The Halo of Ringlets

I hope by now you’ve done a business plan. A business plan is how you’re going to hit your goals. You’re driving from Bangor, Maine to San Diego, you’re going to pass mile markers along the way. Those are your goals.

Inside your business plan has to be your marketing plan. It’s not enough to go in the morning and hunt, kill and eat.

Listen to this audio podcast or read the transcript below to hear the ‘halo of ringlets’ analogy and an idea on narrowing down and attracting your target market or markets.

You have to decide where you want to go and put yourself there. You have to pick out a target market, and every single market needs a marketing plan.

So, let’s say for the sake of argument, next year you’re going to call on veterinarians. I’d say to you: ‘Who’s your target market?’

‘Oh, my target market is veterinarians.’

‘What are their specific financial needs?’

You have to know that before you call on them. The small business owners probably get typical problems.

Why does this market make sense to you? Do you have an affinity for veterinarians, or brain surgeons, or dry cleaner stores or whatever? Why does that market make sense to you? How are you going to approach this market?

You want to call on veterinarians? Fine. How are you going to do that? You’re going to get referrals. You’re going to do seminars. You’re going to drive from place to place, knocking on doors. What are you going to do? When are you going to start there? What are your goals and what are your timelines? That’s all the stuff that goes into a marketing plan. We have to market ourselves.

Listen to the CD or its mp3 version, Distinctly Different: Ya Gotta Stand Out, for some ideas on how to differentiate yourself from the competition.

Ted Levitt said this, “The real purpose of a business is to create and keep a client. There is no effective strategy that is not market oriented. No business can function effectively without a clear view of how to get clients, what its clients want and need, and what options competitors give them.”

In The IBM Way, Buck Rodgers who’s been a director of marketing at IBM for many years, during the halcyon days, said that selling is making somebody want what you have, and marketing is having what that person wants. Well, he’s right. Marketing’s about creating what clients want. He talks about in his book, The IBM Way. He talks about a woman who wants a halo of ringlets. She has scraggly hair and wants a halo of ringlets. She has several different ways to get that halo of ringlets. She doesn’t care about the process. She just wants the ringlets.

It’s the same way with our clients. They don’t care about the process. Clients want to put their kids through school. They want to retire. They want to pay their taxes. They don’t care if it’s Merrill Lynch, Edward Jones, LPL. It doesn’t make any difference whatsoever. ETFs, funds or whatever. You let your competition go out there and sell products, sell the process, sell the financial plan. That’s not what you’re all about.

You are the person the client has to see when thinking of putting his or her kids through school and retiring comfortably. Market yourself. Write a marketing plan inside your business plan. Trust me, you’ll be really glad you did.

*This audio episode first appeared on Don Connelly 24/7 – a learning center for Financial Advisors, designed to help you become brilliant at the basics and take your business to the next level.

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