Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Grassroots Marketing Strategy Pays Off for Mild-Mannered Advisor

Sometimes it's the simple things that really get results.

When Dennis Davis decided to become a financial advisor 3 years ago, he adopted a simple strategy to build his business. Instead of cold-calling or bugging his friends and family for leads, Dennis used a targeted, grass-roots marketing campaign to get results.

This soft-spoken southern gentleman from Birmingham, Ala., came to be a financial advisor in his mid-40s, as a second career. He'd had no previous experience in financial services; He held no securities or insurance licenses. In fact, he had no furniture, no computers, no clients, and no prospects. For the first six months, he had people sign a letter that acknowledged that he could not give financial advice. As he was getting his training, he tried to find a way to connect with people in an informal, non-selling way.

Inspired by his friend and mentor Rick Kent, CFP, ChFC, AIF, president of Allegiance Advantage Group in Alpharetta, Ga, Davis decided to focus on working people who were five to seven years from retirement who would ultimately be rolling over their 401(k) assets. Kent had gathered more than $150 million in assets under management in less than six years. While other advisors were chasing the high net worth, Kent had attracted a loyal following of middle-income and mass affluent clients using a system that would later be dubbed the Merit Retirement Advantage.

Davis decided to adopt Kent's system. He has been using the Merit network program for about two years. He currently has about $30 million in assets under management — not bad considering his no-pressure approach and the fact that he started with nothing. But the really exciting thing is that Davis has more than $50 million in the pipeline.

The people he’s reached through his marketing program will be retiring in the next five to seven years. Given the relationships he’s built with these people, it’s not a stretch to say that they will be rolling over their 401(k) assets over to him.

"By reaching out to people before they would typically think about engaging an advisor, I have essentially removed the competition from the mix, because I am the known entity--the obvious resource when it's time to roll over retirement assets. And all of this with a flier and a handful of candy!"

Read my article on Morningstar Advisor for a detailed look at Dennis and his approach: http://advisor.morningstar.com/articles/doc.asp?s=1&docId=14337&pgNo=0.

Listen to my Perspectives: Spotlight on Industry Innovators interview with Dennis Davis and Rick Kent:

MP3 File

Visit www.MeritRetirementAdvantage.com to learn more.