Many readers of this blog contact me directly with questions and comments. While often the responses are very specific to a particular circumstance, occasionally the subject matter is general enough that it might be of interest to others as well. Accordingly, I occasionally post a new "MailBag" article, presenting the question or comment (on a strictly anonymous basis, of course!) and my response, in the hopes that the discussion may be useful food for thought.
In this week's MailBag, we look at whether it’s best to ask people to schedule an appointment or engage with you immediately at the end of a webinar (or seminar) versus just following up with them later. And we also look at whether it’s best to define a target niche clientele based on their background and demographics, or to focus on their “psychographics” instead!
Ending A Webinar Or Seminar With A Call To Action
Question/Comment: I am working on a webinar on retirement planning for Gen Xers, where I will highlight the issues that Gen Xers have had to deal with, present potential solutions and then offer my services as an option for them to consider. My questions surround asking for the business. Do you think that it's appropriate to offer my services in the following manner: I normally charge $750-$1000 for this type of work but since they joined the webinar, I will offer it for $500. Or do you feel that the webinar should be used for more marketing related purposes, getting my name out there, increasing my exposure, getting emails in my database, etc.? I go back and forth on this and I'm trying to get some clarity.
Great question! My answer here would depend slightly on your overall business model (which isn’t entirely clear from your message), but I’m going to presume for the moment that the $750 - $1,000 amount that you charge for this service really is the primary way that you deliver services (and generate income) for your Gen X clients.
If that’s the case, and your purpose in doing this webinar is to get these prospective clients to do business with you, then my answer would be an unequivocal “YES!” The time to get your name out there, get exposure, get emails in your database, etc., is in the past. That’s presumably what you did to get them to the webinar in the first place! Now, you need to ask them for their business, and if your webinar really is good and educational and they’re fired up about taking the next step towards a solution, then they will never be more energized and interested in potentially doing business with you than at that exact moment that the webinar ends and they’re trying to figure out what to do next!
The same is true for those who do seminar (i.e., live in-person presentations) as well – your prospects will never be more excited and interested in doing business with you than at the moment you finish your presentation. You shouldn’t offer to follow up with them days later, when all the energy has dissipated. You should invite them for the opportunity to schedule an appointment on the spot to take the next step, while they’re still excited to do so. The same is true with a webinar. I often see advisors who are afraid to do this – because asking for the business is scary, and risks being rejected (which doesn’t feel good). Yet the irony is that by letting the moment pass, you actually increase the chance you’ll be rejected later!
Accordingly, this is the whole reason why having a “Call To Action” at the end of providing educational material (webinar, seminar, etc.) is so important, if you’re actually doing it for business development purposes – because at some point, you need to both: a) ask prospects for their business; and b) tell them what they’re supposed to do next. Prospects won’t necessarily know what to do next until you tell them: “and now, if you do want help, this is the time that you can engage me to work with you!” If your content was really educational and helpful and some of them will likely want help, you don’t need to feel bad or guilty about this – it’s simply the next natural step of a sales process. Some of them will take your educational material and implement themselves (that’s fine), some will want help (from you!), and the latter need to know what to do next to engage you for that help!
And I’d also note that if this is really your core business solution, you’re giving way too much of a discount by dropping the price to $500. Yes, it is important to have a Call To Action at the end, and something with a “limited time offer” discount is certainly a valid sales technique. But that’s where you offer a 10% discount, not a 33% - 50% discount that undermines your entire pricing and business model (and frankly, can come across as desperate, because who else offers a 50% discount?). So having some discount to encourage immediate action is good, but I’d look hard at how much of a discount you really offer.
The one caveat I’d add to all of this at the end is that if ultimately, the truth is that you actually earn income from clients in other ways as well (e.g., you also sell products for them to implement, or you’re trying to steer them into an ongoing monthly retainer arrangement or manage their AUM portfolio in the long run), then you might tackle this differently. If your webinar is really a pipeline for those income sources, then yes maybe you do just want the exposure, getting the email addresses, etc.
But if that’s the case, then I’m not certain what role the $500/$750/$1,000 session is meant to serve as well. If you do marketing to get people to a webinar, which is really just marketing to get them to do a $500/$750/$1,000 advice session, which is really just marketing to get them to the real business (products or AUM or monthly retainers or whatever) your marketing funnel is too long. Either the webinar should BE the first stage marketing, the advice session is second, and the final implementation is the end. Or the other marketing is first, and the advice session is second, and the implementation is the end, and you get rid of the webinar. Having several steps to engage a prospect and progress them towards doing business is good, but too many steps just loses momentum. So be certain you know where this webinar – and the paid advice session – fits within your overall business (and marketing) plan.
Finding A Niche Using Psychographics Vs Demographics
Question/Comment: Your articles over the past few years about the importance of and methodology for finding a niche have been invaluable, both to me and our firm.
From a few sources (including a book called Just Run It! by Dick Cross) I’ve heard an argument that you should define a target market based on how customers think, or more of a psychographic approach, as opposed to traditional demographic data (location, occupation, age, etc.). The argument is identifying with someone’s feelings/beliefs provides a deeper connection to their true needs. In theory this sounds reasonable, but in practice it seems to have many challenges for a financial advisor or advisory firm.
