Does “Growing” Really Mean “More Clients”?
Marketing Ideas & Practice Management & Sales & Marketing for Professional Services & Strategic Issues

Does "Growing" Really Mean "More Clients"?

June 6, 2022

by Tony Vidler  CFP logo   CLU logo  ChFC logo

growing-a-practiceJust about every adviser says they want to be growing their business and need more clients….and they also want fresh ideas; the business satisfaction of solving new problems for new people; they want to do something NEW.


So they say they want more clients plus more interesting work plus more money plus more interesting work.  That’s quite an ask. So when we try to drill down to what will actually deliver this and ask whether they want new business or whether they want new clients, there is usually a delicate pause….followed by “BOTH Please“.


With a little more drilling down we often find that what advisers really want in the way of “growth” is something which is a combination of better business performance and greater job satisfaction – which are 2 quite different things of course.   It often gets expressed like “I want a bigger presence in the market and to be respected“….or…. “I want my customers to value me more and give US more of their business instead of giving some to XYZ company“….or….”I just want more revenue and/or profitability while working with the same sort of clients because I enjoy working with…“.


None of those objectives need to consist of getting more clients for the practice.


Maybe “more” is an answer, but that is not necessarily the only or best one.  If “more” is the right answer then getting more clients is much easier if you develop a succinct objective that identifies who you are going after, and why.  Virtually every professional practice has limitations on its marketing budget, available time and staff resources, and constraints on how much can be handled rapidly in the way of on-boarding new business or new clients.  Yet the majority of practices don’t zero in on who they would like “more” of, or come up with a plan for how they are going to get them.


So maybe go back a step or two…begin with a better understanding of where you are right now before trying to figure out how best to go forward.

To work out where to focus your energy and limited resources think about what you have in the way of products or services to begin with.  Realistically assess what it is you can do, and do well.  Then consider whether you are really after new clients, or just wish to do better with the clients that you have.  This helps determine the real objective in growing the firm:


Once the true objective is clear determining the tactics which will be used to achieve it becomes an issue of


which is most likely to work for us, and do we have the competency or budget to execute well?“.


Some tactics will work well in pursuing one objective, while not being so effective when pursuing a different one.  If for example you are trying to “cross-sell more to existing clients” then it makes little sense to put enormous effort into paid advertising to strangers, does it?


Some examples of tactics that tend to work well in the pursuit of the different objectives are:


Grow Market Share

  • start a blog for visibility and credibility – become known as an expert in your product/service space
  • create a content rich website – lots of useful information and tools to help potential customers know that you have the answers
  • provide media releases on your area of expertise in direct response to topical stories – become a “source” for journalists
  • place extra emphasis upon referral generation – earn the right for them, but let everyone know you want them if you have earned the right
  • have a very strong USP that is reflected in all your marketing material


Market Expansion

  • identify your ideal target market – run some research groups or focus groups and find out what they want and need
  • work out who the centres of influence are in the target market and cultivate them
  • advertise – traditional and digital….advertise as much as you can in the areas where your target market are waiting
  • have a very strong online presence, utilizing all elements of digital marketing including social media platforms (with a strong SEO strategy).
  • get your branding right for the target market – get experts to help you ensure consistency across all your material
  • be product or solutions experts publicly.  Provide whitepapers, podcasts, video tutorials…be the fount of knowledge for potential customers


Cross Selling

  • put in place a process of talking to your top dozen clients with the single purpose of finding out what they perceive their issues are, or where they think you should be providing some help.
  • letter & email campaigns piggy-backing high profile stories and advertising campaigns (e.g. When a “non claim” insurance debacle is on the front pages, let your clients know how your solutions or products DO work)
  • look for sales and campaign strategies to emulate in similar, but not directly competing industries (e.g. travel, banking, other professional services)
  • put together an action plan for each of your A clients.  Make sure you know what they have now, what their issues are, where the opportunities are to cross sell ethically, and then put the plan into action.
  • Then do the same with your B clients….


Customer Retention

  • remember your customers birthdays – send them a card or call them.
  • have a systematic regular contact process – high frequency, minimal sales or generic product information – “high touch” service
  • find out about your customers likes and dislikes, and their family and professional relationships – capture the data, and use it to personalize service and your relationship with them
  • maintain social media presence on the platforms that your customers most frequently use personally.  Use it to monitor feedback and provide basic service functions.
  • run information seminars and workshops
  • have a charter, or promise of commitments that you display and refer to prominently and regularly.  Then live by it.
  • Think about how your business can be a “convenience” place for customers…whether it is providing parking, or handling their automatic bank payment changes for them….
  • survey your clients at least once a year.  Pay attention to the responses and act upon them.  Then report in general terms on the changes you made following the survey. (show them you are listening and responding)


This is an abbreviated list of possible tactics to support any of those objectives for growing a practice of course, but working out what will work best for your firm really does begin with being really sure about what it is that you want, and understanding where you are starting from.


Get clear about how you define “growing” before throwing effort into tactics which will achieve the wrong results.  Because a really big “wrong result” is juist getting more clients of the wrong sort.


You might also be interested in this related article:
Generalist or Specialist: You can still achieve exceptional growth with either choice
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