The Second Step In Your Communication Plan Is Training Your Staff

Creating a compelling brand image that will attract referrals requires everyone in your firm deliver a consistent description of who you can help and how.

Carrying out the marketing plans in many advisory firms is strictly the domain of the marketing people and principles. And that’s a mistake.

Effectively attracting referrals involves consistently reinforcing the description of your target prospects and the solutions or experiences you can deliver to them. Every time someone in your firm talks to the public – whether it be clients, centers of influence, or just people they meet – is an opportunity to solidify that unique value proposition your firm represents. Your staff may interact with your clients more frequently than you do. Every one of those contacts contains the possibility of reinforcing your brand promise.

The first step, of course, is to describe your ideal client in detail in the solution or experience you can provide to them. Once you have that, first people you should teach it to are the people in your organization.

Sometimes, your staff can be even more effective at directly stimulating referrals then you. In an industry think tank I facilitated last year, one planner commented on how successful his paraplanners were at motivating clients to provide referrals. “There are times when I leave the room during a client meeting,” he commented “and my paraplanner would say to the client ‘We just love working with clients like you. We wish we had 100 just like you.’” And frequently, the client would follow-up shortly after with a referral.

More generally however, there can be tremendous power in focusing the message across everyone in the firm. I remember working at a fee financial planning firm where the target client and value proposition was not that well defined. If you walk through the office and asked half a dozen people what the unique value and ideal client of the firm were, you’d probably get five different answers. They would be similar, but someone unfamiliar with the firm or the business might not be able to recognize that. The absence of a clear, unifying message meant that the firm would never reach a critical mass where the reputation could begin propagating itself through the community.

A consistent marketing communications strategy is critical for an effective referral marketing plan. And getting everyone on your team singing from the same page is the first priority once you know the message you want to broadcast.

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