Do you operate with the ‘take all comers’ philosophy of a generalist, as many advisers do? Are you afraid that you will ‘put off’ prospects because you’re too specific?
The problem with acting in this Generalist role is that you force people to figure out what you really do and whom you best serve. Vague descriptors like “I am a financial advisor,” or “we do wealth management” provide minimal insight into the value you provide. When you speak in general terms to a prospect, complementary service provider or even someone you’ve met at a party, that person has to work to ask the right follow-up questions to discover if you are a fit or of interest in any way. Often, they won’t bother.
Ironically, too many financial planning professionals are so concerned with missing out on a prospect that they let countless opportunities slip right past them without even realizing it. The generalist strategy is one of the least effective marketing strategies since clients rarely search for someone who can work with everyone; they seek professional expertise from someone who can help them solve their specific problems. When you describe yourself as a specialist, you have much higher odds of forming an immediate connection with the right prospects or making it much easier for a person to send you a referral.
Take a moment to think about how this applies to other professionals. Are you more likely to refer business to the “lawyer” you just met or to the “divorce lawyer,” “real estate attorney” or “estate planner for new parents”? Will you want to know more about a person who “sells insurance” or the agent who tells you that she specializes in small business health plans, variable annuities or coverage for rock stars?
Now think about your target market and the key services you provide. Craft a pithy descriptor that conveys the benefit you bring. Remember, the more specific you are, the more effective this will be. So while a financial planner “focused on clients preparing to retire” is a big improvement, a financial planner who “helps new retirees relax knowing they won’t outlive their income” squarely hits the nail on the head and will spark an enthusiastic conversation from anyone you meet who is pondering that issue or knows someone who is.
Describing yourself so narrowly to everyone you meet may feel a bit counterintuitive. However, clearly categorizing what you do will attract the ‘perfect’ prospects who eagerly want to learn more.