How Speaking To A Group of Pilots Made My Teachers-Only Business Take Off

Many niche advisors design their practices to service a targeted demographic. Regardless of what that is, most advisor marketing material is worded and branded to speak to this segment and, by nature, excludes those who don’t fit into said category.

But is this focus making us close-minded? What about marketing-by-association? Could you market to a different group of people, not directly in your niche, and tap their network to find your ideal clients?

I did just that – but by accident.

My practice, Finance for Teachers, markets exclusively to teachers in Illinois. My website is branded to this demographic and speaks in a language that they understand.

However, some non-teachers reach out for help.

pilots_telstarA couple of months ago, I received an email from a retiring pilot who had an informal investing group with other pilots. They meet every month to discuss investing and how they’re preparing to live off of their portfolios in the near future. He had read a guest blog post that I wrote on a leading financial planning blog, and noticed that we were geographically close. He wondered if I would be interested in presenting to the group on investing.

I made sure to talk at length with the gentleman who had contacted me to understand what the group needed, but I made sure to maintain my brand while I was there. After this conversation, I decided to present and educate and get the word out about my niche focus.

After engaging in a discussion for a couple of hours about investing philosophies, the state of the regulatory bodies in the industry and other topics, one quiet gentleman at the back of the room spoke up. He stated that he wasn’t a pilot, but a retired teacher. Two other gentlemen joined in, and told me that their children were teachers.

In the following weeks through various discussions, I have generated more potential business than any other event in which have presented. It still baffles me to this day.

So, the natural question becomes how can advisors find (and leverage) these kinds of opportunities? I’ve identified a few to get started with.

1. Network with other advisors: Some of my peers told me not to do this presentation as it strayed from my niche. However, the only reason this pilot called me was because of a guest blog post I wrote on a leading financial planning blog. Search out opportunities to get your name, brand and content in the financial planning community (local and online). If you are able to leverage other planner’s viewers and networks, you can also get yourself in front of their audience, who may fall into your niche. Check out ‘Why Referral Marketing Failed You and How To Fix It’.

2. Seek to serve: I went into this presentation with the hope of helping people – I wasn’t going to seek business. Do this in your local community: seek to serve in an area you feel passionate about. It should have nothing to do with your business-growth efforts. Sometimes not looking for the business is a catalyst for it finding you.

3. You don’t know who people know: As a niche-advisor, I only market to a certain demographic. If you target a niche, talk to people who aren’t in that niche and impress them, they may tell your ideal clients about you. The same can be said for your practice: your direct marketing is only reaching a small population. By letting those not in your ideal market know who you are, they can do some of the heavy lifting for you.

4. Maintain your niche focus: When you find these opportunities, you may be tempted to bury your brand and message in order to appeal to most people in the room. Don’t do that. Believe in what you have built, even if you narrow down your chances of generating business at the event. If you come across with a focused business model, you become more easily referable to those people who come into contact with you.

5. Don’t outreach your comfort zone: While speaking with these pilots, we discussed topics I was comfortable with. However, if they had wanted to talk about investing in their pilot plans, I would have had to decline the invitation. As a niche planner, you have expertise in certain areas. This expertise makes you stand out in the crowd as people consider you a specialist in your chosen niche. Don’t try and go back to being a generalist for the sake of an audience. Speak with confidence on subject matters that you know, as that confidence will help strengthen the appearance of your expertise.

Simply by taking off our ‘niche blinders’, we open our eyes to the possibility for these seemingly non-targeted conversations to effectively grow our business.








Photo credit: Telstar, Flickr

Dave Grant Dave Grant, CFP®, is the founder of Finance For Teachers a fee-only RIA in Cary, IL. Dave exclusively serves teachers in Illinois by helping them to organize their financial lives and live a fulfilled life. He is also a columnist at Financial Planning magazine, a ghost writer for various companies, and the founder of NAPFA Genesis, a networking group for over 300 young, fee-only planners.