Advisors often compare themselves to doctors and lawyers, but they may be able to better grow and protect their practices if they act a bit more like politicians. By applying political strategies such as those being used in the upcoming presidential election, advisors can create opportunities to keep clients loyal and expand their business.
Similar to politicians, advisors should think of clients as their constituents for whom they constantly go to bat. Investment practices are run on a set of beliefs and principles acquired over time and which are employed during both good and bad markets. While they aren't voted into their advisory roles, financial professionals do campaign vigorously to build trust among new and old clients while helping them make the most of their retirement savings. And, like politicians, smart advisors use the media, popular psychology and their most ardent supporters to rise in the polls and beat out the competition.
Using The Media
Politicians carefully craft and deliver consistent media messages in support of their views. They comment on the news and make appearances at important events. Financial advisors, too, have more media opportunities than ever before. One of the best -- and free - sources for media coverage is HelpAReporter.com (HARO). Public relations expert Peter Shankman has created a platform whereby journalists, radio and TV personalities, and bloggers can request an expert's opinion on anything and everything financial. It's a great tool that works to incorporate your name into powerful media coverage, which you can then share with clients and prospects. Remember, though, you won't be the only advisor offering an opinion, so it's important that you stand out. Below are three helpful approaches for those looking for a little more media spotlight.
When using HARO, first consider sharing an idea or strategy that's contrary to the request. If the media is asking for "to dos" provide some "don'ts." For example, if a journalist is looking for three things to do before a person retires, suggest two or three things to avoid. Going against the grain often provides some contrast that helps a reporter round out her story.
Second, respond to media requests as if you're talking to the reporter. Journalists are busy and usually have tight deadlines. They may just need a quick analogy or statement to emphasize the article's main point. Keep in mind that the media is looking for strong opinions. Being wishy-washy or sympathetic to both sides isn't likely to get you any media coverage. Take a stance!
Finally, acquaint yourself with other experts in the field. You won't always have time to respond to a HARO or media request, or be able to write something smart and amazing yourself. Be a news creator by using Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to post articles and research that supports your beliefs and strategies you want to convey. Be sure to add some short commentary of your own in front of the linked story.
Politicians are good at crafting timely messages and using communication patterns to stay in the forefront of people's minds, particularly as Election Day draws nearer. I'm not advocating that advisors overwhelm clients and prospects with calls, e-mails and newsletters, but I've found that most of my newest clients come to our firm because they are dissatisfied with the limited or poor communications from their previous advisor. It's not that the other guy picked terrible investments or overcharged them, but in many cases the clients didn't feel their advisor was watching their accounts closely or, worse yet, not making any changes or adjustments based on what they hear and read in the popular media.
Just as voters want a politician who is going to address their biggest concerns, investors want to make sure their advisor is watching their accounts and can explain how unfolding political and economic events are impacting their account balances.
This can easily be accomplished by devoting a regular amount of reading time to keep abreast of financial news and events. It's one reason why I love Twitter. Consider using a service like TweetDeck to help you better segregate and organize twitter content to keep your reading focused on emerging trends. How helpful is an app like this? Well, in the last 10 minutes of writing this article I received over 55 new Tweets.
In addition to keeping your finger on the world's pulse, advisors need to develop communication patterns that let clients know that you're watching their accounts. Just as politicians call a press conference to deliver important information, make a similar strategic announcement whenever the market or account developments warrant it.