Marketing is the process of deliberately creating and maintaining relationships with clients and prospects. It is about creating awareness that you exist, generating interest in what you have to offer, creating demand for your proposition and encouraging prospective clients to take action – that is, purchase from you.
It seems simple, doesn’t it? So why do so many businesses fail to reach their potential?
Many advice firms we encounter are running flat out with an endless list of tasks – trying to keep on top of servicing clients, making fund recommendations, running accounts and managing and developing staff, not to mention trying to grow their business and income by attracting new clients. But many have no clear marketing strategy or plan.
Much of their marketing activity is sporadic, ill thought-through and poorly targeted. Marketing is often an afterthought, given real focus only when there is a need to generate revenue quickly.
Many advisers start marketing but do not sustain the activity, either because other priorities come along or they feel their system is not working. Marketing is an ongoing, methodical process and it takes time. It is not a sporadic activity but should be a core pillar of a successful business, just like HR, finance and operations.
Marketing your business effectively can be the difference between success and failure. It is about having a vision for your business with clear objectives of what you would like to achieve and by when.
To successfully achieve your business vision you must follow the marketing planning process. This helps overcome major stumbling blocks and forces you to think about how and where your business adds value. The following are the keys to building and executing a successful marketing plan:
- Set your business vision – Be clear on your objectives and when you want to deliver them. Without a clear business vision, you will meander aimlessly, achieving nothing outstanding and punching below your weight
- Be clear on what you have to offer – Recognise that your business exists solely for the purpose of making a positive difference to the lives of your clients, not making money for you
- Define and understand your clients and prospective clients – In our previous article we covered niche marketing: one size does not fit all and you will never be able to service all clients profitably. As you are aiming to run a profitable business, you must segment your clients and deliver an outstanding, valuable proposition to the profitable niche that you are targeting
- Communicate your proposition – What positive difference will you make to clients’ lives? Communicate this in a clear and compelling way. Develop key messages that can be consistently woven through all your communications to build a picture in clients’ minds of the value you can add to them and their families
- Build a runway of activity – Inconsistent effort does not usually deliver the rewards of consistent effort. Think about what you are going to say and when you will deliver it. Your marketing efforts need to be drip-fed consistently to keep you at the front of your clients’ (or potential clients’) minds
- Execute your plan with precision – Think about the channels you will use to take your message to market. Whatever they are, your marketing must be well presented, relevant and interesting to your audience
- Measure – Understand what works and what does not. Keep learning and refine your marketing for next time; there is always room for improvement
Above all, once you have clients in front of you, deliver what you have promised to deliver. You do not need a utopia proposition but you must meet or exceed client expectations at every stage of their journey with you.
Jane Cuthbertson is a chartered marketer and associate consultant with Steve Billingham Consulting