April 16, 2012

Key Systems for a Healthy Independent Advisory Business, Pt. 3: Marketing as Problem Solving

Last week I wrote the first of two posts on the subject of marketing, the second in a multipart blog series on how to have a healthy independent advisory business. As the first of three business systems, marketing is possibly the most discussed among financial advisors. Most of this discussion centers around what to do and how to do it. Make five calls per day, mail five letters or postcards per day, etc., etc. I'd like to challenge you to think about things a little differently.

Last week's blog could be summed up as this: "Some people believe you have to 'act' to 'be.' Others believe you have to 'be' to 'act.' The first group lends itself to pretense and can portray a false image. One which is not a true reflection of what's inside. The latter group does not have to 'act' as they are already honest, ethical, competent, etc. The disconnect can come when a person enters this business strictly for the money and has little regard for those he serves. In this case, he feels he must 'act' the part of an advisor. If you've been in the business for very long, I'm confident you know what I mean. Anyway, enough of that. 

This week, I'd like to turn our attention slightly and discuss the core purpose of marketing and the various venues.

Core Purpose
Marketing is intended to motivate the recipient to take some type of action. In essence, it must connect to the deeper part of the individual and cause them to act. Therefore, it must address the listener’s point of view. But first, you might consider taking an internal inventory by asking these three questions:

  • Who you are?
  • What do you offer?
  • Why would anyone choose you over another advisor?

For example, people buy a drill bit to make a hole. They buy a shovel to dig. In other words, people choose this or that to solve a problem. What's their problem when it comes to their finances? That's what you must first identify. 

The Venue
Then there's the venue. Once you identify the problem and create the message, you must get that message out. How? Where? Which method provides the greatest potential ROI? Direct mail is impersonal and most won't even read it. Radio is better, as it can touch more emotions (e.g.; involve more senses), but can be rather costly. Television has the potential to create the strongest message, but again, the price is often prohibitive. Besides, if the commercial is not well written and produced, it's a waste of money. What about the Internet? If you can create a good video, one that will address a common and broad problem, it can certainly be distributed at a low cost. Finally, there's the good old referral. Since trust is a requirement of those you seek, a referral from a trusted friend is like gold!

Where to Begin
Given the above mentioned venues, and since referrals are preferred, I'd suggest you consider doing everything possible to exceed the expectations of those you currently serve. After all, we work for them, not the reverse. 

Thanks for reading and have a great week!

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