Have you ever seen one of those hidden object paintings? At first the picture looks like an abstract painting, but if you look “through” the maze of colors you begin to see a hidden image. Some people see the hidden image; others just see a colorful, wacky design.

Those types of paintings are fun but only for a short period of time. I prefer works of art by Norman Rockwell or Peter Max. You don’t have to squint or look through the picture. Everyone knows exactly what they’re looking at and can appreciate its charm and value.

As with any other business, success in the financial services industry requires focus and excellence. The basics of Marketing 101 still apply–you need to determine who you’re marketing to, identify their specific needs, and provide a product or service that meets those needs.

You can’t be all things to all people. A jack-of-all-trades will be a master of none. If your objective is to sell fixed indexed annuities, then you shouldn’t dabble in long term care, life insurance, and/or a plethora of other annuities and financial tools. Determine what you want to do and do it well.

Once you’ve established who you are and what you’re doing, you will probably find that some change is in order. You may need to branch out in order to reach the appropriate market for your services. For example, if your home office is a long distance for people to travel to meet you, you may need to establish a satellite office location for the purpose of meeting with prospective clients closer to their residence.

Creativity and experimentation are also important. People don’t like to step out of their comfort zones. When we discover that something works, we are hesitant to make changes for fear of failure. When I first started my public seminars, we tried to set appointments the next day. I later heard about producers who were setting appointments immediately after their presentation. That was a critical change for us, but it was a productive change. Did we set appointments after the seminars? Yes, that worked. Did we set a whole lot more by making a change? You betcha!

Having a great product or service is just the beginning. You absolutely have to have an appropriate and effective strategy for marketing yourself and your services. Your business is your canvas; what are you painting?

Richard Berry is the president and owner of Berry Financial Group, Inc. in Dillon, S.C. Responses and questions can be sent to feedback@seniormarketadvisor.com.