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6 Ways To Expose Your Differences Through A Capabilities Proposal

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Are you using your capabilities presentation to its full capability?

Providing solutions and differentiation to clients and prospects are vital components of your firm’s capabilities presentation and should be a fundamental element in your business development strategy for 2013.

Your capabilities proposal should target your niche markets concentrating on challenges and obstacles they are facing in today’s economy and the solutions you offer. You will also want to include the benefits of working with your firm along with a call to action.

In our blog, A Capabilities Presentation-A Vital Piece In Selling Your Firm, Learn How to Create Your Story & What To Include, we reviewed how to create your story and what to include in your presentation. Now that you have created your story, is it in alignment with your firm goals and strategically placed to educate existing clients and attract new ones? Advisors should focus on the following 6 ways to expose differentiation from competitors and to increase client acquisition.

Implement your capabilities presentation through:

• Print marketing materials
• Networking and one-on-one interaction
• Build a strategic alliance program
• Increase online and social media presence
• Develop connections through media
• Provide education to organizations and businesses

Your goal is to spawn new connections, referrals, introductions and contacts by earning trust and sharing your expertise consistently through all marketing and new business development opportunities.

Print marketing materials
Include your capabilities proposal in your core marketing pieces. This may include a marketing brochure given to prospective clients, a 1st appointment brochure or a single brochure dedicated to your firm’s capabilities proposal. Fact sheets are another resource to include in your marketing strategy. Typically a fact sheet is one piece of paper, highlighting services your firm offers or your investment strategy.

Networking and one-on-one interaction
Get out of the office and play a bit. Become involved in community events to interact with COIs, community officers and key board members. When networking and interacting one-on-one, YOU are your capabilities presentation. Before anyone becomes a client, trust needs to be earned. Make certain you don’t become impatient waiting for relationships to evolve. Trust and the relationship sell, not the service or products.

Build a strategic alliance program
Work closely with a select group of partners such as CPAs, Attorney’s and Estate Planners. Lay the foundation by identifying specific goals. Educate your alliances about your firm and provide them with resources and small displays including firm brochures, white paper studies, articles and links to your online presence making it simple to refer clients to you.

Increase online and social media presence
Most firms fall short in recognizing the potential of expanding their capabilities presentation to an online presence. Be certain to include your story on your website along with PDF files that can be downloaded of your firm brochures including links to blogs, market research or other feature articles important to your target market. Statistics provided by HubSpot, reveal that 78% of Internet users conduct product research online. That means your website stands a good chance of being a prospect’s “first impression”. That also means your new business card isn’t a business card—it’s Google.

Develop connections through media
Build a list of local media connections and identify which reporters and editors specialize in industry news. Establish yourself as a local expert by providing proactive information through articles, reports, press releases and interviews with an emphasis on solutions you provide to the needs of your market.
Provide education to organizations and businesses
Offer workshops, seminars or panel discussions to charitable organizations and businesses within your target. Groups are always looking for industry experts to provide interesting and pertinent information.

Strengthen your presence through these initiatives by providing strategic financial information as a solution to your target market needs. Providing consistency throughout each interface will reinforce your capabilities proposal and put your firm in position for growth.

Read more about Capabilities Presentations:

Mistakes In Your Capabilities Presentation-Avoid These
A Capabilities Presentation-A Vital Piece In Selling Your Firm, Learn How to Create Your Story & What To Include

Ironstone’s Vision is to forge and guide the personal and professional lives of entrepreneurs and business professionals alike to realize their full potential. Coaching and consulting allows us the opportunity to form an environment where success happens and goals are reached.

Read more about our coaching and consulting program here >>

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Contact Ironstone with your questions & let’s get started!

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How do you promote your capabilities presentation? Share your ideas!

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
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Build It & They Will Come – Earning Referrals

Imagine your field of dreams overflowing with all of the referrals you could ever hope for!  Closing your eyes and picturing a huge field full of perfect referrals to help you grow your firm doesn’t have to be a dream, you can make it reality.

The old way of getting a referral is more than just old.   It’s now considered greedy, pushy and desperate.  Asking for referrals puts your clients in an uncomfortable position.  Building loyalty and trust with clients is paramount to ensure client retention.  Making clients feel uncomfortable by asking for a referral could jeopardize your relationship, thus causing more harm than good.

I have noticed that nothing I never said ever did me any harm.   ~Calvin Coolidge

Referrals are still the best and most profitable source for new client acquisition.  Learning how to earn referrals is the key to a successful referral plan. It is easy to ask for a referral, anyone can do it.   Elite advisors don’t ask, they earn.  Implementing a referral program at your firm should be a goal for every advisor.  Learning the correct way to implement and use your plan is vital to overall firm reputation, growth and profitability.

