Financial Advisors: Should you still use direct mail?

by Bill Good Marketing on May 30, 2011

I get this question a lot.

We all love the cost of email. No folding, licking, sticking. No cost.

A few months ago, I had breakfast with Ira Walker, long-time friend and coaching client (and Barron’s #4).

I asked him about his communication formula. He replied, “Bill, today you don’t know how to reach people. That’s why we use all channels.” By the way, I have posted Ira’s “Client Communication Formula” here. (It’s in the last paragraph in the right-hand column. If you are not a registered user of my website, you will have to register. But it opens the door to a lot of freebies. As an aside, you should study Ira’s corporate-approved website carefully. It is highly effective. People looking for a top advisor find his site and call.

How to Use Direct Mail.

Let’s start our analysis with Ira’s statement, “… Today you don’t know how to reach people.” Specifically, you don’t know how to reach prospects. Is there electronic inbox so stuffed that all you get is a glance of your subject line? Is there mailbox so stuffed that they pick it up and stop at the garbage can before coming into the house? You never know.

But this we do know: Most prospects, even most referrals don’t close right away. Some are not quite ready when they are referred or otherwise contacted by you. Others procrastinate. Still others are just slow to make decisions.

So what happens to them between the time you make first contact and 6-12 months from now when they might otherwise be ready to buy?

Most of them never hear from you. They wind up going to someone else’s seminar, asking their friends for references, and the last advisor who talks to them gets the account.

All very sad.

Staying in Touch with Prospects: Rules for 2011 and Beyond

With this in mind, here are the rules for 2011 as regards your prospects.

1)    Every prospect gets a letter every month.

2)    Every prospect gets an e-mail every month. Don’t worry; you don’t have to get compliance on two messages. Send the same message by letter and e-mail.

3)    If at all possible, get the prospect’s birthday and send birthday letters or cards. I have a client a couple years ago tell me, “Bill, I’ve been giving seminars for 15 years. I always get their birthday when they attend. All I have done with them for 15 years is send birthday letters. I cannot tell you how many tens of millions of dollars have just walked in the door because of those birthday letters.

Why does this work?

Because after a while, you will be either the only advisor they know or you will have positioned yourself in second place. When their current advisor drops the ball, you move in the first position, if, of course, you haven’t committed identity suicide by not staying in touch.

Where to Start

If you have no idea where to start preparing a direct mail letter, I want you to read a 1999 article I first published in Research Magazine. Titled, “Direct Mail Success is a Snap with Pre-fab Parts,” it introduces you to the concept of a “letter format.”

In that article, you will see how one enterprising advisor took a silly letter I had written, rewrote that and pulled in nearly $1 million in assets.

There are three letter formats available on my website for my book, Hot Prospects. You can learn more about the book and its success there. But to get the formats, you have to buy the book because the password to the “treasure chest” is in the book. Links to the book on BN and Amazon are there.

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