in this area, this may be a good refresher for you. I’m labeling this a list of referral “secrets,” but the truth is that once you make them your practice, you’ll think of them as common sense.

Leaders Don’t Have to Ask for Referrals
Don’t be the person who confuses “leadership” with being arrogant. You likely had someone in some aspect of your life who you’ve looked up to as a trailblazer and a leader; they led by being an example and by becoming a hub for professional activity. Organizing groups, events, and being the sort of professional with a reputation for bringing people together is the sort of thing that will cause your colleagues to want to make referrals to you, unsolicited, because getting people in touch with you will make them seem connected and important by extension.

Follow Up the Next Day
Would you buy fresh bread, leave it untouched on the counter for a few days, and be shocked to find it growing stale or moldy? Referrals don’t stay fresh forever, either. Strike while the iron is hot. Following up quickly shows that you value your referrals and that you’re attentive when it comes to building business. The referral will see that you’re on task, and the person who gave you the referral will appreciate your attentiveness. Don’t leave it on the shelf!

Remember… Referrals Are People
Don’t give your colleague a name and number on a slip of paper. When giving a referral, you’re making an introduction between two people, so be sure to have information about that person handy to replay to your colleague. Inform them about their family, their professional life, and their interests. Conversely, when you get a referral, be full of questions about this person; ask anything you might want to know. Everyone has a story, and part of your job is to learn that tale.

Closing “Tricks” are for Amateurs
You might see the blogs and videos online with so-called business gurus offering you the sort of “Jedi Mind Tricks” designed to turn a referral into a business contact. Far be it from me to argue with success, but this sort of thing feels like a hollow victory, and more than a little disrespectful. Your business is in people, not symbols on a spreadsheet. Build your business on substantive human interactions and integrity rather than flimflam and illusions. There’s a reason stage magicians “retire” their tricks after a while; people figure them out and get tired of seeing them.

Ask Questions
I think this is a good tip for life in general, not just in dealing with referrals. Building any kind of relationship requires personal knowledge. Make it your goal in every conversation to learn something new.

Holiday Client Appreciation Event Ideas

November 20, 2013

In my previous blog post, I spoke to you about Client Appreciation Events and I mentioned Holiday-themed CAEs. Here are some more ideas for these events as you begin planning.

Traditional: Your clients and prospects will really appreciate a full-on holiday experience. If you have the resources, make the event seem like a Christmas card come to life. If you get snow in your part of the world, sleigh rides are unforgettable. Carolers in traditional Victorian garb give everyone a warm feeling, like the Charles Dickens story come to life. Even hiring a bus or limousine service to take everyone on a tour of the local Christmas lights after dinner can be a fun and enjoyable experience.

Let’s get out of the house: While winter’s a time for cozy homebody comforts, it’s also the middle of two major sports seasons. Think about a suite with your nearest NBA or NHL franchise. Or maybe a ski trip is more in line with your clients’ active lifestyles. Even renting a movie theater for a special screening of the latest blockbuster or a family favorite can be a nice surprise for everyone.

Honor everyone during the holidays: You should know your clients well enough to understand their various traditions and backgrounds… so introducing themes from several holidays to your event can make for an even more engaging and poignant evening, even for those who don’t share those traditions. You want to make sure everyone is recognized and honored, and that means more than just putting some inexpensive religious or spiritual objects/symbols in a corner… take time to learn the traditional greetings for each holiday your clients and prospects observe, and research their traditional foods and customs. If you’re based in a larger city, this is an absolute must, and it may prove easier than you think.

Food, glorious food: Regardless of what route you take, make sure that a quality meal is part of the event. Don’t be afraid to get creative and leave an impression. Remember that presentation is just as important as flavor, so make your expectations clear, whether you make use of a restaurant or caterers. If you hire musicians, make sure that their performance isn’t too loud or disruptive during the meal.

Beyond December: Don’t forget that holidays happen throughout the year. A Fourth of July barbecue… a Valentine’s Day concert… even a costume party on Halloween can be a fun and entertaining event for the people you do business with.

Five Great Client Appreciation Events

October 7, 2013

Client Appreciation Events may seem like a no-brainer, but experienced professionals know that they are effective tools for keeping your name on the tip of a client’s tongue. Keep these five great event ideas in mind, or perhaps they’ll help to spark some creative ideas of your own.

