Are you looking to improve the effectiveness of your existing referral relationships? Would you like more referrals, better quality referrals, a bigger pipeline and more consistency? In this post, I will assume that you have developed the relationships, have the right structure and commercial understandings in place. You have your service level agreement written and signed.
I would like to share some marketing ideas, which will help you achieve your referral goals.
WARNING: There is more than one way to achieve your referral marketing goals, however, rather than cause overwhelm and procrastination, I’d like to share some simple strategies that work extremely well for 99.9% of advisers who implement them!
Think about the strategy
The devil is in the detail; you know that! Some planning and steps need to be taken to ensure the approach and execution works!
The first step is to consider where you are now and where you want to be. Which of your services would you like to grow? Don’t make the mistake of hoping to build all of them straight up, instead, focus on those that are a natural conversation for accountants and Lawyers [for example] to have with others. Ask yourself three questions:
1. Which of our services is the easiest for someone else to talk about?
2. In which areas does our research/understanding identify the greatest need?
3. Which of our services has the most amount of social proof that we are an expert in that area?
Think about the marketing tools
You’ve identified the problems that should form the focus of your referral marketing strategy. Now, how are you going to use educational based marketing content to address those issues, drawing a clear connection between the challenges and your expertise? What tools are you going to provide to your referral partners to help them educate and inform their clients?
The answer will depend on budget, what resources you have available now, how aggressive you want to be and importantly what your referral partner will be happy to use.
Years ago I worked on a campaign to get a particular service across to customers of a large bank. The only channel we had at that time, was the bank tellers. Imagine how many other parts of the bank were also trying to get their services across to clients through the tellers! Similar to advisers, in most cases, your only channel to clients is through others [for example accountants]. I learned very quickly that the success of any campaign of this nature was in the following areas:
1. The educational based marketing information provided
2. The motivation to want to share the campaign
3. The training provided to make others look informed when talking to clients
What information, training, support, guidance, etc. do you offer to your referral partners to help you achieve your referral-based goals? Do you provide them with anything?
Think about educational based marketing
In plain language educational based marketing is content; information that you provide others to educate them about the importance of your services. The content can take many forms. For example, good old-fashioned marketing collateral. Yes, I’m talking about A4 brochures and flyers! Even in this digital era, actual marketing content that you can hold, scribble on, take notes on and pass to someone else to inform them works! What else does the accountant have to talk about your business? Some advisers are developing landing pages and other digital platforms to help referral partners, all of these work; my suggestion is to have something that helps the person have the conversation about your business.
Educational based content can come in many forms for example:
1. Brochures and flyers
5. White papers and reports
6. Cheat sheets
8. Slide decks
9. Case studies
Think about the training
Unlike financial advisers, accountants haven’t been exposed to much client engagement training. Their softer skills aren’t as developed as some financial advisers are. I know from working with accountants that asking them to talk about another business and service during one of their client meetings can frighten the life out them. The last thing they want to do is sell! I don’t see the duty of care as selling. By that I mean, as a trusted accountant I would suggest it’s in the best interest to ensure that all their clients are adequately financially protected, don’t you? What support and training are you giving to those who are positioning your business with an ideal client? Are you meeting on a regular basis? Talking about the clients, you have recently helped?
It’s not enough to only give your referral partners access to educational based marketing content. You will need to promote it and foster the relationship and use of content. I’m not suggesting that you run off to the printers and have a million brochures developed only to be placed and forgotten on a dusty shelf! What I am suggesting is that you create content marketing tools that your referral partners can use because this will increase the likelihood of them remembering you, confidence to talk about you and ultimately help you achieve your referral marketing goals.
As I said at the beginning of this post, there are hundreds of ways to leverage referral partners and gain more ideal clients. I trust these examples above will either add to your existing or perhaps give you an excellent base to work from.