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Marketing on the cheap

by Diana Clement

 

There are two ways to get good marketing; one involves buckets of money, the other is to Do-It-Yourself.

DIY marketing doesn't even need to be a hard slog - providing you get creative. It's about honing your public image, attracting new business, and growing the profitability of your existing business. Some of the best ever marketing gimmicks don't cost much.

But let's start at the beginning. What is marketing? Definitions of marketing are varied, but generally it's the commercial processes involved in promoting and selling and distributing a product or service . Marketing includes advertising, networking, direct mail, public relations and much more.

In the case of Financial Planners the aim of marketing is generally to generate new leads, convert them, and squeeze old and new business for more sales and profit. There is, unfortunately, no one size fits all marketing method. You need to develop strategies for your business that work.

For some, advertising is the main thrust. But this is a scattergun approach, even with a vertical market magazine or radio programme. Instead, low budget, targeted campaigns can be just as or even more successful. If you don't know how to do it, read a few books, trawl the net, attend a seminar or two and you could be an instant expert on the subject.

South African-based Anthony Morris, who was a keynote speaker at the Financial Planners & Insurance Adviser Association conference in Auckland recently, has some pretty nifty marketing tricks up his sleeve when it comes to getting leads.

One of his favourites is to choose your top 50 clients and deliver a birthday cake and 10 business cards to his or her workplace the day before just in case they plan to take their birthday off. The theory is that your client will share the cake with colleagues and with a bit of luck your client will distribute your cards to potential leads - all for the cost of a cake.

Creativity, sometimes cheesy creativity such as this can capture the attention of prospects, and give you a foot in the door.

Why not, for example, contact your local secondary school and offer to assist in personal finance education? Parents might like the idea of meeting with the philanthropic financial planner who is teaching the financial facts of life to their kids. You could even get paid a few bucks to do it at night school.

Money Managers might be one of the biggest Financial Planning networks in NEw Zealand and will spend in excess of $2m this year on marketing, but marketing manager Alasdair Scott started out 20 years ago with a zero budget. Scott became a master of the marketing gimmick and worked hard at becoming a media darling.

Top of his low-budget marketing winners are:

Scott says Money Managers has had some very successful marketing gimmicks that cost virtually nothing. He remembers a particular golf day for clients, that was paid for by a fund management company. Former cricketer Ian Chapple had recently begun working for the fund manager and he was marketing a golf driver at the time. "The fund management company even paid for the golf balls and the prizes," Scott says.

 

Networking

Networking is also a very cost effective method of marketing, says Scott. Early on he hit the speaking tour, becoming a regular at clubs such as Probus, the RSA, and golf clubs. "It doesn't cost you a cent to speak at meetings as you are invited to come along. Sometimes we're even provided with a petrol voucher, which we donated back to the club because it looked good," he said.

When you engage in public speaking for clubs and charities you have the opportunity to develop trusting relationships with potential clients.

Networking is an approach also taken by Cambridge-based Alan Milton of Diversified Investment Strategies. The company gets many of its referrals from accountants and lawyers and the four directors concentrate much of their marketing effort on meeting with these professionals.

As you can imagine, Morris really goes in for the kill with potential clients he meets. He views marketing as a contact sport and doesn't worry if at first potential clients glaze over. That is just the kick off.

Morris recounts one client who he met at a barbecue. The guy brushed off his attempts to discuss financial planning, but Morris gleaned that he had a 4x4 vehicle, the kids played rugby and the name of his wife. He repeatedly telephoned to chat, but not sell service and emailed articles of interest to his target. Morris continues:

"Then just before Christmas I left a message saying: 'trying to keep in contact with you and it would be good to have you has a client. Hope your existing advisor is this good at keeping in contact.'."

 

Direct mail & newsletters

Producing your own newsletter or direct mailing used to be a laborious and sometimes expensive process. Thanks to the power of the Internet, it can be an easy method of raising your profile with clients and is one that Morris wholeheartedly promotes.

 

Write articles and get yourself quoted in the press

Writing articles and appearing on radio is one way to increase your credibility. There are lots of magazines and websites screaming out for content and articles. You may not make the columns of the New York Times or Wall Street Journal when you first start out. But the local freebie newspaper may be just as effective if you become their financial expert.

Don't just restrict yourself to newspapers. Money Managers' Scott reckons some of the company's most worthwhile media exposure has been on radio.

Most lifestyle magazines from bridal magazines to fishing ones have regular financial columns and those that are more strapped for cash are unlikely to have the money to pay journalists to write for them. Milton writes regular articles for a golfing magazine. Likewise New Plymouth-based Peter Hensley writes for Investigate magazine.

Don't restrict yourself to print media and radio. Websites need content and many can't afford to pay for it.

 

The power of technology

Morris—the sort of bloke who could sell bungy jumps to the over 90s—doesn't miss a trick and he's harnessed the power of technology to snare more clients.

Text messages, audio messaging services, email, and more are in his armoury in his quest to keep in touch with clients and potential clients and to maximise their business.

Be smart, says Morris; find out when the client's wedding anniversary is and send him or her a text message the day before to remind them. You'll get brownie points for that. But don't forget to update your database when the client gets divorced or a spouse dies.

Or simply use audio messaging services to leave "soft intro" messages on potential clients' voicemail.

 

Learn more

Great marketing ideas aren't country specific. So if you're looking for ideas, trawl the Internet or buy Australian, American, South African, New Zealand, European or British books on the subject. It doesn't take more than a few winning ideas to get your marketing on track.

 

So what does professional PR cost?

Shattock Communications & Research, Money Managers PR agency, says even a small budget PR campaign can be worthwhile.

But over and above media coverage, Shattock believes that referrals and testimonials have the best conversion rates. "The conversion rates on referrals are 90 to 100 per cent," Shattock says. "Yet companies seem insistent on pouring money into advertising and they either can't measure the conversion rates or they aren't so flash."

His company coaches its clients in the art of extracting testimonials. One tip he gives is not to ask for testimonials, but to write "case studies" about the client, which amount to the same thing.

Asked what a low-budget professional PR campaign costs, John Shattock quotes the example of an environmental consultant who launched her new business with a campaign that cost $1,200 a month for several months. Shattock took her message about new local government regulations to the media and she was quoted widely - a much more effective means of getting her message across "than spending twenty five bucks a column centimetre for advertising". The consultant mailed copies of the stories, which showed her to be an expert in her field, to potential clients.

 

Get creative

We've given you a handful of ideas of how to Do-It-Yourself, but the possibilities are endless if you put a creative hat on. Why not participate at AMP shows with a sure-fire gimmick on your stand or by handing out outrageous gifts? Or you could send clients a post card while on holiday.

 

Don't waste your leads

Finally, take a tip from Morris and don't waste your leads. Aim to contact them six or eight times.

 

 

Reports I have written:

Measuring the impact and ROI of social media
Measuring the impact and ROI of social media - for Ark Group
Making social media work for your business
Making Social Media work for your business - for Ark Group
Social Media: the new business communication landscape
Social Media: The New Business Communication Landscape - for Ark Group
How to get started with podcasting in your organisation
How to get started with podcasting in your organisation - for Melcrum Publishing
How to use social media to solve critical internal communication issues
Contributing author to How to use social media to solve critical internal communication issues - for Melcrum Publishing

How to use social media to engage employees
Contributing author to How to use social media to engage employees - for Melcrum Publishing

Contributing author to How to communicate with hard-to-reach employees - for Melcrum Publishing

 

 

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