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Current news and trending topics for sales and financial industry professionals


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Bird’s of a Feather, Flock Together…But… Your Target & Niche Markets Are Not The Same – Why You Need To Feed Them Differently

birds_in_nest

Is your marketing plan a hodgepodge organized mess of sending the same message to all clients and prospects in hopes that your communication may be applicable to a few people in your target market? Let’s get real this year –  place focus on your target and niche markets by identifying the differences and applying strategies to engage clients and prospects and increase client retention.

Embedded in my mind au courant are the many idioms my mom chanted in earlier years. “Bird’s of a feather, flock together”, was one of them. What I didn’t realize is this proverb has been in use since the 16th century. Fully aware of the connotation, “those with similar characteristics and interests will choose to spend time together”, we can now link the adage to successful marketing strategies.

Understand the contrast between target and niche markets:

  • A target market is the identified group of people your firm serves
  • A niche market is comprised of specialty services you offer to small groups within your target market

The Downfall of Generic Marketing

Most firms have a detailed marketing plan in place, but lack the implementation or a plan altogether for niche marketing. Your target market will not respond to generic marketing unless it specifically applies to them at a given moment. Much time, effort and cost is wasted on blindly marketing meaningless, non specific products and services. Therefore, the way you communicate with each group requires uniqueness.

Designing Your Niche Marketing Plan

A high percentage of firms have identified niche markets, but have not implemented a niche strategy; critical to success. A niche market needs to reach beyond targeting age and income. Effectively design your niche marketing plan by identifying a small segment of people who have specific needs and characteristics.  Create a clear and compelling message that speaks volumes to your niche.

Clients and prospects are seeking to find an advisor to meet their needs, challenges and problems. Create a mission statement specific to niche markets detailing the why and how you are relevant to them. If they don’t understand how you can meet their needs, there is no opportunity.

Benefits of Implementing a Niche Marketing Plan:

  • Create multiple streams of income
  • Reduce costs by utilizing meaningful and specialized marketing
  • Become identifiable
  • Increase referrals
  • Acquire expert status in a specific field

Gauge Your Judgment When Choosing Niche Markets, Questions To Ask Yourself:

  • How many people/businesses are in this niche market – will it nourish my firm?
  • Do I have easy access to this group of people or the ability to gain introductions?
  • Does this niche market need my services? Do I offer specific solutions to meet their needs?
  • Do I understand the needs of this niche?
  • Will I enjoy working with this group of people?

In Conclusion

Advisors can differentiate themselves by identifying niche markets and implementing solid strategies to market to them. Complete an autopsy of your target market; dissect the market into small pieces and create strategies to meet their needs. You will send a distinctive message to your audience and your competitors.

We are curious!  What niche markets has your firm identified and do you market to them differently?

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 >>

Start your transformation with Ironstone as your Partner for Performance

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

Have a question or comment for Ironstone? Contact us!>>

 

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

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6 Ways To Expose Your Differences Through A Capabilities Proposal

Dare_to_be_different_by_digitalgod1

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 >>

Start your transformation with Ironstone as your Partner for Performance
Contact Ironstone with your questions & let’s get started!

Have a question or comment for Ironstone? Contact us!>>

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

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


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10 Marketing “Musts” To Reach The Finish Line First

Ready to kick your marketing plan into overdrive this year? Consider these 10 marketing ideas used by elite advisors to achieve your goals, increase revenue and take your firm to a new level of production.

When implementing the following strategies, don’t just look at the list, engage in the tactics to make them work. You must apply your tactical plan and stick to it, analyze the results and make changes when needed.

1.      Teach your clients and prospects: Like most firms you probably have a vision and mission statement, but have you created a unique value proposition? Your value proposition should describe what you do along with your promise of value in a few sentences. Focus on providing clients with the words to refer you. Your unique value proposition should be prominent in your marketing materials as well as your conversation.

2.      Form strong strategic alliances: Pay attention to who your clients seek advice from through CPAs, Estate Planners and Attorneys.  Create a list and research to determine which businesses share a common vision with your firm and form an alliance to provide referrals to each other. Lay a strong foundation by defining goals and expectations. Follow up with scheduled meetings to ensure each party is on the same track. Your alliances should not be a one-way street. You don’t need a vast group of alliances. Careful selection within a small group, sharing universal goals and outcomes will be profitable for your firm.