The Holiday Party
Whether it’s dinner in the private room of a fine restaurant or hors d’oeuvres and music in a hotel ballroom, the holidays are a fine time to show your clients your appreciation for their business. Small party favors and/or games may keep things lively. Don’t forget how important scheduling is this time of year; hold the event early in December, so as not to conflict with travel plans. If your clients have visiting relatives, invite them as well! Keep in mind that December isn’t the only month of the year associated with celebration. An Independence Day barbecue under local fireworks can be a memorable and relatively simple event for your clients and their families.

The Retirement Party
It’s an exciting time that your clients have been working for their entire professional lives, and something you’ve likely had a big part in securing for them. If they are already being feted with a big party by their colleagues, get creative with options like a golf trip or a wine tour. If appropriate, throw an annual celebration with your retiring clients as the guests of honor, and invite all your clients to attend. Inviting your other clients and prospects to such an event can put them in a mind to talk about their own retirement options.

The Anniversary Party
If you’re looking at the calendar and realizing that you’ve been in business for a while, it may be time to consider an anniversary party. Reminding your clients that you’ve been on the job, helping people for a long time will remind them that you are here to stay, and that you’re going to be around to help them, their friends, and their families. 25 year, 20 year, 15 year, 10 year … even the first anniversary of being in business can be cause for celebration.

The Educational Event
Such an event should not be combined with any of the above, but you still want to make it a fun and engaging time for your clients. A lecture and a few sandwiches probably won’t cut it. Fine dining in a comfortable atmosphere, or, if you have the resources, a weekend getaway can give your clients time to relax before they direct their full attention to your informative and worthwhile seminar. Mixing business with pleasure is the proverbial spoonful of sugar.

The Sports Event
Few Americans live more than a few hours from a stadium where professional sports are played, and even people who don’t follow sports are known to enjoy the thrill and excitement of a live game. Don’t forget that many cities also have minor league baseball teams; a summer day at the ballpark can be fun and surprisingly affordable when you’re entertaining clients with young children.

There are many different routes a Client Appreciation Event can take, and just reading through these suggestions may have inspired ideas specific to your area and your own clientele. As I said, get creative and make these events count!

The Benefits of Specialization

June 17, 2013

There’s an old phrase that dates back to Elizabethan times, “Jack of all trades,” which refers to a person who dabbles in a number of skills, but has no particular expertise. In those days, just like today, there was a value in having several skills, as it contributed to your versatility and usefulness to others.

Years later, the compliment went backhanded, when the phrase was adapted into the insult “Jack of all trades, master of none.” This was meant to signify that someone who dabbled so widely isn’t truly a specialist in any field.

While it’s valuable to provide a number of services to your clients, specializing in one field has the potential to increase your business by making you the go-to person in your region for the product or service that you’ve mastered. It also allows you to focus – both your learning and your marketing efforts.

Imagine you and several other Financial Professionals are let into a room with 100 prospects. Now imagine you’re each given one sentence to promote yourself before the prospects select who they’d like to work with. It’s anyone’s guess how many of those prospects will choose to work with you. But if you happen to explain that you specialize in working with educators, it’s likely any educator in the room will become your client.

Now imagine a billboard – passed by roughly 10,000 cars per day. Let’s say 5,000 of those glance at the sign – which bears a photo of a Financial Advisor, her name, and her phone number. And of those 5,000, let’s say 500 are currently considering hiring a Financial Advisor. What does that sign mean to them? Probably not much. But if only 10% of those same 500 people are in a medical field, and if the billboard says “Specializing in the unique needs of the Healthcare Industry” – might that same Advisor receive as many as 50 phone calls?

Specialization doesn’t mean ignoring the wider spectrum of products and services. In fact, specializing in one field may make your clients and customers more eager to get your opinion on a wide range of topics. If nothing else, referring these customers to your colleagues who specialize in different areas will reap a dividend when they return the favor.

Should you enlist the help of a Marketing Assistant?

May 16, 2013

Marketing can be a great deal of work, especially when you have so many other tasks to complete. Is it time to hire some help? You may think you’re not ready to take on a new assistant. Then again, perhaps you’ve been ready for a while, but were too busy to really consider it.

