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How to make all of your marketing profitable

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Successful retirement advisors are the result of a very unique recipe: one part financial planner, one part salesperson, one part business owner, two parts marketer, and three parts glutton for punishment. When people say to me: “I’ll bet you really like numbers,” I have to let them in on the secret of our business that all the math skills and planning skills in the world don’t matter if we’re not in front of enough highly-qualified prospects. The whole “I’m my own boss with unlimited earning potential” honeymoon is over as soon as we have worked through our natural market of friends and family. It’s at that moment that we’ve reached a turning point. We must either become an expert in marketing or become just another failed business statistic.

Having built a successful firm from scratch, focused solely on the needs of people who are nearing or in-retirement, age 55-75, I can tell you that I have been a serious student of marketing. In pursuit of the best strategies, I have learned both very painful and very profitable lessons. Whether you’re just getting started or are a seasoned advisor looking to tighten up your messaging to current and prospective clients, the following information includes several nuggets in survival and success that may help you in your own journey.

As you embark on this journey, you will inevitably have major and embarrassing marketing failures. However, if done correctly, your failure can be followed by victory. Yes, you’ll host an event that nobody attends, but you’ll also have successes that shock you. Three strike outs, then a home run; welcome to the big leagues. Here’s the key to making ALL of your marketing efforts profitable: stay on-message every time.

Why? When you communicate a clear, compelling and targeted message to the right people, and when you do it consistently, with integrity, they are listening. If they are not responding, often they just aren’t ready. The timing just isn’t right for them. When the timing is right, they will seek you out if and only if you haven’t strayed from your mission and your core message. In fact, every marketing message and every effort you have made has a cumulative effect. Each builds upon the last with the effect of becoming more powerful each time it was heard– even if it wasn’t acted upon at that time. Here’s an example:

I communicate with retirees, which means I talk about the very same six things over and over, but with a slightly different angle each time. Here are my six planning topics:

    1. Retirement income planning
    2. Risk and fee sensitivity
    3. Social Security strategies
    4. Long term care planning
    5. Tax efficiency
    6. Estate planning

Our firm utilizes many channels of communication, like monthly newsletters, client social events, education sessions of various types, email, video, and more, so there are countless opportunities to provide education to our current and future clients on the very same six topics that they are deeply interested in – without sounding like a broken record.

When you have a consistent message and compelling offers for your defined market, you can have a blockbuster marketing campaign followed by three duds and they are all going to become profitable in time because you remained steadfast in your value proposition. Prospects and clients will identify you as the solution when they’re ready to act. Do yourself a favor and be consistent with you message.

What if you can’t afford it? You know as well as I do that effective marketing can be very costly. That makes the apparent failures that much tougher to swallow. When we remember that each effort, when done consistently, builds upon every other, the outcome is ultimately profitable. The key is staying the course and not giving up. You will strike out. I still do and it is a gut-wrenching feeling that keeps me up at night. When the big wins come, and they will, you will have new relationships that last for years and pay you well for your effort.

My best advice is this: invest the time now to become painfully clear on who you serve (and who you do not), how you serve them, why you’re in business in the first place, and how those you serve prefer their communication. Set your course and remain painfully committed to that course regardless of the setbacks. Your consistency allows you to reap the rewards of your cumulative effort and make every step count for you and the families you serve.


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