Centers of influence. Strategic alliances. Referral partners. No matter what you call the other professionals with whom you align yourself in hopes of ultimately receiving a steady stream of new clients, having a partnership strategy is what I consider a must-have component in any adviser’s marketing plan.
The key word here is “strategy.” Without one, I guarantee you will spend countless hours and dollars haphazardly meeting and greeting, passing out cards or mass mailing a lame introduction letter, never really realizing the benefit. Why? Because you are not prioritizing your efforts … you have no defined objectives of your partnering strategy. You are wasting your time.
The primary purpose of partnering is leverage. With the right partners, you can achieve broader reach and provide more value to a similar audience without doing all of the work yourself. When done correctly, partnerships also come with the fringe benefits of camaraderie, shared success and entrepreneurial support. Partnerships are not about tit-for-tat; but rather a mutual admiration and genuine friendship in many cases.
Here is where the strategy part comes in. Not all partnerships are created equal. You have to decide in advance the type of partners you want to cultivate, which are your top priority and which follow lower on the list. How much time, money and energy will you direct to one partner versus another?
I find it is much easier to make that determination when you break down your list of all possible partnerships into groups according to the part of your marketing efforts they serve and prioritize from there.
Here are a few examples of the kinds of partnerships you may choose to build:
You receive direct referrals from these partners. They endorse you outright and serve the exact same type of client that you do either completely (as in a perfect alignment) or with a subset of their audience. You would put higher priority on the 100 percent match, but may know more in the latter category. Balance out your time accordingly. Keep in mind the best partners may not be financial service providers.
Relationship Marketing Partners
Shepherding leads through to lifelong clients takes continuous communication and outreach on your part. Having this type of partner relieves your burden, provides engagement for your prospects and your clients, and differentiates you from many competitors. How so? They are content providers. You may conduct a one-on-one interview for an email you send, make shared videos, post their guest blogs or use their information for your plans and to pass along to clients. Ahhh, relief!
Brand Building Partners
These are associations (groups to which you belong) and companies with which you are affiliated where you want to align with your brand. By presenting their logo button on your website, your brand is stronger. Plus, your logo/link/brand can reside on their site or in their marketing materials for expanded reach and awareness. You can also leverage relationships with the media in the same way. Include your “as seen in FORBES magazine” on your site for the halo effect and link to the story. Your journalist will thank you.
Service Solution Partners
As an adviser, we want to meet the full needs of our clients. Service solution partners add value to your pricing because you offer a broader solution for your clients either through your resource list or a more formal service solution arrangement. Prescreened by you, the partners give you a one-stop-shop positioning, which means less risk for clients. You may even have a possible revenue source, too. (Check with compliance!)
Partnering can be the most valuable marketing strategy you implement, but you must use your time wisely.
Kristin Harad, CFP®
Next 10 Clients
San Francisco, CA