I’ll happily admit to remembering the pre-internet age. I look back now and wonder how we ever survived without email, Google and the myriad of devices I use each day. But, in those non-digital times, how did advisers find new clients?
Usually word of mouth; recommendations and referrals from existing clients. Those advisers who were adept at getting referrals succeeded, those who didn’t often left financial services to pursue a different career (or went to work in T&C!).
I’ve heard it said that advisers can still build a business based on recommendations and referrals. There’s no doubt that’s true, and that they are the best source of new clients. I can’t help thinking though it’s a little short sighted and that new, complementary, marketing techniques should be embraced with equal enthusiasm.
Indeed, I firmly believe that a referral and recommendations strategy is far more effective when used alongside other tactics; including a website. In fact, I’ve come to the view that every advisory firm should have a website, as part of a compelling online presence.
Quite simply because it compliments your other marketing. Let’s take three examples:
Referrals and recommendations
There’s little that boosts an adviser’s confidence as a much as receiving a call from someone referred by an existing client. It’s an opportunity to grow your business, as well as an endorsement from an existing client.
But, you don’t know the clients you never had, because:
They hit your website, were unimpressed and chose an alternative direction, or
They tried to find you online, couldn’t and looked elsewhere
That potential client was lost to you without your knowledge; your poor website or lack of online presence meant you never got the chance to work with them.
A compelling website compliments a referral and recommendation strategy. A potential client, referred to you, will probably do some basic online research before getting in touch. That means Googling your name, or that of your business. If what they see in the search results, and on your website, impresses them, the chance of them making contact increases. The reverse is true too, if the results disappoint, you may send them into the hands of a competitor.
A professional connection, who provides a steady stream of potential new clients, is the holy grail for most advisers.
I wrote last month about ways to engage with solicitors and accountants (you can read that blog by clicking here), but one thing I didn’t mention are websites. A professional connection will find it far easier to refer his or her clients to you if you have an impressive website.
Furthermore, many people referred to you by their solicitor and accountant will still want to do their own research. Your website needs to be as attractive to them, as it is to people referred by existing clients.
We all regularly get invites to seminars, workshops and webinars.
If the subject appeals to me I’ll probably do some online research, including visiting the website of the firm putting on the event, before I commit to attending. This will equally apply to people you invite to seminars and workshops, especially if they have not previously worked with you.
If your website impresses them, they are more likely to book on; if not, they may head elsewhere, or simply delete your invitation without responding.
There’s no doubt in my mind that those advisers and planners with an impressive website and compelling online presence, will be more successful in attracting new clients, than those who have neither.