When it comes to marketing your financial advisor practice, you probably are considering a number of options. Things such as web marketing, direct marketing, and public relations are examples. Have you thought though about leveraging centers of influence?
Leveraging centers of influence can be a great way to increase your business. It can be something that is natural, can be tied into other activities, and can have a better return on investment than other things you might do.
What is a center of influence for a financial advisor?
A center of influence is a person who meets a few criteria:
- They know a significant number of potential clients for your financial advisor practice.
- They talk to potential clients about issues related to your financial advisor practice.
- They interact with potential clients on a regular basis.
- They are willing to talk to potential clients about your financial advisor practice.
- Potential clients listen to the centers of influence and respect their advice.
These ideas are really quite basic in a sense. A center of influence knows the right people, talks to them about the right things, talks to them regularly, might talk to them about you, and their contacts might be people who listen.
Who are centers of influence for a financial advisor?
When it comes to finding centers of influence for financial advisors, there a number of types of people you can look at. It all depends on the type of client you want to reach. You have to think about your target market. Once you identify this group, you will be in a better position to identify centers of influence for them.
Some types of centers of influence include people in the following professions:
- Accountants, including CPA’s
- Mortgage brokers
- Charity fundraisers
- Insurance agents
- Corporate executives
- Corporate sales professionals
- Financial educators
- Real estate agents, especially those who work with the affluent
Depending on your target market, people in these professions can be good centers of influence. For example, if you are targeting rising professionals, people in these professions are talking to them, they are talking to them about financial issues, they are taking to them on a regular or semi-regular basis, they could be willing to talk to them about you, and potential clients listen to and value their advice. They also do the same for other target markets.
In addition to these typical centers of influence, there are also others that you might not have thought of. These types of people can be just as effective as centers of influence. They include:
- Position holders in trade associations
- Position holders in business associations
- Position holders in civic organizations
- Board members of non-profit organizations
- Social media influencers
- Motivational speakers
Although these types of people might not be the first you consider, they can be effective as centers of influence. They reach people and communicate with them. Their audiences can respect their opinions and recommendations. They can be just the people you need to be able to get in touch with the potential clients you are looking for.
In addition to these general types of people who can serve as centers of influence, you should also look to people who are specific to your target market.
For example, if your target market included wealthy retirees, you might consider the following people as centers of influence:
- Vacation planners
- Health insurance professionals
- Estate planners
Why should a financial advisor leverage centers of influence?
Centers of influence have connections. Not only do they have connections, they have the right kind of connections, and the potential clients they are connected to, listen to what they have to say.
Not only do you get connected to the right potential clients, but you do so through word of mouth marketing. As I discussed in a previous post, 4 must-read marketing books for financial advisors, word of mouth marketing can be a great marketing tool.
How financial advisors can leverage centers of influence
Leveraging centers of influence is like focused networking and applies many of the principles of lead generation. I can help with lead generation through sales and prospecting coaching.
When trying to leverage centers of influence there some things you should keep in mind:
- Talk about business –You need to make sure centers of influence understand that you are a financial advisor looking for clients. This isn’t all you talk about, but if they don’t know this, they can’t help you expand your business.
- Talk about personal things –You have to keep in mind centers of influence are people, not just business connections. Learn about their lives, what they like to do, and about their families. Understand what is important to them. Get to know them, and develop a genuine connection.
- Be sincere – When interacting with centers of influence, while you are trying to expand your business, you are not doing so in some sort of covert way. Make sure you are honest with these people. Let they know you are looking for business, but be clear that isn’t your primary reason for interacting with them. You should have a connection with them. You should genuinely like them. They should understand that you are a friend, colleague, a business partner, but not someone who is just looking for the next client.
- Be consistent – When leveraging centers of influence you need to do so consistently. If you only talk to someone a couple of times a year, they probably won’t be the best advocate for you.
- You might be surprised by how many times a year you can interact with a person in a genuine way. You might send someone greeting cards for their birthday or a holiday. You might call someone when some milestone happens, like an anniversary. You could see someone at a party. You might see someone as part of a group you are a part of. You might get together with someone for lunch. You might just call someone to say hello.
- If you think about all the possible interactions you could have with centers of influence, you could find that you can interact with each of them dozens of times a year, in ways that aren’t forced or sales-like. If you approach this in a methodical way, you can reach people and make strong connections with them.
- Return the favor – If you are hoping your centers of influence are going to refer potential clients to you, you should do the same for them. If you have a client who you feel could genuinely benefit from the service of a center of influence you know, you should refer them to that person. You will be helping the client, and you will be strengthening your relationship with the center of influence.
How a financial advisor can increase the number of centers of influence they leverage
Once you’re making positive connections with centers of influence, you will want to increase the number of them you are leveraging. As long as you can keep the relationships genuine and consistent, the more centers of influence you have, the better.
There are a number of ways you can get to know centers of influence. Some of them include:
- Referrals from clients – Some of your current clients might know the people you need to get in touch with.
- Do business – One way to meet business professionals is to do business with them. The next time you are in need of a business service such as insurance or mortgage services, you can make connections with the professionals you meet.
- Join organizations – By being a member of different groups, you can increase your opportunities to interact with centers of influence.
- Become a thought leader – A thought leader is a person who guides the conversation about their profession and industry. People know them, understand their ideas, and respect what they have to say.
- You can become a thought leader by writing articles, speaking at events, teaching courses, being interviewed, leading groups and boards, and through other marketing activities. If you are consistent with these activities, you can establish yourself as a thought leader in your field.
- Networking – Although all of your connections with centers of influence are some form of networking, you can make a concerted effort to network more. You can network by attending events and conferences, through social media, and in the daily course of your business. All of these activities can help you increase the number of centers of influence you can leverage.
If you aren’t comfortable networking, you might consider reading Networking for People Who Hate Networking, Second Edition: A Field Guide for Introverts, the Overwhelmed, and the Underconnected by Devora Zack. It can help you find ways to make the connections you need, even if you aren’t comfortable doing so.
Leveraging centers of influence can be a very effective marketing tool for financial advisors. By leveraging centers of influence you can get in touch with potential clients in a very powerful way. You can meet people through people, and that can be a very effective way to increase your business.
If you are looking to leverage centers of influence, I can help. Contact me and we can talk about what you can do.