Why Marketing in Fits and Starts Dooms Your Efforts (And What to Do About It!)

May 16, 2011

Ready. Fire. Aim. Then wait a month or so to re-load. That’s what happens when you take an “I’ll do it when I have time” approach to a marketing strategy. You shoot off a bunch of emails, make a few calls or even do an event in a rushed fashion. You then walk away until the next time you get around to doing the same thing, and in most cases, the responses are always mediocre. The end result is that you’ve lost any momentum and frankly, you probably wasted your time.

Ready. Fire. Aim! What's Your Marketing Strategy?

If you want to grow your business and communicate more effectively with clients and prospects, the best firms commit to a 12-month marketing plan. It’s not as scary as it sounds – in fact, working from a plan is the easiest and best way to stay organized and focused.

If you want a consistent, actionable marketing plan:

1. Know your audience(s). Who is your ideal client – medical professionals, c-level execs, business owners? Are your client’s accumulators, in maintenance mode or retirees facing income needs? Are they family stewards or investment focused? You have to know who you want to reach and speak their language to actually reach them. Try segmenting your clients; use multi dimensional factors don’t rely on AUM or revenue.

2. Put it in writing. For each target audience, document the marketing activity. Make sure the whole office knows exactly what the strategy entails. Assign tasks and know who is responsible for doing the work, and the budget. And speaking of budget…

3. Make a budget and stick to it. Make it reasonable and sustainable. A good rule of thumb for firms with annual revenues between $400,000 and $700,000 is 2-4% of revenues. Remember, this is an investment not an expense. Think of it as an investment in your business that will hopefully reap great returns for years to come.

4. Measure it. Make it something specific and measurable (not something fluffy like “awareness”). If you can’t measure it, don’t do it. Again, the whole office should be involved and allowed to view what is working and what isn’t. Everyone has to be accountable for the plan and their part in it.

5. Know when to ask for help. Consider hiring a marketing consultant to evaluate your plan or help you create a plan from scratch. Marketing may not be your strong suit (and why should it be?). Leverage Regional Directors, wholesalers or your peers; they all have expertise in reviewing plans and assisting in the execution… use them!

In a future post, we’ll look at tips to identify your target prospects and geographic market.

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John Anderson

John Anderson

John Anderson is the creator and lead author of Practically Speaking blog and Managing Director of Practice Management Solutions for the SEI Advisor Network.

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  • http://twitter.com/richandcom Marketers to Experts

    As marketing consultants we find the main obstacle to growth is disinvestment in the future in favor of current consumption.

    Simple questions:
    –  Is business development and growth a line item on a firms budget?
    –  What is % for cost of sales that is budgeted for?

    We know the answer to these two simple questions is no and nothing.  That is fine but that is disinvesting in the future of the business and growth and the results are predictable.

    It’s the same effect if clients spend today and do not save. Simple.

    • John Anderson

      Thanks for your comment, Elmer. It’s absolutely essential for financial advisors to budget for any and all marketing activities (but you already knew that).
      It all comes down to how disciplined the firm is and how strong is their desire for growth. You are absolutely right when you suggest that many firms favor “current consumption” over business development. The most successful firms we work with do have new business development as a line item; however, it is viewed as an investment in the business, not as an expense. Also, it is taken from the gross revenue before the owner’s salary and profits. The key metric for many of those firms is that the investment should equal what they expect to make in one year’s worth of advisory fees. In other words, if the firm spends $5,000 on a marketing-related activity, they should expect at least $500,000 in new assets ($500K@100bps). The benefit is that the $5,000 in revenue keeps coming year after year, as long as you keep the relationship with the client.

    • http://seicblogs.com/advisor-practice-management John Anderson

      Thanks for your comment, Elmer. It’s absolutely essential for financial advisors to budget for any and all marketing activities (but you already knew that). It all comes down to how disciplined the firm is and how strong is their desire for growth. You are absolutely right when you suggest that many firms favor “current consumption” over business development. The most successful firms we work with do have new business development as a line item; however, it is viewed as an investment in the business, not as an expense. Also, it is taken from the gross revenue before the owner’s salary and profits. The key metric for many of those firms is that the investment should equal what they expect to make in one year’s worth of advisory fees. In other words, if the firm spends $5,000 on a marketing-related activity, they should expect at least $500,000 in new assets ($500K@100bps). The benefit is that the $5,000 in revenue keeps coming year after year, as long as you keep the relationship with the client.

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