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Business of Advice – Avoid marketing muddle with some basic rules

Third part of our serialisation of the Taxbriefs book Business of Advice. In this extract author David Shelton explains the tools the tools and techniques needed to market a business.


DAVID SHELTON: Head of IFA Consultancy Service – Scottish Widows

To get the best out of your marketing effort you need to be rigorous in your marketing activities and their planning.

To check where your business stands answer these TEN KILLER QUESTIONS scoring 1 for poor and 10 for brilliant.

To what extent …

1.   Does one person have responsibility for making sure your marketing works?

2.   Is your marketing person trained and has time to do the job?

3.   Do you have a marketing plan that runs at least six months ahead?

4.   Do you measure the results of your marketing activity?

5.   Is the marketing budget sufficient?

6.   Is your marketing budget carefully split between profile, acquisition and retention?

7.   Do you all share responsibility for making marketing campaigns happen?

8.   Is your approach to marketing well organised?

9.   Do your clients compliment your marketing?

10.Do your marketing materials (brochures, website, business cards etc.) have the same design, style and colours to look ‘joined up’?

If you have scored around 30%, you are close to the market average. A good score would be around 70%.

There are three main marketing tasks: raising profile, acquiring clients and retaining them. To maximise results you should use the right marketing techniques for the right jobs.

As the chart shows the wide range of techniques can be more suited to some tasks than others. The lists above are not mutually exclusive because there will be some overlap. For example, a series of well placed press articles will always raise profile but, at the same time, generate a few enquiries. However, a well targeted mail-shot should generate a lot of enquiries but have less affect upon the overall awareness and profile. The mail-shot may go to a few hundred people, but several thousand may see the articles.

Tasks and techniques provide the framework for marketing – what you want to do (raise profile, acquire and retain clients) and how you are going to do it (using combinations of the range of communication techniques)

To get the best out of your marketing budget you need to:

·     Give the job of ’marketing‘ to someone who has time to do it properly.

·     Plan ahead.

·     Work through the detail of individual marketing activities, including prospective client follow up.

·     Use the right marketing techniques for the job.

·     Measure the outcome of all marketing exercises and use this information to improve future campaigns.

·     Test all marketing ideas (from brochures through to mail-shots) with a universal checklist.

The checklist is a straight forward way of testing any marketing idea and has several benefits:

·     It filters out poor activities or initial ideas before time and money are spent.

·     It allows you to prioritise activities because the process reveals their relative strength and viability.

·     You can apply the criteria to all your marketing activities as standard practice.

·     Regular use of this approach allows you to continuously refine and improve your marketing activities.

To test, accept, reject and improve marketing ideas and techniques you should ask the following questions:

·     What are you trying to achieve?

·     What is the activity about?

·     Who are you trying to influence?

·     What do you want them to know?

·     How will you communicate?

·     When will this happen?

·     Who will do the work and what will it cost?

·     How will you know if it has worked?

If you cannot answer these questions precisely, then you should not go ahead with any marketing campaign. If you can provide clear and measurable answers, then it is likely that the campaign will be successful. At the very least you are minimising the risks of failure.

Finally, with marketing activity, less is always more. Undertake a few carefully planned campaigns and do them really well, as opposed to many with the hope that something will work!

Serialised from The Business of Advice, the definitive guide to running a financial advice business. Details and online purchase (£145) at:


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