It is utterly against the DNA of most advisors, but if you want to be a success at attracting referrals you must choose not to pursue good prospects.
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A lot has been written about target marketing and having a niche. Yet I am surprised by how many advisors I meet who cannot bring themselves to commit to a market because it means not attracting some profitable clients.
Here's a classic example: I was conducting one of my Secrets of Referral Marketing workshops and we were discussing finding a niche. We talked about how specialization and aiming at a small part of a market can bring more clients than that advisor can successfully service. Think about it – if you are the one advisor that 1% of the people in your geographic area really needs, how many potential clients is that? Where I live, that's about 800 households. So it is okay to basically ignore 99% of the population. If you can be the advisor with the most compelling value proposition for that target market, what do you need to achieve your goals? Ten percent of that potential market? 20%? And that's without leaving town. I can drive an hour east or west and have another market almost as big.
Everyone agreed. If we designed an irresistible message for the 1%, we can accomplish as much as we would ever want to. Nods all around. Is everyone okay with that idea? Yes, all the participants say it makes perfect sense. We will determine who we can specialize in, and create plans that will successfully attract them, even if no other prospects (outside the niche) respond to the message.
An advisor raises his hand. "So, if I meet a prospect outside my target at a cocktail party, and he has a rollover of $1 million, and I tell him what I do and it doesn't interest him at all, it's okay?" Yes, it's okay.
Immediately another participant objects. "But we have to say something that would get them interested – he would be a great client!"
From the day we enter the profession, we are trained to pursue any prospect who could be profitable. Eventually, we end up with a diverse client base that can be a challenge to service and a value proposition that attempts to attract everyone and is compelling to practically no one. When we first try to market to a target audience, we find ourselves unable to resist the dilemma of "and I do that, too. And that…" It is counterintuitive. As much as we have discussed it, many, maybe most, advisors still cannot bring themselves to focus on a single, targeted client profile.
But if we want people to talk about us, to refer us, we need to be known for something specific. And that means leaving a majority of the population out of your marketing and prospecting plans.
Narrow and deep beats wide and shallow. Less is more. Get known for being the single go-to advisor for something specific, and you can eventually get to the point that many of those prospects find you.