Ask most advisers what’s in a marketing plan and they list out the efforts they take to advertise their practice. Yet, this is only part of the equation. A solid marketing plan is actually three plans in one. The marketing work has only just begun when you advertise and identify a lead. So much more comes into play to have a robust marketing plan. Here’s a breakdown of the three phases of a solid direct marketing plan:
- Acquisition Marketing (aka: identifying prospects, top of the funnel, getting people to raise their hands): This is what advisers typically think of when they think of marketing. Acquisition is all about how to find leads for your practice; how you identify your prospective customers. This involves outbound marketing efforts (ads, seminars, mailings) and methods to capture information (registration for events, web forms, the phone). You may be doing less “direct” methods such as blogging and article writing, but the overall objective is to get a person’s name and contact information so you can talk with his or her. Without acquisition efforts, your funnel dries out quickly and you have a lot of trouble implementing marketing plans 2 and 3 below. It’s hard to grow your practice without efforts in place to bring new leads in, so unless you already have a well-established practice, acquisition marketing is a must.
- Relationship Marketing (aka: conversion, follow-up marketing, communication plan): How do you take a lead, build rapport, and convert that lead into a client? What steps do you take to create a 1:1 relationship with the person who raises his or her hand and says they want to get to know you? What is the communication stream that you have in place to ease them into your experience?
Relationship marketing is the single most over-looked area of financial planning marketing. It is the middle grey zone. Sure, you may know on a one-off basis how you follow-up, but what is your system? How can you ensure that every single lead receives personalized follow-up that gives them the best chance to get to know you and builds trust so they come in to meet with you? At what point do you stop pursuing a lead and let it cultivate? Relationship marketing can be the most valuable part of a marketing plan because you are directing your time, energy and money to focus on those folks who are most likely to become customers.
- Loyalty Marketing (aka: keeping your clients, creating ambassadors, creating lifelong customers, deepening relationships): What special marketing initiatives do you have in place to let your clients know how much they mean to you? Should all of your clients be treated the same? Yes, we all want to treat clients with respect and service, but let’s face it—some are more valuable than others. And value may show up in different ways. By segmenting your customers you identify what the natural clusters of clients are in your practice and determine how service and resources align to each segment. This is the most sophisticated of marketing, and also some of the most enjoyable.
Of course, all three of these “plans” are wrapped in an overarching plan known as your brand. But that’s for another day … .
Kristin Harad, CFP®
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