Written by: Shelley Pringle
A marketing plan is a must-have for successful financial marketers, including investment advisors, accountants and insurance specialists.
Sure, you can likely muddle along without one. However, if you want to grow your practice and make money while you’re doing it, you need a plan.
If you’re having trouble getting started, simplify the process:
It’s your thinking and what you say that matters, not how you say it.
And for goodness’ sake, keep your marketing plan short.
You don’t have to write a Russian novel to have an effective marketing plan. In fact, I believe the shorter the better. If you stick to two short pages, you’ll be more likely to actually sit down and write it … and to refer to it in future to ensure you’re on track.
Here are more suggestions to write a short, but effective, plan.
The 5-Step, No Frills Approach to Writing a Marketing Plan for Financial Marketers
Step 1: Mission
Your Mission is a short statement that describes the benefit you provide to clients, how you define your business and what’s different about your service. While that may sound like a lot of information, a Mission statement should be short and to the point so it’s easy for others to understand.
It’s important to include your Mission in your marketing plan for a number of stakeholders: clients, prospects (especially prospects!), centers of influence, and employees.
Think of your Mission statement as your elevator pitch. When you meet someone at a networking event, use your Mission to explain what you do. Your goal is to intrigue them so they want to hear more about your business.
If you simply tell them you’re a financial advisor, for example, you’ll sound like every other advisor in your city. The person you’re talking with will likely think to themselves, “I already have an advisor and so do all my friends” and move on.
Instead, when asked what you do for a living, respond by saying, “I give clients peace of mind by managing their investments and encouraging them to make good personal finance decisions.”
The prospect you just met at that networking event is more likely to ask you to tell them more. You’re on your way to developing a relationship with them.
Step 2: Target Audience
A few weeks ago, I wrote about creating buyer personas for your financial services business . I showed you how understanding your ideal customer makes it easier to make decisions that lead to business success.
The more you know about your clients, the better equipped you’ll be to make informed decisions across critical business fronts, including lead generation, customer appreciation activities, advertising, and more.
If you missed the post, check it out to understand how to identify your target audience, then do the work and attach it to your marketing plan.
Step 3: Business Objectives
Your business objectives should be Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Timely—in other words, SMART. You won’t need a long list of objectives. Since this is a marketing plan, focus on the key indicators that help your business grow and improve the amount of money you’re making, such as:
Assets under administration:
SMART goal: Increase assets under management from $69,000,000 to $100,000,000 by December 31, 2019
SMART goal: Achieve gross income of $1,000,000 (1% of assets under management) by December 31, 2019
In this example, I’ve used a 3-year timeframe. It’s far enough in the future to give you a stretch goal, but not so far it’s hard to envision where you want to be.
Step 4: Strategies and Tactics
It’s common for owners to confuse goals, strategy and tactics.
Remember your goals are measurable benchmarks you want your business to achieve.
Strategy is the direction you’ll take to achieve each goal. Your strategy should differentiate you from competitors. If it doesn’t, you risk becoming just another financial services company without a compelling point of difference.
Finally, tactics are the actions that serve the strategy; they are the activities you’ll take to achieve your goals but they must be consistent with the strategy or your business will lack a clear focus to help it achieve its goals.
Confused? Here’s an example using one of the goals from Step #3.
Goal: Increase assets under management from $79,000,000 to $100,000,000 by December 31, 2019
Strategy: White glove customer service
Step 5: Budget and Effort Allocation
It’s not enough to list a bunch of tactics in your marketing plan along with the corresponding cost of executing them.
Don’t get me wrong—of course, you need a budget.
However, I also recommend you include “effort allocation” in your marketing plan. Effort allocation is the percent of your time and total budget you will commit to each strategy.
Let’s say your existing practice is new and still relatively small. The amount of effort and dollars you put into attracting new customers will be much higher than a more seasoned professional who needs to focus on retaining existing customers.
When coaching clients, effort allocation is always a useful exercise to ensure they’re not committing dollars into the activities with which they’re most comfortable—but may not help them meet their goals.
Marketing Plans Dont’ Have to be Complicated
If you’ve been procrastinating, it’s time to take action and write a marketing plan. Set aside a few hours and follow this simple, 5-step plan to get your practice on track for success in 2017.
Once you’ve written your plan, dust it off every few months to ensure you’re on track. As your business grows and changes, it will be simple to update it to maintain your business’ momentum.