Here’s the great thing about social media and e-mail. It’s cheap and easy. That’s also its biggest drawback. Your e-mail Inbox or social media feed is full of messages and ads.
What can you do to stand out from the crowd?
1. Be a Thought Leader. Your firm has research reports. Although they are available in soft copy and can be e-mailed, there are also very impressive in hard copy. People in industry like to read what an outside organization thinks about their industry and competitors. Hand delivery is best. Mail works too. E-mail with an attachment is another channel. You might even share it with one individual at a time via LinkedIn.
Rationale: You are indirectly and expert because you have access to experts at your firm.
2. Surface Mail. You’ve heard the expression “It’s so out that it’s in.” Many organizations have stopped using regular mail because other channels are so much cheaper. Everyone wants to save money, right? Sometimes the cheapest channel isn’t the most effective.
Rationale: “It’s so out, it’s in.”
3. Different Sized Mail. Everyone knows what an envelope containing a bill looks like. They have a pretty good idea about solicitations too because most people don’t think beyond the #10 business envelope. Hard card wedding style invitation cards get attention because the dimension and feel are different. The object is to get the recipient to open the envelope.
Rationale: People can be quite curious, especially when it looks like someone spent money trying to get their attention.
4. Overnight Mail. Priority Mail can work too. The envelope is large. Since it’s not cheap to send, it isn’t used that often. It still arrives with a sense of urgency. Years ago, I learned about a financial advisor who would get on the radar of relocated senior executives by sending that city’s “Best of” edition of its namesake magazine along with a cover letter via Overnight Mail. Executives need to make decisions very quickly re: where to live and send their children to school. They would follow-up with a phone call afterwards, often getting past the screener when they referenced the magazine and the Overnight Envelope.
Rationale: There’s a sense of urgency.
5. Out of the Box Thinking. A financial planner started building his clientele of pharmaceutical executives with an unorthodox strategy: He would ride his suburban commuter train into the city, sitting next to someone and engaging them in conversation. When the train pulled into the destination, he would get off, cross the platform and do it again, traveling in the opposite direction. He would do this several times during the day.
Rationale: How many times have you heard a successful person’s story and said: “Why didn’t I think of that?”
6. Client-Prospect Dinners. Your good clients know other people who could become clients. Would they introduce you? Referrals can sometimes be awkward. It can be easier if you invite them out to dinner, suggest they bring a guest, probing to learn how well they know certain people. Invite a couple of clients to do the same. Don’t talk business, but pick up the check. What everyone does will come up in conversation.
Rationale: Third party reinforcement from someone they know can be powerful.
7. Share Their Passion. In this example it’s critical that the passion be your too. You can’t fake it, especially when specialized knowledge is required. Are the people you want to know wine fans? Find out about local wine clubs, ideally ones where they belong. Join. Don’t show off. You are a sponge, absorbing knowledge while getting to know other people. Enthusiasts with a passion are usually eager to share their passion with fellow fans. If the person you want to know better isn’t a member but is a wine fan, suggest they come along as your guest. It’s that passion thing.
Rationale: People behave differently when their passion is involved.
8. Be in the Right Place at the Right Time. Lt. Columbo always seemed to turn up in the most unexpected places, running into the suspect. There’s an urban legend about the committee organizing the bid for the 2012 London Olympics: They knew the hotels in other cities where the Olympic Committee interviewers would stay. They would fly someone out to sit at the bar on relax in the lobby. They would “run into” the committee member and have a friendly conversation. Did it actually happen? They won the Olympics for 2012, didn’t they?
Rationale: Timing is everything.
9. Targeted Relevant Data. There are lots of realtors around. Some do mailings focusing on recent home sale prices in the recipient’s neighborhood. Most people are curious about what their property is worth. As an advisor, what relevant data could you share?
Rationale: The object is to get their attention, then get them calling with questions.
10. Produce Your Own Newsletter. People know when they are being sold. They also like complex subjects they don’t understand explained to them. Financial services firms have their own version of “This week in Washington” highlighting pending legislation. This can be delivered electronically or in print, depending on your audience.
Rationale: They learn something new when they hear from you.
11. Win Awards. Are you an RIA? Many communities have “People’s Choice” awards that are organized by local magazines or newspapers. Besides becoming a contender, you will need people to vote for you. You might need the help of a public relations firm to get into consideration, but the benefits can be significant. After you place in a top spot, you are an award winning professional.
Rationale: People want to do business with “the best”.
12. Continuing Education Credits. You would be surprised at the number of professions requiring continuous learning. It’s a benefit for their clients, students or patients. You might be in a position to provide this kind of training at no cost to them. It assembles an audience.
Rationale: If members of a certain profession would make good clients, here’s a way to get them into a room.
Everyone wants to get someone else’s attention, but often they don’t want to invest the time, effort or money to do it.
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