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Current news and trending topics for sales and financial industry professionals


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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

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Learn How To Write A Prospecting Plan For Your Firm

To accomplish overall marketing goals, many advisor firms need to include a plan for prospecting that includes the strategies and tactics to reach their desired results.  In our blog, “Learn The Fundamentals Needed For Your Marketing Plan”   https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/learn-the-fundamentals-needed-for-your-marketing-plan/    we reviewed critical steps to include in your plan, which are the same for your prospecting plan.

How do successful firms prospect?  Top financial advisors have one common denominator– a financial advisor marketing and follow-up strategy.   A rule of thumb to remember when prospecting is:

40% is preparation, 20% is presentation, and 40% is follow-up

Ironstone suggests implementing the following seven strategies in your Prospecting Plan

1. Provide a Personal Touch – Focus on the value and benefits to your prospects and clients.  Clients want attention and care.  Make use of public seminars to deliver solutions to clients through the benefits you can offer them.  Include hand written notes on mailings to add a personal touch that prospects will notice and appreciate.

2. Communicate Your Unique Value Proposition (UVP) – Differentiate yourself from the competition.  Keep your name in front of prospects to retain and acquire new business.  Your newsletters are an easy way to provide information about your firm or explore the potential of getting published.

3. Choose a Niche Market – Identify the clients you want to serve, you can then find out everything you need to know to dominate that market.

4. Share Your Referrals with Reciprocal Referral Partners – One of the easiest methods for receiving highly qualified referrals is from reciprocal referral partners who serve the same niche market.

5. Maintain Consistent Frequency of Follow Up – It takes about 6 – 15 “touches” for someone to start working with you. Plan a strategy that will allow you this opportunity.   You might include phone calls, mailings, emails, and events as a part of your “touches” strategy and tactics plan.

6. Leverage Your Time – The most successful advisors automate and systematize as much of their financial advisor marketing strategy as possible. Social media and e-prospecting are useful tools to employ.

7. Increase your Retention & Relationship – It is critical that you include relationship building in your plan.  Networking is the best place to start.

Remember:

  • People buy from those they know and trust
  • Prospecting is not easy unless you focus on helping, not selling
  • People who trust you give referrals
  • Referrals take the burden of prospecting off the salesperson

Ironstone will help you implement a successful prospecting plan, identify gaps in your existing plan and collaborate with you developing a solution to achieve the results you are looking for.  We will work with you on creating detailed goals that go deeper than the surface and assist you in planning the strategies and tactics needed to reach your goals.

Contact us for assistance in starting and improving your prospecting plan.

We want to hear from you!    What strategies does your firm use for prospecting?  Share your best ideas here!  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-Service Matrix



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Social Networking Sites To do or Not to do?

While the investment industry virtually invented the online networking world, security and compliance issues have made it slower to adapt to the alternative social media.  In no other industry do individuals work harder at following the crowd, or top traders.  The meteoric rise of Yahoo stock during the Internet boom showed us the power of online aggregation.

Today, social media such as Twitter and Facebook is quickly eclipsing Yahoo’s online boards, which once reigned as the place where online gossip could make or break a company in a click of a mouse.  Companies quickly learned how to play the online messaging board game with damage control and management of reputations.

Given the high risks, the question is, do you want to play the online social networking game?  Social networks that allow contacts to mirror your trades are among the higher risk services being offered.  An unhappy investor can infect many people in a short amount of time with very little effort.  At the same time, wrong investment advice is more quickly disseminated and it can be a full time job screening who is contributing to your site.  You must choose your social networking vehicles carefully.

Undoubtedly, there are risks and a significant investment of time.  This investment is not without its returns however, and one might ask instead, can you afford not to play?  Leading investment advisors report that they are driving more sales and traffic through social networking than traditional online sites.  Investment services and social networking sites are adding a plethora of new social media tools to enhance the investment experience.  A big plus of setting up your own network is that you have more control over the user experience and what type of people you network with online.

Clearly, you need to have a social media presence.  You just need to focus on how to protect your online reputation and ensure compliance.  The best advice the experts have to offer is to add contacts and accept recommendations only from those you know and trust.  Ensure the forums on your social networking site are well monitored and maintained at a professional level.  Leading networking sites, for example, have recently been maligned for allowing the quality of discussions to deteriorate and for allowing too much infighting.

The competition to be the next Facebook of mutual funds is intense and a lot of new players are emerging.  A number of leading sites have faced their own reputation issues as they have struggled to maintain the quality of information on their sites.

Following the crowd does not always work in the social media world.  These fallen social media darlings are a reminder of how important it is to invest BIG in managing your online reputation.


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Top Ten Ways to Prudently Promote Your Investment Profile Through Social Networking

Social media not only provides an opportunity to promote your investment expertise but it is also provides a forum for a lot of upstarts. SocialPick.com, the Facebook of stock brokerage, is ranking members based on their stock picking prowess. In other words, your plumber could out-pick you when it comes to buying and trading stocks… and in front of the whole world! It is never too late to start managing your online reputation. Following is some sage advice from investment and social media professionals.

1. Develop tight security standards. It is easy to wander off your company’s broker site and onto one of the many investor social networks that are aggregating millions of investors seeking investment advice and vehicles. Ensure high security standards protect investor information and confidentiality.

2. Use sites that make regulatory compliance easy. Securities regulations apply to social media sites. Your compliance officers should draw up guidelines to ensure your investment professionals comply with investment rules. Some sites are touting their compliance friendly features, including storing all investment interaction for the requisite time period.

3. Provide value-added information. To compete with the zillions of bytes in free investment information on social media sites, ensure your investment analysis adds real value.

4. Your five minutes is a nanosecond on social media. Ensure your blurbs – brief write-ups on you and your company that typically accompany your photo – differentiate you and communicate value.

5. Network wisely. Add contacts you know or are recommended by people you know. If your new buddy prompts one million investors to sell a stock that then breaks out of the bull pen, your credibility is sunk.

6. Avoid too much twittering. Do not inundate your clients with Tweets. The Tweets that you send should add value and be timely. Do not use Twitter to make cold, or even warm, sales calls.

7. Do due diligence on your new friends. Large firms should not hesitate to put a full time due diligence officer on social networks.  Reputation management systems and protocols are essential for effectively using social media.

8. Thoroughly research social media offerings. Social media networks are providing a broad range of services to attract investors. Not all features and functionality will be in your best interest. Services such as rankings, transparent trading and a history of your trades and opinions may be available to your potential clients. If you do not become a “certified” and transparent investor, will you rank low among potential investment advisors?

9. Do not make fast friends on Facebook. Imagine this: I am about to invest in XYZ stock based on your recommendations on a social networking site. First, I Google the company for more information and your mug shot pops up on the Facebook site of the CEO of XYZ company. Your professional recommendation now appears biased. Is XYZ CEO your brother-in-law?

10. Follow the rules: The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has provided guidance for securities firms and investors on how to use social networking while remaining compliant. You can access a webinar here.