In the early days of the financial advice profession, financial professionals grew their businesses through cold calls, newspaper ads and mass direct mail campaigns. Because those old strategies aren’t as effective in our current environment, most successful financial professionals now incorporate new methods of lead generation within the following areas:
Casting smaller nets
Today’s population increasingly looks for professionals who specialize in the type of help they’re seeking. By focusing on one or more niches, you can target your message, market more efficiently and differentiate yourself as an expert. In the Portland area, Christina Aleckson, MBA, owner of Single Point Financial Advisors, has built a solid reputation among educators.
“I gained expertise with the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) early in my career,” Aleckson said, “and gave seminars for public school teachers on PERS and Social Security benefits. That also opened the door to work with Oregon Health & Science University employees, who have a choice between the university pension plan and PERS.”
Aleckson also focuses on small business owners. “Because I am an entrepreneur, I share similarities and pain points with them,” she said. “My business education and love for marketing allow me to build bridges by sharing advice on marketing, client acquisition and distribution.”
To connect more strongly with different demographics, Aleckson recommends creating unique landing pages on your website geared toward different target audiences, such as educators, Gen Y, Gen X and entrepreneurs.
Providing useful content
Passionate about promoting financial literacy, Michelle Oliver, president of The Oliver Financial Group in Henrico, Virginia, has hosted an internet radio show, conducted informational seminars and lunch ‘n learns, and produced
articles on money management and life insurance for a variety of different publications. She has been quoted in Bankrate.com, Black Enterprise, Essence, Heart and Soul, and the Richmond Times. Thanks to her frequent exposure as a financial educator, she was interviewed on the local news during life insurance awareness month and served as the CVS Pharmacy Personal Finance Expert Spokesperson.
Aleckson authored a short e-book, “The Budget Game: Five Steps Toward Better Finances,” which she offers as a free giveaway when she speaks.
According to Automated Advisor, less than 2 percent of web visitors convert the first time they’re exposed to a new product or service, proving it is important to reach prospective clients multiple times. In addition to posting original content and reposting helpful articles others have created on her website and social media, Oliver uses LinkedIn to connect directly.
“When a large insurance firm was laying off in Richmond,” Oliver said, “I knew many individuals would get buyouts or have 401(k)s to roll over, and others might be interested in different life insurance. So I searched LinkedIn to see who I knew there and made some phone calls to get warm leads. If I found someone I didn’t have a connection to, I invited them to connect and tried to find something in common to strike up a conversation. I’ve learned it’s important not to be overly salesy, but I can often build bridges by showing genuine interest. For example, I might reach out and say, ‘I see you went to such and such. I did, too. How did you like it?’”
After meeting someone at local networking events, Oliver typically invites them to connect on LinkedIn the next day.
“If they do, I email a thank you note,” she said. “And then I periodically share content I think might interest them. In some cases, it might take a year or two until they’re ready to sit down and see how I can help them.”
Oliver emails clients and prospects an educational newsletter at least once a quarter. Looking for a novel and affordable way to send holiday greetings, she hired an artist through Fiverr.com, who created an animated Christmas card video.
“At $40, it was considerably less expensive than mailing nice cards,” Oliver said.
Aleckson also works at staying visible. Quotes in industry publications, professional alliances, regular posts on Facebook and Twitter, community networking, and video content have helped her win local business awards, resulting in a strong reputation as an industry expert, which has led to increasing speaking invitations.
Building deep relationships
Going above and beyond for clients pays off for Aleckson in countless ways, including frequent referrals.
“I’m working on my Behavioral Financial Advisor designation,” she said, “because 80 percent of what I do is in-depth counseling. For example, I am currently doing rediscovery with clients that resembles onboarding education, explaining all the tools on my website and inviting them to complete the site’s reports and send them to me for feedback. For one client, I did a detailed timeline of things he needed to do to meet his goals. Then he told a friend who wanted one, too. When another client lost his father and he and other beneficiaries were having trouble getting a banking and financial services holding company to release his father’s account funds, I did a lot of work to help them, including writing a letter to the IRS. That client will be loyal and probably refer other clients.”
“I have an upcoming paid speaking gig to 130 employees of an online bank tech company, who are largely Gen Y,” Aleckson said. “Millennials get a bad rap because they have different priorities than boomers. They want to enjoy life, travel and make an impact. As clients, they are extraordinary – smart, creative and loyal. They come to appointments prepared with their budget, income, goals and what they think they can do, seeking confirmation and guidance.”
Aleckson advises peers to reach out to millennials if they hope to be in business for some time or to eventually sell their company. “After all,” she said, “that’s where a lot of today’s assets are going to end up.”
Although the old styles of lead generation may still hold some potential to break a slump, they’re not as effective or as cost or time-efficient over the long term. Spending more time communicating helpful information and building deeper relationships – even when that means reaching fewer people – is more likely to result in receptive prospects who eventually become sticky clients.