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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 >>

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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13 Ways To Reduce Operating Costs in 2013

Apply these 13 cost-cutting-busters as you prepare your 2013 budget. Applying simple tactics will help your business remain profitable.

“Economy does not lie in sparing money, but in spending it wisely.”

 – Thomas Huxley (1825-1895) English Biologist

  1. Establish a budget– Before you decide where you can afford to cut costs, you must have control over your costs. A budget helps you analyze expenses and income, as well as forecasting financial variances.
  1. Develop and implement systems for everything you do in your firm Implementing workflow processes increase efficiency which will in turn have a positive impact on your bottom line. Many firms tend to overlook their operational systems and workflows especially during a good economy.  Review your firm’s operational systems regularly and recognize the static processes. Just because “that is the way it’s always been done,” doesn’t mean there is not a more efficient process. Be flexible to change.  This is imperative to reducing your operational costs and remaining viable amid the rising costs of operation.
  1. Turn off office equipment when not in useSometimes the simplest things can be things we overlook. Turn off all office equipment and lights when not in use. If your equipment is plugged into a power strip, make sure the power strip can be turned off or is on an automatic timer.
  1. Use social media to advertise – Still not on the social media bandwagon? Social media provides you with an avenue for fast-paced, high-results and low-cost marketing.
  1. Align the responsibilities of your staff members to their specific needsReview workflow for areas that need improvement or display a lack of clarity. Making revisions in a workflow and ensuring that there are no duplicate efforts or wasted energy will prevent you from superfluous costs.  Besides cost savings, you benefit from a significant increase in productivity.
  1. Invest in more training It may sound ironic to invest more money while trying to reduce costs,  however, investing more in your employees shows them that they are valued. There is an endless source of training models available online, which in-turn will also reduce your travel expenses. Employees who feel valued, are more engaged and more productive at work. SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, estimated that it costs $3,500.00 to replace one $8.00 per hour employee when all costs — recruiting, interviewing, hiring, training, reduced productivity, et cetera, were considered.
  1. Build strategic alliances In our blog “Strategic Alliances Build A Strong Foundation For Long Term Success”     we talked about how building strategic alliances positions your firm to stand apart from the competition.  Share expenses with your alliances by implementing joint advertising/media promotions, shared mailing lists and shared educational workshop expenses.  You will reduce your costs and improve your bottom line by meeting client needs.
  1. Outsource Review the organizational structure of your firm.   Pinpoint which roles could be outsourced, such as payroll, HR or mailings. Outsourcing will give you more time to focus on building your business.
  1.  Go paperless Consider converting to an electronic paperless system when possible and utilizing email for a portion of your communication efforts.
  1.  Capitalize on technology– Take advantage of the cost savings offered through the use of technology. From telecommuting to teleconference services operational costs can be reduced.
  1. Buy in bulk– Negotiate for a better price if you purchase in bulk or agree to purchase all of your supplies from one vendor.
  2. Consider contract and virtual employees– Consider housing some of your staff “in the cloud”.  Also consider contract employees.  Hire contract employees for special projects or ongoing tasks or when  in need of specialized skills. The 2011 Employment Review from Elance shows   that despite a stagnant employment market in 2011, online hiring has grown at a record pace, up more than 100% from 2010. For your firm you can expect reduced turnover, employee engagement and fewer workplace complaints.
  1. Find Cheaper Space– Renegotiate better terms on your current lease now that real estate markets in many areas are leaning in the tenants’ favor.

Reducing your operating costs without sacrificing the team’s operational effectiveness, the quality of service and the value you provide to your clients, will go a long way toward improving your bottom line.

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 and 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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Mountain or Molehill? How Do You Build Your Strategic Alliances?

Building and maintaining strategic alliance’s does not need to be viewed as a mountain that can’t be climbed Choose to climb the molehill instead and you will put the process of strategic alliance planning into proper perspective.  This is not to say that developing and reviewing your plan won’t take a lot of hard work and preparation; all relationships do.   Building your strategic alliances and/or partners is the same.

We have found that most advisors have not taken the time to invest in building strategic alliances, much less start to develop a plan.  Yet, those that build alliances generate higher revenues and profits.   It only takes a small number of strategic partners to have a positive impact within your firm.  

In our blog, Strategic Alliances Build A Foundation For Long-Term Success, https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/strategic-alliances-build-a-foundation-for-long-term-success/, we reviewed the steps you should include when developing your Strategic Alliance Plan.

