Every advisor loves getting referrals from existing clients. Some advisors seem to have a knack for getting referrals, while others struggle to crack the code. If you identify with the latter and haven’t placed a priority on building a referral strategy, you should. It’s a heck of a lot easier (and faster) to close a lead who has been referred to you than the long road it takes to start from scratch. 

Consider this: Consumers place a huge weight on recommendations when deciding who to do business with—whether they’re shopping for a new pair of running shoes or a financial advisor. According Nielsen’s 2021 Truth in Advertising Study, a whopping 88% of global respondents said they trust recommendations more than any other advertising channel.

This makes perfect sense when you look at it from an advisor-client perspective. As our recent podcast guest author and Wharton School professor Jonah Berger said, “The best marketing and the best advertising for you as an advisor is actually not you, right? It’s your existing clients. Nobody likes to hear people talk about how great they are themselves.”

So, how do advisors turn clients into advocates? 

… Clients who gladly recommend their advisor’s services and solutions to family and friends? If you’ve tuned into any of our podcasts or participated in InsurMark’s webinars, you know we talk about the importance of building trust and being your authentic self on the regular. 

Clients won’t buy from you, much less refer you, unless they trust you. And according to influence expert Matt Halloran, advisors who stop trying to be someone else and allow themselves to “be their own loud, unapologetic selves” (read “authentic”) are the ones making monumental strides in their businesses.

While the concepts of trust and authenticity may not sound revolutionary, it’s the mastery of building trust and willingness (and courage) to be authentic that distinguishes highly successful advisors from the rest. Trustworthiness and authenticity are both tied to how well you deliver on the promises you make, along with how you present your solutions and yourself to the world. 

Four sure-fire steps to turn clients into advocates and boost referrals

Step 1: Be the hero clients so desperately need.
Clients won’t advocate for you unless they know you are advocating for them. They need to know you have their best interests at heart on an ongoing basis, which means regular communication is critical for maintaining a client base (and getting referrals).

This is evidenced by research performed by McKinsey & Company in 2020. Along with dissatisfaction of handling of assets and product availability, communication was one of the primary reasons consumers gave for transferring their assets from their current advisor to someone else.*

In order to reinforce trust and prevent clients from switching to a different advisor, advisors need to be proactive about addressing their clients’ changing needs. This requires ongoing engagement with clients to address any new issues keeping them up nights—not to mention issues they don’t see coming—and providing alternative solutions when needed.

When you validate client concerns and provide options to help them overcome their fears and potential challenges—and do so on a consistent basis—that helps reinforce trust. As the economy fluctuates and new regulations come into play, client anxiety rises. If you don’t step in with your superhero cape to propose a new solution, you can bet your life another advisor will. 

Step 2: Promote your personal brand like a Kardashian.
Love them or hate them, the Kardashian sisters are everywhere. While we’re not proposing any racy photo shoots (really, we don’t want to see that …), we are proposing you do what the Kardashians do so well. Be unapologetically yourself and show up in places where your target market hangs out in the digital world.

The goal here is to build credibility as a trusted authority in your niche. Ideally, you want to be the guy or gal who shows up when people search for information on your areas of expertise. Now, becoming a trusted authority doesn’t happen overnight, it’s something you need to build over time. That’s why investing in a digital-focused, content marketing strategy and the many components involved with that strategy are so important.

And get this: marketing doesn’t need to be hard or time-consuming. You just need to find the right tools and partners to streamline the process. That’s why InsurMark continues to cultivate innovative tools and resources specifically designed to give advisors the marketing fire power they need to cut through the noise and get noticed. From automated marketing campaigns and CRM software to content marketing, podcasting and more, we’ve covered all the bases. 

The trust you build through solid retention strategies, combined with the knowledge you share (online videos, social media posts, email marketing, etc.) increases the likelihood that clients will advocate for you. 

Learn more about accelerating your influence to get more referrals in this past post.

Step 3: Use analogies to simplify your messaging and make it easier to share. 
When advisors speak with clients, much of what they say goes in one ear and out the other. That’s because they’re speaking their language not the language of a layperson. As professor Bergen shared during our recent podcast, “If your client doesn’t understand what you’re saying, how are they going to pass it along?”

Bergen recommends using analogies to explain the ideas you’re trying to get across. “Analogies and stories can be a great way to help ideas travel. When you think about how you communicate ideas, think about doing it not only for understanding but also for transmission. It’s a great way to turn clients into advocates,” Bergen says.

Step 4: Ask clients to advocate for you (and make it easy).
Seems pretty logical, right? Yet many advisors are hesitant to ask their clients to advocate for them. In the process of regularly communicating with your clients (see Step 1) and sharing content you’re putting out there, ask clients if they would be willing to share it with friends or colleagues who might find it helpful. You could send an email message saying something like:

Hey Lenny,

I know you found my video on [topic here] helpful. Is there anyone in your circle dealing with similar challenges who might find it of interest? If so, feel free to pass this email along or share the video on your social pages.

If there’s other info you might find helpful or questions you need answered, please reach out!

I’ll be in touch soon,


You’ll be surprised by how many clients will be happy to share their stories about and experiences with you, as well as the valuable content you’ve shared. You just need to ask.

We can help simplify your marketing, retention and referral initiatives

InsurMark is an advisor development organization committed to helping advisors go from good to great. If you’d like to learn more about what we can do for you and your business, contact us at (800) 752-0207 or connect with us online.

* Source: McKinsey Affluent and High-Net-Worth Consumer Survey, September 2020, n = 1,003 (10% with <$250K in investable assets, 56% with $250K-$1M, 19% with $1M-$5M, 15% with >$5M)