Client referrals continue to be the primary way advisors take in new business, but some are finding additional growth through the use of extra marketing.
   That was the conclusion of a new study by Tiburon Strategic Advisors that showed that advisors with comprehensive written marketing plans perform better than their peers.

   The survey, for example, found that while about one third of independent reps have a written marketing plan, more than 75% of the most productive independents have both written marketing and business plans.
   In terms of strategies, most advisors rely on passive client referrals, according to the study. About 43% of all fee-only financial advisor clients, and 36% of independent rep clients, come from passive client referrals, the study said.

   The study noted that less than half of all advisors proactively seek new assets from their existing clients.

   "Those who do, tend to do much better," the study's authors wrote.
   An important, but underutilized, technique for finding new clients is professional referrals, according to the study, which found that 93% of CPAs surveyed, and 86% of attorneys, make referrals to financial advisors.
   These referrals are particularly effective, according to the study, which noted that 73% of clients who receive referrals from their attorneys act on the referrals.
   Another source of referrals, from custodians such as Charles Schwab, Fidelity and TD Waterhouse, can be effective, but serve a limited number of advisors and carry substantial fees, the study noted.
   Seminars and direct marketing are other potential marketing plan components available to advisors, according to the study. The crucial steps for holding a successful seminar include sending out invitations that "stand out from the crowd," thorough preparation and aggressive follow-ups.
   "Advisors who obtain contact information, and even better qualifications, at the door will have a much easier go of following up with attendees," the study's authors wrote.
   The average advisor seminar results in about 45% of attendees scheduling a follow up meeting, the study notes.
   Cold calling, according to the study, has become less effective in recent years, partly because of the national "Do Not Call" list.

   Advertising and public relations, the study says, should focus on increasingly visibility, the study says.
   "Those campaigns that have focused on the success of individual clients have been shown to be most effective, playing on the hopes and ambitions of viewers," according to the study.