Double your impact through co-marketing your financial advice business

You may be putting a lot of effort into a number of marketing activities but still wishing that you could reach out to a wider audience than that currently available to you. So how do you do this? Well one of the ways may be through co-marketing.

Co-marketing is where you find a business that provides a complimentary service to your own, one that is aimed at a similar target market. For financial advisers, this more than likely will be an accountant, a tax consultant, a legal firm or some other form of business consultancy. You then agree a programme of shared marketing activities that will be aimed at both of your client bases, promoting both of your brands. The ultimate aim is to increase each partner’s sales opportunities with the other’s clients.

How is this different to how many advisers currently work with, let’s say accountants? Well from my experience, most existing relationships currently operate in a one-way direction. The accountant refers a client; the financial adviser sells a product and may compensate the accountant. Co-marketing is different. It is shared activities.

So why would you do it? As stated in the title of this article, you can first of all significantly increase the reach of your marketing efforts by opening up your marketing activities to your co-marketing partner’s clients. This shared activity also gets both you and your partner onto the radar of a whole new group of clients. Also by partnering with another strong brand, this will reflect positively on your business and give you added credibility. So obviously it is important to find the right co-marketing partner!

Once you find the right partner, what sort of activities can you roll out together? There is a wide range of potential activities and here are some that might be the easiest and quickest for you to implement together.

Shared content

The first area to collaborate on is sharing content. We all know the effort that goes into writing newsletters, blog articles or other expert pieces. Co-marketing is a great way to get this content to a wider audience. Post each other’s content on your website & in your blogs as guest posts. Give each other a “guest corner” on your newsletters, increasing your exposure. This will make each of your website blogs or newsletters more engaging, will reduce the struggle for new content for both of you and will hopefully also result in some new client enquiries from your partner’s clients.

Videos

If you use video on your website, co-marketing offers a great opportunity to move away from the monologues that so often feature on sites. Pick a topic that is relevant to both organisations’ propositions and have a discussion about it. Apart from being a different and more engaging format, this approach will also increase the breadth in which a topic can be covered, hopefully resulting in some enquiries from clients.

Seminars

Client seminars are a great form of co-marketing as they offer a whole range of benefits. First of all, you can examine a topic from different angles. For example, an accountant might talk about pensions as one important strand of tax planning while you might discuss different pension investment strategies. One topic can very seamlessly segue into another.

Seminars also offer the opportunity to actually meet your partner’s clients, as you will both invite clients to the event. Both of you get exposure to new potential clients with the opportunity to present to them…and impress them.

Of course another benefit is that you’ll share the cost of the seminar!

A joint brochure

A number of advisers that I’ve worked with have developed corporate brochures and then try and encourage any accountants who refer business to them to hand out the brochures to their clients. While this makes sense of course, unfortunately the brochures are unlikely to stay right at hand in the accountant’s office…. However if the brochures have a shared message and feature your co-marketing partner equally prominently, they have a good chance of gaining pride of place in their office too.

Co-branded sales propositions

While this one will definitively take a little bit more work, the potential rewards are very significant. This is where you develop an actual sales / advice proposition, delivered by both parties and demonstrably packaged as a single proposition. For example, it might be a wealth transfer proposition in which the partner would bring their tax / legal expertise and combine this with your advice in relation to life cover for inheritance tax purposes, ARFs etc. This offers a very clear demonstration of your partnership in actual practise and can directly result in actual revenue for both parties.

These are a few ways in which you can co-market successfully. Are there other activities that you’ve carried out that have worked well for you, maybe an event or a particular campaign? Please share your thoughts below!

6 ways to increase the price when selling your financial advice business

While there is no doubt that the price of financial planning businesses have come back from some heady heights in recent years, there are still some attractive sale opportunities for firms with the right profile. However with fewer buyers out there, those that are looking to buy are extremely selective and are only interested in really strong businesses. So what are the factors you need to get right to make your firm as attractive as possible to any potential purchasers out there? Here are some of them.

 

1. Be realistic

First of all you have to be realistic about the value of your business to the buyer. While you may have an emotional attachment to this enterprise that you sweated over and built up lovingly, to them it is a transaction… While they will want to retain the positive features of your business, the numbers will tell the main part of the story about the value of it. So no matter what valuation model you use in running the numbers, be realistic.

In relation to valuation methods, buyers may value your business using a number of methods. The oldest model is probably the multiple of revenue model, with this being replaced now by buyers using a multiple of the profitability of the business (usually excluding the business owner’s earnings) as this takes account of both revenues and costs within the business. However there is now a move towards using predictive models in relation to future cash flows with greater weight being given to cash flows that are seen as more “stick-able” than others.

 

2. Have a clear business proposition

A buyer will want to believe that he is getting more than his money’s worth when running the rule over your business. A very compelling business proposition will help to provide this comfort. For example, this may be strengthening the buyer’s position in their chosen market or indeed giving them access to a new market. It may be a unique expertise that your business offers or strength in attracting a particular target group of clients. If you’re not clear about these unique factors about your business, how can you expect a potential buyer to place value on them!

 

3. The level and persistency of business are important drivers

Of course the size of your business is a main factor. But so equally is the persistency of your revenue. Lapse rates have become a major issue for life companies and advice firms alike, so obviously persistency will significantly impact the price someone is willing to pay for your business. There is little value in a firm that can’t demonstrate an ability to build up a steady and durable revenue stream.

 

4. The quality of your client base is key

We all know that your clients are at the core of your business. They also are a key determinant of the value of your business. Can you demonstrate that you have been able to successfully infiltrate your chosen markets and that you have really engaged both these existing clients and indeed potential clients in the particular target group? A buyer will look for clients who are engaged by your organisation and indeed target groups who, while they may not be clients as yet, are aware of and potentially open to your business.

