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How ideal client profiles and case studies improve advisor marketing
By Jonny Swift
Did you ever play with a magnifying glass and sunlight as a kid? You focus light onto one object, causing it to smoke and ignite. Kids learn how the sun’s energy, when concentrated on one area, can make a big difference. Similarly, when advisors focus on a smaller audience—for example, a niche that they serve—rather than a broader audience, their marketing efforts can have a greater effect.
Many advisory firms and other companies start by developing ideal client profiles (ICPs) that identify the specific types of people they will target. ICPs are semifictional representations of ideal clients that help you focus your time on qualified prospects, personalize your ideal clients, and help prospects relate.
Then, firms encounter the challenge of explaining to those ideal clients how the firm can provide the resources and solutions that they need—even if they don’t realize they need them! Some firms have found that writing case studies and posting them on their website for prospects to read is a great way to share information about their firm’s mission, staff expertise, and experience.
Specialization equals credibility
Building case studies starts with research. If an advisor focuses on an ICP of women in transition, they should do research to learn about these women’s concerns and the services they desire. This research—and gaining experience working with these clients—will teach advisors why these women chose to work with them (or why they chose their competitors), what messages resonate with them, what services need to be offered, and what ultimately needs to be done to win their trust and their business.
Focusing on ICPs’ needs allows advisors to market themselves as a specialized option. When prospective clients see a firm meeting the needs of people like them, they tend to prefer that firm over others that offer vague and generalized services. Showing that expertise also helps to build credibility with a specific type of client by displaying the knowledge of what that type of client needs.
Furthermore, when a client is satisfied with the work the advisor has done for them, they will often tell others about the advisor. The odds that these referrals fit a similar profile and thus become an ideal client will be much higher. Therefore, an advisor has a greater chance of attracting more ideal clients to their firm by using an ICP.
Become more relatable through case studies
Smart advisors go one step further by creating case studies that illustrate situations that ideal clients face and how they can be solved. These include fictional names, descriptions, stories, scenarios, and photos that help prospects place themselves in the position of the subjects of the case study.
While these names and stories could include stock photos and be completely fictionalized, they could also be factual representations of current or former clients, or they can be somewhere in between. If there’s an ideal client who has been well-served and they fit one of your ICPs, ask their permission to use their story on your website. In some cases, the client will be open to it; if not, let them know that you can change the name, age, profession, and other specifics. To make them more comfortable, offer to show them the case study before it’s put online.
Writing a case study
So how do you write a case study? This starts with knowing your ICP and the type of people you are best equipped to serve. Your starting point is a client or a couple who typifies your ideal client.
Next, document the client’s problems, pain points, and why they first came to you for help. Find statistics and third-party proof that other people in this demographic have similar problems and concerns. Make a list of the services they might need and how you helped to provide appropriate solutions. Summarize what was done and emphasize the benefits the client enjoyed after implementing your solutions and working together for a while.
Now you’re ready to write. Tell a story that pulls on emotions. Add details that help a prospective client put themselves in the shoes of the subject. Be specific about the client (age, income, family, etc.), the problems and services needed, the solutions you provided, and the positive outcomes. But remember to change the names, ages, and specific details as needed to cloak real identities.
Here’s what you do after writing the case study:
- Find a stock photo of a person or a couple that looks like they could fit the persona of your case study.
- If possible, include charts and graphics that detail your process and support key points.
- Have your webmaster or graphic designer help you create a visually attractive layout for the webpage(s) that will house your case studies. Put the content in a prominent place on your website, such as your “Who We Serve,” “About,” or “Services” page.
- Promote the case studies far and wide: Send them to your email audience, share directly with clients, prospects, and referral sources, share on social media, and do some boosted social media posts to targeted audiences that fit your ICPs.
Focusing on these ICPs can help differentiate you from more generalized competition and help you develop a reputation for serving a specific clientele. Through referrals, people begin to flock to your company rather than you having to reach them. You’ll also drive more organic traffic to your website, thanks to showing up higher in search results when consumers seek these situations, services, and solutions.
So, forget trying to service everyone and instead specialize your firm to fulfill the needs of your ideal clients more fully. Not only will focusing on your ICPs help you earn more business and grow your practice, but you’ll be able to serve your clients better – and in a more refined way.
Jonny Swift is vice president and director of social/digital strategy at Impact Communications (www.ImpactCommunications.org). He specializes in online presence, social media marketing, digital media production, and PR, and has presented his marketing best practices at many conferences and events.
image credit: istock.com/Jirsak