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New Rules for Growing Your Book of Business: Reach Clients and Prospects Through Their In-Boxes

June 23, 2009

by Dan Sommer

Develop an e-mail curriculum

Once you’ve started to capture e-mail addresses at every opportunity, it’s time to focus on messaging. Don’t approach e-mail marketing as a series of one-off messages or newsletters; instead, think of it as a stream or curriculum of important communications. Once again, segment your communications into prospect and client streams.

Prospect communications:  These communications might include newsletters, single intellectual capital pieces (repurpose the articles that you write for your blog, if you have one). Consider developing a series of e-mail communications that cater to a particular segment (e.g., succession planning for small business owners).

Client communications: A periodic e-newsletter will enable you to deliver content geared to your clients and can reinforce your expertise. Also consider developing and deploying a stream of periodic e-mails, which could include:

  • New client orientation e-mails: Develop an e-mail that contains important information about your firm, key contact information, and the client experience (e.g., timing of monthly/quarterly meetings, where to go for account information, etc.).
  • Updates and service e-mails: Send updates about your firm and economic news that may impact your clients’ portfolios.
  • Newsletters and intellectual capital: Send periodic (monthly or quarterly) client newsletters that address key topics of interest (e.g., estate planning, funding a college education, charitable giving). Send out research/ studies conducted by your firm or partners that might be of interest to your clients.

E-mail tip #2: Allow prospects who visit your site to sign up for a prospect newsletter to give them a taste of what it is like to work with you and your firm.

Think integration! OR “Mix It Up”

E-mail is a distribution channel. Once you create content, you can send it through a number of channels and post it to a number of places. For example, many advisors develop blog articles and then e-mail their articles directly to clients and prospects. You can e-mail through social networks such as Linked In. You can post messages to group discussion boards (another form of e-mail) and reach out directly to your connections with your economic insights. If you decide to send out a direct mail piece or post card, think about how you might enhance your effort with an e-mail (e.g., send an e-mail in advance or shortly after sending a postcard invitation to a seminar that you are giving to clients and prospects).

E-mail tip #3: Don’t think of e-mail in isolation—consider it as one of many marketing tools that can be used to bring your message to prospects and clients alike.

Select the right vendor

If you are new to e-mail, I recommend that you consider working with a hosted-on-demand service provider (“software as a service”). This will keep your costs down and provide a suite of services to help you get your program up and running quickly (i.e., upload your lists and your e-mail creative into their solution, send out a test e-mail and deploy your campaign).

Here are two e-mail providers to consider that may cost as little as $100/month:

Some solutions, including Constant Contact, require that your email addresses are given to you directly by the recipient, and will not permit you to use purchased databases and lists.

E-mail tip #4: When evaluating vendors, consider whether they offer the following:

  • Customer Service: Know what services are included in your basic deployment fees. If you are not technically savvy, you may need to factor in additional consulting fees.
  • E-mail Regulatory Compliance: Make sure that your e-mail vendor understands CAN-SPAM requirements (e.g., placing an opt-out in the footer of your e-mail).
  • Deliverability: Make sure that the vendor has the tools to ensure that your message is delivered to your prospects’ or clients’ in-boxes—not to a spam filter.

Great resources are available to can help you to learn more about e-mail marketing, such as the Direct Marketing Association.