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Motivation marketing

To compete in the retail financial services marketplace, you need to have at least £5m to spend on marketing activities – each year, every year.

You haven&#39t got £5m? But you want to grow your business, don&#39t you? You want to persuade people they will get a better deal if they consult you rather than the Halifax, Abbey, Lloyds or Virgin.

Well, all these companies spend a bucketload of cash each year on marketing so if you want to steal business from them you have to dig deep into your financial resources.

Don&#39t stop reading – I&#39m only joking. Well, perhaps exaggerating. The truth is if you want your business to survive and thrive, you have got to be prepared to market yourself professionally.

It is also true that your competitors are major financial institutions spending a fortune each year promoting their products and services. But itis not true that you must have those millions in the bank to be able to compete.

Life is changing in the fin-ancial services marketplace. Competition is becoming fierce. There are more products than ever before. Consumers are better informed.

And now consumers can even access financial information on their Wap mobile phones while shopping at Sainsbury&#39s (where they can also take out a mortgage, Isa or personal loan). That is an awful lot of marketing, all of which is aimed at the very same consumers that you are trying to attract.

You know that the lifeblood of your business is new clients. Sure, you can survive for a time off your existing client base, but sooner or later you&#39ve got to win new clients if you are going to grow.

So how do you compete against the marketing might of the financial big hitters? How can you take on the Halifax, Abbey or Virgin and persuade potential clients they are better off consulting you?

The answer, I am afraid, is that you have to market yourself more effectively. The good news is it does not mean you have to spend more money.

At this stage, you are probably thinking I am about to teach granny how to suck eggs. You may already be advertising locally, producing your own newsletter, sending press releases to your local newspapers and regularly mailing your database. If you are, great. But how effective is all this?

Many brokers I talk to have not given a great deal of thought to the strategy behind their marketing tactics. If your budget is tight, you need to ensure every pound is being put to good effect. You need a clear strategy.

What do I mean by marketing strategy? A marketing strategy is not advertising in the local newspaper or mailing my client base three times a year. These are marketing tactics. They are simply ways of getting your message across. To develop a strategy, you need to understand clearly what it is you need to say and to whom.

A good starting place is to take a close look at the factors that have enabled you to get to where you are now. What type of clients do you tend to attract? Are they predominantly high-net-worth investors? Young first-time buyers? Family formers? Or the self-employed? Start by trusting your instincts. You will probably already have a good gut feeling as to where you have the greatest success selling your services.

If you feel, for example, that most of your clients are self-employed, test this out by looking back at a few records. Do your client records support your instinct or has another group emerged as being important? Or is it a combination of client types?

At this stage, a typical response could be: “OK, I have analysed my records and I am clearly good at selling to the self-employed. So perhaps my marketing strategy should be to grow my business by selling to another group – young families for example”.

My strong recommendation is to stick to the knitting. If you have been successful at selling to a specific customer type, the obvious thing to do is to see if you can sell to more people of the same type.

The danger with any form of communication is trying to say too much. It is a forgivable mistake. After all, if you have just spent a few hundred pounds on an ad, your instinct is to get as much information across to prospective clients as possible. But this is the wrong tactic.

The golden rule with marketing communications is to keep the message clear and simple. Don&#39t confuse your target audience by swamping them with too much information. Bear in mind that yourad, mailer or radio ad will be but one among many. You must ensure each one is as clear and concise as possible.

What should the message be? The answer is, one which will motivate prospective clients to contact you. It could be a product-specific offer but the decision will be driven by issues such as the timing of new product launches. Ensure the message is focused, easy to understand and has a clear call to action.

Do not try to be an advertising designer yourself, use a local agency to do it for you. There are plenty of small agencies which can also put you in contact with people who can help with specialist activities such as website design, PR and print production.

Do not fall into the trap of thinking that just because you use a couple of marketing tactics, you have a full marketing strategy. Ask yourself the following questions:

Who do I want to sell to (define your target market)?

What do I want to say to them (what is your proposition)?

How can I most effectiv-ely communicate with them(which communication techni-ques are most appropriate)?

How do I want prospective clients to respond (what do you want new customers to do)?

Rosabeth Moss Kanter once said: “If we always do what we have always done, we will probably always get the results that we have always got.” How true when it comes to marketing. If you want your business to be bigger and better at what it does, you have to be prepared to do something different.

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