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The powers of perception

Want to grow your business in the current economy? That is not as daft as it sounds. Whether you are a mortgage broker or a financial adviser, the secret to growth is perception and positioning of your business.

Recessions are always a great time to take a business up market. Big earners may be 10 or even 20 per cent worse off nowadays but those earning the big bucks can still live comfortably on their reduced income. It is those at the other end of the pay scale that will really feel a 10 or 20 per cent drop in income.

Do you really want to be selling on price rather than value for money right now? You need to be competent and deliver great service if you want to keep your clients coming back but what is also important is how they perceive you and value your service.

Most people do not buy on price but want value for money, especially when it comes to expert knowledge and advice across the mortgage, general insurance and other financial sectors.

The key to growth is making sure that what you are offering has a high perceived value to the client but costs you relatively little to deliver. Expert advice is ideal for this. It is all about customer service and the personal touch, all the things the dotcom businesses struggle with or simply cannot deliver.

It is the long-term customer value that is most important for growth so do not skimp on your sales package and tools. CDs and DVDs cost relatively little to produce. You may also need to review your website and brochures. Public relations is also a great tool for enhancing perceived value. Local press coverage can raise your profile and enhance your reputation.

I heard of a dentist who gives his child patients a paper card that gets stamped after every visit. Once the card is full, the child gets a free bike. It probably costs the dentist around £100 or so but all those visits will have bagged the dentist many times more than that over the past years.

With all the negativity about the economy, a potential double-dip recession and the rest of the doom and gloom, now is a great time to ramp up your marketing. It is the last thing your competitors will be doing and the cost of advertising has fallen over the last couple of years.

It is a great time to steal a march on your competitors and use advertising to help communicate how you want the business to be perceived from now on. Reduced advertising costs are one of the positives to come out of the recession and something that smart entrepreneurs are exploiting to the hilt.

After all, people still need a mortgage and they need expert financial advice more than ever. Advertising can help to position you as the safe, trustworthy expert.

Sally Laker is managing director of Mortgage Intelligence and Mortgage Next


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