Here are some things to think about as you consider hiring a Marketing Assistant.

WHY?

So much of staying in touch and building relationships with your clients and prospects is about reaching out, with messages and information, reminding them of your knowledge, services, or simply that they are valued. While you may feel more qualified to do this, there is something to be said for keeping your time free to handle the work you cannot delegate. Hiring a Marketing Assistant (either virtually or within your office) may help to relieve your workload and give you an opportunity to expand your marketing outreach.

WHEN?

There is no “magic formula” as to how many contacts or how many outbound messages signify that you’re ready to go to the next level. However, mailing out cards and letters, creating email campaigns and maintaining contact lists can be cumbersome, at any level. Social media (like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter) offer new options, but new challenges as well, especially in creating and finding content to share with your followers. So the answer to the eternal question “When?” is often “The moment it’s necessary to delegate the job, so that your energies are focused elsewhere.”

HOW?

Hiring a Marketing Assistant doesn’t mean you are no longer participating in the process, it just allows you to guide the direction your efforts take in a different way. There are a number of ways you can hire a Marketing Assistant, but they boil down to two options: Virtual or Live.

A live assistant may be a new hire, perhaps part time, or you may prefer to add to the responsibilities of an existing employee. Depending on your circumstances, you may have to trust this person with sensitive information. What about when they move on, are let go, or have a life event that prevents them from working? Hiring an individual who works from home (over the Internet) is much the same.

A solution that many prefer is subscribing to a marketing service that has the flexibility to create content, send marketing materials in a variety of formats, and may even offer different levels of support to meet your needs in terms of cost and features. While many of these online marketing solutions will afford you more time without the potential perils of hiring an actual employee, they often do require more interaction and input. Additionally, you want to make sure the service you select is industry-specific (compliance-minded.)

If you’re not ready to have a new employee on staff, or don’t feel you have quite enough work yet to keep them busy, a Virtual Marketing Assistant, as offered by MarketingLibrary.net, may be worth considering. (Yes, we’ll toot our own horn!) Numerous services are available which may prove invaluable as you expand your marketing reach, and generally you can expect to get more bang for your buck by pairing your virtual assistant with our robust marketing system. You can read more about this service here: https://www.marketinglibrary.net/mpva.asp

IS IT TIME?
While you may never fully be comfortable with any “hands off” solution to marketing, depending on your ambitions, you may not have a choice – at some point, you’ll no longer be able to do it all on your own. A Marketing Assistant may help you sweep an important aspect of your business practice into the “out” box, leaving you free to approach your wider goals.

Creating a dedicated Marketing Plan

February 12, 2013

Meeting your clients’ needs is a year-round job, so keeping in regular contact and remaining a presence in their lives is important. They need to know that you’re thinking about their needs and available to call upon when it’s time to take action.

If you’re contacting your clients on a regular basis, it’s definitely a sign of respect. Your marketing plan can help you take care of and grow business through three major factors:

1. Balance – It can be tough to balance your regular duties at the best of times. Organizing your time in a coherent schedule can make the difference between “I should have done that” and “I did it.”

2. Significance – Prioritizing can help you decide where your energies are best focused. A careful look at desired outcomes weighed against your time and other resources can help you build an effective and useful plan.

3. Consistency – Being in the right place at the right time can be advantageous in many circumstances, especially in marketing. If you’re a regular part of your clients’ lives, they may be more likely to think about your services and seek you out.

While all three factors are equally important, the easiest one to mess up is “Consistency.” How many of your “best-laid plans” have gone awry because you’ve lost track of time or forgotten to follow through? Any plan requires the determination and ability to follow through, so make that duty an important part of your day.

Join me for a free webinar January 25th

January 12, 2012

I’m pleased to be joining forces with Ron Carson, of Peak Advisor Alliance, for a special free webinar event on Wednesday, January 25th at 2pm EST / 11am PST. We’ll be discussing some of the issues that face today’s Advisors, including …

  • What are some strategies for advisors to develop a brand
    that attracts new clients?
  • How involved should advisors become in social media?
  • How important is it for advisors to have a sound investment
    management process?

I hope you’ll join us! Here are the details:

Conversations With the Masters:
Ron Carson and Peter Montoya

Join industry superstars Ron Carson and Peter Montoya as they discuss the hot issues that affect advisors today from the unique perspective that only they can bring.

