Generally, one would expect financial advisors to approach as wide a cross section of the population as they can, particularly as this creates the foundation for a large customer base that would enhance the bottom line of the firm or individual advisor, but the reality reveals something else altogether.
The art of focusing on a niche based or targeted customers
Financial advisories have learned the hard way that casting their nets to a wider audience is damaging to their brand equity in the long run, whereas if the firm were to target specific sections of the population, connecting with customers slotted in a particular niche, they stand a better chance of building a stronger, more resilient brand. The idea being that once you start gaining experience in a specific niche, the perception of the firm being an expert in that niche gets a wider chance to grow.
There is also the belief that being identified or bracketed in a particular niche could be a restraining influence, closing opportunities that may exist in other niches. This section of thinkers is of the considered opinion that advisories would be better off not approaching any niche, but instead they should allow the niche to find them in the market. It would be something like enjoying boating, hang-gliding, para sailing or golf, while you allow yourself the freedom to address any niche of your personal preference, and attracting customers that that share your preferences. The highlight of this approach would be that the firm finds it easier to promote personalized relationships with targeted clients, with shared interests, that demand customizable solutions.
By freeing your choices, you get a better opportunity to pitch your services to a larger client base that fit in with your requirements. If fishing is your forte, you could target customers that too have an affinity to your work preference and clinch a deal over placid seas while you indulge in a spot of fishing. That way your bigger and more diverse array of interests could be leveraged to build standing relationships with your customer base. Just imagine the opposite situation where a client invites you to a game of tennis but that’s a field you find yourself all at sea, and you could potentially embarrass yourself, so you politely decline the invite. The general idea is that a working lunch shared over a commonly agreed menu would be more fruitful in building a long lasting and painstakingly created rapport and relationship. Of course it goes without saying that customers are difficult to retain unless some effort goes into building mutual and value based personal relationships.
Cultivating business interests without ignoring the human element
When we closely examine the circle of our immediate friends and well-wishers, we discover the fundamental truth that we share many things in common. By the same token, by concentrating on a circle of clients sharing common interests it becomes possible for the group to recall your name when customized needs are demanded, and that demand will be boosted once the client finds himself confident of your abilities. Customers may also enjoy higher recall about your services if they are more frequently associated in shared activities, just as a client that occasionally shares a working lunch may be more likely to bypass you and move on. All this reinforces the belief that the moment you focus on building close relationships with niche customers, conversion rates and business growth spike exponentially.
As far as the customer is concerned it is a matter of performance and delivery of the service which is of paramount importance. It should be easy for the client to engage you and share valuable time that benefits him and encourages him to repeat his visits and demand further services. Successful salesmen will reveal that they consciously avoid the money trap where firms zero in only on high net-worth individuals to the exclusion of all others with a view to maximizing numbers and business, and nine on ten this is a strategy doomed to failure. Besides clients are much smarter now and can spot fake salesmanship a mile away. The only way is the hard way of cultivating customers gradually while investing sufficient time and attention to their needs, when you are focusing on developing long term relationships as opposed to fly by night linkages that collapse sooner than later.
Building relationships with clients and networking with professionals
Equally important as building relationships with clients is the onerous task of building bridges with professionals such as CPAs, information aggregators, attorneys, Bankers and IT professionals that could act as gateways to widening the client base, besides helping you tap quality customers.
Remembering our approach to relationships, it pays to bear in mind that cultivating close personal linkages with chosen customers goes a long way in making a mark in specified business niches. It also creates grounds for sharing referrals, among other information, that can be leveraged for benefiting the client, ensuring that the client stays happy and benefitted. Doing this on a bigger scale obviates the need for high profile marketing and prospecting that would otherwise drain the firm’s budget. Growing client base in such a manner would be the height of organizational efficiency.
The Bottom Line
Being a financial advisor is all about creating a professional playing field where personal fulfillment, profitability and sustainability help you grow the business, while giving utmost priority to interpersonal relations building client confidence. So the first lesson would be to avoid cold calling and routine marketing, and to concentrate on clients that share similar interests, and to use that as a platform to make your presence felt as a competent, sincere and dedicated professional offering high quality customizable services. You will gradually discover that the trust that you have built up goes the whole hog in boosting business growth.