Need More Referrals? 5 Steps to Building Stronger Word-Of-Mouth Influence

Every advisor knows that referrals are the golden key to growth. That’s particularly true when it comes to your affluent clients whose personal recommendations can have the power put your AUM into hyperdrive. Of course, even for the most respected professionals, getting those referrals can be a challenge. Why? In part because doing a great job is simply expected—especially for high net worth clients who are accustomed to stellar service and performance.

If you’ve ever heard Matt Oechsli speak about marketing to the affluent, you’ve surely heard the phrase word-of-mouth influence, or WOMI. (If you haven’t, check out this recent article from Wealth Management magazine.) Matt is a true believer in how WOMI can shift the trajectory of a firm, and I think his findings are spot on: the key to advisor success is creating client relationships that drive word-of-mouth influence.

Word of mouth is a powerful thing. What’s tricky is that, psychologically, we humans tend to focus on negative experiences over positive experiences. Research has shown that while we typically ‘vent’ about negative experiences, we tend to keep quiet about positive ones. It’s no wonder companies in every industry put so much time, energy, and resources into creating positive brand images—and bending over backwards to generate as much positive word of mouth as possible.

So how can you get clients to start talking about all the good things you do for them as their trusted advisor? Create an emotional connection .

The good news is that creating that emotional connection can be quite simple, especially if you’re an advisor that focuses on the personal side of financial planning. After all, the primary reason your clients want to grow and protect their wealth is to help them achieve their personal goals. Whatever their goals may be, nearly all of them are bound to have an emotional component. Follow these 5 steps to help create stronger emotional connections to help drive word-of-mouth influence:

1. Take the time to emotionally connect.

Start by talking to your clients about what’s happening in their lives and how those events impact their financial decisions. Are they juggling a high-pressure career with the need to care for aging parents? Are they in a high-risk industry and concerned about their ability to sustain their current income? Are they worried that a divorce could derail their financial security? Whatever is happening in your clients’ lives, take the time to sit down with each individual and be present enough to listen. Simply giving your clients the space to share their feelings and thoughts will take your relationship to a whole new level.

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2. Share your own experiences.

Empathy can help you connect on an even deeper level, and part of that process is being willing to share your own experiences. While you never want your own challenges to take center stage, talking about parallels in your own life can put your client at ease. Even better, your story may offer some helpful insights, and your willingness to open up about your own life will foster a deeper emotional connection.

3. Reach out when it’s least expected.

If your client outreach is limited to birthday cards and holiday greetings, you’re missing valuable opportunities to create positive word of mouth. Big life events are often the most emotional, and this is when connecting with your clients can have a greater impact. Whether your client is starting a new job, navigating a divorce, caring for aging parents, sending a child off to college, or coping with the loss of a spouse, send a personal note offering your support and invite them to meet outside your office for a personal chat. Later, when the time is right to talk about finances, point them to our Life Events Planner to help understand how what’s happening can affect their financial lives and offer practical steps to help keep their finances on track.

4. Have a little fun!

Of course, the best relationships always have an element of fun. Once you’ve established personal connections with your clients, build on each relationship by doing little things to bring some joy to their day. If your client is passionate about golf, send a quick email about the latest big tournament, or share a good-news article like this just for fun. If you work with divorced or widowed clients, consider hosting a Valentine’s lunch to celebrate your friendships. Need inspiration? Check out our Celebrate the Day calendar for interesting ideas throughout the year.

Related: Worried About Wealth Transfer? It's Time for the Human Touch

5. Foster introductions.

Even when an emotional connection exists, it’s important to make it easy for your clients to start talking with the right people. Invite two or three clients to a non-business event like the theatre or a local wine tasting event and ask them to invite a friend or two. While you’re there, take business off the table and focus on connecting with each person. By bringing the right people together, conversations—and positive word-of-mouth—are bound to happen all on their own.

By reaching out to your clients in ways that have nothing to do with selling, you can foster personal, emotionally-driven connections that not only strengthen your relationships with your most valuable clients, but also fuel your clients’ desire to talk about you, your thoughtful actions and, ultimately, the services you provide. What a wonderful (and fun!) way to drive powerful, positive word-of-mouth.

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The information and opinions herein are for general information use only. The opinions reflect those of the writers but not necessarily those of New York Life Investment Management LLC (NYLIM). NYLIM does not guarantee their accuracy or completeness, nor does New York Life Investment Management LLC assume any liability for any loss that may result from the reliance by any person upon any such information or opinions. Such information and opinions are subject to change without notice and are not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security or as personalized investment adviceEndFragment