3.      Develop relationships: Get to know your clients on a personal level. Be patient. Relationships take time and consistent effort to form. Start learning more about your clients when they are in your office. Use Ironstone’s Client Personal Interest Worksheet. Client Personal Interests Worksheet  Go a step further to create deep meaningful relationships by hosting small gatherings. Celebrate milestone events in your client’s lives such as birthdays and anniversaries. Ask them to invite a few friends! What a great strategy to solidify client retention as well as implementing another prospecting avenue.

4.       Build credibility: Write, write, write! One of the best ways to build credibility is by providing educational material to your market. Use newsletters, news articles and emails to keep your clients and prospects informed of breaking news and trends in the industry. Offer to write a periodic investment article for your local newspaper. By doing so, you have fueled up your prospect line and those clients that you are working with will be more likely to refer you. Implement your own research and study program to create white papers, articles and blogs. Doing so will set you apart from your competition and create a recognizable name for your firm over time. If you don’t have time, delegate or hire a contract employee to provide research assistance. This is a must do!

 5.      Get Social: There are really two components in this strategy, implement social media and network. If you haven’t implemented social media in your firm, start now. Social media is here to stay and it hasn’t even reached its peak. Outside of the office, get social by committing to time away from the office. Review your community calendar, show an interest in community development and attend events where you can meet community influencers. People like to associate themselves with businesses that support causes within the community. Be certain that you have a genuine interest in the event you attend. It’s easy to spot a fake with ulterior motives. Tip: Your firm could offer to sponsor or host a community event.

6.      Create a referral system: 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.  Earn referrals by establishing a trusted friendship with your clients, providing incredible client service and supply resource and educational material readily. Tip: Include a resource section on your website with articles, white papers and blogs you have written. Clients will refer and share articles with their peers.

 7.      Play on your passions: Invite clients and prospects to do something with you that you are passionate about. Create a passion list and choose clients who share the same passions. Ask them to bring a friend to the event. This is a great opportunity to meet new people who share similar interests and to expand your lead generation efforts. Holding three or four of these events each year will provide opportunities to boost your bottom line.

 8.      Establish differentiation: It’s not enough to merely say your firm is different and you provide great service. Everyone says that. You need to show it! When I went to a local drive through restaurant the other day, I noticed an immediate difference from others. What was it? The employees were happy, engaged and initiated conversation with me. They made me smile, laugh and feel appreciated. They made my “drive-through” experience fun! So, I’m easy to please, maybe… But, I can tell you that I will go back and I will be calling the manager to let them know about my experience. They also got my order right! The key is to create an experience clients won’t find elsewhere – don’t be afraid to have some fun!

9.      Understand your niche: You can’t be everything to everyone. Advisors that shoot for the moon may grab a few starts along the way, but it’s much more effective to group the stars that are alike and provide solutions based on their needs. You will position yourself as an expert in your industry, gain credibility and your marketing dollars and efforts will be utilized efficiently.

10.  Appreciate your clients: Let your clients know you appreciate them!Give your clients a reason to be loyal!  Hosting client events are an integral part of your overall business strategy and comprehensive marketing plan.  Taking the time and effort to plan targeted  events will enhance your client retention strategy.

Keep your marketing plan alive by reviewing the status of each objective you implement. You can have the best marketing plan in the world, but if you don’t measure the results continually, the plan will not generate results.

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 >>

 Start your transformation with Ironstone as your Partner for Performance

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

Have a question or comment for Ironstone? Contact us!>>

  

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


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Does Your Niche Notice You?

Answering the question, “Does Your Niche Notice You?” may give you true insight to the effectiveness and impact of your marketing strategy.

Being all things to all people is impossible in personal lives and in your business life.   I suggest relying on the old 80/20 rule. The message of the 80/20 rule is that it reminds you to focus on the 20 percent that matters. 80% of your potential target market probably won’t buy from you.  Choosing a target or niche market is tough, but identifying the 20% who are most likely to become clients will give your firm a laser-like focus.  Without that focus, you expose yourself to presenting a message that is full of fluff to 80% of your market.

 Identifying Your Niche

Start identifying your niche with a narrow focus, but remain flexible to expand as new business is generated.  Define a high degree of specialization in order to differentiate your practice.   Avoid placing limitations on your firm and turning away business by defining your market too rigidly.

Choosing to specialize in a niche will allow you to:

  • Use your time more effectively
  • Provide better service to existing clients
  • Differentiate your firm

Navigating Your Niche

By placing focus on the niches you have identified, your ability to hone in on select groups and provide specialized service will open the door to more referrals. Existing clients and your strategic alliances will be more inclined to refer new clients in your direction.  Remind them of the ideal clients you are looking for.  Providing specific descriptions, such as “retirees between the ages of 55 and 70”, will make it easier for others to identify connections they have in a specific group.  When you simply ask for a referral without providing a descriptive landscape, it is hard for others to refer the ideal and compatible potential client. They may refer their next door neighbor who is in their mid 20’s, just starting a family…. It is your responsibility to steer your clients, alliances and COIs in the proper direction with a clear and concise description of the type of client you are looking for.

