By Brandon Stuerke February 27, 2012
If your inbox is anything like mine, no doubt it’s filled with the latest and greatest prospecting and marketing ideas. I could easily fill a 40-hour work week if all I did was take the time to read through all of the material various marketing companies send me each week. With that said, in this week’s blog, I thought we’d cut to the chase and look behind all the hype and talk candidly about the truth behind many of these great new marketing systems. While almost any method of marketing could work if you stick with it long enough, the question is, how well and at what cost?
Surprisingly, all of the various marketing programs and methods out there today can be sifted through pretty quickly if you’ll simply begin to think of them in two new categories: Mass Marketing vs. Strategic Marketing.
Mass marketing is essentially any marketing campaign or strategy you employ which relies on you spending a lot of time or money casting a wide net. This is done with the hope of catching the eye of those in your market who are so in need of what you have to offer that they will respond to a less-than-ideal form of advertising. Let’s face it, no high net-worth client would say their preferred method of meeting their new advisor would be through a cold mass marketing campaign. Most would prefer to be introduced to you through a trusted referral. Some examples of mass marketing strategies would be direct mail, yellow page ads, billboards, radio ads, free dinner seminars, etc.
The reason mass marketing strategies work at all is because at any given time, there is approximately 3 percent of the market that is actively looking for what it is you have to offer. For example, 3 percent of people are actively in the market, as we speak, for a new car, a new home or maybe even a new advisor. Mass marketing strategies rely on this 3 percent to give you a return on your investment. To be successful utilizing these strategies, you have to invest a significant amount of time and money upfront to see any response. Many advisors spend a lot of years and money competing with other advisors in their market over this small “need help now” market. But what about the other 97 percent?
In my own practice, I got fed up with fighting over the 3 percent of my market that every advisor in town was offering to wine and dine in hopes of winning their business. I decided I wanted to market my services to the 97 percent of prospects that most advisors ignore. Think about the last direct mail campaign you ran. You sent 5,000 mailers, 20 to 25 prospects responded in some way and you followed up with them for appointments. But what about the 4,975 that you sent a mailer to that didn’t respond? Did you follow up with them in any way, or did you just plow ahead with your next campaign? If you’re anything like me, you probably didn’t give a second thought to those prospects that didn’t respond. This means you’re wasting 97 percent of your marketing dollars. It was this frustrating and expensive marketing cycle that led me down the path of thinking, “How can I focus my time and resources instead on strategic marketing?”
Strategic marketing requires you use your head to solve your marketing challenges rather than your wallet. In my practice, when I decided to pull the plug on direct mail seminars, I sat back and looked at the myriad of options I had for marketing my practice and I asked myself, “If I could choose any strategy out there to grow my business, which would be the most enjoyable with the highest return on investment and the least amount of headaches?”
While there are many strategic ways to grow your practice, many require a significant investment of time or money. For me, the quickest and most strategic way I could think of to grow my business was to form alliances with other financial services professionals and co-brand myself within their practice, making myself the go-to advisor their clients looked to for services their other professionals did not handle.
To be sure, a strategic alliance is not something you can just “buy” your way into. It takes thought, planning and work upfront, but there’s a reason the returns are so much higher when compared to mass marketing alternatives. In the coming weeks, we’ll talk specifically about how you can form these very profitable relationships, but for this week I simply want to detail why you might want to consider making strategic alliances a significant part of your marketing.
For me, it boiled down to the realization that if I stopped chasing prospects and instead shifted my thinking to “chasing” strategic alliances, and once I had a strong alliance in place, my “chasing” days would be over. However, I also realized that if I simply continued chasing prospects, I’d be chasing the rest of my career. It became clear to me that I really had two occupations: a prospector and an advisor. My time and yours will always be divided between these two roles. The problem is that most of us–because we only utilize mass marketing approaches–have to spend a significant amount of our time in the prospecting role, leaving us very little time to actually work with clients, which is the only role we actually get paid for.
The key to success in my practice and in yours will be to employ marketing strategies that give you back your time and money. If all you do is spend your time jumping from one mass marketing approach to the other, you’ll find yourself frustrated and riding the wave of excitement over the latest and greatest marketing idea, which like all the others you’ve tried will ultimately end in frustration over the lack of results and the amount of money wasted.
The reality is, to reach today’s high net-worth prospects, you have to approach them in a manner in which will be well received. With all of the scams, greed and mistrust that is constantly being propagated in the media today, it’s no wonder prospects have stopped responding to mass marketing approaches. While these approaches may work in industries where you are positioning a simple product sale, the reality is you and I are in the business of persuading clients to trust us with their life savings. As you know, this is no easy task and one that is only made harder when you position yourself initially in a way that does not foster trust.
Most advisors have two sales cycles. The first is earning the prospect’s trust, and the second is persuading the individual that your planning concepts and products like annuities are superior to what they utilize currently. I’ve found that by marketing your services strategically through another trusted professional, you can put the sales cycle on fast forward and begin the process with new prospects with trust already established. This allows you to spend more of your time working with new clients while at the same time avoiding the headaches and costs associated with mass marketing. So, decide this year to make thinking strategically a part of your marketing plan. I’ll be sharing with you in the coming weeks and months proven strategies and ideas on how to build these alliances into your practice. Make sure to check back next week, as we continue the conversation. In the meantime, check out www.WinningWithCPAs.com for more information.