The Elements Ironstone Blog

Current news and trending topics for sales and financial industry professionals


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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! 

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• Call our office at 800-917-8020
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Business Plans -Creating A Roadmap For The Success Of Your Firm

The main objective of strategic planning in your firm is to create an uncomplicated plan that clearly defines the direction of your practice. A business plan embodies your set of business goals and how they can be attained. Overall, a business plan supports the business model and explains the steps to achieve the goals of that model. You will want to be as specific and detailed as possible in each area of your business plan.

The goal of your business plan should be to create a roadmap for the success of your firm.

Ironstone’s research has shown us that approximately 40% of financial advisors actually have a written Business Plan and even fewer have a marketing plan. Those firms that implemented a completed business plan have 50% more profits and revenue than firms without a plan.

Your business plan will help you:

• Evaluate your firm and your position relative to your competition
• Provide a laser like focus to your marketing efforts
• Support your infrastructure to provide for the needs of your firm
• Diagram a route for your success

Focus Areas To Include In Your Business Plan:

An executive summary – Include your unique value proposition, how you will obtain new business, client retention practices, and your competitive advantages.
Practice Overview – This snapshot of your practice includes how it’s organized, its essential purpose, and other formalities such as founding date, legal licensing, location, etc…
Situation Analysis – Interpret the state of the environment & describe your competitive position along with the operating & financial conditions of your firm. Use a SWOT analysis in order to define your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Market Summary – Describe your niche markets.
Market Analysis – Stay abreast of new market strategies and understand the needs of your community. Research current trends and potential growth in your demographic area and industry to explain how you will improve your position in the market. Include statistical information showing your current position in the market share.
Market Needs/Service Offerings – describe what your firm provides to clients & prospects. Items to include are pricing, how you will meet the needs of your clients, advertising and client service.
Competition – Analyze your competition & how your processes outweigh your competition. Explain where you want to be in relation to your competition and how you plan to reach that goal
Keys To Success – Identify three or four areas that you will focus on for optimal success.
Critical Issues – Identify three or four goals or issues that your firm plans to achieve during the year. Develop a strategic plan of how you will obtain each objective
Marketing Strategy – Attach a copy of your marketing plan.
Marketing Objectives – List the objectives of your marketing plan.
Financial Objectives – List the financial objectives of your firm and include your sales and expense forecasts along with checkpoints that will gauge performance levels.
Exit Strategy – Outline your succession plan – timeline, person(s) to retain your practice.

Once you’ve developed your business plan, don’t file it away until the end of the year when you’re making the appointment to see your CPA.   Use your business plan as a GPS guidance system for running your practice. Update it often; real-time changes are ideal, quarterly at a minimum.  Communicate your business plan to your team in order to effectively bring it to life and track milestones to enhance your overall business focus.

As you begin to develop or review your business plan, contact Ironstone for tips and best practices that will assist you in taking your firm to the next level.  We have numerous tools and aides available for you and insight that will help you reach the goals you have set for yourself and your firm.
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: Business Development – Referral Networks
• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Follow us on twitter @ https://twitter.com/#!/AndreaSchlapia
• Join us on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/IronstoneCommunications
• Connect with us on LinkedIn @ http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=29647364&trk=tab_pro


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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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A Capabilities Presentation-A Vital Piece In “Selling Your Firm.” Learn How To Create Your Story And What To Include!

A Capabilities Presentation-A Vital Piece In “Selling Your Firm.”   Learn how to create your story and what to include!

 

Your aim in this endevour is to create a personalized package that outlines your client’s experiences as well as organizes and illustrates the components of your brand and service offerings.

A business card won’t cut it …. Tell Me A Story……

When a prospect or client wants to “see” what you do, you need to be prepared.   By designing a “package” that outlines your brand or unique value proposition, you tell the story of your company and explain the service offerings that can fill the needs of your potential prospects.   It is also an excellent resource that compliments your physical building, your stationary, your email signatures, and your web site.

Your capabilities presentation is more than a selling technique.   You want to explain and show why a prospect should choose you rather than another firm.  Your presentation, whether presented to a group verbally, emailed through power-point, or created on hardcopy and made into a professional folder should:

  • Establish credibility
  • Connect emotionally
  • Reinforce your position
  • Provide solutions that clients and prospects are looking for

 

Let’s look and understand the buying process:  first people “buy” you.  Secondly they “buy” your firm, third and finally,  they “buy” your product and the investment for your product.  The best way to start your capabilities presentation is to show the following:

  • Your Process
  • Solutions
  • Investment Processes
  • How You Communicate With Your Clients
  • How You Keep Clients Informed Of Current Market Conditions
  • A Historical Overview Of Your Company
  • Types Of Products You Have Available
  • Services That You Offer
  • How You Educate Your Clients On Existing & New Services
  • Your Company Vision & Mission
  • Your Unique Value Proposition

 

And last but not least, include a Call To Action.  Include a questionnaire that clients and potential prospects can complete or give them the option to schedule a follow-up meeting with your firm. Include the following questions:

  • How do our values fit with your values?
  • Have you had other experiences with companies like ours?

 

View your capabilities presentation as a key to continue in the sales process.   You want to make your best impression, consider it a resume of your firm.

 We recommend having a professional hard copy brochure or binder available that will “tell your story” as a supplement to your verbal presentation.

Contact us for assistance in following the proper steps needed for a successful capabilities presentation.  If you are having a hard time taking these steps we can support you through the design and development of your presentation and brochure.

View the following examples of presentations that Ironstone has assisted with:

We want to hear from you!  Do You Have A Capabilities Presentation?  Let us know how you use your presentation!

 

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

 


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Learn How To Create A Unique Value Proposition For Your Firm

Learn How To Create A Unique Value Proposition For Your Firm. 

Do you have a defined clear answer that inspires questions?  If you can describe to someone in a sentence or two what your business does and why it is valuable, you probably have a strong unique value proposition. 

Branding and Value Propositions create a distinct fingerprint that sets your practice apart.  Ensure your firms brand uniqueness while effectively meeting client needs and creating the value promised.  You need to think about the value you offer to clients by determining;

What are their needs and how will you satisfy those needs?

Position yourself as someone who understands where your clients and prospects are coming from, where they are going, and what they need along the journey to reach their destination.  Some examples:

  • Ease nervousness during market volatility
  • Relieve their major concerns about retirement
  • Ensure their legacy will live on for the next generation

A value proposition cannot be a vague description of the products and services that you offer.  YOU need to tell them the results they will get from you.

To help you- here are a few guidelines to follow while creating your value proposition

  • Create Interest
  • Differentiate yourself from your competitors (You will not be able to accomplish this based on products alone.)
  • Focus on your client’s point of view

Keep in mind that your value proposition should identify solutions to meet the needs that your clients are facing.

How does your brand fit in with your value proposition?  If your brand position is successful, overtime, your brand logo will symbolize your value. 

Many firms do not convey their message in a clear and concise manner.  Ironstone will help you make sure you are not in that situation.  

We want to hear from you!  What is YOUR unique value proposition?

 

 

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-Time Management