Seeking referrals from existing clients is one of a number of steps that advisers can take to market their business on a tight budget, according to Phillip Bray, marketing and relationship manager at Investment Sense.
Advisers should broach the initiative by informing customers of their endeavour to develop the business and take on new clients, while at the same time providing reassurances that their service levels will not be compromised as a result of the growth agenda.
Mr Bray said: “It’s also important to ensure your clients know the types of people you would like to be introduced to and to give regular reminders and subtle nudges, that you would welcome being recommended.
He added: “I’m often asked whether advisers should directly incentivise clients for giving referrals. To be truthful, I find that approach rather tacky. A personalised thank you and small gift bought with the client in mind, is, however, always appreciated.”
The next step requires advisers to operate a credible website which reflects the professionalism and clout of their advisory practice. This would go some way in expelling initial jitters experienced by those who have been referred to the firm or been directed to the establishment through advisory directories, Mr Bray said.
The third and fourth step requires advisers to subscribe to Unbiased and VouchedFor.
Mr Bray added: “Spend time building and refining your profile so you stand out from the crowd. This includes making the niches you work in and your areas of expertise, crystal clear. So many profiles are too generalist and impossible to differentiate from each other.
“One of the key differences between the two directories is that VouchedFor allows your clients to rate the service they received from you.
“As these reviews affect the order in which advisers are displayed following an online search, I would suggest taking a free listing, build the number of reviews, and once they reach, say, 15 to 20, then turn on the paid-for subscription.
“Well-written Unbiased and VouchedFor profiles will produce a steady stream of new enquiries. If they don’t, then change your profile. That’s where the problem will lie, not with the websites themselves.”
Finally, Mr Bray said advisers could supplement the aforementioned steps with the production and distribution of articles to demonstrate experience in their field of expertise, newsletters, and social media presence.
Colin Rodger, managing director at Alexander Sloan Financial Planning, based in Scotland, said: “I suppose it all depends on just how small the budget actually is. We do not do a lot of marketing ourselves because we tend to get the bulk of clients through our accountancy business. Our model also relies on referrals. If you are providing a great service for your existing clients, they would be more inclined to promote your company to their friends and family.
He added: “We do subscribe to Unbiased. You do not have to pay a huge amount of money a month for the service, and we have received many new enquiries from that.”