Don’t make your strategic alliance plan a mountain; it only needs to be a molehill

Many advisors avoid the process of creating strategic alliances because it appears to be an overwhelming project with diminutive benefits.  Reality is, by creating strategic alliances you will position your firm to bring value to your clients and your business.  Start and keep your plan small and simple.  Focus on:

  • One or two relationships
  • Create mutual benefits for each organization
  • Align your vision and mission with the partners you choose
  • Mutually commit to specific actions and review, review, review
  • Establish a trial period
  • Define key and measurable metrics
  • Have an exit strategy

Recognize the importance your entire team can play in developing your strategic alliance plan and contribute to relationships that can be established.   You don’t need to take the entire project on yourself.  Delegate pieces of your plan and commit to regular meetings to discuss progress, challenges and overcoming objections.

Ironstone has found that the key factor in a strategic alliance plan is to follow up on metrics and expectations that you and your partners have agreed upon.  Lack of follow up leads to non- productive and one-way relationships.  If you find you are in a one-way relationship, you need to leave and create a new one.

We are curious!!  Does your firm have strategic alliances?  Tell us about it!

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 Business Development and Your Firm’s Advisory Board

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


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Bring Home The Gold! Employ A Champion Team

Fans are raving over the five teenagers who were the first Americans to earn a gymnastics gold in 16 years.  Being referred to as the “Fab Five” or the “Fierce Five,” the team is being compared to the legendary team from 1996, the “Magnificent Seven.”

How does your team stack up in comparison to the “Fierce Five” or the “Magnificent Seven?”    Are you using outdated policies and procedures in your hiring process?  Get prepared and seize the opportunity to add to your talent pool and find your next superstar!

Building a champion team can be challenging;  however, if you examine the plethora of talent and personality and choose wisely, your team can be the best.  Hiring exceptional talent is critical to the overall success of your firm.  As an employer, you should always focus on bringing the best talent to your firm.

Ironstone has outlined some of the best practices in hiring, on-boarding and human capital retention.

When hiring, ask yourself and determine:

  • Will this person do the job?
  • Do they have the skills needed to perform the job?
  • How well will they fit in with existing team members and culture in the firm?

Be certain not to discount the weight you place on “fitting-in” with other team members and your firm’s culture.   All too often, advisors hire based on the look of a resume and skill set resulting in critical mistakes.  A prospective team member possessing “potential” will only add so much to the depth of your team and may not provide a positive and profitable impact.

“If you don’t know where you are going, then you probably won’t end up there.” ~Forrest Gump~

Don’t settle:

Focus on finding and retaining the best talent for your firm.  Top talent is in high demand; therefore, you should make it a priority to include your hiring strategies as a year-round business process.  In your hiring process include each of the following goals and develop your strategies and tactics for each:

  • Planning
  • Recruiting
  • Selection

 Identify & Keep Your Winning Team:

Utilizing your team and positioning team members with their unique ability will add to increased morale, productivity and profitability.  Consider reviewing current positions and how they are measuring up to the overall success of your firm and identify what skills and personality traits are needed to enhance the caliber of your team.

  • Map your ideal organizational flow chart
  • Identify gaps
  • Assess current positions and roles
  • Determine what is working/what isn’t working

Position Your Firm For Growth:

Don’t underestimate the competition in finding or stealing great employees.  Develop the fundamentals that are needed to attract and retain quality team members.

Consider incorporating the following fundamentals in your hiring plan:

  • Provide job stability.
  • Incorporate challenging work which will instill engaged employees.
  • Provide a culture for team members to grow, flourish and succeed.
  • Create a pay for performance reward system; linking employee performance to the firm’s goals.
  • Focus on developing your current team to be successful.  Provide resources and training that will aide them in reaching and exceeding goals.  Encourage career development.
  • Communicate the firm’s goals with team members.  Team members will have a higher morale and be engaged in their role.
  • Offer enhancements such as flex-time, telecommuting or other services that fit the personality of your team members. 

These enhancements can make a significant difference in employee satisfaction and retention without a mammoth investment.

Download these resources from Ironstone to get started on employing your champion team!

Employee Onboarding Checklist     Hiring Implementation Guide

Your team is a reflection of your business.  This reflection carries throughout the work day and most often in personal lives.  Perception of your team is reality.  Be certain  you have the quality team  your firm and clients deserve;  prepare your firm to employ and attract a gold medal team.

We are curious!!  What does your firm do to attract and retain a gold medal team?  What are your team members favorite fundamentals included in your hiring plan?

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 with strategic alliances!

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