What strategies can small IFA companies use in the digital age?
The balance of power has moved from the seller to the consumer. With the majority of consumers having access to an internet connected device, they have the ability to research, compare and rate products and services at all times.
Customers are hugely influenced by reviews and testimonials. According to research over 80%* of customers say that they believe online reviews as much as a personal recommendation from a friend! Another report, RightNow’s ‘Customer Experience Report ‘states that about 90% of clients will stop transacting with a business after experiencing poor customer service!
These are powerful insights and bigger players with greater digital capabilities have an easier task monitoring and working on and with these issues. As a small business how can you compete in this environment?
Obviously, you do need to have a voice and you do need to be visible. If you are not present, you are not considered.
Easy to implement strategies to promote your business:
Your existing client base is the most valuable asset you have. The probability of selling to existing customers is 60-70%. However, the chances of selling to new prospects is comparatively low, at only 5-20% **.
Are your existing clients aware of your complete product and services offering? Do they know that you have products which could strengthen their current portfolio? Never assume that your current customers already know everything you have to offer. It is unlikely that they will proactively pick up the phone if they need further advice. If you are not present and you are not the one reaching out to them, your competitor might!
Valued clients want to feel that you know and understand them. Therefore, personalised messages are important. 87% of respondents in a recent study byOneSpot said that personally relevant content positively influences how they feel about a brand.
Ideally you would have enough time to produce original and personalised content via multiple channels. If you feel too swamped to follow this up on a regular basis there are other ways to engage your clients and prospects with tailored messages.
Firstly, examine and know as much as you can about your current clients.
Try to group them by their needs, interests, expertise and so on. This will make it easier to find and fit the right message for them.
Emails are still a good marketing tool!
Personalised emails can be a powerful tool. You do not need to create new content for all your clients. You can share a link to an article or post from a mainstream financial media source. The key here is not just to forward it with “Hi Julia, fyi” but to add a short comment about the story. Do not just summarize the article but give some deeper insight into the topic which was covered.
If you use LinkedIn, Twitter or other Social Media channels you can re-post content with your insights. Chances are that your reach will extend beyond your existing client base.
By personalising content and building a reputation as a thought leader you bind your customers closer to you. Great customer trust leads to referrals.
Hot leads – customer referrals
When you get referrals try to find out as much as you can before you make first contact with your prospects. Be well prepared and anticipate what their personal needs are. Make sure that you follow-up promptly and that you keep the referral source informed about how you are following up on their contact. Lastly, it adds a nice touch to send the referral giver a (handwritten) note or a small gift as a thank you.
No program in place to generate leads? Try these strategies:
If you do not have online capabilities to generate leads, try the following strategies to open doors and connect with prospects.
It might sound peculiar as a marketing strategy; but nurturing new hobbies and interests can be a great relationship building tool. Quite a few people find it rather wearying to talk about finance and investing. With a relatable hobby you are more approachable, and it gives you something to talk about and to build on. It is easier to address financial topics if you have had time to build a relationship.
Another successful door-opener is to join the local business chambers, clubs or business groups. By attending and volunteering regularly others will see you as reliable and committed. If you demonstrate that you are capable, people are more likely to trust you with their business. You could also connect with your community by sponsoring an event or team or set-up a “learning series”.
You could commit to a lunch or evening series of talks on a bi-weekly or monthly basis, covering investment and retirement topics.
Collaborate with external speakers and announce the agenda through newsletters including an article introducing the topic and speaker. This will raise your profile and establish yourself as a thought leader and influencer within your local community. It will give you an ideal platform to connect with clients and prospects. If you have a blog or podcast, reinforce your status as a thought-leader.
Take away: Sales is interaction on a personal level
Put yourself in your customers shoes and you will have a good chance of succeeding. Although the internet and influencer scene have changed how people look at products and services and in turn changed their shopping behaviour, a strong personal relation- ship combined with expert knowledge is and will still be crucial. Humans like interacting with other humans. Financial decisions are difficult and have long lasting effects. Customers value having a trusted, knowledgeable partner at their side.
Statista research as of March 2018 https://www.onespot.com/tools-resources/2017-year-content-personalization-heres-why/