Given that marketing encompasses all the activities that bring revenue into your practice, the idea of developing – let alone implementing – a marketing plan can be overwhelming to many advisors. Creating tag lines, selling propositions, logos, brochures, websites, ads, press releases, white papers – the time commitment can be astronomical if you try to do everything yourself.

(Related: How to Avoid Looking Stupid in Marketing and Sales)

Overwhelmed advisors often fall into two traps: inaction or immersion. To avoid those traps, advisors need to clearly understand the marketing activities that require their direct activity – and those that don’t. This article will provide some quick tips for streamlining the process. The goal is to lift you up and out of the activities that keep you tinkering and stuck with the status quo.

MARKETING MESSAGE

As the business owner, you do have key marketing decisions to make. These include what services you will provide, who you will provide them to (your target market), how you will provide them (service level) and how you will be compensated by your clients. If you haven’t made those decisions, you will waste energy on unprofitable clients who squander your time and create problems. In addition, your client base will become so fractured and diverse, you will have difficulty creating efficiencies.

Crafting the message can take some time, so here you have an activity decision to make: you can spend that time yourself, or you can engage an outside marketing professional to do it for you. If you decide to create the message yourself, set a deadline and a time limit. Too many advisors engage in endless tinkering, which wastes their time and prevents any further marketing activities from taking place.

Quick Tip #1: Pick your top 10 clients and determine which services they use most, the characteristics they have in common and their service preferences. Then have your assistant, spouse, accountant, attorney or good friend write a brief description of how they would describe your practice to someone looking for a financial advisor. Spend a maximum of one hour tweaking that description – then call it good. Don’t keep tinkering; move on.

MARKETING TACTICS

Now that you have your message, you need to decide on marketing tactics. How do you choose among direct mail, print advertising, broadcast advertising, web advertising, public relations, seminars and events?

  • Most advisors can eliminate broadcast advertising simply because the prerequisite financial commitment and the frequency required usually make it cost prohibitive.
  • Web advertising can work, but do you really need clients in random locations across the country – or the world? Probably not.
  • Print advertising can be effective in target channels – and keep in mind that your daily newspaper reaches a large percentage of the Joe Lunchboxes in your community who probably are not within your target market. Affinity publications in your community – such as the local women’s magazine or business newspaper – can provide even better results.

Quick Tip #2: Plan to hold one client-only event and one client bring-a-friend event in the next six months, and send press releases two weeks in advance to your local newspaper, business publication and society/philanthropic magazines. But let your assistant or a junior advisor plan the details of these events – certainly he or she is capable of handling those elements.

Once you make the decision to hold these events, all you should need to do is be apprised and sign off on their decisions. Resist the urge to micro-manage, and closely monitor your own time and actions.

Set a budget and delegate. Assign staff to organize the client events. If you don’t have staff, enlist your best (professional) party-planning friend or relative to handle the details and make high-level reports to you only as needed.

Use a freelance public relations professional to write and distribute your press releases. Hire an outside company to do your website and social media.

RELATIONSHIP BUILDING

If you have followed my advice so far, you’ve made high-level decisions and delegated or outsourced the actual activities. But there are certain marketing activities that do require your direct action – calling and meeting with clients and prospects.

Building relationships is the only marketing activity that you as the advisor should be doing. Everything else should be delegated. Making connections with clients, prospects and strategic partners is the most critical marketing activity for you as lead advisor and business owner.

While other advisors are sorting out details and thinking about marketing materials or tools that support the sales process, you’ll be face-to-face with the people that matter to your business. In today’s complex and noisy digital world, there is still wisdom in these three words: See the people. That’s where you will see the biggest return on your time and energy.

— Read High-Tech, High-Touch Marketing on ThinkAdvisor.