Internal Marketing In Your RIA to Gain Client Stickability • Financially Simple

The financial services industry is highly competitive. While winning new clients is a necessity, achieving “customer stickiness” is a paramount goal. This term refers to the tendency of clients to return for repeat business, reflecting their loyalty to your brand and the quality of service you provide. Multiple factors influence stickiness, including product quality, pricing, convenience, and most importantly, the customer experience. In this article, I am looking into the world of internal marketing and its potential to create client stickability by focusing on the customer experience. Let’s explore how this approach can not only help to retain existing clients but also attract new prospects.

Follow Along With The Financially Simple Podcast!

This week on The Financially Simple Podcast:

  • (01:01) What is customer “stickiness”?

  • (03:56) How do we create stickability?

  • (05:41) The populist approach

  • (08:30) Internal marketing doesn’t have to be stale and boring

  • (09:55) Recognize and celebrate your clients

  • (11:39) People never forget how you made them feel

  • (16:47) Tracking & communicating client experiences

  • (20:01) A three-step process

Internal Marketing for Client Stickability

Internal marketing, often termed, “relationship marketing,” is a long-term strategy for fostering lasting relationships with your existing clients. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “‘Customer stickiness’ is a marketing term describing the tendency to gain repeat business. Stickiness determines the likeliness of a customer ‘sticking’ to your brand by making a purchase more than once.” They went on to say that, “Many factors go into your brand’s stickiness, including product quality, pricing, convenience, and customer experience.”

In my own financially simple terms, client stickability means that the customer will stay with you whatever comes about. Friends, there is nothing more disruptive than changing ownership of a business. I remember having these conversations with the clients in my own businesses, informing them that I would no longer be the Grand Poobah. Yet it was critical to the success of my eight-figure exit that they stuck with the company during its transition. So, how do you create stickability in your firm?

Internal marketing is a long-term strategy to build a lasting relationship with your existing customers, build brand loyalty, and encourage repeat business. As noted by AssetMark, “clients are increasingly evaluating their advisory relationships based on support and responsiveness. Strengthening these relationships requires revealing your emotional side and improving your emotional intelligence.” Friends, our clients have to have a reason to retain us.

The “Populist Approach” to Internal Marketing

An effective internal marketing strategy involves staying in tune with the ever-changing world. To implement the populist approach successfully, you need to understand the holistic concerns and issues your clients face in real-time. One way to create value through this approach is by providing timely and relevant information.

For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, my team and I created a wealth of content regarding the Payroll Protection Program (PPP). This approach resonated with clients who appreciated not having to undertake the research themselves. I can remember printing the bill from the government website and going through it, line-by-line, with two different colored highlighters. I used one color to highlight the points that were relevant to me and my business, and the other to highlight what would be useful to our clients.

We used this information to create internal communications for our clients. Likewise, we were able to create blogs and podcasts with subject matter experts that attracted new clients to our firm. This simple action resonated with people because they felt like someone heard their frustrations and took time to resolve them.

So, how does internal marketing make clients feel special and connected? It taps into the emotions of your customers, humanizing your services and fostering a more personal connection.

Nurturing Clients at Every Stage

Part of making that personal connection involves nurturing your clients at every stage of their lives. It’s crucial to recognize and celebrate clients at various life stages, solidifying your relationship with them. Let’s look at a few examples of how nurturing clients at every stage can have a significant impact:

Celebrating Milestones

I recently read an insightful article by Bob Glaves, the Executive Director of the Chicago Bar Foundation, which highlighted the profound wisdom of Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This quote serves as a potent reminder of why we are in the financial advisory industry – people. To truly help people, we must nurture them at every stage of their lives. But how can you achieve this? Friends, it doesn’t have to be complicated or boring.

I have a client that was finally becoming eligible for Social Security at the same time his daughter was turning 16. I sent him a card congratulating him and noting that his daughter can now drive him to register at the Social Security office. Similarly, I had a client who went from having almost zero net worth to being able to retire in about five years. He worked very hard to achieve this milestone and threw a retirement party.

Due to family circumstances, I wasn’t able to attend the party. However, I wanted them to know that I  proud of them for achieving their goals. So, what did I do? I had a life-sized cardboard cut out of myself giving him two thumbs up, sent to the party. He got a great laugh out of it and told his guests that I couldn’t be there but sent the better looking version of myself instead.

