Set tangible business objectives
Setting objectives that are clear and specific provides better focus and measurement. Rather than saying ‘win more business’ for example, you might aim to:
a) Generate 50, 100, 200, 1000 - new, fee-paying clients by the end of 2012.
b) Become known as a specialist expert in your geographical area, for example; a pensions or IHT planning expert.
c) Generate 100, 200, 300, 1000 cross-sell conversations with existing clients before the year end.
Setting goals will help you decide what your marketing activity should be.
Be focused on the type of clients you need
One of the key factors that will influence your marketing success is having a clear idea of who you want to target. Have a think about:
a) How much of your target growth is likely to come from existing clients and how much from new ones?
b) Who are your clients? How old are they? What is their income? Where do they live?
c) Are you looking for clients with needs that reflect your financial model? For example, are they happy to pay fees or are they in need of a business specialism such as wealth management perhaps?
Set a clear budget
Creating marketing initiatives to recruit new clients can generate sales both for this year and for years to come. Decide what you’d like to achieve, and try and put a price on the value this might add to your business. This will help you decide how much money you should spend on marketing.
It’s worth defining and ring-fencing a finite amount of money for marketing each year. It needn’t be a fortune, but should be realistic to your ambitions and business goals.
Make sure your campaigns are well timed
The timing of your marketing campaigns will have an important affect on the number of responses. Plan your campaign around key financial diary events, such as the new tax year or times when legislation or regulatory changes are due.
Mix up your marketing
Always remember to:
a) Get your marketing messages out there. Think through the different ways in which you would like to contact your different client groups. For example, email, letter, newsletter or through social media such as Twitter.
The next step is to evaluate their financial viability. Are you going to recover the costs and make a profit?
You need to think about the following:
The total cost of the campaign – design, print, advertising space, literature, postage, telephone calls, man hours, etc.
The likely response rate you hope to achieve. Your past experience should provide you with this information, but if it is a new venture, you should base your figures on 1-2% for a direct mail campaign to existing clients or 0.5% from a local press advert.
The amount of income you hope to gain from each lead.
Once you have decided what you will do, schedule in your campaign activity.
Understand your existing clients
To market successfully, you need to understand your clients’ goals and pressures. Are they worried they’re paying too much tax? Will they have enough put by for retirement? Could their money be better invested?
There are several ways to find answers to questions like these. One idea might be to send out a ‘what’s on your mind?’ questionnaire, by post or email, to give clients time to think about their needs and get back to you.
Another thought is to invite them in for a financial health check. This can be a great way to open up new conversations and help you understand what’s important to them.
b) Offer your services to a local publication. Why not email the editor of your local newspaper to see if you could write a regular article for them on financial issues in exchange for your contact details being given at the end of the piece?
By making this a regular feature, people in your area may start to associate your name with a financial specialism, particularly if you advertise your services in the same publication.
c) Contact local businesses as a way of reaching their employees. You could contact the Managing Directors of local firms and offer their employees financial reviews, retirement clinics or similar. It may be that you target the whole staff or just the directors. You could arrange for the company to pay you a fee directly for the time you work with them, creating a sustainable model.
Subjects such as 2012’s auto enrolment changes are bound to be a valuable conversation starter.
d) Host financial seminars. Another popular and successful way to generate new business or cross sell to existing clients is to host a financial seminar. These are usually focused around an individual subject such as Estate Planning and can be used to alert new clients to issues or alternative financial products.
e) Don’t forget to ask existing clients for referrals. For many businesses this is one of the most cost-effective methods of generating leads. Continually ask clients for their help to introduce you to other people they know that you could potentially help.
If appropraite, responses can sometimes be improved by offering an incentive to both your client and the person they recommend.
Measure your responses
Measuring responses is an essential way to track business. It’s worth creating a simple spreadsheet that includes the following:
The number of responses and new clients you gained from each piece of activity.
Which communications worked well for you and which ones could work harder?
The value of business you gained as a direct result of each piece of activity.