If there’s one mistake that new (and sometimes even established) financial advisors make, it’s this: failing to develop a clear vision of an ideal client.
Too often we think our service offerings are “for everyone.” And while it might be true that everyone could use your help, it’s simply not possible for you and your personal brand to appeal to everyone. Your fees might not be in line with what some can afford. Your branding might not resonate with others. Your story may not touch everyone with the same sense of urgency.
And when you try to reach everyone, rather than narrowing your focus to your truly ideal client, you dilute your message, making it even less likely that those perfect customers will find you. That's why I'm a strong advocate of specialization or, as we put it in the marketing world, niche focus.
Now I've raised this subject many times in the past, and have often gotten responses like “I specialize in small business owners” or “I specialize in 401Ks.” Well, I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but those “specializations” aren't narrow enough. What kind of businesses do they own? If you work with 401ks, are you targeting employers or employees?
Niche marketing is something every advisor learns about early on, but very few embrace the idea and even fewer act on it. Anecdotally, I would say that fewer than 5 percent of advisors actually engage in effective niche marketing.
If you’re just getting started, identifying your ideal client is a critical part of crafting your marketing content and activities. Here are three points to help you start to think about your ideal client.
Is your audience male or female? While men and women might both read and appreciate your content — and even engage your services — you will most likely find that your market is skewed heavily one way or the other. Men and women are different, and they are affected by stories and branding in very different ways, so what appeals to a man will not always appeal to a woman. Look around at some of the brands you buy, and you’ll quickly see how they form their messages to appeal to one or the other, but very rarely both.
What does your client hope to achieve, and how do your services help to realize those goals? Whether she is trying to build a profitable crafting blog so she can stay home with her children, or he’s working to create an online resource for muscle car fans, if you don’t know where they’re going, you can’t help them get there.
Where are they in their journey?
Is your ideal client someone who is just starting to consider their financial future? Have they amassed some assets they needs to better manager? Are they closing in on retirement? How you speak, how you write, what marketing methods you use, and even what rates you charge will all be determined by your ideal client’s level of sophistication.
The language that you use and the topics you cover in your content have a direct connection to your prospect's interests. If they are early-on in their financial journey, they will have little need for content or communications from you about the hottest sectors to be investing their money. And, conversely, seasoned investors won't likely respond well to basic financial advice either. Remember that you will not reach your market effectively if you don’t know exactly where they are and what they need at this point.
Of course, if you’re just starting out, you might not yet know who your ideal client is. That’s okay, too. But pay attention, because they will tell you. They’ll tell you through the products and services they buy. They’ll tell you by following you (or not) on social media. They’ll tell you by commenting on your blog and asking questions that are relevant to them.
Watch your interactions, study the businesses of those who contact you for help, and take a look at what your competition is doing, and soon enough you’ll have a clear understanding of who your ideal client really is.
And, as always, if you'd like help with the process, reach out for a free marketing strategy session to get you on the path to attracting your ideal client.