Category: Institutional Services

So, you officially have your own conveniently located office inside a bank or credit union. Any day now, a flood of customers that came in to open a checking account or make a deposit are going to step into your office and ask for help, right? Unfortunately for us, financial institution clients are opting to work online or another alternate method to bank. That makes the advisor’s job to create face-to-face introductions more difficult.

In the spirit of helping you build your new partnership, let’s explore some fresh approaches to attract window shoppers and create awareness within your financial institution.

Grabbing Their Attention

A new business card and nameplate on your door are decent investments to attract the naturally curious shopper. However, passive marketing won’t establish meaningful relationships with the bankers or their clients. Here’s some more active methods.

Press Release

A great way to build synergies between your existing practice and the new financial institution relationship is to draft a press release for existing clients. Press releases can often be published at no cost in local newspapers or trade publications. If you’re a member of IFP, reach out to our staff at IFP Institutional Services to assist in drafting the release and gaining the appropriate marketing approvals for the message.

Internal Newsletters

First, determine who handles the institution’s newsletters or direct mail. Even if it means throwing in a few bucks to help out with overhead costs, reaching out to build awareness with the institution’s customers is a big win.

By working with the bank’s management team, determine if you can ensure placements in each newsletter. Again, we can assist with compliant, approved messages, articles or investing tips for the clients or members of your financial institution.

Web Presence

Secondly, do you have a presence on the institution’s website? Another way to build general awareness is to provide content that explains your services, your method for working with bank clients and your practice tenants. If you have not had this conversation with your bank or credit union, contact us to learn about how we can create that page on their website or link the financial institution clients to your personal website.

In the same way you’ve worked to integrate messaging about your practice into the institution’s newsletter, the website can serve in the same way to build awareness. Articles that you’ve added to your personal website or which have used for the newsletter can be used to create short, excerpted soundbites that can be used in rotating messages on the bank’s website.

Social Media Presence

Third, understand the value and importance of building your social media presence on Facebook or LinkedIn. According to the IFP Design Group, many advisors either have a lackluster online presence or nothing at all. Work with us to learn how to create “social media events” that draw a closer link to you and the banks employees and customers.

Folks, the digital age isn’t going anywhere, so it’s time to revamp your websites, social media strategy, and contact plans in 2018.

Keeping Their Attention

Once your social media presence has been established to capitalize on your role within the financial institution, it’s important to realize this is not a “one and done” strategy. It’s essential that you maintain an ongoing, active engagement to this new population of prospects at the bank or credit union.

Once again, reach out to the individual that directs marketing at the institution. Obtain a list of client or member events for the coming year. Include all community events where the financial institution is a sponsor. Attend these bank-sponsored events and start publishing messages on Facebook or LinkedIn regarding upcoming events to drum up interest.

This helps create a stronger connection to the bank and serves to engage your prior clients and create potential referrals or introductions with key bankers.

Closing Thoughts

The ability to create a continual “drip campaign” with your clients as well as the customers of the financial institution can ensure building a positive image for your practice. Allow us to assist you in building a marketing plan that build meaningful awareness and greater visibility for your practice in the coming year.

In my line of work at IFP, I often have to build relationships with some unfamiliar faces. This means I’m constantly breaking out of my comfort zone, having some off-topic discussions, and turning those conversations into fruitful business arrangements. There’s no secret sauce or some mystical influence I have over other individuals – it’s just me and my decades of experience as a financial professional.

Whether you can offer the other person a new concept, strategy, or the keys to help unlock their hopes and dreams, a genuine relationship is the spark that ignites that fire.

Humanizing the Professional

If you initially communicate through email with an individual, don’t take their initial rigid speech to heart. Most people sound a bit mechanical when they type, which is simply a product of people meticulously picking apart their own writing before sending off a professional communication. We all do it – don’t overthink their overthinking.

Remember, you’re just trying to get a face-to-face conversation rolling as quickly as possible.

When you finally get that in-person opportunity, treat the person sitting behind the desk as a human being. They have their own dreams, aspirations, and business goals. Before throwing them some hard sell technique you learned in business school, slow down, gauge their personality, and get a feel for their beliefs. This helps later when you need to find common ground that will act as a catalyst to kick start your relationship.

Be Personable

Just as you can acknowledge them as a living, breathing person, you need to be one as well. While you should respect their position as a professional, a close relationship can only make your life easier. This closeness will allow you to openly communicate with them as issues or opportunities arise, potentially enabling you to more easily reach a reasonable and productive conclusion.

Sharing Common Goals

Without a common business goal, there’s no point to a professional relationship. Now, before you call up that contact you didn’t click with and burn the bridge, know that each connection established is a possible opportunity. Even if it doesn’t work out with that person, someone in their network might be looking for a financial advisor. Add that old connection on LinkedIn, ask them how their kids are doing from time to time and stay engaged.

As long as you find professionals that share your values and/or business goals, it’s worth staying connected.

Schedule Some Time

Should you start working together, it’s important to spend time with them on a regular basis. Whether they accept your offers or not, the gesture does not go unnoticed.

