As advisors wrap up 2007, their focus is on a strong sales finish for the year, as well it should be. Selling/closing pending business occupies much of their attention, as they comb their files for all of those clients and prospects that told them to get back with them sometime during the fall. For those that sell and service qualified plans, year-end deposits demand calculation and collection. In fact, the fourth quarter is the prime selling season for new qualified plans. Tax-harvesting strategies also come into play; service needs increase, and advisors strain to make their annual sales goals.
Usually between October and the middle of December, an audible groan escapes from bank advisors' offices, with the source of this consternation being the call from broker/dealers and program managers for a business plan for next year. Advisors are so busy with year-end business and the holidays that business planning becomes an exercise relegated to a couple of hours on some weekend, usually just before the deadline for its submission. Business planning is seen as just "more paperwork" as opposed to being a tool to exponentially grow business.
However, a business plan is critical to the maximum success of a business... it's that simple. A fast start helps an advisor achieve sales goals easier and with less stress, but it is difficult to get off to a fast start without a well-thought-out business plan. Advisors cannot maximize their business opportunity if they minimize the power of the business planning process, and a key element of the business plan for bank advisors is the section devoted to marketing. The American Marketing Association defines "marketing" as "a set of processes for creating, communicating and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders." With this in mind, consider the following elements of a successful, forward looking marketing plan for bank advisors.
#1 Existing Client Relationships
How will you deliver service to your clients that will help them reach their financial objectives? How does your client review process help you gather all of their investable assets? Who are those clients that can and will refer you to others? How will you make it easy for them to refer you?
#2 Bank Relationships
How do you plan to bring value to your bank? What do you plan to do to continue to cultivate relationships with your bank colleagues to make them want to help you by providing referrals? How can you maximize the value of your bank’s brand to help you grow your business?
#3 Marketing Programs
How do you plan to market new products and services to your existing clients? What programs do you plan to employ to help you meet new prospects for your services? If you plan to use seminar marketing, how many will you do? What topics will you choose? Schedule the dates now. What client appreciation events will you host, and how will you use them to help you drive sales? What resources are available from your bank or from product partners will you use to execute your plan?
Everyone wants to finish 2007 strong, and make it the best year ever, and that should continue as your primary focus. However, consider following the advice you give your clients: think long-term about your 2008 success, and insure that success by developing a solid marketing plan now. You can finish strong and start fast, and 2008 will be your new "Best Year Ever!"
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