With so many means to market your firm, it is easy to get off track by wanting to do it all. Developing a marketing plan, scheduling marketing plan reviews and staying consistently open to change are vital to the success of your marketing plan and your firm.
Advisors have more marketing tools and strategies at their disposal than ever before. Lack of a dedicated professional marketing manager, along with time and knowledge, reduce marketing efforts significantly; creating a recipe for disaster. Hiring a dedicated marketing manager, marketing consultant or outsourcing your marketing will have a fundamental, positive impact on the bottom line of your firm.
WHEN TO START YOUR MARKETING PLAN
Now! A successful marketing plan is an ongoing process. Draw a circle. Now, continue to trace your circle several times. This represents the mechanics of your marketing plan. It should never end.
Top advisors and their marketing team review and make changes to existing plans, accumulate new ideas for future marketing plans and research marketing innovation year round. Ideally, your marketing plan for the upcoming year should be developed and ready for implementation during the last quarter of the fiscal year. This can be tricky, while maintaining strong marketing momentum at the same time. However, it is vital to know, both are a must!
COMPONENTS OF A SUCCESSFUL MARKETING PLAN
Two key components to get started with your marketing plan include a SWOT Analysis and beginning with the end in mind. This declaration can be applied to almost everything you do in life and is most definitely applicable to your marketing plan. Once you have determined your desired outcome, focus on the core of your marketing plan by establishing objectives, followed with the strategies and tactics you will use to reach your goals and objectives.
YOUR MARKETING PLAN
After completing your SWOT analysis and your marketing goal worksheet, your marketing plan can begin to take shape in the form of a written document. The components in your marketing plan need to include:
- Executive Summary – A brief introduction summarizing your marketing plan contents.
- Goals – Refer to the marketing goal worksheet you completed. Identify your marketing objectives. Your objectives should be clear, measurable and attainable within a specific time period. Each of the goals you established need to support your firm’s overall business plan. In addition to identifying objectives, you will need to determine how you will accomplish each objective by creating a strategy and tactic for each.
- Business Overview – Define your business, including your mission, vision, unique value proposition and your products and services.
- Profile Your Current Client Database – Become extremely familiar with your existing clients. Analyze your clients based on statistical information including; age, sex, profession, income, education level and demographic location. You will also need to segment your clients into groups to determine which services they need from you. Explain what sources will provide you with this information (such as your CRM system) and finally, how you plan to address client retention.
- Identify Your Market/Target Area – Dissect your target market by getting down to the nitty gritty specifics. In addition to age, sex, profession, income and education level, you will want to include geographical locations. How many people reside in your target area? How many are qualified for your services and what products and services are needed by this group of people? Omitting any of these steps will leave you aiming for a target while wearing a blindfold. Explain what sources you will use to compile accurate information such as the US Census Bureau, purchased lists or additional sources deemed necessary.
- Meeting the Needs of Clients and Prospects – Describe how you will meet the needs of your clients and prospects. If you desire to become a trusted, go-to advisor, you need to provide a solution to your clients and prospective clients’ needs. All of the miscellaneous educational material will be fruitless unless it meets the needs of your target market.
- Your Competitors – Identify who your competitors are and how you differ from them. Look at how promotion methods differ, what your competitors are doing successfully and what similarities or differences lie in your products and services.
- Your Location – Write a description of your business location, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of your location.
- Your Budget – Allocate your marketing dollars into specific categories. Keep in mind possible marketing avenues you use or may want to explore including; advertising, promotions, newspaper, magazines, radio, television, telephone book listings, direct mailing, telemarketing and social media. You will also want to include a budget for client and public events as well as community sponsorships. A best practice is to reserve additional funds for future marketing methods you may implement during the year.
- Current Marketing Trends – Allowing time for marketing research is often overlooked or avoided all together. It is vital to stay abreast of current marketing changes, new marketing opportunities, compliance changes and monitoring your competitions marketing efforts.
A well-written, comprehensive marketing plan is fundamental to your firm. It is an all-encompassing document outlining how you plan to attract and retain clients, how you will differentiate yourself from competitors and how you will hone in on providing solutions to clients and prospective clients’ needs.
