Success in the financial services industry today revolves around marketing just as much as it revolves around selling. We must be mindful of this and restructure the approach of our business to appeal to today’s consumer.

To be proficient in marketing, it is important to realize that our work is 98% people knowledge and 2% product knowledge. You must, however, know 100% of that 2% to even begin to experience success. Once you’ve established this, you may begin exploring marketing techniques to set yourself apart from the pack.

Whether you’re new to the business or a seasoned professional, you must first know your product inside and out. You have to understand what you’re selling to sell it! I’ve found that education is of paramount importance to possess this necessary knowledge.

Read, continue your education by pursuing advanced designations, practice strategic coaching – these are just a few excellent ways to expand your understanding of the products you wish to sell. Once you “know your stuff,” it’s just a matter of marketing to the right people.

Marketing doesn’t just happen outside the office, but through the environment in which you perform your day-to-day work. I’ve implemented such marketing tools to build my business and have found them to not only be lucrative, but simple. Because a typical day in this industry is purely selling, you must learn how to make people happy to give yourself that edge.

When you walk into the waiting room of my office, coffee tables are not cluttered with financial literature. Instead, we provide reading material that appeals to my target market – people aged 50 to 70 – including books and magazines on gardening, golf, wine-tasting and travel. When a client shows particular interest in a piece, I allow them to keep the book or magazine and I sign it to remind them who shared this interesting information.

To enhance our office atmosphere, we also bake fresh chocolate chip cookies each morning and make cappuccino and espresso, which is available in our waiting area as well. The wonderful aroma that greets each visitor as they walk through our door ensures that they feel welcome and valued.

Over the years, I’ve discovered other methods to make the experience of visiting our office a pleasant one for clients and prospects. Upon entering my personal office, you won’t find any plaques hanging on the walls, but rather family and vacation photos. Also, the tables throughout my office are round instead of rectangular or square-shaped, to create an atmosphere that is low-key and non-threatening. By sharing a round table with my clients and prospects, I avoid the perception that I am sitting at the head of the table and leading or controlling the conversation and decisions.

Also, when a call comes in to my office, it is always answered within the first two rings and by a live person, not a recording. I feel everyone should have a personal experience when they interact with my business, whether it’s in person or just on the phone. Furthermore, every morning I check a database of client birthdates and place individual calls to express my good wishes to whoever is celebrating a birthday that day.

To take the personal experience of my practice a step further, everyone in my office plays a vital role in helping our business run efficiently and be well-organized. I am a stickler for notes and take them throughout every client meeting. After each meeting, I dictate my notes into the phone and transfer them to a service.

The service transcribes my notes, and e-mails them back to everyone in my practice. I then correct the notes and post them to a SmartPad – a way for our office staff to save notes in our contact management system. This process ensures that I have very thorough notes on record for each of my clients and they are accessible to my entire staff.

I also recently had my business cards, company brochure and Web site re-designed to have the color, design and logo tied together. I make sure that everyone who comes into my office gets a business card. After all, it’s better off in their hands than on my desk – no matter what they do with it!

Aside from inner-office marketing techniques, it is just as important to market yourself to the public. Seminars can be one of the greatest marketing tools, and I conduct them quite often. First and foremost, you must be sure your seminars are approved by your company’s compliance department.

When carrying out a seminar, I always make sure that the next seminar is already planned with flyers printed for it. I then ask the current seminar audience to help me market the upcoming seminar by distributing the flyers to those they feel might be interested.

It’s a basic marketing concept, and I always receive many calls this way. I’ve also found that through seminars, I get in front of the everyday common person – the people with whom I make the most money. Our revenues have increased considerably since targeting this marketplace rather than “Daddy Big Bucks.”

Insurance industry legend John Savage said it best: “Serve the masses, eat with the classes. Serve the classes, go belly up.” Marketing through seminars has allowed us to serve the masses which we really enjoy doing.

I’ve learned that marketing is necessary in this industry, yet simple. You just have to understand how to make people happy. Perhaps the most essential marketing technique is to always do what you say you’re going to do and remember to say “please” and “thank you.”

It’s effortless, but you have no idea what that means to people. After all, the old clich? is true, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” So, try to develop your own personalized marketing plan for your business, and you too will see the success.

Marc Silverman, MBA, CLU, ChFC, CFP, is president of Silverman Financial, Inc., Miami, Fla., and past chairman of MDRT’s Top of the Table. You can e-mail him at .