Understanding Client’s Purpose

According to the Harvard Business Review, If the company has done a good job of understanding a customer’s purpose and is making it easy for them to achieve it, customers will experience something like excitement, anticipation, joy, confidence, peace of mind, or satisfaction. If the company is not making it easy for customers to achieve their purpose, they’ll experience something like confusion, frustration, exasperation, or anger.

Friends, to create a best-in-class client experience, we must foster authentic relationships that transcend investable assets and align with the client’s purpose. However, it’s important to remember that internal marketing isn’t just for our clients. It’s also for our teams. You see, we have to be able to help them achieve their goals and ambitions as well. By investing in the people who work to achieve your goals, you can, organically, create the best-in-class client experience you desire.

Consistency in nurturing is paramount. Whether it’s celebrating birthdays and milestones, or offering support during difficult times, consistent care reinforces the bond between clients and advisors.

The Value of Tracking and Communicating Client Experiences

Research reveals that 81% of consumers are willing to pay more for brands that offer an exceptional customer experience. However, despite 70% of companies believing they are client-centric, only 30% of consumers feel the same way about them. Friends, that isn’t insignificant. This discrepancy highlights the importance of tracking the success of your client experience. So, if you know that clients will pay more for a stellar experience, what are you doing to make sure they believe your firm is client-centric?

My wife and I are currently remodeling one of our rental homes. We’re preparing it for her parents to move in so they can be closer to us. As we have spoken to various contractors, we ultimately chose the one who spoke to us as humans. They reached out to us with answers and responded in ways we understood. Now, the other contractors aren’t bad business people. But they didn’t connect with Emily and I the way this particular contractor did. It’s also worth mentioning that this contractor was significantly more expensive than some of his counterparts.

The point is this… Because this contractor connected with us and made us feel valued, we didn’t mind paying more for his services. By making the effort to know your clients and nurturing a relationship with them, you can create stickability. You might even be able to charge a little more for your services. But how can you determine how your customers truly feel about your business?

Customer Satisfaction Surveys

According to Qualtrics, high levels of customer satisfaction are strong predictors of customer and client retention, loyalty, and product repurchase. Therefore, customer satisfaction surveys are valuable tools to gauge client feelings and experiences. But they must be delivered correctly. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Three simple questions are all you need.

Crafting Effective Survey Questions

When utilizing satisfaction surveys, you really only need three answers to determine how your clients perceive you and your business. First, ask, “How likely are you to recommend us to a friend?” But don’t leave the answers open ended. Instead, use a five-star rating scale. This removes any ambiguity from the process.

Next, encourage clients to elaborate on their ratings and provide insights on how to enhance their overall experience.  A simple, “Why did you rate us this way?” will suffice. Here’s where you allow the client to craft their own response. Finally, ask your clients, “How can we improve the overall customer experience?” There it is, folks. In three short questions, you’ll have all the information you need to fine-tune your service.

Showcasing Client Satisfaction

In addition to surveys, you can leverage various avenues to showcase client satisfaction. Consider local awards and recognition programs where clients and peers can vote for their favorite businesses and leaders. Awards like Community Choice Awards and The 40 Under 40 not only boost your reputation but can also lead to substantial growth in income and sales.

Wrapping Up…

Friends, internal marketing is a powerful tool when increasing client stickability for the eight-figure exit. Nurturing your client relationships can set you apart from the competition and create lifelong raving fans. But you have to begin by understanding how your clients perceive you and your business. Therefore, the value of tracking and communicating client experiences through surveys and awards cannot be understated.

Look, I know life is hard. It comes at us fast and without relenting. But life is good. Creating a best-in-class customer experience that can help you reach the eight-figure exit can be frustrating, but it doesn’t need to be. By nurturing clients at every stage, understanding their purposes, and consistently delivering exceptional customer experiences, you can make internal marketing at least, financially simple. Let’s go out and make it a great day!

Are your clients sticky? Can you rely on them standing by your practice through the eight-figure exit? Reach out to our team to learn how we could help you create the long-term stickability your exit will require.

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