Get Your Niche To Notice You

Avoid aiming for an undecided percentage or portion of the already saturated broad market.  This will place your firm with every other financial advisor in your area and provide no means of differentiation.

By identifying a market position or niche, you will be on the path of instilling operational effectiveness, success and a clear vision for you and your firm. Your service and product offerings will be aligned with your niche, thus providing a solution to client’s unique needs.

When you identify and market to a niche, your firm is:

More likely to have an impact – strong positions in a target market provide your business with identity.

Able to stand apart from competitors – your firm is positioned to connect and engage in meaningful solutions to specific needs.

Positioned to grow organically – by providing laser-focus service, your clients will be marketing your firm for you.

There are a plethora of niches you can choose from.  Choose niches that you have a genuine passion for and reap the benefits of being viewed as an expert in your field. You need to work with clients you are comfortable with.

 “Please all and you please none.”   -Aesop, Greek Author

We are curious! Who are your niche markets? How is your firm benefiting from niche marketing? 

 Learn more about how Ironstone can impact the operational effectiveness of your firm!  Read more at www.ironstonehq.com

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

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

Coming up next, Operational Effectiveness & Your Client Database

 

 

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


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Hit the Nail On the Head When Constructing Your Business Model

Constructing a business model should be a vital part of your firms overall business strategy; describing the core aspects of your firm, including services, purpose, organizational structure, operational processes/policies and your strategies.

As the financial services industry has evolved over the years, business models available to financial advisors have changed and expanded. You will want to make certain your business model:

  •  Remains as a solid foundation by revising and expanding the structures and systems
  •  Incorporates new services and resources available to create value for your clients

Without an updated business model, it will be challenging to move forward, reach goals and experience firm growth. Top advisors are seeking to change their existing business models from firm driven to client driven by providing a holistic model.  Advisors who have implemented the holistic business model are able to position themselves as a trusted advisor rather than a transaction-based sales person.

 Your business model should describe how your firm plans to generate revenue

 and profits while detailing the core aspects listed above.

 High net worth clients are searching for a trusted advisor that is able to provide multiple products and services under one roof.

Providing results for your clients should be a key factor when constructing your business model.  Clients are in search of an advisor who will:

  • Make smart decisions with their money
  • Assist in mitigating taxes
  • Take care of their heirs
  • Ensure gifts are charitable

In addition, advisors who provide some or all of the following services will stand far above the competition and can promote a proactive working relationship with at least a few of the following professionals:

  •  Tax Attorney
  • CPA
  • Insurance Agent
  • 401k Retirement Consultant
  • Estate Planning Attorney
  • Health Insurance Representative

When the overall financial plan is coordinated, you have added value for your clients. Your clients are able to:

  • Reduce their fees
  • Feel clearly organized
  • Place their trust in you and your firm

WHY BOTHER?

Ever heard the song, “The Wise Man Built His House Upon a Rock”? The lesson of this song is just as true in the business world as it is in construction. If you want to run an effective profitable practice, you need to build on a solid foundation and function within a framework that is based on your goals.

The words to that childhood tune also say that the foolish man built his house on sand—without a foundation—and when the storms come, the house crashes down. In the same way, a business without structure will likely crumble when faced with challenges.

Don’t be like the foolish man! By taking advantage of systems and

structures, you can lead your practice toward success.

 There is not a one-size-fits-all solution for every firm.  Ironstone works with highly successful firms operating with different business models.  Design your business model  considering your goals and objectives along with the structures, systems and elements that will serve as your foundation.

 Contact Ironstone for help in preparing your Business Model

We will provide you with a comprehensive plan in developing or updating your business model.  Choosing the best business model for your firm is not an easy task. We will assist you every step of the way by identifying any gaps in your existing model and providing focus on proper infrastructure, market positions, client product and service mix, value-add and how to put it all together!

 We are curious – what changes have you made to your business model recently?   What changes need to be made to your existing business model?  Let us know! 

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

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

Coming up next, Niche Marketing!

