Expressing gratitude and appreciation to clients on a regular basis represents a huge business differentiator that can improve sales and marketing opportunities for producers, says Michael F. Sciortino, Sr., author of Gratitude Marketing: How You Can Create Clients For Life By Using 33 Simple Secrets From Successful Financial Advisors.

His suggestions are divided into four quadrants:

  1. Mindful (e.g., marketing to 100 dream clients, committing to sponsorships, coming up with a promotional napkin).
  2. Personal (e.g., recognizing important days in the lives of clients, mailing clients a hand-written thank-you note, penning a reassurance letter).
  3. Seasonal (e.g., making a donation, renting out a movie theater, having an annual New Year’s Eve party).
  4. Fun (e.g., taking clients to lunch or a ballgame, hosting a bingo and barbecue event).

“Gratitude marketing is a movement away from pushy sales tactics and toward engaging and connecting with people in a personal, authentic, human-to-human manner,” according to Sciortino. “It is a movement toward meaningful long-term relationships that positively impact clients’ lives.”

His roadmap for success was recently presented to the clients of RME360, a Tampa-based company that for 20 years has helped financial professionals that include registered investment advisers, as well as life insurance and annuity producers.

“What I found is that the appetite for a sincere thank-you from clients is unlimited,” he says, “and it’s the little things that can differentiate you in the business.”

Wake-up call

The notion of writing an old-fashioned thank you note to clients turned out to be a wake-up call for one of his readers, a top adviser who used to pen daily notes when he started in the business 30 years ago, but then drifted from the practice. Sciortino says the adviser told him that in the first two weeks since reading his book, he wrote three thank-you notes a day for a total of 30. “Now, imagine the ripple impact that had, expressing his gratitude to clients,” he observes.

"It’s the little things that can differentiate you in the business.”

Another powerful practice he suggests is for brokers and advisers to track client birthdays at the beginning of each month, offer in advance to treat them to lunch that day and encourage them to invite three friends. It’s not only good for retaining clients, he says, but it also opens the door to cultivating their friends as clients.

For one seasoned producer who incorporated this gesture into his practice, Sciortino says the initial three friends became clients and their respective birthday lunches featured the same ground rules. “Over the years as the numbers of candles increased, so did all the fond memories, and he created a perpetual referral machine that recognized his clients for the trust they placed in him,” Sciortino explains.

He’s a big believer in gratitude as an often unexpected, but always welcomed tactic that transcends business – a power that is leveraged when it becomes part of a daily routine. And while it may seem dated in a society built on hustle and bustle, he thinks it’s particularly timely.

“With the threat of robo-advisers, for example, advisers who are not using gratitude marketing as an anchor in their business run the risk of commoditization,” Sciortino cautions. “The main thing that separates successful advisers from average producers in our business is the ability to be open, and more importantly, learn from new ideas like this, and then implement what they’ve learned. That’s the difference.”

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