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Marketing for IFAs - what really works in a post RDR world

Next month I reach my 35th anniversary in the industry.  Almost all of that time has, in some shape or form been spent helping IFAs to grow and develop their businesses.

There’s no doubt that as a result of changing regulation, IFAs are becoming more entrepreneurial – and now, with the advent of RDR many have ‘gone up a gear’ as they look to strengthen and consolidate their proposition and also to develop new business models by leveraging the potential of the Internet.

Over those 35 years, the majority of IFAs have not given high priority to Marketing - largely because the good work they’ve done with clients has resulted in referrals and a more or less reliable source of new prospects.  Indeed, most IFAs will confirm that referrals are still their primary source of new business.

But do IFAs now have an over-reliance on referrals? 

Yes, I think many are straying into that territory.  Consequently some are finding it tough to find new clients because they don’t know how to attract prospects using more proactive marketing techniques.  Indeed, our research and comments in the LifeTalk forums clearly shows that more and more IFAs are looking into new ways to generate leads.

RDR has already seen a reduction in the number of IFAs, and so creating greater competition.  And although most IFAs do not yet feel in competition with each other, the attractiveness of an IFA firm’s proposition in a fee-based environment will inevitably come down to proactive marketing.

You would be forgiven for thinking that it would be difficult to differentiate one IFA firm’s proposition from another – after all financial advice is financial advice whatever firm you work with isn’t it?  Indeed, when you look at a selection of IFAs’ websites, they all seem to say exactly the same thing.

Not so.  It’s pretty clear to see that those IFA firms who do put time and effort into their marketing, seem to have much clearer and more understandable propositions.  Just look at firms like Dennis Hall’s Yellowtail, Tina Weeks’ Serenity Financial Planning, Martin Bamford’s Informed Choice and Jason Butler’s Bloomsbury – each of which has an extremely clear proposition which the owners have carefully crafted and promoted.  Each still receives referrals from existing clients, but each also markets themselves confidently.

So what marketing options are open to IFAs, and more importantly what techniques actually work?!  And surely it’s expensive to bring in expertise from outside?  Let’s break it down.

From conversations with multiple IFAs, most are looking for the following as an outcome from any marketing initiative:

  • More referrals (but of the right type of client)
  • An enhanced perception of trustworthiness and professionalism
  • An enhanced perception of expertise and credibility
  • A stronger and more visible profile locally
  • Closer, more meaningful and more fruitful relationships with professional connections
  • Higher conversion rates from interactions with prospects
  • Low cost promotion with high ROI
  • Communicate their fee-based proposition in a clear, appealing and unambiguous manner

In addition, some IFAs are also looking to:

  • Attract new markets or a niche clientele (e.g. professional people, large local employers, professional sports people, high net worth individuals, business owners etc)
  • Facilitate local networking opportunities
  • Increase size of newsletter mailing list
  • Raise profile with press and media
  • Add value to, and build much closer relationships with existing clients
  • Create new income streams from their expertise

Much has been written about marketing techniques over many years, and whilst Social Media seems to dominate most discussions these days, there is, in my view only one marketing methodology that will help an IFA business to achieve everything on these lists.

And that marketing methodology is Seminars.  We used to call it Seminar Selling in the old days.

In fact what we are talking about is Live Marketing – any opportunity that an IFA can use for prospects, existing clients and professional connections to see and experience your expertise.  And whilst seminars would top the list, other opportunities can include:

  • Networking events
  • Public speaking
  • Technical workshops
  • Worksite events
  • Service showcases
  • Client social events, hospitality and cocktail parties
  • And yes, some aspects of Social Media

Over the coming months and years, differentiation will be everything to IFA businesses and there is no better way of communicating that differentiation than through seminars and workshops.  They tick all the boxes that IFAs have highlighted as important to them in what they want from a successful marketing initiative.

“Seminars are easier said than done”

...I hear many IFAs cry.

Well that’s only because they’ve not been trained in how to plan, prepare and present them.  Getting a full house of the right attendees is always seen as the number one challenge, but what most IFAs don’t know is that there is a process you can follow which, in short – puts bums on seats.   And not just bums on seats, but the right bums on seats.

Follow the step-by-step process and you’ll wish you had known it years ago.  Take this IFA as an example who said >>>>

We spent a day with Bill to help him put his seminar programme together and you can see the response for yourself.

Seminars, workshops, live marketing and public speaking offer IFAs a proven and powerful way to raise their profile, attract new clients, strengthen their referral mechanism and to enhance the perception of their expertise and credibility.

On 13th September 2013, we’ll reveal the same techniques that we shared with Bill and many other IFAs who have worked with us.  Take the bull by the horns, sign up for our ‘Seminar on seminars’ and learn this important skill.

You really will wish you had done it years ago.

By Philip Calvert


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Author: Philip Calvert
Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 | 10:37:22 AM

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26 June 2013 | 3:07:54 PM  Sam Turner wrote:
Was interested to come across this Philip, especially given this post on Adviser Lounge from a couple of weeks ago

Like the poster there, I'm not sure 'differentiation' is the answer and I'm not sure it's what a lot of your article talks about.

If every firm was to do seminars, how are they differentiating themselves? It's the same thing for everyone but with a different label on the invite.

I think the answer you suggest is actually more about communication in and of itself, through as many channels that make sense to the IFA as possible; maybe that's seminars, maybe that's social media, maybe it's a physical newsletter; whatever it happens to be that suits that firm, but more of it, more often.

If that 'differentiates' you from the IFAs that don't communicate at all, then maybe the future is differentiation after all!

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