The most misunderstood business function in our industry is marketing.

In particular, agencies have been unaware or chosen to ignore just how important marketing is to their growth. This seems to be changing, though; there appears to be an awakening around the subject.

However, even though there is an increasing interest, the misunderstanding is still there. Now, too many seem to think that marketing is some new cure-all. Believing that, by simply creating an internal marketing position or hiring a marketing firm, they can then sit back, growth problem solved.

Not so fast, Skippy. Marketing can do amazing things for your business, but it can’t do EVERYTHING.

Reality check

First, let's start with the realization that marketing isn't a project or an optional activity. Like sales and service, it is a critical daily function of running a growth business.

Second, we need to recognize that marketing can, and must, do some amazing things for your business. But there are also many things it can’t do.

Marketing can’t

Fix a broken client experience

The client experience is what ultimately determines the success of your business. If you don't deliver an experience that improves your client’s business, even in ways they don’t necessarily expect, they will move on to someone who does.

Litmus test – You know your client experience is strong when you have clients who voluntarily become promoters, singing your praises and referring you to others.

Be a substitute for a buyer-focused sales process

If your sales process centers on telling your story, getting quotes, and trying to differentiate yourself with a capabilities presentation, buyers will file you in the “just like everyone else” category.

What they need is you to show up curious to learn about their story, what they want to accomplish, what is holding them back, and learn (through a documented plan) what you can do to deliver more impactful results to their business.

Litmus test – You know your sales process is impactfully consultative and prospects learn so much about themselves when someone would be willing to pay for the privilege of sitting down with you. Don't roll your eyes, young man/lady; this is a real thing!! 🙄

Excuse you from prospecting activities

This is where most marketing confusion lives. Yes, prospecting and marketing are both about helping put opportunities in the pipeline. However, that’s really where the similarities end.

Marketing is activities (usually one-to-many) that keep pipelines healthy over the long term and eventually result in inbound opportunities where prospects come to you. #TrueStory, so stop with the eye-rolling.

Prospecting is outbound activities (usually one-to-one – cold calling, as an example) that can put opportunities in the pipeline today.

Pipelines will never remain healthy without the right balance of the two.

Litmus test – You know you have a healthy pipeline-filling balance when you have specific goals, dedicated resources, and are tracking results for both prospecting and marketing.

I'm listening; tell me more

Before we talk about what marketing CAN do, let’s talk about the purpose of marketing. The purpose of marketing is to capture a potential buyer's attention, guide them through their buyer’s journey, and give them a compelling reason to want to learn more about how you can help them.

As if this guiding force isn’t worthwhile on its own, it gets even better. Marketing may not fix or replace other organizational efforts, but it definitely helps make effective operations exponentially more impactful than they are on their own.

Prospecting

When your salespeople call on suspects, those suspects will start doing their research. They'll go to your website, read your blog, and go to your LinkedIn profile and company page. What they find, or don't find, will determine if they feel it’s worthwhile to have a conversation with you.

Marketing validates why a prospect should respond positively to your prospecting efforts.

Sales process

The definition of successful marketing efforts centers on the number of sales opportunities it helps create. Realize, unless their current broker relationship is broken, most buyers aren't out looking for a better version of what they already have; they're looking for someone competing in a different category.

Even if you do compete in a different category, buyers won't usually recognize it if your marketing hasn’t told them to look for it. They assume you are like other brokers, and because we all want to prove ourselves right, those things you say that sound like others is what they will notice most.

However, if your marketing efforts have prepared them to look for what puts you in a different category, that difference is what they will take away from the sales conversation.

Marketing creates an appetite for the value delivered through your sales process.

Client experience

Effective marketing focuses on the needs of your prospects. It is a prospect seeing themselves in the topics you discuss that initially catches their attention. When your sales process further explores their needs and offers solutions to address those needs, you are teeing up a client experience that is more powerful and impactful because it addresses the needs and expectations of each client.

Marketing resets the expectations of the buyer. It gives them permission to expect more and receive more value from the client experience.

Let’s get to the bottom line

If you show up at the same time as everyone else;

if you talk about the same things in the same way as everyone else;

if your clients say the same things about you as others say about their broker;

or even if you remain silent, like so many others,

you are assumed to be just like everyone else.

Or at least close enough to everyone else that you haven’t created a convincing reason for a buyer to take a meeting with you, much less make a change to their advisor relationship.

Marketing may not be a cure-all, but it is a game-changer. It is the elixir that makes everything else in your business more effective, efficient, and compelling.

Download our marketing plan template below 👇👇👇 to start outlining your marketing initiatives that will help fill the pipeline this year. 

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Photo by tang90246.