Build case studies to help people identify their financial blind spots and your ideal client profile and help people understand your ideal client profile. Reading your case study will help your prospects understand potential financial blind spots and showcase your ability to solve those potential issues.
Case studies can be simple or complex, but telling a story is one of the most effective ways to explain why you do what you do, what you do and how you do it. A case study explains the why, what and how as it relates to finding ideal clients. Here is a simple exercise to help find your ideal clients. Take your top ten clients and select one or two of them to write a case study or story about them (changing their names and confidential information of course, and make sure compliance has read it over).
First, choose from a segment that you want to work in to find more ideal clients. For example, you can focus on wealthy retirees, successful entrepreneurs, corner office executives, professionals, wealthy families or other categories. Then choose one of your top ten clients from this category and start the story. Make sure it is a topic you are well versed in and most passionate about. It will make it easy to tell the story and become inspirational. For example, as an advisor I always shared the story of retirees and second marriages and how one couple found themselves in a very challenging estate and family situation, unaware of what to do if one of them passed away. I became known as a person to talk to about retirees and second marriages and estate planning challenges. As a result, I was referred to by several retirees with friends who were in their second marriage. The audience selection here is part of your ideal client profile. The segment that will most likely benefit from this advice is…? What does this segment usually pay to solve these problems? What groups, associations or other social gatherings do they frequent?
Category: A wealthy retired couple ___________________________________________
Second, describe how you met. Did they get introduced by referral, meet you at an event or from a center of influence? Was it a seminar you did, or a fundraising event? Was it at the golf course? In other words, tell me how you meet people. Prospects want to know how to meet you.
Introduction/Referral from an accountant ____________________________________
Third, describe the problem/issue(s) they were facing when they sought your advice. Each segment of clients has similar or common challenges they face. Describing the problem will help people identify what problems you solve. For example, a wealthy retired couple was bothered by a change in their health and worried about lifetime income if either had to spend a lot of money on health care. They were also worried about their estate. Now picture a healthy retired couple in their 60’s who are faced with a rapid change in health, which could affect their finances, their estate and their family. They are no longer 100% confident in the plan and want a second opinion.
My target segment wants to achieve…? Who do they pay good money for advice now and how much? Does it make sense? Describe the problem they have: worried about their nest egg, their income or their estate, for example.
Fourth, what were the solutions you suggested to help overcome their problems? What is a story of obstacles or challenges that would resonate with your target segment? These stories will help people know that you understand their struggles. What were the results or potential results? For the example of the retired couple concerned about how rapid health challenges would affect their estate, we put a plan in place that included the following elements:
- A written income plan for life, including health and mortality risks that they were comfortable with;
- An estate plan developed in conjunction with their professional advisors, accountant and lawyer, which created a team strategy to give them a comfortable plan in writing for peace of mind for their family;
- A family estate plan after meeting with their family, to understand them better and address their specific needs
With comprehensive and holistic planning, by asking the deeper questions and getting to understand our client’s needs, they were able to accomplish what they wanted. They now have a clearly documented plan going forward. The plan can now be discussed and continually updated through our detailed progress meetings to continue to achieve the comfort they are seeking.
Results: In writing, what is the potential outcome? ____________________________________
Now when you read the case study, do you see how another couple in a similar situation could read this and say, “They understand us and our problems.” If this is the type of work they do, maybe we should have a conversation with them and possibly achieve a similar result?
What do your clients get?
When a potential client sits down with you, your firm or your team, what do they get in writing? Do you have an example in writing like the case study above? Do you have a sample financial plan, investment plan or other related documents that you can share? What progress meeting summaries do you provide? Do you have all of the documents in one binder, to help keep track of the progress? As you can see, a case study is more than just a story; it is a test drive of the vehicle you want your client to buy. Let them feel it—attach emotion to it. And remember: sell the process, not the result. You have a process better than anyone else. Tell your potential clients about your unique and detailed process and tell it in a story that they can relate to and understand.
Do you illustrate a simple case study with a look at the before and after results or do you tell a more detailed story? Ask your ideal clients to read your case studies and offer you feedback and context on how they would relate to the story.
Here is an easy exercise. Buddy up with another advisor and share your best case studies or stories with him or her and ask them to write it down. Then reverse roles and do the same. Most advisors can verbalize beautiful stories or cases when asked, but do not put it on paper.
Below is a list of how you can use case studies (with compliance or branch manager approval, of course):
On your website
On your blog to tell your ideal clients and prospects
With your centers of influence (share your sample documents or illustrations)
With your strategic partners
In your brochure, PowerPoint or other documents
In your newsletter
At events or workshops
In all of your marketing material
How are you going to use case studies?
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