This article is for attorneys and financial advisors alike. Referrals require a strategy. They sometimes happen in very large, mature law practices, but a process can make referrals flow with more frequency. Referral processes can be put in place and processes actually work well.
Would attorneys like to receive consistent referrals from 10 or 15 financial advisors each month? It can be done. Would financial advisors like to have a resource that would help them gain clients? You bettcha. Financial advisors come in all types. There are insurance agents, investment advisors, investment advisor representatives, registered representatives, and many others. They all have one thing in common. They try to get clients to invest money with them. Attorneys like referrals from them but there's a critical error that is not addressed. The financial advisor only refers clients. These clients are usually “tapped out” on their ability to bring new revenue to the advisor. So, there is our clue to referral success. We need to explore how you can generate revenue for the advisor.
The advisor is generally referring as a courtesy to the client. He can't make any more money, so it's not important to refer. One exception is if the client has estate tax or income tax issues that can be partially solved with legal documents or similar solutions that generate revenue. Advisors should bring prospects, not just clients, to attorneys. The advisor has huge potential and incentive to bring prospects because they have not "tapped out" as a revenue source. He has ample incentive to want to bring the attorney referrals.
Before I sold my financial practice, my relationship with an attorney brought in over $300,000 a year in revenue to my firm. His revenue increase was over $100,000 because of my referrals of prospective clients from my firm. It was a matter of convincing the prospect that a proper financial plan integrates investment options with legal options. I would bring the prospects to the attorney for a free consultation. The attorney would ask the necessary questions for his research. The same information is valuable to the advisor, so I would simply take notes in the meeting. Of course, I had permission in writing to be in the meeting with the attorney.
This became my discovery process. All of the prospect’s financial and legal weaknesses were exposed in one meeting. Revocable trusts were executed and I volunteered to handle the funding unless real estate was involved. The attorney handled real estate titling. Since I handled the funding at no charge, I also had plenty of ideas for the destination of the assets that were superior to where they were. All parties were winning. The new client received a solid financial plan with supporting legal documents. The attorney created the documents. I, the advisor, had the opportunity to handle the investments.
My attorney (Tom) did an excellent job of assuring the client that I was a competent advisor and a good choice. I had demonstrated my sincere resolve to create a solid financial plan by offering a service for which I was not paid. The one thing Tom could have done to further enhance his practice was to expand his referral sources to additional advisors. He didn’t create a mechanism for recruiting them. He should have created a program to offer other advisors his expertise and knowledge about a process that would work for both the attorney and advisor.
Imagine ten advisors like me. The advisors will bring quality prospects because they will be assured that the attorney will do his best to help convert them to clients. Since the advisor will vet them for quality, the attorney will get quality referrals. I presented seminars and integrated legal documents in my presentation. Presenting how legal documents were important to a good financial plan, I had plenty of prospects to bring the attorney. I presented these seminars with a legal document component. Since I can’t give legal advice, I simply told three brief stories about clients who suffered serious financial loss due to a lack of legal documents. Stories about what happened as a result of not having a healthcare power, durable power and living trust. I would have a significant number of attendees who wanted to be referred to an attorney. I went further than that. I introduced them personally. Tom also loved the idea that I was spending my money on marketing.
The advisor and attorney must be trained on their roles. Also, in order to give the advisor the attorney’s blessing, the attorney must know what the advisor does and due diligence on background would be appropriate. There are advisors who the attorney does not need referrals from. They are incompetent or too restricted in their practice options. I can help with the training and selection.
The seminar I presented was called 7 Ways Retirees Crack Their Nest Eggs. One of the 7 ways was a lack of proper legal documents. Around 30% of my seminar attendees wanted to meet with an attorney. The attorney will need advisors who are actively marketing. Of course, I can help them with the marketing.
Clearly, this will take time to develop, but will be well worth the effort.
Marketing is a fickle creature. Some tactics work well and others fail miserably. To add to the confusion, there's no lack of advice floating around the Internet from "experts". Since advice on how to create great marketing campaigns is plenteous, it's wise to take a moment to identify the pitfalls of marketing.
