Yes, it’s time to start planning for 2013 if you haven’t started already as now is the time to get your business in shape for a fast start next year. When it comes to your marketing plans, there are a few areas that you should consider to both maximise your chances of success and to reduce wasted time and effort.
Develop a plan
The first consideration should be to bring some structure to your marketing activities. Develop a plan for the year to ensure your marketing activities are neither ad-hoc nor based on fads that might look attractive today. Develop a plan that is achievable for your business. Capture the plan on only one or two pages – the days of 20 page plans are over. Readers might read the executive summary and that’s usually as far they get… Finally, include some time for delivery into your work schedule and then really commit to delivering the activities.
Be crystal clear about your objectives
The temptation can be to dive in and start delivering an activity, maybe a newsletter, an email campaign or an event. My advice is – less haste, more speed! You need to be really clear about what your objectives are first. Are you trying to build your brand locally, increase leads into the business or possibly reconnect with existing clients? Depending on your objective, some activities will be a much better fit than others. So the first step has to be to get crystal clear on your objectives.
Know your target markets
It is vital to also be really clear about who it is that you’re trying to reach with your marketing campaigns, your communications and your sales campaigns. Is it individuals in a certain geographical area or is it business owners? Is it a particular occupation, a particular age profile or a particular segment of your existing clients? Knowing your audience will shape the activities that you choose, as different activities are more likely to succeed in grabbing the attention of different target markets.
This focus on your target groups should also carry through to any customer engagement content that you write. You’ve got to find a way to stand out from the crowd, perhaps as an expert in a particular area or perhaps as a valuable, local specialist. You want to become the “go to” person when your target market is seeking out opinions or expert writing in relation to financial services. Build this position as a thought leader in their minds and they are more likely to come to you for your advice. To do this, you’ve first of all got to be clear about who it is you want to reach.
As part of this, manage your customer data religiously. Please see the StepChange article “Good data = more sales for financial advisers” for some insights on this topic.
Put measures in place
This is the area that gives marketing a bad name! As the great pioneer of advertising, John Wanamaker famously said, ““I know that half of my advertising dollars are wasted … I just don’t know which half”!
How do you directly attribute sales to that article you wrote in the local paper? Well unless a client tells you that’s where they became aware of you, quite simply you can’t. However this doesn’t mean that you simply cross your fingers and hope for the best. With a bit of thought, you can come up with a range of metrics to measure the impact of your various marketing activities. Depending on the activity, these can include sales, number of leads, website hits, level of enquiries etc. For your online activities, the problem is somewhat reduced as there are a great range of metrics available to you. These can include search engine results, clicks through to your website and enquires via your website. For your social media activities, these can include shares, likes & retweets! While these in themselves aren’t revenue measures, they’ll give you a picture of whether you are engaging your key audiences or not.
Tidy up your current marketing supports
This is a big challenge for everyone. We all go through bursts of activity from time to time and do a complete overhaul of website content. However outside of this, you’ve got to eradicate out-of-date information on your website. There’s nothing worse than going to a website and seeing the most recent “Latest News” item or Newsletter is from a few years ago, and indeed time sensitive information such as Social Welfare rates etc. are years old. Either bring them up to date or remove them.
Your prospective clients will research you initially on your website. They want an adviser who has their finger on the pulse. Out of date information will give them the opposite perception of your business.
While each of these points are relatively straightforward, they will take time and commitment. I think that they’re worth it if you want to get off to a fast start in 2013.
If you’ve any observations, comments or further thoughts, I’d welcome them below!