Developing a successful business is similar to building a durable house. Just as every house is built with a strong foundation, walls and a roof, every business should have goals, a marketing plan and involvement within the industry. Start off the New Year by building a strong resolution to enhance your business structure. Increase your production in 2015 by considering the following tips.
The Foundation: Develop goals
To build a sturdy foundation you must identify the type of clients you want to work with and how many new clients you want to obtain. “As many as possible” should not be the definitive goal. When attempting to take on everything, it’s common to easily get distracted because you mentally cannot latch onto every task.
It also may be tempting to take on anyone as a client, but we need to remember to stay focused on building long-term relationships. We as business professionals of this industry tend to dismiss the importance of having a few dedicated clients over a mass number.
How do you develop goals? It’s best to focus on what you do best and the clients you enjoy working with most. If you are still trying to determine what that is, try answering the following questions:
- Can you elevate your prospecting to a different market?
- How do you upgrade to a different market?
- Do you have the internal technology and staff to accomplish your new business goals?
- Do you want to take on 25 percent more new business with your current staff?
Answering these questions becomes a important part of building your foundation and starting the New Year off on the right foot.
Building Walls: Determine a client segment
Once your foundation is set, the next step is to identify where your source of new clients will come from. This has been an integral role in helping me increase my productivity year after year. You can determine how much your current client or prospect relationship is worth by going through your client list and looking at the cost to service them, and the amount of resources you need to develop or maintain that relationship.
For example, I thought a certain segment of my clientele was generating most of my revenue and should remain the primary focus of my prospecting. However, when I reviewed my book of business and analyzed where my net revenue (after servicing costs) was coming from, I found the segment I thought was giving me financial gain was actually the least profitable.
Click here to view an infographic of the structure for a successful business.
The revenue and marketing cost to maintain that segment were not on point. If I wanted to increase my production with that type of client segment, I would have had to increase my hiring efforts and staffing to net the same revenue.
The first step you need to do after you review client segmentation is to ascertain how much it will take to staff and service those clients once you attain them. Only at this point will you be able to determine your class of clientele.
Building Walls: Create a marketing plan
After you segment your clients, determine how you intend to market to those clients and prospects. Will you conduct seminars, send direct mail, cold call or work on referrals?
Each one of these marketing strategies has different accompanying costs and different timeframes. For example, a referral is the least expensive with the best potential for a quick outcome. A direct mail campaign is commonly the most expensive and requires the longest span of time to execute.
In my experience, when implementing a direct mailing outreach, it helps to identify 300 prospects in a marketplace where would like to work geographically, occupationally or demographically. However, rather than sending out 300 pieces of mail each month or week, we send out 25 well-crafted, unique letters per week for 12 weeks. Then, somebody in our office will follow up with appointment calls.
If you do this four times a year, these 300 clients will not only be getting a unique direct mail piece from you, but also a personal contact from somebody in your office. The effectiveness of this approach to boosting brand awareness increases substantially over time because the work is both manageable and repetitive. Typically, the sales cycle for such outreach is about and a half, but the results are significantly higher than doing bulk mailings.
In addition to direct mail campaigns, I invite my best clients to lunch and give them a list of businesses in their area. I simply ask them if they know anyone on the list and if they can give me an introduction.
Through time and hard work, I have built strong relationships with my clients and they are always willing to help my business grow. I’ve found a combination of marketing approaches helps me stay engaged and connected. I encourage you to find what combo of marketing strategies works best for you.
Roof: Attend association conferences
Your work is never done as an advisor, but one of the finishing touches is finding out if your client segment belongs to an association. You can leverage your client relationship to get an introduction to the association and join as an associate member.
This will give you the opportunity to attend their meetings and maybe speak on topics such as estate planning, pension planning, etc.Getting your name out in a favorable way to a group of people who are very similar to your best client will have a dramatic effect on your bottom line.
As an example, I’m a member of the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT), in which top financial advisors gather on an annual basis to exchange innovative concepts and ideas at the MDRT Annual Meeting. Our clients belong to those same types of organizations in their own industry, whether it’s the professional roofers or medical association. Associations look for exhibitors and people to share ideas with their members. This is your opportunity to get in front of the clients you want. Over the years this has been responsible for some of the largest increases in my business over a very short period of time.
Choosing the right structure for your business will increase both the quality and quantity of prospects, which, when combined will help you do more business in 2015. Take the time to develop a system that works for you. Everyone’s techniques to produce new business will vary, yet if you have a concentrated focus it will ensure a constant flow of success.