At least every year, financial advisers need to take time out from their day to day business and put structured plans in place to help drive their business forwards. . Central to this process is (or should be!) a well-developed marketing plan that will support you and your staff in achieving your business objectives. This article looks at 5 critical areas to be incorporated when developing the marketing plan for your business. Is a plan important? Yes it is, in fact it is essential. Without one, you’re throwing mud at the wall and hoping that some of it sticks.
All good plans are built on a foundation of solid research. This is particularly true in relation to the marketing plan of a financial advice business. First of all, you’ve got to understand the environment that you’re operating in and the impacts that this external world has on your business. There are external factors out there over which you’ve no control that could decide the fate of your business in the future. You then need to get clear on what makes you different from other advisers by taking a hard look internally at your own business. Finally you need to get clear on who are the customers you want to reach through your marketing plan.
This is all about identifying how you’re going to stand out from the crowd, that is from other financial advisers. It’s no accident that the more effort you’ve put into the research and the more thinking you’ve done at stage one, the easier this piece becomes. In fact if your research phase is very strong, your market positioning will often just fall out in front of you! It becomes very obvious how you’ll differentiate yourself. This is really important as this sets the theme and the backdrop for the marketing plan and will really guide you as you move towards delivery of the plan.
While all 5 points are really important, this is the most critical of the lot. Are you trying to grow the brand of your business, are you trying to get new customers? Or is it all about hanging on to and developing your existing customer base? Is it about developing partnerships? Until you get absolutely clear on what your objectives are, you’re really just throwing whatever at the wall….. The answer is usually not “all of the above” as this will result in a huge range of unnecessary activities at significant cost. You need to focus and make hard choices that are deliverable. Once you get clear on your objectives, now (and only now) can you identify which are the right marketing activities for you to carry out.
In my business in which I help advisers with their planning and their marketing activities, I see a lot of wasted effort and money, and also some poor results. In 99% of cases, it’s down to a lack of focus on the above 3 areas or a financial adviser not having the skills to complete this work themselves. Sometimes it’s right to call in some expert help!
A plan is not just a wish list of all the things you’d like to do. A plan needs to be achievable and to make a marketing plan achievable; first of all, it needs to be written down. The plan then needs to clearly identify how much money it will take to deliver and either who in your organisation will deliver it or how much it will cost to have the activities delivered externally. If need be, you then make choices to fit your budget. Now you have activities that you’re confident can be delivered.
Then put dates and measures against each activity too. Yes, I agree it can be difficult to link every marketing activity directly to sales – how do you know how much of your sales came from the monthly column you write in your local newspaper? However every single marketing activity is measureable in some form or another so a target should be set for each activity.
A marketing plan does not have to be a 20 page document that will sit in a drawer and be forgotten forever! In fact, I’m a huge fan of marketing plans that can fit on 1 page or 2 pages at a real stretch. These plans can be reviewed in 10 minutes at a staff meeting, or indeed can be just taken out by you and reviewed. If there are clear dates for delivery and names of people responsible for delivery, it becomes obvious where and why your plan might be falling behind.
Then with the measures that you used for your targets, you can see if the activities delivered as expected. This is invaluable in helping you decide whether to repeat these activities in the future.
I hope you found this article useful. A well-developed marketing plan will save you money, increase the chances of success of your marketing activities and will help to build your business through connecting better with potential and existing customers. I’d love the opportunity to help you!