Most advisors know it takes about six tries before prospects are on board. A prospecting letter is often the first step, and it’s crucial to get that initial impression right.
Here’s what’ll make your letter stand out:
Tailored: Both business and personal letters should have an address block and ‘Dear (name):”
Why: Personalization stands out.
Wide open spaces: Avoid large blocks of text because they’re difficult to read. Two-sentence paragraphs with spacing are easy on the eyes.
Why: People have short attention spans.
14-point font: Larger type stands out and gets people’s attention.
Why: It’s easy to read.
No mailing labels: Handwritten envelopes increase the chances your letter will be opened.
Why: Labels can appear impersonal.
Use postage stamps: Another personal touch.
Why: Mailing machine imprints are impersonal. Bulk mail’s worse.
Good stationary: It’s likely your firm has tasteful company letterhead printed on quality paper. Ditto for business cards.
Why: The substantial feel creates a good impression about your firm.
Designing the Letter
A strong letter has three main parts:
1. The attention grabber: The first sentence is critical; here are some options.
a) Question: “Are you getting the investment results you want?” “Are you an important client to your financial advisor?” “Are you prepared for retirement?” “When was the last time you heard from your financial advisor?”
b) Introduction: You explain who you are in the context of your specialty. Ideally this is aligned to the names you chose. “Our team specializes in advising medical practices on retirement and succession planning.”
c) The Fact: Get their attention with a statistic: “70% of baby boomers expect to delay retirement,” or “29% of Gen Y are boomerang children, returning home sometime after graduation.”
2. Purpose of the letter
a) Your specialty: You introduced a problem she may face. Your team’s experienced in addressing similar issues. For how many years?
b) The offer: “In volatile markets it’s good to have a second set of eyes look over your portfolio,” or “It’s good to get a second opinion.” You’d be glad to provide the service at no cost.
c) Your value: “Do you work for a publicly listed company followed by our research department? If so, I would be glad to provide periodic research reports on your firm. Just complete the enclosed postcard or email me….” This could also be expanded to research on companies they follow.
What are your next steps? It’s unlikely they’ll initiate contact.
a) Ask for an appointment: You call, speak with her assistant and ask to schedule a time to meet. How long? Twenty minutes is a reasonable request.
b) “I’m planning on attending….”: You both belong to the same organization. A conference or meeting’s coming up and you’ll have a booth. You hope she’ll stop by.
What about Compliance?
Your firm will likely want to approve the letter beforehand. From the compliance meetings you’ve attended you know what expressions to avoid. Here are some examples:
1. “Guaranteed”: A definite no-no.
2. “Achieve your goals….”: You can’t achieve their goals for them. It requires their ongoing cooperation.
3. “I (or we) promise….”: You may work towards something, but you can’t control all outcomes.