Business Growth for Financial Planners in Five Easy Steps

Attracting new business: sometimes it happens by luck, sometimes by referral. Trouble is, "sometimes" just isn't often enough.

So, if you want to add new clients more frequently than sometimes, you'll have to try something else. And with a few common-sense, do-able, and easy steps, any financial planner can build business ? without resorting to lavish, costly marketing efforts or tasteless promotional hype.

Here is a five-step process that is affordable, sensible, and do-able. Make it part of your routine over the next several months, and it will become a second-nature, autopilot system that builds business steadily.

This process builds on my core practice-development premise: the professional knowledge and information you possess is also your best marketing tool. You can use it to get prospects' attention, because you're talking about something they care about ? their finances ? rather than touting yourself.

1. Build a good database of prospects and referral sources. A prospect is anyone you've met (this is key; names on a purchased list don't count) who could become a client one day. Anyone who has ever sent you a piece of business, or even just recommended you, also belongs on your list A database is a computer-stored list with all contact information for each person: mail and email addresses, phone and fax numbers. Missing any of these elements will deprive you of a valuable tool to reach your database. Computerizing is essential: it allows you to readily sort your list by categories. Software programs like ACT are best for smaller and mid-sized businesses: they offer the right mix of power, ease, and flexibility.

2. Use your database: communicate regularly with your prospects and referral sources. The key to building business is to remain constantly front-of-mind with the people most likely to hire or refer you. If you've been paying attention, those are the same exact folks who now populate your database. How to stay on their minds, without those pestering phone calls or scheduling 27 lunches a month? By sending them something useful, regularly. Monthly or bi-monthly is best. (This, I promise, it is do-able because creating the piece is going to be simple. See step 4?) And let's avoid that "What's the best way to send something?" trap that stalls many would-be marketing efforts. The truth is: some people prefer email, some snail mail, and you'll never know just who likes what. So we'll cover all bases by rotating the delivery means: an e-mail this month, an article in an envelope next time, an occasional faxed piece.

3. Make them want your messages. The way not to do this is to send them ads, promotions, or self-congratulatory pieces. Instead, send them meaningful messages with valuable information. A heads-up on a new mutual fund offering, perhaps, or a general suggestion for a new retirement planning strategy. Something based on substance, and that spotlights your expertise on the subject. Whether or not they need this particular bit of information right now is irrelevant. Your message reminds them you're out there, thinking of them, and that's all we want to accomplish.

4. Keep it simple. Your messages should be brief ? two or three paragraphs is enough. More detail than that is counterproductive ? it wastes your time, and the reader doesn't need it. If it's still a struggle to write it yourself, verbally brief a staffer, or whoever helps you with marketing, or a freelance writer, on the information. Have them create a first draft. It may not be perfect ? but you can then edit and hone it ? probably in a few minutes. Make this process uncomplicated because that is the key to getting it done.

5. Become a resource ? go to the media. With the steps above, you've become a resource to your prospects. Next, widen your scope by going to the media for free publicity. Media exposure puts your name, face, and expertise in front of new prospects, and it heightens your credibility and market value among those who already know you. Don't be discouraged that you are too small for the media to care. And don't think that you need to spend big bucks, or hire a costly firm. All you need to do is become a resource for reporters, too. Offer to explain the new tax law, or to share your year-end strategies with them. Send an email or make a call, suggesting a specific topic that you've been talking about with your clients lately. Chances are, it's a potential news story. With a little planning and luck, one that quotes you prominently.

Ned Steele works with people in professional services who want to build their practice and accelerate their growth. The president of Ned Steele's MediaImpact, he is the author of 102 Publicity Tips To Grow a Business or Practice. To learn more visit http://www.MediaImpact.biz or call 212-243-8383.

Publicity: Marketing-Minded Financial Planners, Take a Reporter to Lunch

Sometimes a phone call isn't intimate or long enough to convey all the information you... Read More

If Your PR Cant Do This, Bag It!

As a business, non-profit or association manager, why continue a public relations effort that doesn't... Read More

Financial Planning Publicity: When Talking to the Media, Dont Fake What You Dont Know

Relationships are based on trust-not just romantic relationships, or doctor/patient relationships, but practically any relationship,... Read More

The Art Of Persuasive Pitching

Media placement is an art. Practicing it often requires as much attention to approach and... Read More

Radio Interviews - How To Get Them!