Putting your reputation on the line; why would anyone give you a referral?

When a client or strategic alliance partner provides a referral to your firm, their reputation is on the line.  To earn a referral, the referee needs to feel confident that you are trustworthy, knowledgeable and will provide a positive experience to a new prospect.  As an advisor, your primary focus must be on the client and the overall client service  you provide.  If you are “just in it for the money”, clients will eventually see through the bogus wall.

Steps to earn referrals;

Ironstone has compiled a list of the best practices you can use and apply to start earning referrals and stop asking for them. 

  • Become friends with your clientsMeet with clients socially at business networking events and other non-sales related events.
  • Provide incredible client serviceThis will instill a “no-fear” mindset in your client.  Clients will feel there is little risk in recommending your firm to a peer.
  • Pay It ForwardYou need to give to get!  Avoid making the mistake of expecting something in return.
  • Be availableMake it easy for clients and prospects to do business with anyone in your firm at all times.
  • Be patientKeep in mind that relationships take time to build, let them develop over time otherwise you come off as “needy”.
  • Provide educationUse newsletters, client meetings, email, websites and social media to keep your clients and prospects informed of current issues.

Client referrals start with the quality and depth of your client relationships.  You may choose to include asking for referrals in your overall strategy; however, once you have incorporated earning referrals in your strategic referral plan, provide first-class service and a memorable experience; referrals will fill your field of dreams.

We are curious!!  How do you earn referrals?  Do you ask or earn?

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

Coming up next, learn about operational effectiveness and your service matrix!

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Connect with us:


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Ready To Jump On The Social Media Bandwagon?

As social media has taken a front seat for many advisors, there is still a high percentage  not taking advantage of this prospecting tool.  Many advisors simply don’t have the time, knowledge or staffing to implement a social media platform.  The benefits of having a social media presence will out-weigh the efforts you invest  developing your prospecting strategy.

The fundamental element needed to implement a successful prospecting plan at your firm is to systematically position your practice to attract new clients.  Choose activities that will put you at your best in order to invoke natural enthusiasm with the purpose of cultivating trusting relationships.  Within  your marketing plan, you will need to develop a comprehensive prospecting strategy appealing to new clients.  Begin with the 7 strategies  Ironstone recommends as your foundation.  If you missed our blog, “How to Write a Prospecting Plan for Your Firm,” https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/04/05/learn-how-to-write-a-prospecting-plan-for-your-firm/you can read it here.

Top financial advisors have one common denominator:

  • A marketing plan and a follow-up strategy

 The biggest difference in this  common denominator is what is within the marketing plan and how committed each firm is to their follow-up strategy.

Adding Social Media to Your Prospecting Platform

Ironstone suggests starting small and simple.  Establish  your social media goal.  Don’t feel you need to take on the world.  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Blogging are all easily managed social media channels  you should be using; START TODAY!   By using social media, you will gain:

  • Name recognition
  • Establish credibility
  • Client acquisition and retention
  • Deepen existing relationships

 Follow Ironstone’s simple guidelines to get started with your social media presence.  By following these basic steps, your social media goals will be easier to reach and more rewarding.

Create Basic Profiles on the Social Media Channels You Wish to EngageYou must realize  social media is an active exchange of information.  In order to establish relationships, you must engage in and actively participate in discussions.

Add Your PhotoUse a professional photo.  If you don’t have a professional photo, make the investment to have one taken.

Be YourselfEngage in social interaction.  Relationships are developed when you allow others to get to know you.  Talk about your family, your interests and things that will interest them. Consider scheduling random posts or blogs about health and wellness or other generalized topics that pique interest levels.

Target MarketPick a small niche.  Remember, you don’t need to take on the world.  Find out where your target/niche market hangs out online.  You might find your COI’s on Linked In while retirees are making posts on Face Book.  Connect with your clients in these various social media channels.

Provide ValueBeing the solution to a prospect is the key to landing new business.  Provide information that will genuinely help others.  Review profiles;  find out the interests of your clients and prospects.  Gather relevant content  you can post and distribute on your social media channels that are devoted to your target market.

Provide A Capture FunnelAdd a form that is short and simple to capture information from readers and those who are downloading your content.  Do not simply ask readers to call you;  they are online and that is where they want to stay for now.  An Ironstone best practice tip is to provide a capture form that leads readers to valuable and relevant information; example:  “The Top 5 Ways To …………..”

Manage TimeDefine your own unique publishing schedule and pick a specific time to post and read updates from those in your network.  Make adjustments as needed,  test different times and days.    If you find  you get more interaction on certain days and times, stick with it.  Maintain a continued presence online, but be cautious of overdoing it!

Follow-Up – It is imperative and courteous that you follow up with those who have accessed your information.  Be ready to provide them with additional information that will be useful to them and offer a solution to their needs.