Lack of Commitment
One of the greatest sources of grief for marketers is a lack of commitment. When it comes to investing in marketing, especially in the elder law business, it causes several problems. It's easy for doubt concerning a low-performing campaign to creep in premature. When doubt leads some to abandon campaigns before they've had time to mature, they waste money and time instead of saving it.
Instead of letting doubt derail your marketing campaigns, research and network with other attorneys who have successfully utilized a certain marketing method. It will help you eliminate doubt and lead to long-lasting commitment.
Failing to Offer Services that Resonate
Another pitfall is marketing the services that don't resonate well with the general public. Plainly put, some services are less marketable than others. When it comes to marketing elder law services, you want an easy entry into a client relationship. When it comes to establishing a relationship with a new client, I've always liked solving existing problems rather than preventing potential ones.
Dentists know that it's much more difficult to get someone to make an appointment to prevent a tooth ache than to treat a tooth ache. A painful tooth will always get immediate attention. The same principle holds true in elder law.
People tend to postpone estate planning and even advanced directives when there's no sense of urgency. They feel that they can always "get around to it".
However, marketing to crisis planning addresses a problem that requires attention now. From there, you can expand the relationship to estate work based on the work you've already done. What's more, you'll create opportunities to reach the rest of your client's family by baking it into your client process. Don't leave family outreach to, "Oh, by the way, if you could mention my name to your family..."
Getting Tricked into High Maintenance Marketing
High maintenance programs most often fail for lack of attention. Starting a social media campaign or even an email campaign may fail just because of a lack of consistent attention. Someone in your firm must be committed to social media to make it work.
With a professional practice that has complex components, someone who has in-depth knowledge must handle social media for the firm. Just throwing an employee into the fray with little or no experience in social media marketing usually fails. It's not that social media marketing doesn't work, it's usually neglected after an initial jumpstart.
Turning Qualified Seminar Attendees into Clients
Creating seminar content, delivering that narrative, and booking appointments is a consistent problem area for elder law attorneys. Since elder law and estate planning can be quite technical, presenters may over explain the technical aspects. Instead of spending time during your seminar clarifying your audience's problem, identify the cure. Assure the attendees that the cure is affordable and attainable.
Don't tell them how you build the engine. That leads to confusion and, ultimately, procrastination. Instead, tell stories about where your engine will take them.
Failing to Tailor Your Marketing to Your Locale
It's vital that you learn what works where you are. There are some states and population centers that are more resistant to certain marketing tactics than other areas. Methods that work in rural Tennessee may not be appropriate in Southern California. Soliciting good feedback and researching the nuances of the selected geographic area will save resources and money. Make modifications to subject matter and supporting content. That alone can make a difference once there is a clear understanding of the recipients’ attitudes.
Not Committing to a Marketing Budget
A lack of a budget for marketing seems elemental, however not enough commitment to a budget creates inconsistent results. My daughter, Amy, owns an advertising agency. She created a campaign for a dental implant specialist. He budgeted $1500 per month, and she convinced him to commit to at least six months without expecting results. In the fourth month business started to trickle in and by the six-month there was a consistent flow of new patients.
This concept of a clear and consistent budget is essential to marketing success. It works the same way in the industries we serve. When you know that others have been successful with a particular type of marketing campaign, be ready to commit a consistent flow of revenue to that campaign. Campaigns take time to develop their full potential. I have seen many campaigns cut short because of moderate to poor instant returns.
Marketing must be evaluated on all of its impact. The first question I ask a new marketing client is “What is a client worth to you in a lifetime?” The initial amount of revenue from a new client is not the client’s average lifetime revenue. The average client may be worth twice as much eventually as they are initially.
The marketing campaign brought that client to your practice. The marketing campaign should get credit for all revenue generated by that client. In addition to that, how much revenue will be derived from referrals from that client? That’s another overlooked advantage to powerful campaigns.
Kim has personally presented over 800 seminars and produced over 8,000 for other producers.