“We all know that recommendations from existing clients make the best type of new enquiry,” he says. “However, very few advisers and planners develop a strategy for encouraging more.”
Retail vouchers or a donation to the referee’s chosen charity are some common examples of incentives used to encourage recommendations.
Faith Liversedge, founder of marketing agency FL Storyteller, agrees that a strategy to encourage referrals among existing clients provides “by far the best return” on an investment in marketing.
Liversedge suggests consistently engaging with current clients using personalised communications that make them feel valued, supported and better informed.
“You can do this via a personalised email newsletter, which enables clients to see the value of your advice, every month, rather than just when you’re in front of them. This also means you’re top-of-mind when it comes to referrals,” she says.
“Lots of people are emailing dry, uninspiring content to their clients that blends into the background and can be accessed anywhere. This isn’t of value, it’s not personal and it doesn’t speak directly to specific clients.”
The last step is to agree on the key performance indicators and benchmarks that will be used to measure success, says Bray, and to monitor these regularly and amend your marketing plan accordingly.
“Very few advisers or planners do all [these steps],” he adds. “Instead, they leap into deploying tactics, which means they’re marketing through trial and error. Something that’s frustrating, time-consuming and costly.”
When it comes to tracking recommendations, Robertson at ClientsFirst suggests mapping clients by who introduced them, to visualise how long the referral strings are, alongside how and why they were referred.
In terms of success, Liversedge says that it is not a race to get as many leads as possible, but quality over quantity, pointing to the “high lifetime value” of an adviser-client relationship.
“Just one or two a month is all you need. Adviser businesses aren’t set up to handle hundreds of enquiries a month, and most don’t have the resources to manage this.”
Chloe Cheung is a features writer at FTAdviser