Here is a marketing truism that many financial service professionals dont understand, or dont believe applies to them: If there is no clearly perceived, demonstrable difference between two products or services, then the most significant factor in the success or failure of the product or service is marketing.
To better illustrate, consider this analogy–if your product is ketchup, it is going to be extremely difficult to differentiate yourself on the basis of any technical information such as the ingredients, or any results-based claims such as taste. As far as 95% of the public is concerned, ketchup is ketchup.
The only path for one ketchup to do any better than the other is through marketing: the label, the bottle, the TV commercial, the coupons, the distributors, the shelf site, even the color–have you heard about green ketchup?
What Your Peers Are Reading
If you are a ketchup producer and you stubbornly insist the secret to increased market share is trying to prove to consumers that your ketchup is actually better than the other companys ketchupwell, good luck.
As a financial service professional, you are the ketchup.
What do you think will be the most important factor in your future business success? Hard work? Referrals? Technical knowledge? Your ability as a broker? The ups and downs of the economy? Luck?
Actually, its none of those. The single most important factor in your business success is marketing.
You probably doubt this. After all, youve spent your whole life studying, gaining experience, perfecting your process and improving your service. When it comes to getting new business, those are the most important things, right? Well, not exactly.
Perhaps you believe, as most financial service professionals do, that the quality and quantity of your work will account for about 90% of your success (or lack of it) and that marketing might account for the other 10%.
Actually, its the opposite. In fact, if you have a choice between being good at marketing and being good at your job, choose marketing. You can hire someone else to do a good job for the many, many clients your marketing brings in the door.
Lets say Mr. and Mrs. Jones are your potential clients. Now, if the Joneses want to buy a product, they have a number of ways to evaluate that product. They can touch it, taste it, take it for a test drive and, if they dont like it, return it and get their money back. Furthermore, when they buy the product, they take control over it.
On the other hand, when the Joneses buy a professional service, they face a number of fear-inducing problems. Some of these include:
1. They are buying something invisible and intangible.
2. The only way they can properly evaluate the service (plastic surgery, a haircut, investment advice) is after it has been performed–and by then, its too late.
3. Theyre buying this service from someone they dont know.
4. They are paying a significant fee, or some part of it, in advance.
5. They are buying in a field in which they have no knowledge or expertise.
6. Instead of taking control, they are handing over control–and in an area of vital importance in their lives, perhaps second only to their health.
So, Mr. or Ms. Advisor, the Joneses are sitting across the desk from you, scared out of their minds, and feeling a large gap in comfort, trust and confidence. Addressing that gap is the key step in your marketing.