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Is Your Marketing Plan Working?

Marketing activities involve a commitment of time and financial resources, so it's important to monitor how they are paying off.

Helen Modly and Sandra Atkins, CPA/PFS, 12/13/2012

It's time to create your marketing plan for 2013. Hopefully you had one for 2012 that you actually implemented. This month we'll share what was included in our marketing plan and how we evaluate its effectiveness.

An effective marketing plan targets the audiences that are most likely to become your clients or provide referrals to prospective clients. In the past, our firm's growth was mainly attributable to referrals from centers of influence (COIs: other connected professionals who can refer their clients to us) and our existing clients, so they were the primary targets for our mostly one-on-one marketing activities. We rarely did any real print media advertising until 2009 when the stock market was just beginning to recover from the meltdown.

This past year, we noticed an increasing number of new prospects reaching out to us after doing a search on the Internet. In many cases, they saw us mentioned in an ad and then looked up our website. These potential clients reviewed our site and basically prequalified themselves based on what they read. We coined this new marketing technique "answer the phone" after we had a rash of unsolicited phone calls that resulted in us gaining some terrific new clients. It wasn't until really analyzing where these new clients first heard of us that we realized the effect of running regular print ads.

Marketing Materials
Our marketing plan focuses on three main areas: centers of influence, existing clients, and identified prospective clients. For all three groups, we have created or purchased marketing materials that we use as part of our "drip" plan, so that we can have something in front of our target markets at least quarterly.

Examples of our marketing materials include:

--Announcements of milestones in our firm, such as when one of our advisors was named Planner of the Year or when another advisor celebrated 10 years with the firm and became an owner

--Brochures tailored to specific groups: retirees, women, etc.

--Purchased materials that address specific issues, such as Social Security and Medicare information

Helen Modly, CFP, ChFC, is executive vice president and director of investment services for Focus Wealth Management, a fee-only registered investment advisor in Middleburg, Va. Modly has more than 20 years of experience providing wealth-management services. She is a member of NAPFA and FPA. She can be reached at info@focus-wealth.com.

The author is not an employee of Morningstar, Inc. The views expressed in this article are the author's. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Morningstar. The author is a freelance contributor to MorningstarAdvisor.com. The views expressed in this article may or may not reflect the views of Morningstar.
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