5 Tips for Effective Marketing Planning by Financial Advisers

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.

1. Build the Foundations

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.

2. Develop your Marketing Positioning

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.

3. Get Crystal Clear on your Objectives

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!

4. Make sure you’ve the Capacity to Deliver

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.

5. Make sure the plan is Reviewable. And then Review it!

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!

5 Common Marketing Mistakes by Financial Advisers

In this column, I look at 5 of the most common mistakes I see financial advisers making when it comes to Marketing.

 1.   Unclear Objectives

Since the recession really began to bite, many advisers have realised the importance that Marketing plays in attracting and retaining clients. However a lot of money has been  wasted on activities that unfortunately were doomed from the outset. The main reason that I have discovered is that there was no clarity around exactly what was to be  achieved from the marketing activity – was it to increase the brand presence, attract new clients or hold onto existing ones? If you’re not clear about what you’re trying to achieve, unfortunately you’ve little chance of achieving success…

2.   Content – or lack of it

I think we all know this one… “Let’s do a Newsletter” says someone with a burst of enthusiasm! Two torturous months later, Issue 1 is finally sent out. Everyone is relieved but exhausted and yes, Issue 2 never sees the light of day! As a result, it becomes a nagging sore and really, you’d be better off never having started on it at all. For all your marketing activities, you need to think through the future content or indeed find a source to write the content for you. If you’re going to start a regular activity, you’ve got to commit fully to it for it to say positive things about your business and your brand. By the way, the same applies to out of date content…how up to date is your website?

3.   Focusing too early on the Product

As I work with more and more financial advisers, I see another quite common theme. A huge amount of work going into presentations, brochures, websites etc. that set out in great detail the products that we want to sell without ever engaging the audience first by putting yourself in their world. Trust me; we’re all guilty of this one! The problem is that you need to engage the audience first and then slowly reel them in, instead of launching straight in to the solution. Identify their need to stimulate their interest and then engage them in the benefits to them of addressing that need. Now they’re ready and want to hear the solution – your product!

4.   No Measures or Focus on Results

A good number of advisers have expressed strong views to me in relation to previous Marketing activities that they’ve carried out. However when pressed, they’ve had unclear targets set around the activities and little or no analysis of the actual results. I often hear “I think we got 10 leads out of that, but would need to check”. The actual results are often wildly different – sometimes much more positive, sometimes more negative. When I ask what result they had hoped to get, there often was no target.  The problem is that if you don’t set targets and rigorously measure the results of each activity, how are you supposed to know next year which activities to repeat and which ones to ditch?

5.   Poor Production Quality

Finally you get your content together – be it written content or speakers for your seminar etc. But then the newsletter goes out with typos on it or on wafer thin paper that looks and feels terrible, or at your seminar no-one can read the slides because the typeface is too small or the projector is not strong enough…we’ve all been there. Your audience disengage and in a worst case scenario, will place a big black mark against your brand. Make sure you’re really proud of what you produce – or else get an expert to look after it for you! Wow your audience, don’t disappoint them!