Some people inside a target area, and a lot of people outside the target area (Credit: Shutterstock)

It has been said that to be successful in the financial services business; you need to specialize and target your marketing to your specialty. Let’s take a look at what target marketing is:

“Target marketing is researching and understanding your prospective customers’ interests, hobbies, and needs so that you can focus your message and your marketing budget on the specific segment of the market that is most likely to purchase your product or service.”

By this definition, you are narrowing your marketing dollars to the most likely segment that will take advantage of what you are offering. You are looking for the who, what, why, and how of your market so you can really focus on them.

(Related: How to Target Affluent Clients Online)

Decide who is going to be your ideal prospects, so you don’t waste your time or money chasing prospects outside of your market. Let’s say you decide on the senior market. There are several areas of specialization in which you can focus. Those who are nearing retirement may need post 401(k) strategies, those in early retirement, and those in later retirement facing health care decisions. You might define your group as those seniors age 67 to 77 with investable assets of $250,000 who have adequate income. Or another strategy is not to be specific but have products that you can use to fill a variety of needs. So, in that case, all seniors from those just entering retirement all the way to seniors in their mid 80’s become your market.

What will you offer this group to meet the needs they have? Focusing on safety, fees, and decent returns seem to be a winning combination. There are other needs this group has, but the more broadly your definition, the more opportunities you will have to influence your market to take advantage of what you have to offer.

The where can be locally or regionally or even nationally if you have the resources to market over a diverse geographic area. For me, I like to focus on the 10 miles around my office. For most advisors, the cost of mail or advertising limits how far afield your marketing can reach.

Next, you can get into market research and drill down your marketing to an almost unlimited number of demographic parameters — age, sex, marital status, zip code, income, assets, magazine subscriptions, etc. There is an entire industry built around how to find just the right prospect for you.

I remember early in my career joining associations so I could get access to the membership. The associations were eager to take my money, but the reality was I did not have much in common with podiatrist or optometrist. Trying to sell disability insurance to these groups did not lead to a rewarding career, just lots of frustration. I spent lots of time researching this group. I believed I had a great solution to solve one of their financial concerns. What I didn’t have was a connection to the market that allowed them to see me as the go-to resource to resolve their income continuance concerns.

So from that early failure with target marketing, I decided to go a different route. The opposite of target marketing is blanket marketing. I define blanket marketing as a method of distributing your message to everyone you can reach in an area and let the prospect opt-in by either responding to an offer or attending an event to learn more about it.

Some advisors use direct mail to target prospects for dinner workshops. They mail very nice looking pieces to 10,000 prospects offering a free steak dinner in a posh restaurant, and I know many of these advisors who are doing well. They have the process in place to make sure their return on investment makes this worthwhile. As a new advisor breaking into financial services, the cost of these events can be beyond the means of many.

If your area supports a community newspaper that is distributed to every household in your county, then you may have an under the radar way of marketing to your prospects. We get our community newspaper to place a postcard on top of and outside of each bagged newspaper So, for .04 per postcard, we can get our marketing to every household in the county for less than the cost of one dinner workshop. Our postcard usually offers 20 dates and time for events, and the calls pour in for attendees. Furthermore, we don’t provide meals and typically hold events in libraries or community centers.

The main advantage of this method besides the large numbers of prospects we reach is that we hit prospects that don’t show up on target market list. Using this approach, we have been able to close over $50 million in fixed annuity premium last year in one county in central Pennsylvania.

Whether you target or blanket your marketing, you want to focus on the return for dollars spent. Don’t settle for 10 times revenue for every dollar spent push that number up.

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Philip Richardson (Credit: PRZen) Philip Richardson, CFP, CLU, ChFC, is the founder and president of The Richardson Group. He also owns Senior Tax Strategies LLC, and he is a radio host with a weekly show aimed at seniors. The show airs at 8 a.m. on Saturdays on WPDC, a AM radio station in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania.