[What is actually meant by client “engagement” and how best can you attain that elevated positioning with your clients and prospects? Through previous Institute articles, we have revealed that financial services companies that excel in customer engagement—with results measured in more clients, assets, retention and referrals—carefully think out and orchestrate their client interactions and customer’s experiences with their firm. They go beyond the typical industry platitudes and half-hearted follow-up activities to map out a client journey of many touch points with their firm.

Since these firms have determined that the key to long-term success lies in building meaningful relationships with their prospects and clients, they consciously craft an ongoing series of high quality interactions—all specifically geared at converting their initial contacts into a deeper connection. By raising this activity to being a core strategic goal for the firm, it does not allow the effort and results to be left to personality and chance. A carefully thought out, consistent, ongoing process is put into place. This deliberate process of nurturing creates an emotional connection and that’s what relationship marketing is all about.

To better explore and dig deeper into this specialized business building resource and skill set, we talked to Institute member Luke Acree, president of ReminderMedia—a unique relationship marketing firm and client nurturing specialist with their flagship engagement tool being American Lifestyle magazine. Their advisor-branded publication was meticulously designed to position advisors to stay top-of-mind and build long-term relationships with clients, prospects and their community. This discussion provides a great case study on the development of a strategy and tool that showcases the art and science behind building client and community engagement.]

Bill Hortz: Having carved out a rather unique focus for your marketing offering to advisors, how do you define this niche of relationship marketing?

Luke Acree: Relationship marketing is a focus on building deeper relationships with your clients, rather than focusing on transactions alone. Countless businesses think they only exist to sell a product. That is their goal. It’s a big shift from focusing on the short-term to focusing on the long-term. It takes a deliberate change in mindset to realize you’re actually there to build relationships.

Relationship marketing is focused on helping position advisors and to give people a reason to want to work with them. By focusing their messaging and activities on building a long term relationship with the client, they are going to win in the long run—earning more ongoing business, as well as, greater retention and referrals.

Hortz: Why do you characterize your firm as a follow-up or nurturing specialist?

Acree: Simply put: the fortune is in the follow-up. The money is in the nurturing. Instant gratification never works. Our mission is to empower our advisor clients to close more business and retain more customers. What we have found over 15 years of doing this is that building relationships is the key to generating long-term business.

If you’re serious about your continued success, you need to be an expert at keeping in touch. Our specialty is in figuring out when and how to follow up with prospects and clients in a way that drives more business. We create engagement strategies off of proven research and studies like this neuromarketing study from the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) which revealed that, while consumers processed digital ad content quicker, they spent more time, had stronger emotional responses and longer lasting recall with physical direct mail items. We built and designed a soft touch solution from research that will help you nurture relationships with your clients—without giving the impression that you’re constantly asking them to buy something.

Hortz: Tell us about your flagship offering, American Lifestyle magazine, and what went behind actually designing it to become an effective engagement tool for helping build relationships. What were your initial goals and design decisions that you made?

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