Ironstone can assist you in developing a social media plan for your firm.  Let us know how you are using social media in your firm!

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Connect with us:


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Getting To The Core Of Your Marketing Plan

With so many means to market your firm, it is easy to get off track by wanting to do it all.  Developing a marketing plan, reviewing it, and making changes are vital to the success of your firm.

Advisors have more marketing strategies to use and take advantage of than ever before, but lack of time and knowledge to hone in on every opportunity.  Hiring a marketing consultant, a marketing manager or outsourcing marketing will have a fundamental impact on the bottom line of your firm.

Always start with the end in mind by defining what you want to accomplish.  This declaration can be applied to almost everything you do in life and is most definitely applicable to your marketing plan.    Once you have determined your desired outcome, focus on the core of your marketing plan and what tactics you will use to reach your goals.

Today’s elite advisors know that introductions, strategic networking, referrals, and intimate client events typically produce the best results in bringing new business to a firm.  These marketing tactics should be at the core of your plan.   Structuring your marketing plan around these tactics and developing strategies to reach your goals will provide you with a solid foundation.    Decide how you will carry out each of the above core marketing tactics and include a process to define strategies for each.

  • Introductions– Ask your clients for introductions to their friends that can benefit from your services. If you haven’t started using social media in your firm, this is a great starting point.  Use LinkedIn and other social media channels to see who your existing clients know and who you would like to meet.
  • Strategic Networking– Develop a networking plan by writing a process that you will follow.  Research potential alliances to ensure that you are networking with the appropriate partners and continue to review and broaden your opportunities.
  • Referrals– Have a formal referral plan in place and focus on providing first class service to your clients that establishes trust and loyalty. By doing so, your clients will refer you to their family, friends and co-workers automatically.
  • Intimate Client Events– Plan several events throughout the year and encourage your clients to invite friends.  Keep the event fun and personal.

Build your marketing plan around your core elements.  From there, you can branch out into other marketing avenues to test the water or begin a pilot program.   Trial and error will allow you to perfect your plan, therefore it is imperative that you implement changes as often as needed.    Evaluate your existing plan and track the results to be certain that your focus is placed in the core marketing areas that will generate the best results.

Optimize your efforts within each avenue and lead your firm down the path of obtaining your goals.

Ironstone can assist you in developing core marketing tactics for your firm and the strategies to carry out and seize each opportunity.  We will collaborate with you to gain a comprehensive understanding of your goals and review or design a marketing plan that is tailored to your firm.

Contact Ironstone for more information and additional strategies that will assist you in starting and improving your Marketing Plan.  We want to hear from you!   Share your best marketing ideas with us!

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!
• Strategic Planning
• Business Development
• Operational Effectiveness
• The Human Element

You won’t want to miss our next in the series: Operational Effectiveness-Staff Meetings

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Connect with us:


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Is Your Firm’s Brand Recognizable?

Financial Advisors are more aggressive than ever in pursuing high-net-worth clients.   In order for you to join the elite pack and remain competitive you need to establish and demonstrate what makes your firm unique and how your firm is the solution to meeting client needs by creating a strong personal brand.

Your brand message should embody core principles of your practice. These principles should act as drivers and filters when you make business decisions. They should be easy to remember and summarize what makes you unique in serving your clients.

Keep in mind that your brand is also determined by your reputation among clients, prospects and centers of influence.  Maintaining a great brand will require that you make promises and set expectations, that you must meet each and every day.  Demonstrating to clients that you consistently follow through on what you say you will do builds trust and a strong foundation for your firm.

Advisors with strong brands do things that are meaningful to clients on an ongoing basis.

 

Building Your Brand

 1.   How Is Your Firm Unique?

In what way is your firm different from your competitors?  Evaluate your skills and expertise.  Consider the following and expound on how you effectively perform each component:

Communication with clients –  introducing new concepts, ideas, products, and portfolio performance, as well as maintaining contact with clients and prospects through educational seminars. Advisors typically try to differentiate themselves by focusing on a fee-only business model.  While this is a key characteristic, it will not truly set your firm apart from your competition and build a brand that speaks to your target market.

Set yourself apart from your competition by effectively communicating your expertise and knowledge and providing pro-active solutions to clients.

2.      Determining Your Relevance Starts with Determining Your Ideal Target Client

Choosing your ideal target clients takes more work than simply making a selection of retirees, pre-retirees, affluent professionals, etc.   Focus on small target groups with similar needs and determine how you can provide them with significant value.  Get to know your clients and target markets by delving beyond their financial needs.  Find out what their values, concerns, and fears are, and what is important to them in daily life.

Design your services as a gift that you give to your clients and prospects

that truly offers and delivers what they want most.

