If you commit, prospects will, too

By Brian Lucius

Gradient Positioning Systems, LLC


We’ve all heard it many times. An advisor says to a prospect, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

This holds true for you also, and the one area of planning that sits right in front of you every December is your marketing schedule for the upcoming year. I am not talking about a five-page plan with fluff language from professor whoever. I am talking about real expectations and concrete campaigns to ensure you are set up to win.

All you’ll need to do is commit to writing it down, and then hold yourself accountable to what you committed to. If you do this, you will have more prospects, increased production, more prospects accountable and more sales processed. The consistency of selling alone will strip any desperation a prospect might feel and replace that with a confident, successful advisor.

We’ve all heard marketing gurus ask, “Who in the room has a marketing plan?”

It seems 90 percent of hands go up. Then comes the cliché follow-up question, “Who actually has a written marketing plan?” About 10 percent of hands remain up.

We all know that having a written marketing plan will make us more effective, yet very few advisors have ever taken the time to write one. Now is the time. If you are planning any marketing for January 2012, you should have already taken steps to plan that activity or event. If you wait until January, you are probably already looking at a February campaign, putting you one month behind.

There are three basic factors you need to figure out before you begin this:

First, what are your production or income goals? This is easy, but here is why you need to know this. You’ll need to establish a budget based around this income goal: Most advisors who are six-figure income earners are consistent marketers. They are constantly tracking the return on investment of any given campaign they are running on a regular basis.

For most marketing campaigns, you should expect a 3-to-1 ratio to justify enough success to continue with the campaign. This means if you spend $1,000 on a marketing campaign, you should expect $3,000 back in revenue. Four-to-1 is a good ratio and 5-to-1 is a good great success from that particular activity.

Now, I said consistent campaigns. Not the one time you did one thing and hit a home run. Most advisors consider the success of a ratio range once it is averaged over a year’s period of time.

So back to establishing a budget; pick a ROI you feel comfortable with. For example, use 4-to-1. If you have an income goal of $200,000, you can plan to spend $50,000 in the following year in marketing to hit that goal. You don’t need to cut a $50,000 check in January, but you will need to allocate about $4,000 a month to marketing. If you just did the math and you are choking on the budget number you came up with, you might need to be more realistic with your goal or figure out a way to generate an unheard of 10-to-1 ROI.

If you figure that out, call me, and I’ll get you out of selling forever.

Second, you need to find marketing activies to fit that budget. It's not important in the beginning stages of the plan to know the content or message of the activity, just know the activity you want to have happen each month. If you know that you want a newsletter to clients, one newspaper ad, one seminar mailing and a quarterly client appreciation event, you’ll just factor an associated cost and start laying out which activities you plan to do in each month.

The third step is often the hardest and most important. You need to now look at each campaign and back-fill the calendar with all the steps that need to take place for that campaign to come to fruition.

Let’s use a seminar for example. You need to find a location approximately eight weeks prior. You need to order mailers and select zip codes six weeks prior. You need to update your PowerPoint and practice three weeks prior. These key steps will eliminate you coming into the office one February morning, looking at the four campaigns that are supposed to happen that month, and thinking, “I’m too late now. We’ll get it next month.”

The best time to plan your marketing is when your sales are up. Many advisors wait till they are experiencing a slump to react, which causes a chain reaction that can ruin years of your production. The slump is triggered by slow sales, which leaves less money allocated to marketing.

When you finally kick-start your marketing at this point, you are usually six weeks from any results and eight to 10 weeks from getting paid on that business. Also, by the time you finally do sit down with a prospect, you risk being rusty from lack of practice and desperation for a sale can often be detected. So my advice; get started on this now.