As an example, if the group being targeted was described as “people desiring to align their financial wealth with their life purpose” then how do you effectively locate these people? There’s not a social group/club, a publication aimed at them or a regular gathering. Would COIs know who amongst their sphere falls within this group? While I can see a “life planning” (Kinder, Money Quotient, etc.) type approach being attractive to the group, actually determining how to get a message to them seems challenging.
In other words, I feel that the "purpose in life" target is not actually the niche, rather you need to dig deeper to something such as "CEOs of non-profits that want their wealth to support their life purpose." I'm a bit old school in thinking you need SOME type of demographic qualifier, if only to get more specificity in helping find people of a certain mindset. What do you think?
With the slowly rising popularity (finally!) of advisors moving towards niches to deal with our current crisis of advisor differentiation, I’ve heard this kind of question frequently as of late.
My own take on this is that I think there’s a lot of validity to the psychographic approach around identifying a niche target… and I actually do think that most demographic data that we commonly use in the industry (e.g., retirees with at least $1,000,000 of net worth) is a terrible way to define a niche!
The problem is that using demographics alone, especially when just tied to a dollar amount, gives you a group of people who don’t actually have that much of a clear commonality of needs, around which you can shape a niche-focused solution. In other words, the clientele isn’t actually that focused, so it’s not much of a niche, and it’s hard to design a niche solution for them. The demographics of occupation is perhaps the one exception to this, because a niche around a certain occupation can at least group together people with a common set of problems that requires a certain specialized expertise (e.g., there is some consistency to the kinds of issues successful doctors face, from the cost of malpractice insurance to how to successfully run and later sell their own medical practice).
Regarding your concern about targeting a niche based on psychographics, though, I’d note that the potential “problematic” niche example you cite – “people desiring to align their financial wealth with their life purpose” – is one I actually view it as especially easy to identify and find people! You’re searching for people who are especially conscientious around how they spend and allocate their wealth, which speaks to a certain conscientiousness and connection to the environment and world overall. So just a few potential areas you might search for these people would include:
- Those who are involved with meditation and yoga programs (focusing on getting in tune with their bodies and minds and finding their life purpose, may need wealth guidance too!)
- Groups that are active around socially responsible investing and/or impact investing
- Employees in non-profit groups who are already dedicating their work to a certain life purpose, and ask them if they’re aligning their wealth to be consistent a well
- Entrepreneurs who have had liquidity events and are trying to identify a new joint purpose for their lives and their wealth now that they’re no longer responsible for the business
The list goes on and on.
Notably, each of these would have their own key centers of influence (COIs), who will probably not be the attorney/accountants we typically talk about. These COIs could be an especially well respected meditation and yoga coach. Or a leader at a very successful non-profit. Or a coach who works with entrepreneurs going through a liquidity event. Or the leader of a local Impact Investing group. And even better, I’m going to bet that if you contact any of those COIs, you will: a) be the only financial advisor who’s ever contacted them, because no one else effectively goes after this niche; and/or b) if they have been contacted before, they’ve likely only ever heard the generic financial advisor pitch, while your statement that you “only work with people trying to align their financial wealth with their life purpose” will instantly and uniquely resonate with them, because you’re talking about a values-based approach that specifically resonates with them!
Compared to “You should work with me, because I work with baby boomer millionaires and you’re a 66-year-old with a million bucks”, that niche pitch is going to be radically more successful.
Now that being said, I will agree with your point that just having a psychographic profile without any further qualifiers is probably too broad, just as having solely a demographic profile without any further psychographic qualifiers doesn’t work well either. I would absolutely say that “CEOs of non-profits that want their wealth to support their life purpose” is a better niche focus than just “people desiring to align their financial wealth with their life purpose” because it allows you to get even more targeted. This opens the door to targeting your marketing at non-profit association groups, getting involved in non-profit leadership organizations, lets you further refine which types of organizations you would want to target, as well as opening new focus on the kinds of COIs you would want to target. In this scenario, you can even better pre-qualify your prospects, because the organizations’ Form 990s are available on sites like Guidestar and typically include compensation of key executives at the organizations, so you’ll even know who has the potential financial wherewithal to work with you!
Ultimately, the fundamental point of all this effort in trying to identify a niche is that you’re trying to figure out how to narrow your potential clientele to a group of people who have a common need or challenge, for which you can create a very targeted, specific, and relevant solution. The more focused you get, the more clear potential marketing messages, COIs, and places to network for opportunities, and the easier it is to become known, liked, and trusted in your niche, and the more you can differentiate yourself in that space.
So in the end, I suppose I’d say that people’s problems are defined in part by their demographics and related background (often including occupation), as well as their psychographics (which impacts everything from the problems they have to the kinds of solutions they’re looking for). So the best niches will probably be found at the intersection of the two, rather than focusing solely on one or the other.
So what do you think? Do you ever do webinars or seminars? Do you ask people for their business (or at least, guide them on the next step to take) at the end of the presentation? Do you have a niche of your own? Did a psychographic profile play a role in figuring out who that target clientele would be?