Prospecting for Digital Leads: Which Tools Really Work?

Prospecting for Digital Leads: Which Tools Really Work?

It’s perhaps the hottest of topics among advisors, but one they really don’t enjoy: how do we generate leads?

Working the internet for prospects stands at the forefront of discussions and the challenges are often head swimming. If only there was an easier way – if only someone could take on the burden and load us up with some silver bullets.

Don’t kid yourself, says Adam Koos, president of Libertas Wealth Management Group in Ohio. “I just think that people don’t want to do the hardest part of this business, which is to bother people all day.” Consider the boilerplate for office-bound success: face the hard work first. There’s no other way, he says.

But we keep on searching and the quest isn’t always fruitless. The simple existence of digital technology illustrates this point: imagine keeping track of all these clients, products and market movements without the desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone. Ask some older colleagues about the pre-digital days and watch for the shudder.

In recent days, firms offering digital-lead generation services have been spreading like mushrooms. Broadridge Digital Lead Optimizer, SmartAsset SmartAdvisor, WiserAdvisor, Zoe Financial – the list is long, the names bafflingly similar and their marketing is aggressive. Meanwhile, as we write, others have likely sprung up and joined the fray for your business.

Platforms come and then they go: only the strongest and savviest survive. Eight years ago, a promising offering appeared called MyNewFinancialAdvisor, creating a buzz among tech-clever members of our industry. Some of our colleagues tried it and later wondered what they’d been thinking. If we hadn’t told you about it, you’d likely never have heard, as the company is long gone – kaput, with nothing to show.

Nowadays, advisors are trying out the latest online lead-gathering services. Many are facing familiar disappointment: high costs, few results. To an extent, when we hire these helpers, we’re acting as guinea pigs. The idea is still new and there’s no true test but battle – we can’t say what works until it’s tested out, live.

One harried advisor says he’s approached two or three times a week by services touting their near-mystical ability to ferret online leads. He tried one, just to see, and it produced results – unfortunately, of little use to his firm. Geography was the problem: the prospects were all located too far from his office for effective service. There’s obviously a flaw in the algorithm.

Mr. Koos says the secret to online lead generation is obvious and lies at the heart of every successful advisor: it all depends on motivation and personal style. Lead generation services are fine, perhaps, as long as you know what you’re getting: bare bones prospects and little more. The hard work, the veritable ditch digging, still depends on your strong back and determination. If you don’t love marketing, Koos warns, it’ll be hard to succeed in this business.

Koos says his firm tried WiserAdvisor, which does have a geographic filter at least, but it didn’t pan out. The cost was around $14,000 over three years. He doesn’t solely blame the provider for the washout, though: competition in his market is intense and on the best days, generating leads is a tough racket.

In the end, it’s the tried-and-true strategies that work best. Statistics show that referral programs designed by your own advisory – well versed in local conditions – are the top lead generator. Client events come in second, followed rather distantly by email initiatives of all types. Referral programs, like the convolutedly named practitioners we mentioned, stand at a distant last. At least not yet, there’s no silver bullet.

For more information, please read:
The Secret Sauce to Digital Leads? Geography, Persistence, a Business Development Staff | Wealth Management

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