Are you the best kept secret in your hometown? This is the way I felt eight years ago. I’ve always believed that there is no advisor in my market who will work any harder than I do at protecting my clients’ interests. The problem is that, for the most part, no one knew who I was back then. I was doing public seminars, but every study I’ve seen on seminars reflects that a small percentage of our target market actually attends these seminars.

So in early 2005, I set out to change all of that. If we want to “own our market,” we need to achieve what I call “top of consciousness” with our prospects. In other words, when someone in my target market thinks of retirement and estate planning issues, I want my name to come to the top of their mind. Or, if they hear my name, they think, “That’s the guy that helps people with retirement.”

In order to accomplish this type of awareness, I believe we must focus on two key ingredients: marketing and message.

Marketing and message go hand in hand. How are you introduced to prospective clients? And what do they hear about and from you when they get that introduction? First, I don’t have any interest in introducing myself to a prospect. That puts me in a position of weakness, and I have to first overcome a lot of potential road blocks in the client’s mind. But if I’m actually introduced to the client by someone or something else, it completely changes the dynamic. And then if my message is one of educating, not selling, then I’m perfectly positioned to gain the client’s trust.

That’s what marketing is all about. When I talk about things like radio, TV, community education, charitable and community outreach, etc., it’s all about putting myself in a position to be introduced to prospects. Now I’m in a position of strength in the prospect’s eyes.

I can now be much more effective with my client message. I can truly focus on the client’s needs, because I don’t have to work as hard at selling myself. Whenever we put ourselves squarely on the client’s agenda, we make ourselves very different from our competition. Most advisors want to steer the client conversation toward a specific goal. A client-centric practice is always positioning client and prospect meetings toward serving the client’s goal.

Breath of fresh air

Today’s consumers don’t expect you to be on their agenda. Our industry reputation has created conditions where people actually expect you to try and sell them something. When you don’t, and you instead focus on their needs, it completely changes the dynamic. Now you’re a “breath of fresh air,” and clients are hungry for that type of service.

I’ve often said that I believe effective marketing is the key to almost any successful practice. When combined with a powerful message, you can be well on your way to dominating your market.

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