In my last article, I gave an overview of how Quay Software has undertaken to analyse each of the 167 common tasks that its IFA practice Quay Associates does each day and how using technology efficiently can reduce the time spent on these tasks by up to 80 per cent.
This week, I will look at the ways in which technology can save time in getting a marketing message across.
Marketing is something that few IFAs do well and most do not do at all. If they did, organisations such as IFA Promotion would probably not need to exist.
Pretty Financial director Kim North warns that IFAs must embrace marketing and technology, preferably combining the two, if they are to survive in the post-CP121 world. This is worrying because I suspect that the reason for the lack of marketing and efficient use of technology is not down to ability or desire or even to money, it is down to time – or the lack of it.
Looking at the tasks for a marketing campaign, there are a number of ways in which technology can be employed to make the process quicker and more cost-effective. The basic tasks that need to be undertaken can be summarised as follows:
Identifying a campaign.
Creating the message.
Identifying your target.
Distributing the message.
Identifying a campaign and creating a message
Technology is unlikely to help much in saving time, unless you employ a marketing person or an agency to do your creative thinking.
But creating a campaign need not be as difficult as you think. Newspapers are a great source of marketing fodder to use in “piggyback” campaigns. Use headlines to alert your clients to relevant news. Send the information quickly so the news is current. Use the free online news services.
Keep your message short – one A4 page for a direct-mail piece or two paragraphs for an email – and make it relevant by pointing out why news will be of importance to the client.
Highlight the connection between your business and the news, especially if it is not obvious. Some of your clients may be confused. Help them understand how you can help them.
Explain why it is important to your client that they take notice of your news, how will this information benefit them and what is in it for them.
Give a call to action. What do you want your client to do next? Whether you want to direct your client to your website or office phone number, do not forget to state it clearly on your chosen method of communication.
Identifying your target market
Marketing communication should be about keeping existing clients informed on the basis that they tend to be more profitable and cheaper to service than acquiring new clients.
Usually, the capacity to undertake a commitment to communicate regularly depends on whether your client records are kept on paper or electronically. This is because targeting the right clients for your message is important. Sending a letter to a single person in their 20s is hardly appropriate if your message draws attention to cheaper term insurance rates. It wastes your time and money and makes the client realise you do not know them.
If, however, you have invested some time and money in a quality back-office system, you will be able to search through your clients using a series of “found sets”.
This means that, whatever your target, for example, clients with young children, once the criteria have been set, your system will find all such clients. Target marketing is done in two minutes as opposed to 300.
But it is what you do from this moment on that makes a big difference in time and in money.
Distributing your message
If you elect to send a direct-mail letter, you will still have to print letters and stuff them in envelopes, add stamps and post the letters. Efficient use of technology using email or SMS messaging means you can make big time savings.
Before you undertake any email broadcasting, make sure you do not breach the terms and conditions of your ISP or risk having your account closed down. Alternatively, opt for a business rate service or recruit an agency.
SMS messaging for marketing purposes is proving very successful. A recent campaign undertaken for a client by Blitz Marketing yielded a 25 per cent response rate, which compares with a 1 per cent response rate for most direct-marketing campaigns.
The added beauty of using technology to communicate in this way is that, on average, the cost is 10 per cent of a mailshot. Now, that has to be a good incentive.