By Gerri Leder
Does fear and loathing set in when someone suggests to position your advisory practice? It must be harder than it looks….otherwise financial advisors wouldn’t skip positioning themselves by jumping right into the middle. What do I mean by starting in the middle? Here are a few examples of marketing questions we’ve been asked that suggest a client is starting in the middle:
o An advertising rep from (publication) was in here today. Do you think I should advertise there?
o How much should I spend on seminars?
o We get very little traffic to our web site – what can we do?
In each case, there is a good chance these marketing tactics were started in search of an objective, rather than vice-versa. So what’s wrong starting with advertising or a web site? For the same reason you wouldn’t pack for vacation before knowing if you were heading to the beach or to the mountains.
A strategic approach is harder to come up with, but almost always lends clarity to an advisor’s marketing plan. If you begin with a SWOT analysis, the answers will become clearer. The SWOT is a delineation of the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) that define your practice or firm. What are the strengths or things you do better than most others? What types of clients do your skills best resonate with? Why? Ask yourselves why clients trust you to work with them, what it “feels like” to be a client of yours. And try to avoid the tried and true: “we provide excellent service” – sorry, all clients expect that and the difference is too hard to quantify. With SWOT in hand, you are ready for the next step.
Develop a crisp statement that defines your practice or firm and includes a description of your target audience. For example, “we work with business owners on their companies’ retirement plans and with their employees on their personal investment needs.” By describing that particular niche, your statement can continue to describe how, by targeting retirement plan business for instance, you offer plan expertise that is not often offered by financial advisors in (region).
Now that you can define what you are after, the selection of methods and tactics are more readily evaluated. Try taking this quiz: suppose you are the firm described in the paragraph above who is targeting business owners’ retirement plans – which of the following tactics would be a good fit?
a. billboard sign on Main Street
b. network through the Chamber of Commerce
c. print ad in local newspaper
If you guessed “b”, then you are on your way. Why wouldn’t you sponsor a billboard on Main Street? It is not targeted enough to business owners and therefore would be an inefficient use of your marketing dollars. The same can be said for local market newspaper print ads. Think through your own SWOT analysis and sharp analysis of your target client first. You should find it helps crystallize your focus on the marketing tactics that would be most effectively deployed to grow your business.