Over the years, I have had the opportunity to train and speak to several hundred advisors about new marketing ideas and business platforms. One thing all top advisors know is that one’s practice is always either moving forward or backward. There is no “maintaining.” If you feel you are maintaining, I assure you your competition is progressing, causing your business to lose ground, much like a money market account gets eaten alive by inflation.
Advisors partner with IMOs, broker/dealers, or other affiliations to help with progressive business platforms and marketing ideas to stay ahead of industry curves and trends. When attempting to grasp any new marketing campaign or business change, I have found that all things are the S.A.M.E. In order to effectively implement new ideas, the best of the best put processes in place to make the learning curve as quick and as painless as possible.
S.A.M.E is an acronym I use when we are developing or training on new business platforms and marketing campaigns. You can use the power of S.A.M.E to develop and grow your personal practice as well.
There are four key areas to penetrating any type of marketplace. These keys are crucial in successfully navigating any change in business or demographic marketing. Maybe you are looking to target the baby boomer market, or trying to combat ideas like “I’m waiting until the market comes back up,” or trying to figure out if you should join a broker/dealer or RIA firm. Understanding these four areas will produce significant results and help you stay well ahead of your local competition.
S.A.M.E stands for the following:
- Education & Persuasion
This is probably the easiest to establish. It is the simple question of what is the issue either affecting my growth or slowing me down from significant growth. We’ll return to our earlier examples used in the opening paragraph. The situation might be that the baby boomers view retirement differently than their parents do, which is having an effect on your marketing. As for the “paper loss objection,” a prospect or client might feel that if they don’t change anything in their portfolio, it will magically return itself to its prior higher value. This logical fallacy may be having a negative effect on your closing ratio. Whatever the challenge, the first step is to assess the situation accurately and determine how it affects your sales activity.
Let me give you a situation: Most packaged 401(k) plans have hidden and excessive fees, limited investment choices, and an unwanted fiduciary responsibility on the part of employers. Now that I’ve told you that, what advantage does that give you? None. The missing ingredient: awareness.
Awareness of the situation is the next step in understanding the new change. What is my awareness of the situation? What is my prospect’s awareness of the situation? Let’s use an example from the 401(k) world to determine the S.A.M.E. process: In February of 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that employees can sue their employers for breach of fiduciary duty, which has opened up several options for both active 401k takeovers and in-service rollovers. The Department of Labor issued a letter stating:
- “Weak fee disclosure requirements under current law are putting American workers’ retirement savings at risk.”
- “According to GAO, 80 percent of workers were not aware of the fees that were being taken out of their accounts.”
- “According to GAO, a 1 percentage point increase in fees could cut retirement income by almost 20 percent over 20 years.”
Do you think being armed with that knowledge might help you better understand how to target this market? Do you think that your prospect or client has any idea that this happened or that they might have other options for this money? The point is, you need to not only be aware of this but be able to describe to your client and prospect why the situation is of importance to them.
Now that you have awareness of the situation, it will be a lot easier to create marketing messages and identify your target market. This is where most IMOs, BDs, and organizations earn their keep. Sticking with the 401(k) example, you now know that this may be a concern to HR executives and business owners. This also may be of concern to prospects and clients with existing 401(k) plans. Mailing campaigns, prospecting letters, newspaper ads, and seminar slides can all be created to tell this story. These initiatives will demonstrate credibility. More than that – they will also add more value than your competition by providing new and up-to-date information.
Education and Persuasion
Game time. You’ve now done your homework, projected your message, generated interest, and you’re finally sitting down with someone willing to listen. Your goal here is to get the prospect to see things the SAME way you see them. If you agree, it is only logical to do business together. You’ll need sales concepts, analogies, and supporting documents to make your case.
If you are looking at tackling any new ventures this year, this is a simple outline of things that need to be addressed for you to maximize the return on your investment. You should also partner with progressive thinkers such as other advisors, IMOs, or broker dealers. This business can be lonely for the independent advisor, but I assure you it is a lot more fun when you are ahead of the curve and ahead of your competition. Make this year a strong one.