It’s happened before. You’ve made initial contact with a dentist and told them you specialty is working with local dentists. They counter: “Never heard of you.” Maybe you identified a good prospect, yet realize every other advisor is targeting the same woman. You find yourself trying to shout louder than the crowd. How do you get onto a prospect’s radar screen? How do you build name recognition?
Before You Get Started
Years ago, when I worked at a major financial services firm, the head of our division made two good points:
- You need to touch a person six times before you get name recognition
- You don’t know their preferred communication channel yet. Try a few simultaneously. See which gets a response. Focus on that one going forward.
Ten Possible Communication Channels
We used to think there were only three ways to touch a prospect: There are plenty more, but let’s start with the basics.
1. Phone calls.
Cold calling dates back to at least 1925. (1) You pick up the phone, call the person, tell them where you are from and why you are calling. A ringing telephone conveys a sense of urgency. Meanwhile, statistics show landline usage has declined in recent years. It’s been said about 50.8% of American homes are “wireless only.” (2)
Unlike a phone call, they can be set aside and read at leisure. They can be saved until the service is needed. Although it seems the only mail you get today is bills and advertisements, a personalized letter on high quality business letterhead increases the chances it will be given serious attention.
Unlike letters, e-mail is free. It’s also easy to send. It’s been said in 2015 people received an average of 88 e-mails a day. (3) Even if they get deleted, your name shows on the sender line. This helps build name recognition.
Now we start to get beyond the basics.
4. Seminar invitations.
Its mail, but it’s different. Often it’s a hard card wedding style invitation in a different sized envelope. People often open out of curiosity. They see your name, professional certifications and the topic. They may or may not choose to attend. It positions you as a subject matter expert.
5. Hearing you speak in public.
Maybe they did attend the seminar. Perhaps you ran a workshop at the chamber of commerce or their professional association. Speaking engagements showcase you professionally. It also presents you as an expert.
6. Seeing your name in the newspaper.
You attended a charity event where they took photos. You name and firm might appear in the caption. The reader thinks “I know that guy!” If they are a supporter of the charity, they make the connection that both of you share the same values. Maybe it wasn’t a photo. Maybe your seminar was supported by a newspaper ad.
7. Hearing about you from others.
If the prospect is new in town or needs a service, they will likely ask friends for recommendations. If they are in a tight knit profession like medicine or law enforcement, they might ask peers. If you specialize, your clients need to understand how you help others and be able to tell that story.
8. Meeting you face to face.
We aren’t talking sales calls yet. They own a manufacturing business. They belong to the local association of manufacturers. You do too, because this organization has associate memberships for people and firms providing services members often use. You meet them at a monthly meeting. They make the connection you specialize in their field.
9. Sending them articles.
People like to read about their industry. They are curious about what their competitors are doing. From time to time you clip articles and mail with a note: “Thought you might find this interesting.” An article cut from the paper is irregularly shaped. It gets attention. People assume you only have one copy. They think “Of all the people he could send this to, he chose me.” Research reports from your firm on their company or industry also make an impact. There’s a benefit from being the first person who provided them with news.
Let’s give social media its own category.
10. Social Media.
Think LinkedIn because it seems to be the platform financial services firms are most comfortable with advisors using. You meet people and then send a personalized invitation to connect. You connect with fellow alumni. You reach out to people who worked at your former firm, before you joined the financial services industry. You post article links to your daily feed. You join groups, allowing your articles to be seen by a wider audience. People see your name often. Here’s the downside. Although LinkedIn has about 500 million users, only 40% visit daily. The average user spends 17 minutes a month on LinkedIn. (4) Put another way, there’s potential here.
Texting is gradually starting to gain acceptance as a communications channel at major financial services firms. This is not a good channel for people you don’t know. It’s better if you have already developed a speaking relationship and want to keep in touch.
Your goal is to gain name recognition that can lead to sales appointments and business. Once you have identified prospects, develop a plan for getting on their radar using multiple channels. Once they have seen or heard your name at least six times, you have started to build name recognition.
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