When you talk to clients, they want to know that you are actually talking to them personally. They don’t want to be part of a blanket email campaign that’s not taking their daily lives into account.

Consider what the research firm YCharts says. In one of its reports, it finds that 75% of financial advisors’ clients want the communications to be tailored to them. Ninety percent of the respondents in the report said they take their advisors’ communication style and frequency into consideration when deciding whether to refer them to friends or family.

Numbers like these remind us how important it is to keep up frequent contact with our clients. And our communication approach shouldn’t be ad hoc or arbitrary but intentional, consistently applied and highly personal. We know that every client and prospect wants an advisor who understands them—not just their financial goals, but their unique interests, passions and fears. They want to know their advisor cares about the well-being of their family.

To market themselves successfully, then, advisors must foster more personal relationships with customers by understanding their likes, dislikes, pain points, interests, history and preferences. Such effort is paramount to the growth of their business.

One of the main ways advisors can grow their businesses is by adopting a similar approach. By developing a strategy to deliver the unexpected, they can improve communications, stand out in the market and, ultimately, see the fruits of their efforts with an increasing number of net new clients and net new growth in assets under management.

Deliver The Unexpected
If you want to surprise clients with your knowledge and understanding of their lives, you can use your CRM to make notes of their personal information. Then you can use that information to develop a customer experience for them. Your goal is to demonstrate that your brand is emotionally savvy and that your marketing centers on their human needs.

You should always be on the lookout for opportunities to show you care. It might be something as simple as remembering when a client mentions their grandchild’s upcoming baseball tournament. By putting a tickler in your calendar that reminds you to ask, you’ve found an opportunity to surprise and delight your client. It sounds simple, but the best firms have defined processes to ensure they are doing this consistently. And you have to make such gestures second nature in your firm so that everyone on your staff thinks about delivering customer experiences with the same kinds of magic moments.

Technology will help you do this, but at the end of the day, you’ll still need to be thinking about it and also need the input and action of your staff. So, to help you develop your own approach, I’ve outlined four of my favorite techniques to deliver the unexpected (what I also call “referrable moments.”)

Technique 1: The No-Cost Strategy
This is where you lay the foundation of a good customer relationship. Here you make a proactive plan to note the personal information your clients share during calls, and you should spark conversations with them in which they share that personal information. For instance, when I have meetings with my employees, I try to start and end by talking about something in their personal life. If they mention they are looking forward to something in the coming weekend, or that they bought tickets to a concert or are going on vacation, before I forget, I put a note in my calendar to send them an email after the event to ask more about it and let them know I was thinking about them. I can’t tell you how much of an impact that small gesture has, but it takes less than two minutes of effort. 

Furthermore, I don’t need tech to do it. It’s just a process that requires discipline to stick to. When you go beyond business with your clients, it makes the interactions more enjoyable for them and will win you raving fans, lead to more referrals and ultimately drive a significant amount of new business.

Technique 2: The Customer Journey
The second technique involves building relationships with clients by intentionally mapping out opportunities to surprise them along their “journey” with your firm.

For example, you could create a new client welcome series—perhaps write a set of emails triggered by automated marketing software at key dates within the first 12 months of your new client relationship. You could also schedule specific contacts with your “A” clients, such as special events, handwritten notes, or any other gestures that make them smile—and create referrable moments.

When developing a “journey,” ask yourself how you want your clients to feel. What events and timetables should they be aware of? And what else do you want to know about them to better serve them and improve their experience? It’s great to get them to fill out a customer intake form when they arrive, but ideally you should be gathering information on your clients and their family every time you talk with them and add to the depth of their profile in your CRM.

Technique 3: Customer Segmentation
As you acquire more information from your clients, it is important to segment them into specific groups within your client relationship management system. You want to know the interests of their family, children and grandchildren, their charitable passions, the authors they read, the places they want to visit, their hobbies, and other aspects of their lives. Knowing all this can help you design an experience for them, one with more specific and personal information.

After that, you can take your communications above and beyond. Imagine the surprise and delight on your client’s face when they receive an unexpected gift or message related to something they recently shared.

Segmentation can also help you with your client event strategy. By tracking the interests of your clients and prospects, you’ll have a wealth of information to help you schedule events that your audience is sure to enjoy.

Technique 4: Proactive Planning Opportunities
Lastly, as you gather information, consider your clients’ ages and the key dates in their lives that could trigger financial planning considerations. Set your CRM to send alerts well before those milestone dates, demonstrating that you care and are thinking ahead to ensure they stay on track to meet their goals. According to the YCharts study we talked about at the beginning of the article, 75% think it’s important that their financial advisor anticipate questions they might have and reach out proactively.

For example, imagine you have a client planning to take a dream trip to Italy. You’ve helped them budget the trip, but they’ve also shared that they love wine. Ask about their trip, what cities they’re visiting, what hotels they are staying in, etc. Find a way to send a gift that will be waiting for them with a note in one of their hotel rooms. Perhaps a bottle of wine and a cheese plate at their first hotel. This small act of kindness will likely generate more referrals than anything else you do. Finding opportunities like these is what truly makes you and your business stand out.

Kicking Off Your Own Strategy
I hope these four techniques spark some of your own ideas to incorporate magical moments into your overall marketing strategy. I’d love to hear success stories from advisors who have already adopted this into their firm’s culture! Message me at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/susantheder/

Susan Theder is the chief marketing and experience officer at FMG Suite.