To achieve this, you’ll need to ensure that your sales and marketing processes really stand up to scrutiny.

 

5. Your service and compliance systems must be excellent

Potential purchasers also want to minimise the headaches involved in a purchase! They want to buy a well run business, that looks after its clients in a professional and engaging way and is compliant in everything that they do. In fact better still, they want to buy a business with potentially better processes and systems than their own! Who doesn’t want to buy best practices? So there’s a real opportunity to make your business more attractive to a buyer through utilising excellent business processes.

 

6. The quality of your staff is very important

While your clients are at the core of your business, your people are the heart and soul of it. They have the strong relationships with your clients, the expert skills that potentially are sought by a buyer and the capability to deliver brilliant service to attract and retain your clients and valuable income stream.

Or are some of your staff not an asset to you as you get into discussions with a potential buyer? If you are looking to sell, it might make sense to have that difficult conversation with your Great-aunt Maud who has been with you for the last 25 years and scares the living daylights out of everyone… A potential buyer may not appreciate her particular skills so you may need to have solutions in place for them in the event of a sale.

These are just some of the factors you might think about as you prepare your business for a potential sale. If you have any comments in relation to the above or indeed can identify any other factors, please leave your thoughts below.

How mobile is your financial advice business?

This article was prompted by a trend in the very readership of this newsletter that on average is now read on a phone or tablet by one third of the readers. That figure in turn is divided almost 50/50 in terms of readership on a tablet as opposed to on a phone.
Should this be any surprise? Well not really as screens get bigger on phones and the functionality improves all the time on tablets, which are now becoming a genuine alternative to laptops. While the day of replacing your PC with a tablet is probably still a bit away, it’s getting ever closer. This move towards mobile devices creates both challenges and opportunities for your financial advice business.

Getting found
According to Search Engine Land in January 2013, 26% of searches on Google are now carried out on mobile devices. Research has also shown that in general, people searching the web on a phone are seeking out specific information; a phone number, other contact details, product information or maybe a price. They are not usually idly surfing the web. So what?

Well, this creates a real challenge for you. If a potential client searches for a financial adviser on their phone and clicks on a link to your site, let’s say looking for your contact details, what will they find? Will they find a web page where it’s not that easy to find what they are looking for, as it is your normal website “in miniature”? Are they likely to scroll around, resizing the page in order to be able to read it, to eventually find what they are looking for? Or are they likely to go to a more mobile friendly site?

To demonstrate the point, I’ve included screen grabs below taken from a phone, first of all of my own full website and then my mobile equivalent of it, that you actually see when searching on a phone. While the mobile site is not as attractive, the aim of it is to provide an easy route to the likely information being sought; an overview of services provided, my phone number etc.

Screen Shot 2013-04-03 at 16.13.15


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you landed on the full website, are you likely to bother resizing the page and searching for what you want? A growing number of advisers have recognised the need for a mobile friendly version of their website, or at a minimum a very large and clear phone number on the homepage of their website that make it easier for clients to contact you.


Present yourself professionally!
Tablets are great for presenting to clients in 1:1 meetings. They are so much better than laptops as they they can be put on the table between you and the client, and a presentation can then be flicked through. This is so much better than both of you huddling around a laptop screen! I strongly suggest that you prepare a short, visual presentation demonstrating how you add value to your clients and load it onto a tablet. This is a great way to introduce yourself to prospective clients at that all-important first meeting and gives you the opportunity to demonstrate how you are different to other advisers.

The process of doing this is very straightforward. Most people prepare the presentation on their desktop and then transfer it to their tablet, which is very easy to do.


Apps to engage your clients
A growing number of financial advisers have recognised how a well-thought out app can help you to engage your clients and establish yourself as a fixture on their phone or tablet. Some have developed great calculators to show for example pension shortfalls or amounts of protection benefits needed. These can be delivered with news feeds of relevant personal finance news. Others are using apps that provide policy information for clients. There are a range of ways in which apps can be used to support a financial adviser’s proposition.

One of the challenges to consider here is how you distribute your app with over 700,000 apps available now for both Apple and Android devices. It’s very easy to get lost. As a result, there is a growing trend in the development of web apps, which are apps for your mobile device that can be downloaded from your website.


Apps to help you work better

There are hundreds of apps that fit this category. Obviously a good place to start is with the the Apps developed by a number of the product providers and fund managers. These offer you useful calculators & good information at the touch of a button. I know advisers who swear by the Bloomberg app too. Other apps that are worth checking out are Retirement Dashboard Plus or the whole range of apps developed as loan calculators or present value of money calculators. Also check out goalGetter. It’s a bit raw but a very simple concept of working out how much you need to save to cover future expenses. Could you use this to help get clients thinking about future expenses?

In terms of more general apps specifically for business, there are probably 6 apps that make life a lot easier for me. These are,

  • Dropbox: I use this to sync all my files across all devices and store them in the cloud. This makes life so much easier. However you need to be very security conscious using this, to ensure you keep your data safe.
  • Pages: the iPad equivalent of MS Word. This article was created in Pages.
  • iBooks: I use this for all my presentations which I save in iBooks as .pdf files
  • iMindMap: I use this a lot, particularly when brainstorming and planning with clients.
  • Reeder: I use this to quickly flick through all the content feeds that I monitor on the web.
  • Pocket: I use this to store all the articles I want to keep for later to read – or to include in the “Around the Web” section of my newsletter.

I hope this article gets you thinking about the impacts mobile devices might have on your business. If you’ve any thoughts in this area or indeed have found any great apps for business, please leave your comments below.