A dumbbell to know, like and trust
Providing useful information to people who would benefit from your services might attract them as clients.
Heading into the recent Christmas holidays I had a small number of key objectives – enjoy the break, be a family man in the moment, exercise every day and accumulate some enjoyable sales experiences. (I’ll explain that last one in a moment.)
As it happened, I scored a big tick on the first three and a fail on the fourth one. However, to be fair, my routine of heading to the beach for big parts of each day precluded many opportunities to be sold to.
The objective with sales experiences relates to my role in coaching accounting and financial planning firms – was there anything to be gleaned from other industries that financial advice practitioners can learn from and use in their own sales process?
It turns out I got a marketing masterclass instead, without even being consciously aware that it was happening.
In this article, I’d like to share the story with you because the lessons from this masterclass can readily be applied by accountants and financial planners to boost their marketing.
So please, look beyond this somewhat personal example. Consider what you can take and apply in your own firm.
A quick burst of theory
Some years ago, Google undertook some research on buying habits. At the risk of oversimplifying, the research concluded that few people will make an important purchase decision on the spot. Instead, they will want to get to know about the business and the product they are contemplating. Google came up with a model which I have abbreviated to 7-11-4. That is, 7 hours of a potential client getting to know you, 11 points of contact you have with that prospect, via 4 different locations and/or media.
How I love this framework!
It transforms an otherwise aimless activity of (say) writing articles before optimistically sending these out into the World Wide Web. Instead those same articles become a very purposeful undertaking. Now your marketing can have real objectives to be achieved by developing relationships with specific people.
Here’s a quick example.
A highly successful financial planner I’ve worked with has an Issues Paper available for download on his website. It discusses the key issues that his ideal clients face. When new clients come to see him, it’s obvious from their printout of that paper, complete with highlighting and margin notes, that a good number of hours has been invested in digesting the wisdom contained therein.
YouTube – a channel of discovery
(Hem! Hem!) Whilst it may not be altogether apparent by looking at me, I’ve been lifting weights for most of my adult life. Yet whilst I love the actual activity, going to gyms is not always a great experience. Even at the better gyms, one has to listen to irritating music, work around people who insist on using multiple apparatus at one time and overlook the rubbish scattered around. Plus don’t get me started on gym goers who don’t put their weights away!
Somewhere along the way, You Tube picked up on my interest in setting up a gym at home and it’s here where my story unfolds.
Know, like and trust
I started to see more and more of a channel called Garage Gym Reviews in my You Tube feed, featuring a friendly gym junkie going by the name of “Coop”. It’s fair to say that Coop’s knowledge and sheer enthusiasm for his topic drew me in. Seemingly in no time my knowledge of barbells, dumbbells, weight racks, shoes and all manner of associated equipment had skyrocketed. Coop certainly calls it as he sees it, providing honest opinions about what he’s reviewing and the value for money on offer. He also provides plenty of suggestions on viable cheaper alternatives.
I venture to say that in numerous 5 to 10 minute clips consumed over the break, I was well on the way to racking up seven hours with Coop. If and when I decide to set up a home gym, I’m so much more knowledgeable and confident as a result of absorbing what Coop has been telling me. In fact, I will faithfully follow his recommendations.
For those seriously intending to go down the home gym path, it’s a seamless progression to Coop’s website, which contains vast amounts of helpful information. Much of this is in the form of downloadable reports, with lots of videos, product reviews and other items thrown in for good measure.
As a result of all this, I certainly feel I know Coop, notwithstanding that we’re unlikely ever to meet in person and that he lives on the other side of the world. What’s more, I like him – he’s got his quirks, that’s for sure, hanging out in his basement heaving weights around but he’d sure make a good training buddy. What’s more, I absolutely trust his recommendations, even when his website tells me very clearly that he receives a benefit from some of the items he endorses.
Now, I have no idea if Coop is up to date on the latest Google marketing theories. My suspicion is that he just loves doing what he’s doing so he keeps churning out the content. Coop is assisted though by You Tube helpfully suggesting yet another one of his clips to be included in the selection of what I might view next. And it’s not just me who is watching what he produces. It’s quite normal for his clips to receive over 20,000 views. Some clips score 40,000 hits or even higher. I venture to say that nearly every viewer of his clips has self-selected as a potential customer. Nice one, Coop.
Professional services firms can do this too
So, sitting under the umbrella at the beach during my holiday, it occurred to me that if a loveable muscle head like Coop can do this why not a professional practice?
Like Coop, there are many valuable items of information and opinion that practitioners could be sharing with potential clients.
Don’t believe me? Start with changes in technology/the economy/legislation/political environment that you perceive will impact your clients. To this, add on a set of “house views” – considered opinions about how your preferred clients should organise their financial affairs. Throw in some case studies regarding clients you’ve assisted, some financial management tips plus opinion pieces and you will readily see the potential to keep would-be clients informed and entertained.
From there, it’s a matter of developing a plan – who is going to write what article, capture whose opinion on video clip and when all of this is going to be done. Of course, don’t feel restricted to video – eBooks, strategy papers, newsletters and/or audio recordings might all form part of your armoury.
I also suggest that you take a leaf out of Coop’s book and reveal something about yourself over time. I’ve got to know Coop is a family guy, living in the ‘burbs, with friends that come around when he needs a hand. Far from this disclosure being too revealing, it’s now so much easier to relate to Coop and trust what he says.
Incidentally, all of this marketing activity can be as enjoyable to create as it is to consume. It’s easy to sense Coop’s enthusiasm for unpacking new equipment (that suppliers are now sending to him for free) which he is going to review.
By way of further example, You Tube also suggests clips to me from a bicycle touring company that specialises in trips for cyclists who like to ride up mountains. In creating the most scenically breathtaking and inspiring clips imaginable, the host of The Col Collective gets to ride up many of the hills that feature heavily on cyclists’ bucket lists. Not only have I readily racked up seven hours of happy consumption here too, I’d happily go touring with that company.
Too often I see professional service firms with generic websites, full of well-intentioned piffle about personal service. Those same firms have no regular marketing plan in place and there’s certainly not seven hours of content by which a relationship could be built with a potential new client.
Yet it doesn’t have to be this way.
Why not take a leaf out of Coop’s book? Providing honest, friendly and well-informed advice on topics you know and care about might just have a steady stream of new clients making their way to your door.
Scott Charlton is a director of Slipstream Coaching, a company dedicated to assisting financial practitioners achieve their full potential. A long term business coach to accountants and financial planners, Scott is also the author of three books regarding professionals in practice. Scott can be contacted by phone 07 3221 3796 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org