by Tony Vidler
It is a rarity for a new customer to walk in off the street and just decide to buy some insurance or an investment product or a bit of planning from you, right?
That probably hasn’t happened for 10 years (if ever!).
Even though most professionals know that it is a gradual process and they experience it week in and week out with scores of prospective customers in any given year, it remains a rarity for professionals to have deliberately created an engagement process for bringing prospects onboard as clients. Everyone has a “client onboarding process”….so everyone has figured out all the steps necessary to make a new client happy and settled….but the process typically only begins when the prospect has decided to become a client.
What’s the process for those who are still trying to figure out if you are the right fit? Or are still figuring out if they actually have a problem that requires advice or planning?
The concept of having a process that gradually addresses the need for learning and understanding on the part of the consumer, together with them building trust and confidence in an advisers competence and skillset, is otherwise known as “engagement marketing“. For todays professional, it might look something like this….
Virtually everyone has a number of marketing systems and process ranging from client-driven referrals and centre-of-influence marketing, through to seminars, telemarketing and print advertising which builds top of mind awareness (T.O.M.A.) with a prospect. At some point in the prospects life there is a trigger event or a dawning awareness of the need to engage in a bit of planning and that marketing which created the top of mind awareness leads them to consider using you.
An effective engagement marketing process will now being to swing into action, because we’ve thought through the steps a typical prospect will take, and the types of information they will be looking for, and how they want to access and absorb that information. It shouldn’t be that hard to figure out either, because todays prospects buy the same we buy. They do what we do ourselves.
We pretty much begin by googling for more information about someone or something, and then check out a website for some further detail. If we think a professional looks like they might be right we check out their linkedin profile.
To get a feel for the person – how they talk and act – we’ll usually watch an introductory or explainer video….and then the information gathering begins to get serious. We’ll listen to them, and read some of the stuff they’ve published, and then subscribe to their ongoing newsletters and tips, and by now we are accepting that they are an authority worth listening to. So we begin to follow them on social media channels…..we are engaged.
This escalation of interest by prospects using the technology that is rarely out of reach – their smartphones – is eminently predictable. What should be just as predictable is that professionals would put some significant marketing effort into each of these steps. Each of them. Not just the linkedin profile and a company facebook page. Or perhaps a website with a newsletter. All of them have to be addressed if an adviser wants to be taken seriously by prospects and have them engage.
It is how todays consumers – who are tomorrows clients – decide who is an authority that they should work with. To gain more prospects who are engaged one must build an engagement system, and the way to begin doing so is to figure out what steps most of your prospects go through as they are deciding who they should listen to. Different demographics or market segments may well have variations to this process as they access information in different ways perhaps, but there will be a process they go through. Once you understand what that process looks like you can build an engagement marketing system that works for your target market.