Taking a narrower approach to business development works.
It doesn’t take long for even the newest advisors to figure out that taking a shotgun approach to prospecting yields the most negligible results. Prospecting is made much easier with a narrower approach—one that focuses on identifying your ideal client types who are a better fit for your services.
Luckily, your ideal clients most likely reside in an industry niche or a readily identifiable market segment based on demographics, careers, interests, or shared financial concerns. For example, your niche could be newly independent women or even business leaders at a major company like Intel.
Conducting market research on your audience will reveal critical information that enables you to understand the best methods for communicating and appealing to them. You can tailor your value proposition to their pain points and approach them as a trustworthy advisor offering meaningful solutions—not just another talking head speaking into the void.
Of course, the more thorough your research, the better equipped you will be to identify the critical factors that influence your client’s decision-making, such as common goals, priorities, and motivations. The data you’ll collect gives you a leg up, making you better prepared to anticipate their questions and concerns or introduce key issues they may not have considered. Suddenly, you’ve now proven yourself as a trusted expert working with their particular demographic.
More importantly, your prospects and clients will view you as an advisor who clearly understands what is important to them. And as we aren’t shy about sharing, building deep connections with prospects is the foundation for enduring business relationships.
Steps for Gathering Market Intelligence as a Financial Advisor
While gathering market intelligence on your ideal client does involve some time and legwork, it doesn’t have to be a daunting experience if you follow these steps.
- Identify a target audience or niche: Gone are the days of casting as wide a net as possible to find prospects. It’s inefficient and won’t get you closer to finding your ideal client. Narrowing your focus on a niche enables you to gain efficiencies by focusing your resources and developing an expertise that can truly differentiate you.
Typically, prospects residing in a specific niche tend to know each other, and word will spread that you can be trusted. Examples of profitable niches include medical professionals, business owners, and retail shop owners. You can then burrow further down into a niche for more specialization.
- Gather intelligence from your client files: Your client files are rich with demographic and financial data that can be mined for market intelligence. Identify your ideal clients and then build a spreadsheet to find commonalities, such as age, gender, family status, education, and financial status. Next, look for common concerns, challenges, priorities, and financial strategies.
- Conduct client interviews: If your goal is to replicate your ideal client, gather intelligence from the source. Your best clients will be more than willing to provide their insights and appreciate that you asked. You can schedule interviews by phone or over lunch or coffee.
Here is a list of possible questions for uncovering market intelligence:
- What are your most critical life goals, and why are they so important to you?
- What challenges do you face in achieving your goals?
- What makes you lose sleep?
- What is the most important benefit you received from our firm?
- How do you think we are different from others?
- What publications or blogs do you read?
- What associations or networks do you participate in?
- What social media channels do you follow?
- How do you go about making important decisions?
- What sources do you trust for information?
- How do you prefer to communicate with your advisors?
- How can someone in my position help to address your biggest challenges?
- What would you tell others in your situation about why they should do business with us?
- Explore Social Media Profiles
For a deeper dive into your clients’ and/or prospects’ personal and business lives, you can explore their social media accounts. You may find shared interests on Facebook or Instagram. Their LinkedIn page may provide insights into their professional lives. If they have a Twitter account, you may discover who they’re following and the type of content they share.
Digging into the social profiles of your clients is a great way to stay on the pulse of the things that are important to them. You might see their son is graduating high school and send a gift or perhaps they are new grandparents, and you send them a congratulatory email.
When it comes to prospecting, scouting social media can help you find some common ground before meeting and break the ice once you finally get a chance to chat in person.
Using Your Market Intelligence
Here’s how market intelligence can give advisors who use it an upper hand over those still using the scattershot approach to prospecting.
- Use your intelligence to hone your message: With market intelligence, you can refine your message to appeal directly to your target market or niche. With more targeted messaging, you can sharpen your value proposition, create website content from your ideal client’s perspective, and provide more tailored and relevant content through email campaigns.
- Differentiate you as an expert: When you understand how your ideal client thinks and worries about their future, you know how to ask the right questions that can lead to customized solutions. It’s rare for clients who belong to specialized niches to come across a financial advisor who actually gets them and can speak their language.
- Tailor your web marketing strategy: Knowing what type of information your target audience prefers and how they consume it, you can design your content and social media strategy to improve the likelihood that they will find it and engage you.
Put Your Market Intelligence Cap On, Financial Advisors
Gathering marketing intelligence does take time and effort, but the results can be well worth it. Using it for a more targeted approach may dramatically reduce your prospect pool. Still, you will know the prospects you do find are more qualified, allowing you to focus your time and resources more efficiently. With your market intelligence, you can open doors and build connections more quickly. By differentiating yourself as an expert in your ideal client’s field, you also become much more referrable.
At Red Zone Marketing, we recognize the value in having this information to guide financial advisor marketing, which is why we conduct market research, niche research, and client research through surveys, interviews, and focus groups. We then work data into your brand message and overall strategy to attract the ideal client we have conducted the research on and stay engaged with the current clients you want to keep.
Stop throwing things at the wall to see what sticks. Marketing is not spaghetti. Use the data available to you to make smart decisions with your marketing budget.
Maribeth Kuzmeski, PhD, President of Red Zone Marketing, is a marketing strategist, advisor to financial services companies, bestselling author of seven books, and a professional speaker rated as a Top 25 C-Suite Speaker as seen in Meetings & Conventions Magazine. She speaks on topics including marketing, branding, sales, and customer service.