The Analytical Tool That Drives Better Marketing

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The following is excerpted from The Pocket Guide to Sales for Financial Advisors by Beverly D. Flaxington (ATA Press, 2014), which is available from Amazon via the link on this page.

It’s a great idea to complete a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis to help you define your marketing focus. But, what do you do next to use the data to enhance your efforts?

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Marketing

Identifying your ideal client

Marketing is a process of developing and putting into practice a plan which identifies, anticipates, and satisfies client requirements in such a way that a profit is realized. Market research and planning appropriate marketing methods are important parts of marketing.

The two requirements for successful marketing of any practice are to have both a marketing strategy and a marketing plan. These go hand-in-hand and are often confused. A marketing strategy is a list of the goals to attain as a result of marketing efforts. The strategy used will depend upon the business goals. The marketing plan is simply how those busi­ness goals will be reached. A simple way to remem­ber the difference between the two is as follows:

Strategy = Thinking

Planning = Doing

Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats

Many firms will start by completing a SWOT analysis. SWOT is a basic component of any busi­ness management program and is relevant to finan­cial advisors, as well.

The first two sections, strengths and weaknesses, represent an internal look at your firm. What are you doing well? What things would you like to keep in place and build upon? What areas would you like to improve? Where, as a firm, do you run into obstacles and get sidetracked from your goals? This is an excellent chance to involve members of your staff and team. Often times people in different roles and with different areas of focus will all see, from their respective vantage point, some of the same issues. This can help the firm to understand where the “real” weaknesses are. Poll your team and find out generally where there agreement and where there is disagreement about what the firm is doing well and where it needs to improve. Document the results and keep the strengths in mind to build on, while re­maining aware of the areas that need improvement.

After you’ve done the internal look, turn to the external side of the equation – the opportunities and threats. Those are the external aspects that affect your firm. What’s happening in the market right now? Who are your main competitors? What market changes, cultural changes, demographic changes, and so on are expected to take place? How will they either open new doors for your firm or close existing ones?

Break down your goals

Once you have the mission and the values very clearly defined, the next step involves breaking down your goals into discrete areas of growth.

The best plans involve clearly defining the areas of focus and defining – as specifically as you are able – what the actual goals look like in a number of different categories. For example, if you want to in­crease client referrals, you would start by identifying where you are today, and then identify what success looks like for increasing these referrals. This can be by number of new referrals, or by assets under man­agement, or by revenue. By stating a specific goal for each area, you’ll be able to measure your success toward that goal and make mid-course corrections when you find you’re heading off-track in any one area. It also allows for the allocation of resources and focus, instead of just throwing budget money against something but not knowing how much each segment of your plan should get as an allocation.

By Beverly Flaxington, read the full article here.