One of the keys to attracting referrals is to be remarkable.
Remarkable as in do things that will inspire people to make remarks about you. It does not mean good, it does not mean even excellent, it doesn't even mean better. Those adjectives can be helpful but they do not make you remarkable.
Competent is not remarkable. There is a broad spectrum of skill levels among advisors but all of them tell prospective clients that they are good at what they do. Unless you can add something to that, maybe something quantitative, it will be impossible for those prospects to tell the difference. Delivering on your promises is not remarkable. Clients will appreciate it and be loyal, but they also expect it. Delivering on expectations does not usually thrill or amaze people and so they are not likely to remark about it to others.
Here are a few things that can help make you remarkable:
Offer a service your clients value that other advisors do not offer. Have a unique way of delivering services. Offer a unique experience. Ted Jenkin and Kile Lewis at Oxygen Financial target a younger client base, so they go to some lengths to create a client experience that is more lighthearted and fun than most people would associate with a financial planning firm. Difference makes it interesting, and interesting gets talked about.
Develop a Unique Skill
Frank Horath knows more about optimizing Social Security and most advisors. Katy Votava the has a particular expertise in retiree health insurance choices. Carol Ann Wilson is an expert in issues around divorce. When their clients hear a friend mention a concern involving one of those topics, these advisors spring to mind.
Create Valuable Content
A long time ago we used to refer to this as public relations. Now that we have the World Wide Web, what used to have a short life in the media can now live on practically forever, and you don’t need newspapers or broadcasters to deliver it. Write blog posts or articles on current topics your clients care about. There may be no reason for your clients to mention your skills or services to a friend at the moment, but they might bring up your “five strategies for dealing with the fiscal cliff” in conversation.
Make Public Appearances
Deliver presentations to associations and organizations, offer educational events that clients can invite friends to, become recognized for your expertise in local or trade press. Give clients a reason to mention seeing you in the community or to invite friends to come listen to what you have to say.
Produce Things that Can be Shared
Get reprints of your articles, create a white paper on an issue important to your clients, produce worksheets or organizers and encourage clients to pass them along to friends who would find them helpful.
I am firmly opposed to asking for referrals. So, if you want to attract them you will need to get people talking about you. Give them something to talk about.