Please join us for this FREE webinar!
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
2:00 p.m. ET
Click here to register.

RON CARSON is Founder and CEO of Carson Wealth Management Group, a comprehensive wealth planning firm, and founder of Peak Advisor Alliance, a coaching and resource program for financial advisors, both based in Omaha, Nebraska. With over 25 years of experience and more than $3 billion in assets under management, Ron is one of the country’s most successful and respected advisors. Barron’s magazine has ranked Ron one of the nation’s top advisors for the last five years. Registered Rep magazine chose Ron as the number one independent advisor in the country for the fourth year in a row. In addition to his planning practice, Ron is recognized as one of the country’s top trainers for financial advisors. He has spoken to audiences worldwide and shared the success principles documented in his book, Tested in the Trenches, co-authored with Steve Sanduski. Most recently, Ron co-authored with Steve, the New York Times best-selling book, Avalanche and the Blueprinting exercises that go with it. Together, these tools help advisors learn how to clarify their mission, vision, and values and create a life lived by design, not default.

PETER MONTOYA has led, since 1997, the only Advertising Agency specializing in Financial Service Professionals. In the last 15 years Peter has delivered over 1,500 presentations to Financial Advisors, developed more than 5,000 custom marketing plans, authored 3 best-selling books and is the father of two children … and he has just survived his one millionth mile on United Airlines. Obviously, Peter is committed to the success of his clients.To this end, he recently introduced the ultimate advertising compliance solution, “MarketingLibrary,” which is revolutionizing the way Financial Advisors interact with their compliance officers, including the benefit of compliance pre-approval. Just one more way Peter is working to transform the way we do business.

Email Marketing 101

December 27, 2011

When it comes to email marketing, some Financial Professionals feel a little overwhelmed. Why should you do it? When should you do it? How should you do it? … SHOULD you do it?

The answer to that last question is a mostly unqualified – YES. Unless your target market as a whole does not own computers, you should already be utilizing this medium as a form of both client generation and retention.

Now for the rest of it … here are some tips, tricks and best practices to help you along the way.

 1 – Always Ask for Permission
If the recipient has NOT expressed interest in receiving communication from you, it’s SPAM. (What’s SPAM? Visit this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spam_%28electronic%29). SPAM does not work, and it is vile – jeopardizing legitimate emails every day.

 2 – Time It Well
Monday morning seems like a great time to communicate, right? Well, perhaps not. If you’re talking about communicating with clients who expect that Monday morning email from you – that’s one thing. If you’re communicating with a prospect who doesn’t know you as well, remember this … Monday morning is, for many people, the time when they go through and delete the most unwanted mail from their inbox. You could get lost in the shuffle!

3 – Introduce Yourself
If it’s been a while since you spoke to this contact, perhaps they don’t recall giving you their email address? Always try to make your first correspondence, (or the first in a long while), personal. Remind them how you met, and let them know why you want to be contacting them electronically. Make sure that your first subject line is personal and does not appear generic in any way – or they might delete you with their morning SPAM dump.

4 – Be Regular
This applies mainly to ongoing client communication (which, if you’re not already on top of, you should be). A regular weekly or monthly correspondence (financial news, tips, etc) is a great way to keep that relationship on track. Choose a time and day and try to be consistent. Monday AM is … okay. But if your clients are reading your email at the start of their work day, and even if you make it past the SPAM dump, they might not have the time to read your message. It may get pushed aside “for later” and forgotten. Perhaps Tuesday morning (between 8am – 11am) would be a better choice? Maybe a mid-week (Wednesday) update? It’s up to you. Try to get a feel for what your clients want – and don’t be afraid to ask them what (or when) that is!

5 – Automate Your Campaigns
Look, if you don’t do this, it’s really tough to remain on top of your communication. Setting up automatic campaigns not only helps you save time, it helps to keep your marketing consistent. Decide what you want to send, when, and to whom. Set it and forget it. This isn’t to say things should be impersonal and cold – not at all. You should be reaching out to clients and other contacts in a personal manner, too, as often as you can. But with regular correspondence (weekly updates, prospecting drips, financial news) … yes. Automate. An automated campaign should help you stay on track without pulling your hair out.