Many advisors come to me after trying everything they can to get their stagnant business growing again. Often, they’ve already spent a lot of money on advertising, local sponsorships, expensive dinner seminars, training from top advisors and so forth — all with poor results. They tell me why they don’t want to reach out to their warm market or how they hate asking for referrals.
Robert, a financial advisor in North Carolina, came to me after he had tried most of these. He’s an investment advisor representative and CFP with life and health insurance licenses. Robert was grossing a little over $10,000 a month from all sources, but he hadn’t moved much beyond that for years. He wanted to keep growing but nothing seemed to be working.
One of Robert’s challenges was that nothing about him made him special to prospects or clients. He told people he was a financial planner and that he worked with all kinds of clients.
If you’re just another financial planner, investment advisor, wealth manager or life insurance agent, you’re faced with competition from hundreds — or thousands — of people who say they do the same thing as you.
You’re just another white crayon in a box of white crayons.
Here’s what I mean by a white crayon. Imagine you’re 6 years old, and you find some white paper and a box of crayons. You quickly open the box only to find that all the crayons in it are white. Does it matter which one you pull out to use? Then you spot one red crayon in the corner of the box. Which crayon will you pull out of the box to draw with?
If you’re a white crayon advisor, you will get business, but your ability to get more and better clients will be limited.
Sending out mailings, handing out pens and refrigerator magnets, buying lists, making cold calls and other marketing and sales activities might pull in the occasional new client. What will work faster and better is having a way to distinguish yourself from all the other crayons in the box.
Instead of chasing shiny, new approaches to getting business, be a red crayon.
Position yourself as an expert who can fulfill specific needs for a specific type of client.
The point that advisors who resist this are missing is that clients are more attracted to experts and specialists — to someone uniquely qualified to deal with their problem — than to general practitioners who look like all the other general practitioners in any field.
Your prospective clients are looking for the red crayon in the box.
Start attracting them by giving them what they’re looking for. When I explained this to Robert, he protested that he couldn’t be a red crayon. He was “just another financial advisor.” Yet, when I connected with him on social media, I found several posts he had written about putting four of his kids through college. His expertise on this subject was already a way he could attract clients if his target was people like him. Furthermore, Robert mentioned how he had put himself through college, too, because his own parents couldn’t afford to help him.
These were two powerful personal stories that made Robert a red crayon for people like him, which would, if properly presented, comfortably attract many more new clients than any white crayon prospecting effort ever could. It happened that Robert liked the idea of focusing on families who needed help planning for both retirement and college without sacrificing enjoyment of their lives today.
I asked him to put aside his fear of limiting his market and try to make himself a red crayon for this target group for the next six months. I promised him that he could take on anyone as a client, but he wouldn’t be marketing to everyone. Instead, he’d be focusing on a niche through specific services.
As a result, his business started to grow for the first time in months. In three months, his monthly gross income increased to more than $15,000. Today, it’s closer to $30,000. All from showing up in the box of advisors as a red crayon for his favorite market.
If I search for you on LinkedIn, will I find a red crayon or just another white one? If you’re a white crayon, what’s keeping you from changing?
Sandy Schussel is a performance acceleration coach who has been working with financial advisors for more than 20 years, helping them break through to higher production levels.
Read more about succeeding through target marketing and finding a niche:
- “Build a target market” has tips and questions to ask yourself when working with niche clients. (Available in 10 languages)
- “How to become the preeminent thought leader in one specific niche by developing an expertise” includes information from a Top of the Table member about the difference between generalists and specialist practices. (Top of the Table and Court of the Table members only)
- “Find and dominate your niche” lets you discover how an MDRT member found her niche and her tips for success. (Available in nine languages)