by Tony Vidler
If you want to get me as a client there has to be some common understanding. You might be great, and have all sorts of brilliant ideas and strategies that can change my life, but I am not really interested in doing business with you if you don’t have some understanding of my world and my situation.
I will work with someone who “gets me” and my world.
That is pretty much true for most people today when it comes to deciding whether to work with a professional isn’t it?
Clients will choose to work with a financial services professional who understands the client’s situation. There are instances which are usually driven by crisis – such as pending litigation or a rapidly developing high risk situation – where the need for professional help is so urgent that a client will simply select a professional who appears to be the best qualified to get a speedy, or desirable, resolution. That rarely happens with financial advisers though. It is rarely a crisis that drives clients to seek financial advice, so the time taken to select the right adviser becomes less relevant.
What becomes highly relevant is whether the customer feels that the adviser understands their circumstances.
In any given individual engagement the adviser typically spends a significant amount of time getting to know the clients circumstances – but that happens only after the marketing efforts have produced a prospective customer, and the adviser has been able to successfully interest that prospective customer to take the first steps of engagement. This process is what makes the marketing efforts of so many professional services firms relatively inefficient. Understanding is not demonstrated until after a prospective client has begun to engage.
One of the absolute basics of marketing is to identify a target market, and to work out what the issues and concerns – the circumstances – are for that type of customer before you begin your marketing efforts. It is something which professionals seem to be continually poor at doing to be frank.
I saw it again this week with a series of workshops around the country. When asking advisers who their target market was, or more specifically “who the ideal customer is” for them, the answers were universally vague. A typical response was “a business owner, aged 25-55….” That narrowed the population down to about 400,000….and that is a really big target market for an adviser who wants 15-20 new ideal clients in the next 12 months.
To successfully build a marketing presence which will appeal to ideal customers you do actually have to build a profile, and understanding, of who that ideal customer is.
The demographics matter of course, and are an excellent starting point. Thinking about their occupational details and type of work they do, and the business issues they deal with which concern them, gives far greater insight. While the customers work or business occupies a large amount of their time, thought and energy, it is rarely the area that moves them the most. Their personal world does that usually. The everyday things of their life, like family and how they use their free time, and their personal motivations and values, are the areas which tend to drive behaviours.
Being able to communicate in a way that works best with them matters too – so it makes sense to think about that in advance in order to build marketing systems which are effective, and make your messages resonate.
If one takes it a few steps further it makes sense to think about where they turn to for information and “advice” currently. If you are aware of that you can build a presence where they are looking for information and solutions, and just as importantly you will be aware of what competing services or ideas are being put to them.
By thinking through the ideal client profile to the point where you have developed a comprehensive understanding of their world and their issues you give yourself the opportunity to be able to identify the most likely outcomes, or results, that they are seeking from a professional.
THEN you have a chance of crafting a marketing position and message which is likely to appeal to your ideal client because it demonstrates immediately that you understand them and their issues – unlike the vast majority of your competitors incidentally.
If you don’t have a process for working out how to identify the ideal client and their issues then I do have a number of worksheets available, which can be downloaded anytime from my Slideshare account. Go to: http://www.slideshare.net/tonyvidler/who-do-you-wantfor the first one to begin the process.
Understanding your ideal clients before you begin your marketing efforts WILL increase your chances of getting the best return from your marketing.0