In over a decade of coaching some of the top producers in the country, the natural focus tends to be on… you guessed it…how do I grow my revenues? Deep inside, after all these years we all still want to believe there’s a silver bullet, a best kept secret. Yet, the reality is the silver bullet has always been there right in front of us. It’s the reason our businesses exist. Your clients and future clients are the silver bullet and always will be. And I’m convinced of it, especially as it relates to marketing your service business for perpetual success. The research backs this up.
Studies show that it costs ten times more to generate a new customer than to maintain an existing one. Client acquisition costs eats into profit margin in the hopes of an eventual ROI and retention to build the business. For smaller firms, losing a few clients could be devastating. For larger organizations, increasing your attention and intention on retention could increase profits as much as 100% for every 5% in improved retention. As powerful as retention is, what’s even more important is advocacy whereby the goal is to go beyond retention to creating raving fans that say great things about you and introduce you to others like themselves. As Harry Beckwith put it in his book, Selling The Invisible, “The core of service marketing is the service itself.”
Therein lies the secret to increased revenues. Attract more ideal clients, turn them into raving fans and let them help you build your business. It sounds pretty straight forward and perhaps not so novel. Yet, we consistently find clients missing it. Consider the following perpetuating success cycle at play in service marketing…
Ideal Prospects > Ideal Clients > Raving Fans > Advocates > More Ideal Prospects
And like any simple model, the power is in the unpacked details starting with a clear written description of your “Ideal Client.” When you know who your ideal client represents, they become more than numbers like investable assets, they become human with attributes like passion for family, commitment to their financial future or simply likeable! An effective “Ideal Client” profile should list demographics like age range, income level, assets and the like, but what distinguishes them as “ideal” are those psychographics or human attributes.
Defining your “ideal client” will do several powerful things for you. It will…
- Empower you to create a more compelling value proposition with more targeted solutions.
- Empower you to communicate your unique value proposition (UVP) to them more effectively.
- Empower you to differentiate yourself against your competition where it matters most.
- Empower you to create efficiencies (aka profitability) in every aspect of your business.
- Empower you to create a more attractive culture for your target market.
The list really does go on but hopefully you get the point. This one relatively simple exercise can make your entire organization much more focused and effective at generating additional revenues. If you have trouble defining your ‘Ideal Client’, start by listing your best existing clients on a piece of paper writing down all the relevant attributes you can think of like income, assets, interests, passions, hobbies, origin, etc. What are some of the common attributes? List them separately to begin your ideal client profile and remember, this will define a BULLSEYE so feel free to add any other important attributes that didn’t show up for those particular clients. Once complete, share your profile with the rest of your team. Get them involved and make it personal by identifying your current ideal clients.
To identify your most ideal clients, we recommend segmenting them based on how close they come to your profile. Unless you have this done already, try creating four groups to start…“Ideal” (or close to it), “A”, “B” and “C” plus the rest. At some point it would be wise to consider a succession plan for some or all of your “C plus” group after evaluating the time they consume, opportunity cost of serving them and even the risk of a bad reference. In many cases, these clients are not generating enough revenue in the organization to justify the opportunity cost of serving them. Moreover, as a limited resource, you’re depriving potential ideal clients from the opportunity to work with you by not diverting more attention to marketing activities. It’s liberating to let go and let them become someone else’s “A” client, someone on your team perhaps. Better to let them go than allow it to affect your ability to retain your “A” clients and find new ones, don’t you think?
Now that we know who the top clients are, focus attention on creating raving fans and advocacy to perpetuate the cycle. A client’s experience with your organization can be summed up by the ‘touch points.’ Touch points are those connections made with your client throughout the year where 1) your brand is recognized and 2) some value is perceived. Developing a touch point strategy is very important because you’re not leaving their experience to chance. Creating a raving fan experience is based on a relationship with you and your staff through touch points. It takes intention and planning.
Begin thinking of all the ways you’re client’s currently come in contact with your brand. Examples may include and are certainly not limited to newsletters, mailers, meetings, workshops, client events and even social activities. List them all and decide if all are appropriate across each client segment. It might be helpful to create a matrix adding more touch points as you move from “C” to more ideal clients. As a rule of thumb to move them towards advocacy, it’s important to schedule four face-to-face touch points with them each year, perhaps quarterly.
Once you have a touch point strategy in place to create raving fans, it’s time to identify your best potential client advocates from the top two segments. Your best client advocates will be helpers with influence. When you identify these key clients as your strongest potential advocates, share your ideal client profile, ask them to identify people they know and want to help with similar attributes. Ask them to personally introduce you to each of them however it feels right for the situation. The key is that they literally introduce you to each other with expectation that at some point, you could possibly help them too. It’s a win for everyone!
So often when we think of sales and revenues, we overlook our clients and in some cases, marketing activities can become a significant distraction from serving your most valued clients. This way of thinking, where your clients are a central theme, creates long term loyalty and advocates that will actually go out of their way to help you to help others. Imagine a business where 80% of your clients are in your ‘ideal’ segment. Think about what that would do to your revenues, the fun you enjoy in your work and the sense of fulfillment you get from serving your clients. It’s doable! For more on this and other ways to grow your business, visit us at www.roicoachingsolutions.com.
“This content was originally published in NAFA Annuity Outlook magazine (AnnuityOutlookMagazine.com) and is reprinted with permission.”