The key to effective marketing is to establish competitive advantage and relevant marketplace differentiation. In order to stand out in the marketplace, agents must be willing to try innovative new marketing approaches that will attract the attention of their target markets. Those concerned about the risks and uncertainties of new marketing approaches should remember that the difference between a rut and a grave is its depth. In marketing, the rewards of sensible experimentation far outweigh the risks.

Have a new idea? Test it. An objective test of a mailing piece, for instance, will help you identify and improve what works and abandon what doesn’t. Try a variety of seminars or business events. Send out letters with different offers or set up a booth at a local fair. You might be surprised at the results. The greatest success often comes from the most unexpected places.

One cannot overstate the value of testing to the success of any marketing initiative. It is important, however, to remember testing is only a tool. The objective of the testing process is to gather sufficient information to identify and improve what works while abandoning what doesn’t.

Marketing is one of the few activities that allow you to test how well something works before making a major commitment of resources. Savvy marketers capitalize on this ability. They use the mantra “Test, refine and test some more” as motivation to seek new ways to achieve successful results from their marketing initiatives.

This article is adapted from The Professional’s Guide to Financial Services Marketing: Bite-Sized Insights for Creating Effective Approaches (Wiley Publishing), by Jay Nagdeman. For more information, visit www.FinancialServicesMarketingBook.com.