The Five Most Powerful Growth Hacks
Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives
We start the New Year with good intentions.
Too often, though, our resolutions spur only short-term actions to move us in the desired direction.
For sustainable results, your answer is a comprehensive plan.
Most advisory firms are better at financial planning than creating a systematic approach to grow their own business.
For example, my firm’s surveys over many years have shown that only three in 10 practices have a current marketing plan.
Whether you follow a systematic approach to growth or are looking for an “easy button,” growth hacks are a path that any practice, team or individual advisor can leverage.
What the heck Is a growth hack?
Technically, growth hacking is a process of rapid tests across the marketing, sales and client management spectrum.
Its purpose is to identify the most efficient way to grow your business.
You probe all areas of the business with small tests to find a leverage point or easy way to grow.
Often, growth hacking is associated with early-stage start-ups that demand massive growth in a short time on a small budget.
Two situations that offer tremendous opportunity in the advisory world
Growth hacking can be especially powerful for those who don’t have the ability to hire full-time marketers.
Second, it can be productive for those who don’t have the patience to systematically install a comprehensive marketing system.
Many wirehouse advisors, for example, gained some of their best clients from abandoned accounts from brokers who left the business or switched to other firms. One advisor I worked with picked up a Fortune 100 CEO and eventually attracted many of his extended family members this way.
To be a real growth hacker demands a frame of mind closer to a venture investor rather than, say, a retirement-income investor.
You are looking to make 10 investments. From these 10 you expect one or two “grand slams” and hope to at least break even on the rest of the portfolio.
To achieve payback as a growth hacker, advisors need to operate in parallel across different areas of their practice.
So is this the “lazy way” to riches?
Well, no. It may sound like work, and in a way, it is.
But there is genius in this model.
Advisors can call on those growth hacks that best suit their personality and skills.
Growth hacking is all about finding relatively easy short-cuts for your specific situation or business.
It does not demand, for instance, forcing a consummate networker or people-person to lock themselves in a room for a full day once a week to create articles and blogs.
In short, ask questions like these:
- What types of activities do I enjoy carrying out?
- What am I good at?
Here’s how growth hacking can accelerate growth
There are advisors who are ready to set up a succession plan or to sell the book they have built over decades.
For you, the growth hacker, one activity could be to devote a few hours a month to industry networking.
That one step could position you at the front of the line in conversations when advisors in your area are looking to transition their practice.
Your growth hacking mindset opens you to opportunities and avenues that most advisors are missing.
Another example of a growth hack comes from that time when dinner seminars were all the rage. After listening to several advisors complain about low response rates to large compiled direct mail lists plus the high cost of food, I made this suggestion to them.
Suppose they partnered with a couple of high-end restaurants with a “frequent eater club.” Then suppose they offered a special educational seminar for these club members and bought one meal for them when they brought a friend or family member with them.
Advisors who tried this riff on the dinner seminar model often doubled their annual yield from this marketing program with only incremental cost and effort.
Your top five advisor growth hacks for 2019 and beyond
Here I help you get a fast start on your growth hacking path.
Through an ongoing process of “testing small,” you can unlock your own distinct growth hacks – ones tailored to you and your practice.
- Marketing through others – A scalable COI strategy unlike any other
Centers-of-Influence (COIs) have a different meaning for growth hackers than for the average advisor who tries to extract a few referrals from estate attorneys and CPAs with limited success.
The majority of growing practices settle on a defined market or niche(s) that they are well positioned to serve.
For them, a COI can be any person or business who has influence in that market or niche.
How to multiply results
Creating a mutually beneficial relationship with COIs and leveraging that transfer of trust at scale –through one-to-many marketing – improves your marketing response and client attraction rates by as much as 10 times.
For example, an advisory firm with some medical professionals as clients may get one or two quality referrals a year from the CPA firm in your office building.
But a growth hacker who targets dentists can develop a proactive partnership with a dental practice-developing firm that markets and sells to dentists all day long.
The outcome could reach 10 to 20 quality referrals a year.
- Hire or acquire a book full of your ideal clients
Rather than trying to do the missionary work to enter a niche from scratch, hire (or acquire) a practice or advisor who already has a foothold in an adjacent niche.
Consider this situation: A two-company town where the advisor has an “in” with company A and has built a nice service and client experience model for employees of that company.
Company B is similar to company A, but the advisor has no traction there….yet.
The advisor can partner with a new advisor to mine company B for clients.
Both advisors will be able to accomplish more merging their strengths than they could alone.
Likewise, suppose your firm has significant market share with the software executives in your area, but is nowhere with biotech.
Look for a partner in biotech rather than build from scratch.
- Free hundreds of hours per year through delegation and automation
This strategy may seem counterintuitive to growth hacking.
Invariably, though, there is at least one aspect of your practice where you devote 100 to 200+ hours a year that could largely be automated or delegated.
And where you could unlock similar or even better results.
It could include delegating or automating marketing, business development, financial planning, investment management or a portion of client communications.
I meet rainmakers at successful firms where growth has plateaued. The reason?
They are bogged down with large chunks of their time “working in their business rather than on their business.”
Some practices hire a COO or, as they grow, they hire specialists in different areas.
A solo advisor I worked with added financial planning to his investment management practice.
Suddenly, he became chained to the minutiae of creating and updating plans for all his clients.
Growth ground to a halt.
How this advisor tripled assets under management
He made the investment in hiring a full-time financial planner, and in a few years tripled assets under management.
The growth hacking mindset involves looking for areas where there can be an 80% to 90% savings in time with a gain or little loss of business benefit.
Then, roll from one area to the next once an initiative is established. (Perhaps select one initiative per year.)
- Add another leg to the marketing stool, especially for prospects at the top of your marketing funnel
Many firms are skilled at turning prospect conversations into clients, but they attract few prospects.
Other firms have one primary tactic (one leg of the marketing stool) to generate new prospects and clients consistently.
Where the multiplying effect reigns
Growth hackers understand that a combination of marketing tactics can unleash a multiplying effect.
One or more low-cost strategies to prompt prospects to raise their hands takes advantage of the marketing you are already doing to your database.
Here’s an example: I added a free report – a lead magnet on the topic of retirement planning – to the website of a client firm that already promoted a local radio message. Adding no other website marketing (by simply leveraging their existing radio traffic), they converted an additional visitor per day to become a prospect, essentially doubling their prospect flow with this one growth hack.
- Switch marketing communications from “keep-in-touch” to “evergreen” mode
Like the firm with the radio show, most firms are spending more than 90% of their marketing time and money curating or licensing new content and getting it in front of the same audience (in some cases to almost entirely existing customers).
Growth hackers flip this strategy.
They create ”evergreen” content once.
Next, they repurpose it in multiple ways.
Then, they devote most of their marketing time and budget to place this evergreen content in front of new prospects.
A free report or lead magnet tailored to new prospects (revealed in strategy #4 above) is just such an example.
It can be created once and leveraged again and again to attract new prospects and convert them to potential clients.
What’s a surefire way to increase the odds of hitting your growth goals this year?
Growth hacking opens literally hundreds of ways to activate growth for your practice.
The advantages to you: Massive results with a relatively small amount of effort. Besides, you’ll stand out.
These growth hacks are unlikely to be called on by other advisors in your area or niche.
Bob Hanson is an advisor growth hacker and webinar expert. Get his new report for advisors, 7 Pillars of Winning Webinars, Online Events, and Video Marketing.