Case Study: How an Advisor Got 50 Referrals in a Year

Getting new prospects in the pipeline is one of the biggest challenges advisors face. The hunt for qualified prospective clients can feel like you’re on a grueling hike through a desert, looking for an oasis. You run toward the next great idea to bring in leads, and it turns out to be a mirage.

The system Mark Rapoza and his team have built at Barrett & Company is no mirage. He recently reached out with this message:

“Hello Laura … our team is having its strongest year of referrals over these last 12 months than any time in my career. Your team is a valuable partner.”

It couldn’t have been THAT good … that was all I could think to myself before I got Mark on the line to answer some questions. 

Turns out, I was wrong. It was averaging 3-5 new referrals a month kind of good. It was close to 50 new referrals for the year good. It was roughly $50M in new assets good. 

Now that IS good.

Not to mention, these new clients are trending younger than the firm’s norm. Many of Barrett & Company’s newest clients are in their early 50s. Mark sees it as an opportunity to build even more substantial, long-lasting relationships.

And they’re not just younger, but the introductions are coming from all over the country.

“We picked up two or three clients from Montana recently,” Mark says with a smile from his office in Rhode Island. It started with an introduction from a client. Mark followed up with an email containing a video he’d created 18 months earlier. It’s the same video he sends all prospects when they book a Zoom call. 

When the Montana folks met Mark on Zoom, they told him they’d watched the videos and forwarded them on to another friend. “All of a sudden we’re getting emails from the person’s friend saying, ‘Hey, let’s have a conversation!’”

So, what’s behind Barrett & Company’s game-changing year of results?

Let’s break it down to 4 things that any advisor could replicate:

#1 Tell good stories 

A really good story separates you from the pack. Nobody has lived your life, so no one else can tell your stories the way you would. A video that shares a story makes you memorable while making a point. Storytelling leads to higher recall.

Mark loves telling stories. This ⬇️ one is about sticking to the belief that “rational optimism is the only realism.” That’s a deep concept that Mark brings to life when he throws in a little horse manure:

Tip: If you’re just talking about investments and the market, you are missing a huge opportunity. “I talk less about portfolios than I’ve ever done in my career because clients don’t want to talk about it,” says Mark. “They just assume that we’ve got that.”

#2 Watch view count, don’t obsess 

It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers game. Many advisors think, “My video needs to go viral for it to work!” That thinking is a trap.

The Horse Manure Crisis video ⬆️ has about 200 views on YouTube. Is that enough? Think of it like this … a single video view from a well-qualified prospect is better than thousands of vanity views that don’t move the needle for your business. 

Barrett & Company counts successes in the dozens. If a story really resonates with 10-15 people, and another 25-30 watch it and put the advising team top of mind for a few moments, they consider that a win.

#3 Speak to your clients

Gaining $50M in new revenue is great, but those prospects are not where Mark and his team focus. 

Barrett & Company started recording videos for client communication. They were looking for a way to elevate their clients’ experience (while saving the advisors some time). They then built a process around sharing their videos, and suddenly the client communication plan turned into a referral engine. 

Since the average advisor gets 86% of revenue from client referrals, wouldn’t it be great to shift your referral stream into high gear?

#4 Build a “surprise & delight” process

Mark allowed a behind-the-scenes look at his video process (which Idea Decanter helped his team build). They send a video with all referral emails. Then, after the initial call, they’ll send another email with a video relating to something that came up in the meeting. It’s that simple.

There are more moving parts to the system (not all of them video).

✅ Each month they release a new video by sharing on YouTube, adding it to the website, posting it on social media, and sending it to their email distribution list of clients and prospects.

✅ Other elements of the team’s “surprise and delight” tactics include a busy mail room where they’re sending out handwritten greeting cards and inspirational books on a daily basis.

✅ An impressive PFO (personal financial organizer) binder for new clients to make a memorable first impression.

✅ Personal phone calls.

“I don’t think there’s any one thing that is a magic bullet, but I think when you put it all together the little things add up,” says Mark.
Want to find out more about the system the Barrett & Company team uses to create videos and build a process that gets results? Click here to see how Idea Kit works.

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