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Are You Building a Harley Davidson Practice?

Harley Davidson is the only company I know of whose customers permanently tattoo its name on their body.

What is it that makes Harley Davidson customers want to show their support in this way?  Bad-boy image, reputation, quality products, exceptional service?

I'll bet you tell your clients and prospects that you offer quality products and exceptional service, so why don't your satisfied clients tattoo your company name on their body?

Okay, forget the tattoo.  Let's talk about how to create a true client advocate, someone eager to share their support of your company.

Creating client advocates

The best marketing activity you can engage in is taking exceptionally good care of your existing clients. In other words, being referable. You will hear me say this time and time again.

There are many things you can do that fall under the umbrella of “exceptionally good care.” Here are just two examples:

  1. Thoroughly prepare for review meetings. Go beyond the basics of reviewing portfolio performance and allocation, reviewing qualified accounts for beneficiary designations, reviewing insurance products, and taking care of required minimum distributions.

    In preparation for review meetings, you might:

  • Ask clients for their agenda items prior to the meeting, so you can be fully prepared to discuss them. Make sure you cover their agenda items first;
  • Add transfer-on-death (TOD) designations to nonqualified accounts where appropriate;
  • Update their family tree information. Are there new grandchildren?;
  • Check www.unclaimed.org or www.missingmoney.com. Whether you find money for them or not, let them know you conducted a search;
  • Conduct a Google, LinkedIn and/or Facebook  search to find out what is going on in their life that they may not mention during the meeting;
  • Make sure your office and cell phone numbers are programmed into their cell phone. Let them know that they can call you any time they or a friend have a question;
  • Invite their CPA or attorney to the meeting if appropriate;
  • Make sure you have their favorite drink or snack on hand;
  • Offer to conduct an identity theft or emergency preparedness review for them.
  • Think about small “wow” opportunities. You might:
  • Send chicken soup to their home if they are sick;
  • Send a few prepared meals to their home if they are caring for an ailing friend or family member.  They are likely not taking care of themselves during this period of time;
  • Send a sympathy card signed by your team when a beloved pet passes on;
  • Send logo sweatshirts to the family when a child or grandchild has decided to attend a particular college;
  • Send a recently published book by their favorite author;
  • Send flowers on the one-year anniversary of the passing of a spouse with a note saying how much you miss their spouse;
  • Offer to get photographs of home furnishings, accessories, and collectables put on a flash drive or DVD for insurance purposes;
  • Contact the estate planning attorney's office to schedule their meeting while the client is at your office. This is one of those items that never seem to get accomplished, so take care of it right then and there.

Other ways to get referrals

There are a variety of ways to obtain referrals:

  1. When asking for introductions:
  • Ask clients who they know who might benefit from your work.
  • Listen for your client to mention triggering events experienced by friends, family members, or colleagues. Offer to be a resource for them.
  • Research LinkedIn or Facebook to see contacts your clients know whom you would like to meet.
  • Develop a niche. Become an expert on a particular subject or a particular industry or company.
  • Conduct events where clients want to bring a guest. In general, these events should be fun, not educational.
  • Provide excellent service.

Thanking the referrer

There is a reason why trainers use treats to reward animals; the trainer wants the animal to continue the desired action.

This strategy works with people as well.  We all love to be acknowledged for "good behavior."

There are the typical thank you gifts, like Starbucks gift certificates, that are always appreciated.  You might think about something either a little different or a bit more personal too. A few examples:

  • car wash certificate
  • movie certificate
  • certificate for smart phone accessories
  • a gift certificate to a referrer’s favorite restaurant

Keep any compliance requirements in mind when thanking a client.

My first career was in the fashion industry. We had a saying, "Go shopping in your closet." This means, before you spend time and money shopping for a new outfit, look in your closet to see if you can create a new outfit from what you already own.

Transfer this philosophy to the financial services industry to build your business from your existing client base. It is the easiest, least expensive and possibly most satisfying way to grow your business.

Maybe you won't “wow” someone enough to get a tattoo of your company name, but hopefully you will “wow” them enough to introduce you to someone they care about.

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