A study by Nielson states: “92% of consumers from around the world say they trust word-of-mouth advertising from friends and family above all other forms of advertising.” 1
Generating word-of-mouth advertising can take many forms for a successful financial advisor’s practice: ongoing client events, relevant and frequent communications, acts of kindness. When strung together strategically, all of these puzzle pieces work to create a powerful referral stream.
This is why acts of kindness are imperative for a financial advisor’s success; among other benefits, acts of kindness are contributing factors to generating more referrals.
An act of kindness is more than a gift or an event; it’s an experience. It’s a story that begs to be shared. And in some capacities, it is partly due to selfish reasons. “This is what my advisor did for me.” “This is how special I am to my advisor.”
The story turns into a word-of-mouth advertisement or a personal recommendation from the client for the advisor.
When it comes to implementation though, many advisors do not know how to create the wow factor.
How do you create a shareable story with an act of kindness? How does an advisor’s act of kindness get the most mileage? What stories are the most likely to get shared?
Some advisors might assume throwing tons of money at doing acts of kindness is the solution. Bigger gifts, more expensive trips, more flashy technology. Spare no expenses.
But not so fast.
Spending more money is often not the best solution; and with gifting rules and annual limits from many compliance offices, spending more is often not an option at all.
The result is advisors settling back into the expected acts that they think work: holiday cards, birthday cards, anniversary cards, and gift cards—insert your easy solution here.
And these easy options are getting replaced with even easier solutions. “I couldn’t be bothered to handwrite my best clients a card, so I automated it with an email instead.” Where’s the wow moment? Where’s the story for clients to share?
Just because an option is easy doesn’t mean that option is right. And so the ball for creating a powerful wow moment gets dropped.
The silver lining, though, is this makes actual wow moments scarcer and therefore more powerful and shareable when they do happen.
Implementing acts of kindness is as much a show of appreciation for clients as it is an art form for financial advisors—and it couldn’t be simpler to outperform the competition.
Here are a few ways to get the most reach with your acts of kindness:
1. Understand your rules. As with any new strategy, check with compliance first to see where your boundaries are if you do not know them already. It wouldn’t make sense to start planning great solutions for clients only to find out compliance will shut them down later.
2. Know your clients. This point was emphasized in our last blog, Guidelines for Implementing Acts of Kindness, but it bears repeating. Clients are the experts in knowing what they like, so make sure to document client preferences as you learn about them and cater your kindness strategy accordingly.
3. Relevance is better than monetary value. On the whole, a gift that has a personal connection to the client tends to be more appreciated than a gift that was more expensive and has no relevance. In most cases, advisors are already working with clients that can buy nice things on their own, so buying more nice things has less of an impact than relevance.
4. Where is the experience? If you are sending a tangible gift, consider wrapping it if possible. When something is received wrapped, the level of excitement is elevated and the overall experience is enhanced. If you are opting for something intangible, why not throw a surprise retirement party at your office for a client? Imagine how long that client will share the story of a surprise retirement party with friends and family. And if those friends and family also attended, that’s an experience that is shared.
Shareable moments don’t often come on their own, the advisor needs to create the moments to be shared.
5. Sure it looks fancy, but can you use it? Fancy knick knacks may sit on a shelf for all to see, but they are more likely to be stored in a box, re-gifted, or thrown out all together.
John Ruhlin, author of Giftology, states “people appreciate gifts that don’t add to the clutter, that they can use and enjoy frequently.”
When looking for ideas for an act of kindness, consider things that will be used by other people (spouse, friends, family members) and add a personal touch like a personalized engraved message. This can start the conversation about where the gift originated from, hence furthering the story’s reach.
6. Get the timing right. Timing is quintessential to amplifying the overall impact an act of kindness has on a client. Bad timing can dull (or ruin) the experience.
For example, graduation gifts for kids/grandkids are more powerful right after graduation, not three months later. Another example would be sending some soup to clients when they are sick, not a week after they are already better. This shows that you know what is happening in the client’s life when it is happening.
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For a financial advisor, marketing can be seen as an intimidating mask. But when that mask is removed, we can see marketing for what it truly is, storytelling. Stories are meant to be shared, and the advisors who create the best stories are often the most successful. And who doesn’t love a great story? Give us a call today and we can show you how to give your acts of kindness more reach for your clients.