The Dreaded “M” Word: Why Marketing Isn’t as Hard as You Think

Tony Batman, chairman and CEO, 1st Global

By Tony Batman, chairman and chief executive officer, 1st Global

Creating top-of-mind awareness of the solutions your firm offers is an essential ingredient in the success of any wealth management firm. Consistent marketing of these solutions can be the key difference between a marginal wealth management firm and a hugely successful one.

Many CPA firms underestimate the importance of marketing because external forces, such as the federal government requiring a federal tax return, have done most of the marketing for them. However, no external forces compel clients to focus on their wealth management needs throughout the year. In fact, clients tend to procrastinate before addressing their own financial security, making marketing an imperative element for the success of your wealth management practice.

Consistent Proactive Marketing

Most consumers need to be introduced to a new product or service five or six times before they react. Implementing a comprehensive marketing system that includes a consistent stream of interactions can help build the awareness needed to spur your clients to action.

To generate client appointments and increase productivity, you must constantly remind your clients that your firm offers comprehensive wealth management services. Clients need to know that you are their most trusted advisor and the best person to help them with all their financial services needs. To keep your appointment calendar full, a disciplined marketing system is imperative. The goal is to construct a streamlined marketing program that is consistent with your brand.

Creating Successful Campaigns

Mail campaigns are often the first step. Periodic mailings remind your clients of the full range of wealth management services that your firm provides. Timely execution of these mailings is imperative for successful execution of the marketing plan. The first of the month is the ideal time for these materials to land in your clients’ mailboxes. Therefore, you must plan ahead and create the postcards, newsletters or fliers well in advance of the shipping date.

It’s important to send mailers to all clients, not just those pre-selected by your firm. Experience has shown that individuals you’ve eliminated from your list are often the most in need of financial assistance. Make sure you let your clients decide whether they need your assistance with financial matters – don’t decide for them.

Sending out marketing materials is not enough to fill your calendar with qualified financial services appointments. You must create targeted focus lists of clients to contact personally and invite in for a financial check-up. If each partner contacts five to 10 clients per month, you will be amazed at the number of appointments your firm can schedule.

Client-appreciation events are another important part of any marketing campaign because they let your clients know that you value their business, and such events provide a great opportunity to meet new prospects. Client events are an opportunity to strengthen valuable relationships and introduce all your services to existing and potential wealth management clients in a non-threatening atmosphere. Client-appreciation events can be small or large depending on the goals you have set to achieve, and they can include activities such as dinners, family movie events, a night at a local sporting event and more.

One important type of client-appreciation event is the seminar. Seminars are an effective method of prospecting and introducing clients to the full range of services your firm provides by positioning your accounting or law firm as a total wealth management practice.

The Power of Client Referrals

There are enough clients within your existing client base to effectively expand your practice for years, but many CPAs focus their marketing efforts outside of their client base.  You should focus on your existing client base first — they already trust your advice. There is power in the specific stories long-term clients share with their friends and family about the many ways you have helped them make wise financial decisions over the last 10, 15, or 20 years. Referrals are the best way to meet potential clients because they come from clients talking about their experience — not you talking about yourself.

People love to give referrals.  We all take pride in suggesting the best golf course, best barbecue spot or the best vacation destination.  The same pride applies and with even greater significance when it comes to the important decisions made about professional relationships with doctors, attorneys, CPAs and wealth managers. 

The key to getting your clients to make introductions to their friends and family is to position it as a service to the client. Let your clients know that part of how you serve your current clients is to also help the people that are most important to them. These are not “needy” referrals: Your busy professional clients have enough to do without you asking them to grow your business for you.

However, if they do have a friend or family member that needs help making wise financial decisions, you should have a professional, standard process for making the introduction. Explain your process for providing this sounding-board service and coach your clients on how to describe you. Key questions to assess referral potential include: Who is best suited to your level of expertise? Can provide you the phone number? What will happen when they make that introduction?

Remember, only ask those clients whom you want to clone for referrals. In business and in life, “birds of a feather flock together.” Our social networks are typically filled with people a lot like ourselves. Offer your valuable advice and expertise to clients for whom it can do the most good and who can benefit your practice — a win-win situation.

Measuring Results

Any marketing campaign must be disciplined and produce measurable results. “Keeping score” is the best way to evaluate the overall success of your firm’s marketing plan. Evaluate on a monthly basis the number of mailers sent, when you held your monthly staff meeting and who attended, the number of clients identified through focus lists and the number of clients contacted and scheduled for financial services appointments.

You also must evaluate how that marketing plan translates into business – how many appointments were conducted and how many clients have begun the implementation process. Another important area to evaluate is the number of SOCs your firm uncovered. SOCs are Situations, Opportunities or Concerns that your clients have that suggest a need for a financial services appointment. SOCs can be uncovered by any staff member and include items such as the birth of a client’s first grandchild or an issue in need of attention on a client’s 1040 form.

The Bottom Line

CPA and wealth management firms must proactively market themselves on a consistent basis. Fine-tuning your marketing activities and finding the right marketing mix is challenging, but is often the critical determinant of your firm’s long-term success.

This article and its content have been provided by 1st Global. With more than 450 affiliated firms, 1st Global is one of the largest wealth management services partners for the tax, accounting and legal professions. 1st Global delivers the required capabilities essential for wealth management excellence including progressive ongoing education, which places the firm in a unique position to offer wealth management knowledge.
 
1st Global was founded by CPAs on the belief that accounting, tax and estate planning firms are uniquely qualified to provide comprehensive wealth management services to their clients. Each affiliated firm is provided with education, technology, business-building framework and client solutions that make these firms leaders in their professions through dedicated professional client relationships built around wealth management.
 
1st Global Capital Corp. is a member of FINRA and SIPC and is headquartered at 8150 N. Central Expressway, Suite 500 in Dallas, Texas 75206 (214) 265-1201. Additional information about 1st Global is available via the Internet at
www.1stGlobal.com.

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