I once had a client say to me at a review meeting, “you must be doing well, I keep seeing your company mentioned”. The fact was this confirmed that we were getting our marketing activity right, because it wasn’t that we had a huge marketing budget or some whizzy social media presence or clever tech it was simply because we had worked out who our client was, current and future, and made a point of targeting them.
This sounds simple but in practice is actually very difficult to do; however, get it right and it can pay dividends.
Having gone through the process of categorising and segmenting your client bank (outlined in my last blog) you should now have a fairly clear idea of your ideal client and if you have that then you just need to go and get more of those.
So, how to do that? Clearly, the first thing you should do is get your referral strategy right, it is worth spending some time on this and finding a system that works for you as there are a few different ways of obtaining referrals but this is the most effective way of increasing your client bank with the right type of clients for your practice.
The simplest way of gaining referrals is to ask for them, sounds straightforward but if your clients are happy with the service then why wouldn’t they be happy to help you grow your client bank. For example, “John, I tend to work solely on recommendation to grow by practice and that means relying on my satisfied clients for introductions to their friends and family who they feel may benefit from a brief introductory meeting, so who do you know that could benefit from a meeting”?
A more subtle approach would be based on gaining the names and addresses of two or more close friends or family of your clients to act as witnesses to their will, which really should be part of the service you offer to your clients. What you will find is that once you have explained what you are doing for your clients and the kind of service you offer as well as their role as witness in the estate planning process it is a relatively easy transition to open up a conversation about their own circumstances and your no obligation approach in helping them with a few ideas that may help.
Written testimonials are another great way of supporting this approach and should be something that you do as a matter of course when concluding your client’s business needs.
Whatever, system you use make sure you are comfortable with it and that it makes sense and that you make sure your clients are aware of this right from the start.
Aside from a strong referral strategy your practice marketing should include ongoing regular communication with your client bank alongside a community-based approach. Becoming a sponsor to your children’s school (if you don’t have any children then there must be children in your family whose school could do with support) which would allow you to build brand awareness amongst your peer group as well as develop new relationships within a broader circle of potential contacts that fit your ideal client demographic.
Identify what interests and hobbies your ideal client participates in and seek out opportunities to build brand awareness here as well, for example clubs, associations or affiliations. As well as these more personal approaches you should also consider local advertising and building professional contacts with local professionals like accountants, solicitors and property services companies.
All of these will require effort and planning but done well will help to build brand awareness and make the acquisition of new clients much easier.
Kevin Paterson is director of sales & marketing at Ceta Insurance