Getting on the radio can be a great tactical move as part of your overall... Read More

Do-It-Yourself Public Relations

"Advertising is what you pay for. Publicity is what you pray for."What is a small... Read More

Why PR is a Vital Force

Because it can alter individual perception and lead to changed behaviors. Something of profound importance... Read More

Media Training: When Reporters Bully You

UNDER FIREA friend whose organization is often in the media spotlight recently told me a... Read More

Same Old, Same Old PR Still Tops

Like human nature over time, the power of good public relations remains the same.Whether you... Read More

Seven Tips To Get Your Press Release Noticed

If you're seeking to promote yourself or your new business on a limited budget, you... Read More

10 Tips for Tantalizing News Releases

Want to get radio interviews and coverage in print publications to sell more ... Read More

Publicity - Tips on Dealing With the Media

You thought of it, you researched it, you wrote it. So you own your story.... Read More

Writing a Press Release: The Design Basics

Big corporations like General Motors and Coca-Cola spend thousands of dollars on press kits with... Read More

There Is No Such Thing as Competition

A wise friend of mine has often said, "There is no such thing as competition."... Read More

Ten Media Crisis Tips

No comment. These are probably the two most damaging words in the English language to... Read More

Generating Publicity: Will The Media Be Interested In My Product/Business?

When it comes to launching a new business or product, some marketing consultants might... Read More

How to Form a Relationship with a Newspaper

How do you make a good relationship with a newspaper so that you can get... Read More

The Right Hook

Have you fantasized about spreading word of your business on a top-rated TV show like... Read More

10 Secrets to Free Publicity

Public relations is popular because it is very cost-effective and it works. If you send... Read More

GETTING YOUR MESSAGE ACROSS

You have a story to tell. Your company has developed a revolutionary new product, or... Read More

Public Relations: Toast?

Could be, when unit managers in businesses, non-profits and associations don't get the really important... Read More

Dont Do This to Your News Release!

Hundreds of thousands of News Releases are sent out all the time and many people... Read More

She Who Has the Gold...

?makes the rules, of course.But when the gold takes the form of top-notch public relations,... Read More

Advertising Is Dead. Long Live PR

Although I still believe there is a place for advertising as a brand maintenance or... Read More

Media Training: How to Avoid Being Misquoted

I often begin my media training sessions by asking members of the audience to raise... Read More

Publicizing Your Company

Got a huge need for publicity and a tiny publicity budget? You don't need to... Read More

E-Mail Media Releases

E-mail is becoming the preferred way to receive media releases. Although it can sometimes be... Read More

PR: The Thrill of a Good Idea

The notion that a business, non-profit or association manager can actually hold a big key... Read More

Its Just Common Sense!

When a group of outsiders behaves in a way that hurts your business, you usually... Read More

Culture As A Barrier To Communication

Each of us is exposed to people from other cultures on a regular basis, in... Read More

Starting A Publicity Program

Successful buisnesses know that media attention reaches consumers better than advertising can. A feature story... Read More

Promoting Your Website Through a Press Release

Have you ever gotten one of those letters from your local property tax appraiser, informing... Read More

Media Relations: Minority Media Matters

Your boss just stopped by your office. He tells you that he has decided to... Read More

7 Simple Steps To A PR Launch

A PR product or service launching is a perfect way to build momentum slowly. It... Read More

Between Now and Economic Recovery

There's still time to review your public relations program like Navy flight crews go over... Read More

Easy to be Foolish About PR

In fact, here are three really foolish goofs made by too many business, non-profit and... Read More

The Press Release is Dead (Now Will Somebody Please Tell the Clients?)

In competing for a piece of business not too long ago, my PR firm was... Read More

Want To Join the Bandwagon? Be Sure It Has Wheels!

Here are two to-the-point questions recently posed by several association magazine publishers: "When is it... Read More

What People Believe Can Bring You Success

Just think about it.If I come to believe that you really didn't dump those chemicals... Read More

How to Make Publicity Work for Your Business: Six P.R. Strategies to Use Right Now

Public Relations (or P.R.) is a wonderful, yet often overlooked marketing tool. P.R. is... Read More

Media Relations: When Google Got Googled

Before meeting my soon-to-be-wife for the first time, I "Googled" her. Google, with its amazing... Read More

Public Relations Strategies: Announcing News on a Press Tour

Gaining news coverage on a successful press tour requires planning, preparation, and follow up.Under the... Read More

Talk Radio Success

You do not have to hire a publicist or advertise through a booking service to... Read More

Public Relations: Why it Works

The short answer is, it works best when its fundamental premise is the guide, which... Read More

PR Is Just Smart Business

The name of the game is doing our part to achieve manage- ment's objectives. And... Read More

Effective Public Relations: Why Did Bec And Lleyton Do It At 3:15AM?

If you are in Australia at the moment, it is hard to miss the engagement... Read More

Media Training: Stop Talking, Already!

THE TWO MINUTES UNDERDOGEdward Everett was one of the most famous orators of his time.... Read More

Media Training 201: The Reporters Have Done Their Homework. Have You Done Yours?

Just about anyone who has been in the public eye has a story of the... Read More

When Tactics Are Not Enough

Your public relations people are busy. The buzz is all about hits on a radio... Read More

The Worst PR Mistakes

For a business, non-profit or association manager, they could be fatal, coming as they do... Read More