One of the biggest challenges in my job? It’s sometimes convincing Financial Brokers of the importance of taking a step back and carrying out structured marketing planning.
“I don’t need it” I hear them say or “I know exactly what I want to do”. And with the very best of intentions, they set off down a poorly planned path working on an ad-hoc marketing activity, with little qualification of what they are trying to achieve and little consideration of what actually is the best marketing activity to help them achieve their goals. There’s little thought given as to the cost of the activity in relation to their overall marketing budget (if they have one), and usually no thought given to the measures of success.
So eventually after spending valuable time, money and energy, I often see frustration. They don’t get the results that they expected. My question is what were those expectations based on… If Financial Brokers cannot be convinced of the value of planning, well who can be? After all, Financial Brokers spend every day advising clients to avoid diving in and buying financial products (think marketing activities), and instead to base their product decisions on the outcomes of their financial plan (think marketing plan).
Marketing is about identifying your target market, planning and executing activities, with a view to enabling sales. Successful selling is based on fully leveraging those marketing activities. So to help you to achieve those sales objectives (whatever they might be), you need to give yourself the strongest base to work from. And that means delivering the optimal set of marketing supports, aimed at the right people at the right time. This can only happen through structured planning. Getting crystal clear on your marketing objectives, pinpointing your target audiences and then choosing the right set of activities to achieve those objectives are critical to helping you achieve your overall business goals.
Many Financial Brokers think that their time is always best spent prospecting and selling. And that marketing is an activity to be carried out when they don’t have people to contact and clients to go to. Yes marketing costs money and time. In relation to the cost and while there are no Irish statistics available (as of yet!), in 2011 according to the FAInsight “Study of Advisory Firms: Growth by Design” in the US, financial advisers spent on average just 1.7% of their turnover on marketing or business development! That is incredibly low when compared to any other industry. Most businesses in other sectors spend anwhere from 5% to 20% of their turnover on marketing. Why is this different for financial advisers? After all, there aren’t many people queuing up outside Financial Brokers’ offices looking to buy their services…
Yes, marketing does require investment. In recent years though and with the explosion of the web and social media as a core part of marketing strategy, the investment requirement has shifted. Previously it was a high cost drain on a firm’s financial resources. Now instead it can be a much lower cost activity, but one that requires your time. If you don’t have time, well then you can outsource the work and pay for your marketing in euros instead – today it is about achieving the right balance for you between time spent and euros spent.
At the end of the day, sales is all about the “here and now”. Marketing is about the future of your business – building your brand, establishing your market position, engaging potential customers and building a loyal band of customers, supporters and advocates of your business. Can you really afford not to do this properly?