Lessons From the Dow Jones Man-on-the-Street Referral Survey


A recent video blog post demonstrates why target marketing is so important.

Veronica Dagher of Dow Jones recently posted a video in which she asks passersby on a Manhattan street what would cause them to make a referral to their financial advisor.  Some sample questions and answers include “What do you like best about your advisor?” “He gives me thoughtful ideas.”

“What could your advisor do to improve his service?” “Focus on what I need and my objectives.”

“What does it take to get a referral?” “The confidence that they will continue to do a good job for whoever I referred over.” “They would have to do a good job throughout the market cycle.”

Does it strike you that any of these people come off as particularly enthusiastic about making referrals to their financial advisor? It doesn’t come across to me like that. Notice, for example, they answer the hypothetical question “What would it take for your advisor to get a referral” rather than responding “I give my advisor referrals, and this is why.”

My conviction is that the key to being referable is to provide a specific set of services tailored to the needs of a well defined target market. What is the trigger phrase that would get any of the subjects of this survey to tell someone about their advisor? Would one of their friends have to say “I wish I could find a financial advisor who will do a good job for me through the market cycle?” People don’t talk like that!

If you have carefully and specifically defined your ideal client and tailored your services to the needs of that group, and that client was interviewed by Veronica, I can envision their response to the referral question to be something like “oh I do provide referrals to my advisor. He works with people exactly like me, and understands the particular things I need. So, when I hear a friend like me talk about their challenges with money, I always pass his name along.”

If Veronica buttonholed your clients and asked about you, what would they say? Would it be “he listens to me and does a good job.” Or, would it be “he knows me. He specializes in people like me.” And which do you think would get you more referrals?

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