- Client Personal Interests Worksheet
- Marketing Objectives/Strategies/Tactics Worksheet
- Competitor Analysis Worksheet
THINK ABOUT IT
There are several other components you may want to include in your marketing plan. Consider creating a section dedicated to brainstorming. This will allow you to add new ideas, marketing methods and opportunities as they arise.
- A Pie-In-The-Sky List – Include marketing ideas to refer to throughout the year or when developing your marketing plan for the next year. Don’t leave anything out and dream big!
- Publications and Speaking Engagements – Include opportunities not included in your initial marketing plan as they arise. Ideas to keep in mind are speaking engagements and features in local and national industry publications targeted to your market.
- Awards – If you have never applied for industry awards, consider giving it a try. There are several awards you may qualify for. An industry award for your firm increases credibility, name recognition and trust.
- Charitable Organizations – Giving back to the community in which you serve is important. It shows that you care about the growth and well-being of your community, not just your business.
- Key Statistics – You may choose to track your marketing statistics in a different document, however, including the statistics in your marketing plan will give you an easy reference point when reviewing your plan, developing next year’s plan or identifying gaps in your existing plan.
BEST PRACTICES IN MARKETING
Once you have prepared the groundwork for your marketing plan, as outlined above, let the fun begin! Start creating your Marketing Calendar. Prepare a year-long marketing calendar by outlining client communication, promotional ideas, seminars and events. Your marketing calendar should be shared with each team member in your firm.
We have included a sample of best practice marketing plan ideas used by advisors we work with. Here are just a few:
- Create a Marketing Toolbox – There are an abundance of tools to keep in your tool box. Just as a hammer is essential to a builder, a marketing calendar is essential to a marketing manager and your firm. Your marketing calendar will aide you in executing your marketing plan in a structured manner.
- Review Marketing Trends and New Opportunities – As CEO of your firm, Office Manager or Marketing Manager, you are well aware of the thousands of marketing trends and opportunities. Each of these trends and opportunities can be applied to your strategy, however, we know it is not logical to believe we can try all of them. Top advisors and their marketing/sales team stay well informed by researching new trends coming through the pipeline on a daily basis. Add these trends and opportunities to your toolbox. This may seem to be an overwhelming task but vital in becoming a top advisory firm.
- Create an Editorial Calendar – If your firm prepares case studies, research papers, writes for local or national publications, engages in social media or publishes blogs, create an editorial calendar outlining industry topics you will place your focus.
- Create A Marketing SOP/Workflow – Streamline marketing duties by creating Standard Operating Procedures for marketing functions along with a workflow describing decision making permissions and the link or flow between sales, marketing and operations.
YOU WON’T WANT TO MISS THIS! – INSPIRATIONAL IDEAS FOR YOUR MARKETING TEAM
The team at Ironstone chose one article we felt would inspire your marketing team. The article below is an excerpt from a blog written by Dan Lyons, writer and editor at HubSpot. In his article, 10 Lessons From Steve Jobs That Every Marketer Must Learn, Lyons tells us:
“Steve Jobs led the greatest turnaround in corporate history, taking a near-bankrupt Apple and turning it into one of the largest and most profitable companies in the world … but he didn’t look that great on paper. He wasn’t an engineer. He couldn’t write a line of code. He didn’t have an MBA. He had no college degree at all. He wasn’t a great manager, in the conventional sense. When it came to the bureaucratic aspects of running an organization, he was useless.”
“So what made him great? His gift, simply put, was marketing. In the words of Guy Kawasaki, who worked under Jobs at Apple: “Steve was the greatest marketer ever.””
Here are 10 marketing lessons you can learn from him:
- Find good mentors
- Make a great product
- Stand for something
- Spend money
- Create experiences
- Keep secrets and build mystery
- Find an enemy
- Turn customers into evangelists
- Don’t talk about products
- Use pictures, not words
Marketing Plan Consulting Package – COMING SOON!
Contact Ironstone for more information in completing a comprehensive marketing plan to help your firm achieve best practice marketing solutions and results. Ironstone has numerous resources and job aides available to guide you in developing your marketing plan. It is important to further your marketing plan by identifying each objective, including progress and results, along with success stories and faux pas. We like to use this word instead of failure.
“There is no such thing as failure. There are only results.” –Anthony Robbins
Question: What challenges do you face in marketing your firm? Name Recognition, Capabilities Presentation, Branding or Hiring? Let us know