Be Helpful…But Not Too Helpful

If you’re like me, I naturally enjoy helping people. While this can help build a stronger bond with stakeholders in your new environment, people can take advantage of your good will. Financial advising is also about getting paid for your advice, so next time they want you to look over their entire financial situation, you might consider telling them to make an appointment.

Dealing with Difficult People

I know I’ve focused mostly on the scenario in which you’re universally accepted into the new workplace with open arms so far, so let’s look into the opposite scenario. Sometimes professionals don’t want friends. Sometimes it’s only about the money and passion for their job is a distant second.

In these scenario, it’s still possible to build a genuine relationship, but it’s one based purely on gaining a competitive advantage or generating more revenue. Our ultimate goal is to generate more business, so it’s nothing to be upset about. In fact, certain personalities might find this sort of arrangement far more appealing and no one can fault you for that.

Closing Thoughts

Every business relationship requires attention in one way or another, but as we adapt to changes in the financial services industry, it’s more important than ever to network. While it might be uncomfortable at first, being charismatic can help you achieve greater success than you have ever known. Also, as my old boss used to say, “The worst they can say is no.”

The other day I walked into a financial advisor’s office and was immediately meet with wall pattern designs from the 90s, drop-out ceiling tiles, and a bowl full of Werther’s Originals chilling on the counter for good measure. While I appreciate the trip down memory lane to the early 2000s when I was waiting for my physical at the doctor’s office, this isn’t the type of environment you probably want to foster for clients.

As you can probably guess from the title, I wanted to talk about office space today and how you can produce a more inviting space with some simple tweaks. Let’s jump right in.

1. Make the Lobby Memorable

The lobby is the first place clients see when visiting your office. Consider that it sets the mood for their entire meeting, meaning it could relax them or it could cause them to be slightly unnerved. Also consider that it reflects on your business as a whole. Are you trustworthy? Does your firm strive to take a modern approach to financial advice? Do you care about your clients?

The lobby’s atmosphere can be far more impactful than you might think, especially if you’re going out of your way to ensure it’s a pleasant experience.

Wall and Flooring Design

If you’re still clinging onto one of those zigzag designs or another painfully dated pattern, it’s time to make a change. Make sure the new walls and flooring are something you feel represents your business while also serving to sooth and reassure current and prospective clients.

Furniture

Nothing says ‘come on in and sit down’ like a dusty floral couch with one of those protective plastic covers or a sterile plastic chair with no place to rest your arms, right? Furniture can make a serious statement to people visiting, especially if the seating is outrageously comfortable. It’s also important to consider the color and style and how it pairs with the rest of the room.

2. Introduce Special Favors

Now, if you’re going to introduce something cool for clients to get excited about, it certain isn’t going to be that bowl of old candy you’ve got sitting in a corner. No, we need something that puts a smile on their face.

Beverages

A soda, coffee, or cup of orange juice is perfect for setting the tone of a meeting. We want them to feel comfortable in the office and ready to have a productive conversation with their trusted confidant. Don’t forget to offer refills if their meeting stretches beyond the typical time period!

Food

It might be worthwhile to offer a few smart snacks such as granola bars or fruit while they wait. Unless they ask, I probably wouldn’t offer this amenity past the lobby, as it might prove to be a bit awkward to have them chowing down while you’re discussing their finances.

Reading Material

Magazines are a waiting room classic, although you can offer books as well if you’re so inclined. Also, do us all a favor and keep the magazines up to date. As interesting as it was, no one wants to read that article from 1972 about how Watergate is currently affecting our economy.

Free Wi-Fi

As long as your clients aren’t planning on hacking the NSA from your wi-fi network, I’d recommend giving them free access. It’s a small perk, but it can make their time in the waiting room that much more pleasant.

Charging Station

Although we hope your clients are waiting for too long, providing an area where they can charge their phone can be a godsend. Should their phones die in the waiting room, it could put them in a bad mood before they even get in your office.

3. Create an Impression

An impression is as much about presentation as it is setting the atmosphere. With a few simple tweaks, you can make a big splash with clients before they even sit down in your office.

Smart Technology Usage

Everyone has a clipboard. You go to your doctor’s office, it’s a clipboard. You go to your dentist, it’s a clipboard. You go to your optometrist, you guessed it – it’s a clipboard. Either remove the sign in process or make it fun with a tablet to simplify the entire ordeal while digitally cataloging meetings with clients. It’s a win-win.

You can also use text messaging to remind clients about their appointments and confirm they will attend. This can be an effective way to engage with clients, ensuring they will attend their meeting.

Use Surveys

Want to know what your clients truly desire? Ask them! Surveys help everyone involved; clients feel like they’re heard and you’re able to use that precious feedback to enhance the office visit experience for next time they drop by. However, remember to make the survey simple and easy to answer. No one will appreciate spending 30 minutes filling out the most monotonous survey they’ve ever received in their life.

Final Thoughts

This might seem overwhelming to you. I get it. Start with something small and work yourself up to the big stuff like furniture or completely redecorating. Also, if you’re not really keen on enhancing the lobby experience, try sprucing up your office a bit. Add comfy chairs, offer beverages from the mini fridge, or change up the design of the room.

Either way, it’s about making clients happy and getting them to enjoy the experience of visiting your office.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time. If you have any questions about this article, send it to my inbox and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible!