From the August 2010 issue of Research Magazine • Subscribe!

August 1, 2010

Commonwealth's New Marketing Plan: Giving Advisors Communications Toolkit

Commonwealth Financial adds a marketing program.

Independent advisors with Commonwealth Financial Network are taking advantage of the broker-dealer's Four-Corners Marketing program, which was launched earlier this year.

The program gives its 1,200-plus advisors access to compliance-approved letters, seminars, invitations, worksheets, market updates and more. They can also use these materials on customized websites developed through Commonwealth's EasySite web-development program.

The program includes model marketing plans complete with implementation calendars and the tools needed to execute the plans, says Commonwealth.

John Weibler of Lewiston, Idaho-based Weibler Financial & Retirement, decided to update his marketing package less than a year ago, around the time that his son Matthew joined the practice. As the Weiblers moved forward on this project, they turned to the Four-Corners program and other Commonwealth Resources.

"We've done marketing in the past and did our [first] website five years ago," John Weibler says. "But we wanted to improve our targeting and our image, as well as how we tell our story to the right people. We also wanted a clear message to share with our existing clients."

The plan to re-launch the practice's website, http://weibler.com, began with a re-working of its logo and other branding efforts. The Weiblers' practice serves about 400 households with $50 million in assets under management.

"We really wanted to increase the professionalism of our marketing look, the consistency of our communications and our recognition within our target markets," says John Weibler.

The Commonwealth Four-Corners program "makes this work simpler and more affordable," he explains. "We could have used a web consultant. But with Commonwealth, we could leverage compliance and their understanding of our business."

Jim Weiss of Weiss & Hale Financial in Pomfret Center, Conn., says Four-Corners Marketing "segments the daunting process of adding clients." The practice now has about 260 families as clients and $175 million in assets.

Weiss explains that his group made "a major commitment" to the program in order to revamp its brand. "We've been successful but too low profile," he says.

"Now, everything's done with the same taste and touch of our practice," explains Weiss. "We really did ramp up [our marketing]. It feels good that people know us."

Before it began this stage of its makeover, the Weiss & Hale practice hired Deirdre Childs to manage its communications and marketing. Then it set its priorities on growing its strategic alliances, prospect-marketing efforts (including a radio show) and other initiatives. (See www.weissandhale.com/ourteam.aspx.)

"At some point, you have to make a decision to ramp up and do it --- to commit the resources, even in a recession," Weiss says.

"It's definitely paid off, and we're still working at it," adds Childs.

The benefit of the Four-Corners Marketing program, according to Weiss, is that it "takes all the strings and pulls them together, which helps you see what is really involved [with a new marketing plan] and that you can do it."

The materials in the Four-Corners program, such as sample client letters and brochures, have been available to advisors for some time, says Joni Youngwirth, Commonwealth's managing principal of practice management.

"What we did was to build it out and expand it, while putting it into a new format," she explains.

This means that advisors don't have to go to the Commonwealth's web team or practice- management group for certain elements."

"For us, it answered the question of what we needed to offer more of while making it more robust in process and easier for financial advisors to use," Youngwirth shares.

For advisors, Four-Corners Marketing also gives them "a game plan," a system that helps them implement their marketing plans, she adds.

This might include a one-page marketing calendar, for instance, to make a practice's new communications work less daunting.

"The plan helps them get it done," says Youngwirth. "And the easier we make this for the advisors, the more they will use it."

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