When you are serving a niche as an independent financial advisor, it is in your best interest to have a specific offering that is pertinent to your target market. For teachers, it may be a review of their pension; for startup execs, it may be a review of their stock option grants; and for business owners, it may be a review of their employees’ 401k plan. The mini-service is intended to get both of your hypothetical feet in the door.
One of the first people to come to mind is Daniel Wrenne, who completes a student loan analysis for prospects in his physician niche. Daniel knows that medical school student loan debt is easily one of the biggest pain points for young physicians. Daniel's mini-service offering is a stand-alone service that generates leads without the pressure of continuing into a long-term relationship.
Let me be clear: this mini-service will not be the money-maker for you as an independent financial advisor. It is likely that your mini-service won't even be profitable. It will, however, overflow your pipeline with prospects within your niche and allow you to choose your clients more carefully. By utilizing this mini-service as a lead gen, you are building trust with prospects and providing immense value at a discount of what your normal services cost. I also recommend offering a service that has a tangible and easily quantifiable result (i.e. "look at how much we saved you").
Requirements of your mini-service:
While your mini-service doesn't necessarily need to be profitable, it does need to be scalable. I recommend that you get so efficient at offering this service that you can complete the full scope of the offering within a few hours. If it's difficult to nail it down due to the various tasks involved, you may need to either tighten your niche or shrink the scope of your mini-service.
Your mini-service should not be a cost center. If it requires you to invest additional costs to produce an effective service (other than sheer labor hours), it may not be worth pursuing. The only exception is if the potential revenue per client significantly outweighs the cost of acquiring them. For example: if you have to pay a vendor or 3rd party $150 out of pocket to perform a service for your platform, or if you offer new-hire assessments for potential clients who are entrepreneurs, the revenue for signing that client has to FAR outweigh those hard costs. If that entrepreneur prospect has a revenue potential of $35,000 over the next three years, then you may want to consider implementing that mini-service.
Lastly, your mini-service needs to be valuable to the audience that you are targeting. Period.
Developing a mini-service
In order to have an offering like this, you have to be an expert at the service you provide. Look at it this way: if you do a great job, your credibility is established and you create raving fans without having to serve them for half a decade. If you do a terrible job, you'll have the polar opposite results.
When you run ads on Facebook, market this to your local network and niche, or have your COIs present this to their clients...you need to have a very firm grasp on the process of implementation. I would even recommend you have a service calendar for this mini-service just as you should for your financial planning services. With practice and structure, you can market your core services and you can begin marketing case studies based on your mini-service as well.
What's the point?
The main value-add to your business is on the marketing side. You are able to have mindshare of your prospects and contacts immediately with a mini-service. It's a low-commitment, high-impact model that will make it easy for people to remember you. In my last article for the Advisor Blog, I mentioned increasing mindshare by making your service calendar a deliverable to your clients and prospects. The same thing happens with a mini-service.
In Mr. Wrenne's case, people know that if they come into contact with a medical student or someone who just graduated with a pharmacy school degree and tons of debt, they probably should get in touch with Daniel. Also, if he wants to advertise, he will know exactly who to target all the way down to how much income they are likely to make.
This is also where XYPN members can help each other out. When I was running Ignite Financial, I received a few referrals from members who knew I was targeting millennials in tech-focused startups. Mindshare is important, even among your professional community. I bet that most of our members who have been around for longer than a few weeks know who Daniel Wrenne, Meg Bartelt, and Matt Becker target. Mindshare. It makes you easily referable.
A real world example
Jane's (hypothetical XYPN member) sister has an employer who is in Jane's target market. That employer has a daughter that's in startup or in tech startups (Brian's target market). Jane refers that employer's daughter to Brian and he provides top-notch service.
Now Jane is in the perfect position. She has indirectly provided value to her sister's employer, establishing trust. When he goes to thank Jane for helping out his daughter, Jane can casually mention that she has a service that will take an hour or two of his time and has saved people in his shoes an average of $600,000 over 20 years. He's likely to listen.
This is a hypothetical situation but it brings my point home. You never know where you can benefit from having a mini-service. You could be Jane or you could be Brian. Either way you slice it, the mini-service is how you bring prospects in the door (either by cultivating relationships or by referral).
Once you build and become an expert in this mini offering or mini service, it will become a staple in your business. Planners ask me about building out a service like this that will not be a time drain. Dialing in on the main value-add is the most important step. The second most important step is building out a detailed process. Once you have this process written out, you will be able to spot inefficiencies that a temp or virtual assistant can handle. You may even find steps that can be automated by a tool like Zapier.
You may be wondering about the end goal. First and foremost, it is to pull more "qualified" prospects into your funnel. The by-product is that you have a built-in model to train younger advisors/interns when you bring them into your firm. The mini-service allows them to cut their teeth on your planning process, and also begin to build future client relationships for their own book of clients.
Stephen serves as XYPN's Director of Advisor Success. He’s worked with multiple companies inside and outside of the financial services industry, specifically helping to design their marketing and technology strategies.