What is the most important aspect of Mutual Fund Distribution Business? Marketing is no doubt the most important part of Mutual Fund Distribution but the major function of any marketing activity should not be about what you do but it should be aimed at establishing yourself as and knowledgeable, reliable and trusted MFD or IFA. Most investors don’t do the business with MDF/IFA they don’t trust. Investment decisions are the ones which affect their financial life and future directly, so it becomes very crucial for us to develop not only capability but also the credibility through our communication.
Your investor does not buy a product from you but they buy your talent, knowledge and the fact that you are reliable enough to trust with their crucial financial decisions. Most your marketing efforts should be to establish yourself as an expert rather than talking about products and its feature.
If you are successful in portraying yourself as a reliable expert, then prospects will come to you directly. The best way to do so is the Education Based Activities. Having a strategy to continuously educate your clients and prospect is the key to establish you as an authority and win the trust.
Educating clients the Patanjali way
There cannot be the better example than Patanjali and Baba Ramdev of how you can excel into your business and reach the top using education based activities to create a strong brand. Baba Ramdev is a live example whom we can follow to learn the art of using education as the main marketing weapon. Since many years, Baba Ramdev taught and educated Indians about the benefits of Yoga and Ayurvedic Medicines through various activities all aimed at educating people about the benefit of Yoga and Ayurvedic medicines.
Baba Ramdev through mass yoga camps, youtube videos, television shows and books has taught people the benefits of Ayurveda. They have educated the people so seriously that they even shared recipes of many of their Ayurvedic medicines which one can prepare at home using the various ingredients. I have seen him rarely during the camps or in videos talking about their own products except in the case of TV advertisement of their products which they started lately after successfully establishing their brand through education based activities.
What’s the result? Though he taught people on how to prepare the Ayurvedic combination for many health related issues, very few people tried preparing at home – rather we found it easier to buy it from Patanjali stores. The brand is now so strongly built based on education based activities that many of their other products (not just Ayurvedic medicines) are giving tough competition to strong and established rivals.
Ways to educate your Prospect & Clients
Applying learning form Patanjali, MFDs can also choose to educate their clients and prospects through various mediums like;
Vlogs (Video Blogs on youtube),
Investor Awareness Programs
You may choose one or more medium based on your liking and expertise to educate clients on a regular basis. Writing articles or blogs on various aspects of personal finance and getting it published on reputed platform or putting it on your own website is a very good idea to educate your clients but it requires you to be good at writing skills.
Educating clients through small video blogs on different topics or creating the animated videos or images to educate various on concepts related to investments, Mutual fund or personal finance can also be very good idea. This requires creativity and some designing skills which either you can do it yourself or you may outsource also.
Investor Awareness Programs
One of the most effective and easiest ways to educate your prospects and clients is to conduct Investor Awareness programs on regular basis. You may choose to conduct the various Investor Awareness Programs at various corporates, societies or any other place where you can deliver short l 45 min to 60 min talks on different topics depending upon the audience.
Investor Awareness Programs are the best and evergreen activity to educate and connect with your clients and prospects. Every MFD can use this activity as it doesn’t require any specific technical skills like designing or programming.
Leveraging your Existing client to Conduct IAPs
Leverage your Salaried Clients: Many MFDs feel that they can’t do much IAPs just because they don’t have enough contacts into corporates as they are mainly dealing with individual retail clients. It’s not necessary that you have the first hand contact into corporates to ask for permission, you may leverage your relationship with your existing clients to do so.
Just open a spreadsheet and write down the name of all your clients who are salaried and also mention the name of the company and their designation. I am sure you can take the help of many of your clients to at least fix up an appointment with the HR manager where you can meet them and handover the request letter to conduct the IAP for their employees.
Similarly you may also take the help of your clients who are either businessmen or professionals to get into the touch with their professional or business associations where you may get the opportunity to conduct the IAPs.
Conducting IAP for existing clients
Conducting awareness programs at regular interval (say quarterly) for your existing clients, where you may update them about the various portfolio management strategies or market or any other value added topic can be very useful for IFAs not only to just educate the clients but also to have the one on one contact with all clients on regular basis.
It is always advisable to have the IAPs on different topic so that you can categorize your clients who might be the best targeted audience for that topic. Having the focused topic presentation based on the client segment is necessary.
4 Pillars to educate clients and prospects through IAPs:
Knowledge is the key: Mutual Fund industry suffers from a lack of an education-based approach and the gap between consumer understanding and the MFDs/IFA is an ocean. Where there is such a gap, the void must be filled through education, through information, through knowledge – not just direct marketing. The challenge is how to bring the audience to a level of confidence without having to go through years of trial and error. This is where an educational approach during the IAP comes into the picture in a very effective.
Think Like your Prospect/Audience: Different people will have different problems and different financial goals based on their life cycle and life style. It is always advisable to create and deliver the IAPs on different topics based on different types and segments of clients. When your target audience is young salaried class people, you may talk about long term wealth creating and financial planning. If your audience consists of people in the higher age group who are near to their retirement age, it might not make much sense to talk about the wealth creation in long term and power of compounding; rather you need to talk about the investment strategies post retirement which might help them to generate regular inflation adjusted cash flow.We would discuss more in details in coming articles on how you can create different modules for the different segments of clients.
You must Speak: The most ideal speaker for your IAP is always you. If possible the MFD/IFA must deliver the presentation during the IAP. It is just a matter of some practice and dedication which can help you to deliver the small speech confidently. The idea of sharing the knowledge and educating clients/prospect through IAP is ultimately to win the trust of your client and establishing yourself as an expert. I know Many IFAs who conduct the regular IAPs where they invite some industry expert or trainer for the speech. I have delivered hundreds of such IAP as a guest speaker for many IFAs. Though Inviting the speaker for IAP is really a good idea to add the value and educate your clients, but even if you are inviting someone else to deliver the full talk, you must at least talk for 10 to 15 minutes on few important points related to the topic as it is a great opportunity for you to showcase you as an industry and subject expert.
Resist the urge to sell: It’s easy to differentiate yourself apart using Education-Based IAPs because most of your competitors are using selling-based marketing. The beauty of Education-Based IAP is that you give prospective customers what they want, information and advice – and remove what they don’t want, a sales pitch.
You establish yourself as an authority because prospects see you as a reliable source of information, by offering helpful advice. Be careful not to give in to the urge to include a sales pitch during the Investor Awareness Program. This will only erode the trust you have established and make you the same as your competitors in the eyes of your prospect.
Instead, after you have provided some helpful information you should warmly invite your prospects to call you, visit your website, come to your office, or take advantage of your free financial plan or portfolio evaluation offer.
In Nutshell, when it comes to educating your client you may choose to use one of or combination of multiple activities. Each activity requires some set of skills and technical knowhow. Investor Awareness Program is one such effective activity which can be done by all MFDs/IFAs to educate their clients and prospects.
And finally, think of how Baba Ramdev perfected his teaching skills, how he built his brand around his teaching skills and how well Patanjali has leveraged this brand to build a business empire. Teach To Grow is really the new mantra for financial advisors!