Don’t Just Plan to Plan: Plan for 2012 Already

Last week, I co-hosted a webinar called “Breaking Through in 2012” with the SEI Advisor Network Director of Marketing, Jerry Lezynski. (Missed it? Watch the replay.) The webinar touched on such topics as why plan, your five goals for 2012 and building your marketing plan. While I was thrilled with the turnout (over 400 registered!) I was a bit surprised during our quick polls, as well as with a few questions at the end.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to any advisor (or anyone with a pulse) that the last few years have been challenging times in our profession. The financial markets have been extremely volatile, clients are more demanding and less satisfied, the economy is floundering and as I pointed out in the presentation, pre-tax profits of advisory firms are down for a third straight year. We only need to look at our own books to see that most of us are not growing our businesses as we would like. Why then did almost 75% of the advisors who attended the call, when polled, say they do not have a formal, written marketing plan?

In a recent survey by “byallaccounts,” over 31% of advisors said they lacked time as their greatest marketing challenge, 24.4% said they lacked expertise and 22% said they lacked the budget. While time, expertise and budgets are a good excuse, I think they really lack a plan.

I realize that clients are demanding, staff and technology issues can come up and family commitments this time of year can be overwhelming. But planning for 2012 needs to be front and center in your list of priorities. If you don’t create a strong plan for next year, we will only repeat the same results that we have had for the last three years and, pardon my Dr. Phil, but “How’s that working for you?”

There are less than 30 business days between now and the end of the year. While time may be short, you can still craft a good head start on 2012. Schedule time in the next week or two to devote to:

  • Reviewing your book. How did you get here? What are your niches? Who do you like to work with?
  • Setting a reasonable, yet stretch goal for yourself.
  • Scheduling a half-day session or multiple sessions with your team of staff, stakeholders and trusted third parties (like your regional marketing directors) and share your goals to gain buy-in.
  • Inviting your team to challenge assumptions and take ownership of tasks.
  • Creating accountability and excitement for shared goals.

If nothing else, just get started. Today. Use templates from SEI, your BD, a platform provider or just make one up. I know I have said it before, but 2012 could be the best opportunity you will ever have to grow your practice. But you have to plan for it.

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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