 

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


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Building TRUST through COMMUNICATION

Effective communication with your clients and team requires more than staff meetings and educational seminars.  In a survey conducted by the Spectrem Group*,  the #1 reason clients left their existing advisor was due to lack of trust.  Building trust requires that you develop a relationship with your clients and prospects.   By communicating and demonstrating trust you will-

  • Build Relationships
  • Acquire Clients
  • Strengthen Your Team
  • Achieve Firm Success

In our blog, Knowledge is Power, https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/knowledge-is-power/, we reviewed how effective communication contributes to the success in your firm and how to build an internal communication strategy.  Knowing that external communication is just as important to the success of your firm as internal communication, build your practice by applying these communication skills to instill trust with your clients and prospects-

 Develop a relationship:  Get to know your client or prospect.  Learn as much as you can about them.  Are they working or retired?  If retired, where did they work?  What are their hobbies?  Ask about their family and community organizations they may belong to.  Show a genuine interest in knowing who they are. 

 Practice listening:  Listen, listen and listen.  Listening is a vital component to establishing trust and an effective communication dialogue.  By staying focused on what is being communicated, you show that you are engaged in assisting your clients and prospects.   Don’t start developing opinions and compiling your answer before your client or prospect is finished speaking; rather, focus on everything being said.  By applying this tactic, you will comprehend and retain 75% more of the information you hear.

Express empathy:  Tell your client or prospect that you understand their concerns.  Let them know their success is the #1 most important factor in your relationship. 

 Use Proper Timing:  Don’t rush to sell your products and services before you have earned trust.  Trust forms the foundation for effective communication.  Once you have earned trust, you are then in a position to discuss solutions to meet your clients and prospects needs.

By becoming a trusted advisor, you are now in a position to engage in open, honest and detailed communication.  Communicate details of your firm’s vision, mission and investment process.

  1. Be clear and concise
  2. Explain how your firm differs from your competitors
  3. Review with your clients and prospects exactly what they can expect from your firm
  4. Develop a process to ensure omissions are avoided
  5. Be pro-active by asking and encouraging questions

Remember, any areas of communication that are not understood can present serious challenges to the level of trust that you have worked to build.  Last, but not least, frequent communication with clients is essential to retain a solid trusting relationship.

To be a successful advisor and grow your firm, don’t sell your products  until you have sold your trust.

“Effective communication is 20% what you know and 80% how you feel about what you know.”

~Jim Rohn~

We are curious!!  Do you practice communication techniques at your firm?  Let us know!

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 Strategic Planning and Succession Planning

*The Spectrem Group is a consulting firm specializing in the affluent and retirement markets.

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com

• Call our office at 800-917-8020

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Think Client Workflows Are Corny? Think Again…….

Growing up on an Iowa farm was one of life’s greatest pleasures. One of my fondest memories was the gathering of relatives when it was time to freeze corn.  Nothing tasted better in the harsh cold winters than fresh farm corn; but the preparation of freezing corn consisted of a workflow detailing responsibilities each family member had to complete during the process.

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.  The same was true when we would gather for our annual corn freezing day.

In our blog, Workflows & How They Enable Execution Of Your Business Strategy,https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/workflows-how-they-enable-execution-of-your-business-strategy/,   we reviewed two primary objectives of a client workflow system; improved efficiency and profitability.  The new client workflow will provide the mechanisms needed for all team members to work together seamlessly providing a high level of client service.

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

Each advisory firm will have a unique process that works to the advantage of its clients, team members and the firm. Create a checklist for each of these fundamentals to allow your client workflow to take the repetitive activities and routines out of your brain and let it rise above to focus on more difficult tasks.  Download our guide for Creating Checklists:   How To Create Checklists

Review the foundation and objectives of your new client workflow, ensuring that each component is aligned to achieve goals of your firm;

  • Solve problems:  Problems are easily identified when using a client workflow system.  The system provides you the ability to assess exactly where a client falls in the process, allowing you to identify any problem areas and address them accordingly in a timely and efficient manner.
  • Manage interaction:  Client relationship management is easily managed at any given point and time.  By implementing a new client workflow you are able to identify the progress of each step being taken to ensure superior client service.  The process gives you the opportunity to communicate information and answer questions that may arise from your client.
  • Automate tasks:  Tasks will be automated with a client workflow process allowing each team member to hone in on their specific duties.  By automating tasks, you will increase efficiency and productivity within your firm.  With documented procedures in place, task productivity is available for tracking during the process.
  • Provide consistency for positive and repeatable impact to the client experience:  Each  process within your client workflow system is 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 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 you desire.

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.

We are curious!!  Does your firm use client workflows?  Which part of your client workflow reaps the most benefits?  Which part of the workflow needs to be improved?  Let us know!

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 the Human Element and Communication

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