3.      Be Consistent

Consistent brands get noticed.  They achieve strong recognition through trust and engagement, which drives loyalty from existing clients and brings prospects to your firm. To ensure that your brand is recognized and understood it is vital to be consistent through all communication channels.

Review your brand periodically to ensure it remains true.  Research how your brand is perceived by interviewing clients which will give you a better understanding of how they interpret your brand.

Think of any strong brand and you are likely able to list its colors and the products it sells.  The appearance of your brand should always be clear across the foundation that you have set, including your fonts, logos, colors, images and the presentation of your firm name and services.

Your audience should know what to expect from your brand.  Avoid changing your media spokesperson or sending messages that don’t tie-in with what you stand for.  This only causes confusion.  If your target market recognizes a piece of communication they are more likely to engage with it.

4.       In Conclusion

Brand recognition is much more than a nice logo and a bit of advertising –it is the outline of everything you stand for, everything you believe in, and everything you do. It is how you look, how you talk, and how you act.

Ask several clients how they would describe you to their best friends. Their responses are an excellent way to periodically test whether you are living your brand.

Ironstone can assist you in developing a brand that is reflective of your firm.  We specialize in identifying gaps in your existing plan and will collaborate with you to develop solutions that are parallel to achieving the results you desire.

Contact us for assistance in starting and improving your firm’s brand.  We want to hear from you!   Share your best ideas here!  How do you demonstrate your brand?  What challenges do you have in presenting your brand?   We always love hearing from you!

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™! 

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

You won’t want to miss our next in the series:  Operational Effectiveness-Reports & Tracking


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Workflows & How They Enable Execution Of Your Business Strategy

The objective of Ironstone’s Fundamental4™ –Operational Effectiveness and the New Client Workflow serve as the foundation of your unique process to solve problems, manage interaction, automate tasks, and provide consistency for positive and repeatable impact to the client experience.

In today’s highly competitive market, wealth advisors need an effective Client Workflow System that enables execution of business strategies consistently and cost-effectively. A workflow system consists of a series of written procedures with supporting checklists and templates that document and systemize every aspect of how a firm operates and delivers client service.

The absence of any workflow model in a firm is a primary culprit for office inefficiency.

Client workflow systems should create two primary objectives for your firm, improved efficiency and profitability. They provide the mechanisms needed for all team members to work together seamlessly providing a high level of client service.

Processes that you should include in your client workflow system are:
• Client relationship management
• Internal/external marketing
• Automation of processes between team members
• Generation of management reports
• Integration to back office systems
• Regularly scheduled communication among team members

Each of the processes within your client workflow system are inter-related. Workflow systems will benefit your firm by enabling you to continually provide excellent client service, concentrate on your areas of strength, build accountability for your practice, enable you to deliver more comprehensive services, assist in managing regulatory and compliance related issues, and add value to your firm for re-sale purposes.

Ironstone has found that two key factors are important when implementing a client workflow process; technology and strategy.


Technology:
From a technology perspective your client relationship management system (CRM) should meet some minimum requirements:
Easy to use– Information is easily captured and shared, enhancing your ROI.
Adaptable-Because advisory firms experience a magnitude of change in approaches, regulations and investment climate, you will want a CRM (Client Relationship Management) system to be able to support those changes.
Workflow Engine-One of the most significant areas of productivity improvement is the use of workflow engines that are included with leading CRM solutions.

Strategy:
When developing your new client workflow center your strategy around two priorities, client retention and client acquisition.

Client Retention Workflows aide in client retention for your firm by automating reviews, prompting client interaction, scheduling service reminders, and storing other important client information. With automated processes, you will feel comfortable that things aren’t falling-through-the-cracks and know that your firm is not missing opportunities.

Client Acquisition Position your firm with the capability to be pro-active. When you can deliver targeted marketing and track results, you can transform a prospect into a client. Workflows will automatically trigger logical steps in acquiring a client to ensure that your marketing efforts are executed on a consistent basis.

A workflow system should always be a work in progress. Your practice will evolve and grow, and your firm will encounter regulation, compliance and industry change. Accordingly your workflow process should continue to evolve and be updated.

Ironstone can assist you in developing a comprehensive new client workflow. We specialize in identifying gaps in your existing plan and will collaborate with you to develop solutions that are parallel in achieving the results your desire.  A great way to start is by building checklists.  Download our “How To Create Checklists.” 4.24.12Checklists   Checklists get repetitive activities and routines out of your brain, and let it rise above to focus on the hard stuff.

Contact us for assistance to develop, implement or review or new client workflow. We want to hear from you! Share your best ideas here!
Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!
• Strategic Planning
• Business Development
• Operational Effectiveness
• The Human Element

You won’t want to miss our next in the series: The Human Element-Communication ~ Knowledge is Power, But Fruitless if Poorly Communicated. “
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