Posts Tagged 'Marketing'



The Rainmaker Dinner

The most successful event in the history of my practice by a long shot?

The Rainmaker dinner!

What is the Rainmaker dinner?

This annual event brings together 7 to 9 professional advisors that you have worked with or want to work with for a private dinner.

  • Identify the attendees – These are the best advisors:  CPAs, Enrolled Agents, Attorneys, etc.
  • Secure a venue.  This would be a private dining room in a nice restaurant.  The seating should be a rectangular table (not round) like your dining room table at home, so everyone can talk with everyone.
  • Identify an outside guest speaker (maybe) – As a newer advisor, you may want to bring in a speaker to talk about a topic your guests would find interesting in the area of practice management or business building.
  • Personally invite each guest with a phone call and explain to them this unique networking opportunity to meet with you and some peers to discuss some ideas.
  • If possible, order dinner in advance as it only takes away from your time together – Give each attendee the choice of a seafood, beef, chicken or vegetarian entrée.  Salads and desserts can be standard.
  • Gather about 6pm for drinks but make sure your server insists that you be seated by 6:30 sharp.  Engage the staff in helping get the group seated.
  • Thank all for being there.  Go around the room and ask the guests to introduce themselves, the name of the firm and their specialty (or ideal client!)
  • After salads are served, ask your speaker to engage the group casually in the topic for the evening.
  • Again after dessert, thank your entire party for their participation in your practice and for coming this evening.
  • Make sure a credit card has already been filed with the restaurant so there is no need to pay as dinner ends.

Be sure and follow up within 48 hours with each guest to set an appointment to discuss the concepts that were brought up over dinner.

This dinner is virtually guaranteed to add value to your relationships!

Guide – Bringing together peer advisors over dinner leads to great comradery and is valuable for all as a cross networking opportunity.

Action item – Set up your rainmaker dinner as soon as possible.  It is really worth it.

© 2009 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

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Presentation Presentation

 

How do you present your presentation?

Back to basics.

Many have made presentations over the years but, putting content aside for now, how do yours look?

Here are some common methodologies:

  • Stapled
  • Paper Clipped
  • Laminated
  • Clear Folder
  • Manilla Folder
  • Colored folder
  • Colored Pocket Folder
  • Custom Folder
  • Three Ring Binder
  • Three Ring Binder with clear Jacket for inserts
  • Custom Three Ring Binder
  • Bound in house with:
    • Plastic Comb Binders – Black
    • Plastic Comb Binders – Color Matched
    • Wire Binding
    • Velobind
    • Thermo Binding

I realized there are significant cost differences between these methods.  Here are my minimum guidelines:

Colored Pocket Folders that coordinate with your letterhead – Customized by the local print shop with your logo. Solid color folders that are printed with a single color ink should cost under $1 each – You ARE worth it!

GBC Binding Machine with Comb bindings – Purchased from Staples or Office Depot, prices start at $200 with colored combs at $10 per box.  You can use clear transparencies as covers to get started with letterhead underneath.

These two additions to your supply closet will make your presentations look substantial and presentable.

Guide – Present every presentation as if it was being shown to your largest prospect ever.  It might be!

Action item – Purchase the materials you need, folders and a binding machine, to create a minimum level of professionalism.

© 2009 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

Don’t be “Full of What the Birds Eat”.

 

My dear Irish mother-in-law has an expression, “You’re full of what the birds eat.”

Over the years, I’ve come to understand what she meant: Don’t try to convince her of something that she knows isn’t true.

So I’ll share a recent experience.

A valued client recently requested to pay his fee with a credit card. I said that we did not currently take credit cards as a form of payment, but I would investigate it right away and get back to him. I called my bank first (you might remember them from a previous guide). They gave me the name of a vendor the bank itself was considering since they had no existing relationship.

I called this vendor and spoke to “Sally,” who was eager to assist. She faxed over some paperwork that was a fax-of-a-fax-of-a-fax. (1st warning)

Though the cover sheet displayed the bank’s name, I knew she didn’t work for the bank. And of course, the forms were blank. When questioned, Sally said, “Oh just sign the forms, fax them back, and we’ll complete them.” (2nd warning)

“Oh, and you’ll need to lease a swipe machine for the next 48 months at a cost of $X,” they further explained. When Sally called to follow-up, she identified herself as calling from my bank even though our caller ID said otherwise. (3rd warning) I decided to look elsewhere.

So off to my favorite internet search engine where I turned up several prospects. Call to company number one resulted in limited information. Call to company number two resulted in some less than helpful forms showing up. Then, as fate would have it, we received a COLD CALL from a credit card “processor.” So what the heck, I called them back.

The sales woman assured me they could handle my needs and faxed over some forms. (Drat: a fax-of-a-fax-of-a-fax!) This time the form was partially completed. When she called back, caller ID betrayed her when an individual name displayed, not the name of the company I thought I was dealing with.

After several questions, she put her manager on the phone (who, it turned out, was the individual identified by caller ID). He said he would make it right. He faxed over a set of completed forms (only a fax-of-a-fax this time!). The paperwork requested a signature that, in part, attested that I had received a copy of the terms and conditions.  Since I had not received any such document, I called back to request it.

The manager responded, “What terms and conditions? You have ALL the paperwork!” When I continued to protest, he said he would get back to me. Sure enough, the missing terms and conditions did show up by email the next day. It also included information on purchasing a swipe machine at a steeply discounted price.

However, I noticed something else as well—all references to the processor were in the name of DIFFERENT company, not one I had heard of to this point in the process. I called the sales woman who informed me that it was the name of the company they used. Huh?

Ok. Enough! I searched the internet and located this new company. I called their customer service number and got a very responsive person who said Sales would call within 48 hours (not right back!). Sure enough, two days later I got a call from the regional sales person.

After I explained my tale of woe, he first confirmed that the previous company did out-source to his company. He apologized for any confusion and said he would take care of me. He explained how the system works (bank, processor, merchant fees, etc), and faxed over his paperwork (crystal clear!) with all supporting documentation. He then called back and reviewed each and every line item and fee (how refreshing!!!).

I asked about buying or leasing a swipe machine. No need for a swipe machine, he replied. All you need is our web portal. When I mentioned that the first two companies had wanted me to purchase or lease a machine, he explained that they were simply layering costs to increase sales commissions (I can neither confirm nor deny this, but makes sense!).

I did sign with this firm and returned the paperwork. An hour later, I received two emails confirming everything. The next morning I got a call from customer service to schedule training, which took place later that day.

I then placed my first “sale” with them over the web. Ahhhhh. This company had explained the process in detail and delivered!

I am now an advocate for this company. I will recommend them to others and will refer them to my bank that is still looking for a vendor.

Now I am sure all the other folks could have processed my orders, but because they were “full of what the birds eat,” they didn’t get my business.

Guide – Tell it like it is and win business. Truth and honesty win out over “just trust us; we’ll take care of you.”

Action item – Prepare your documents with as much plain English as possible and deliver a complete set every time.

© 2009 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

We Go Live!

 

After years of preparation, sweat, spousal irritation (that is me irritating her!) and grinding out the day-to-day, The Advisors Center is going live.

Shameless self-promotion?  Absolutely!

We have been contacted by professional advisors from across the country and have initiated a number of collaborative relationships.

The printer has printed.  The lawyers have drafted.  Bank accounts are established.  The state alerted.  Blog, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube—All CHECK!

Materials prepared, course work organized, wiki running, CRM customized—CHECK!!

So once again we have begun a start-up—not our first and doubtful our last.

My humble request to you is to listen, and then consider hiring us to help guide your business to the next level and beyond. We offer strategic AND tactical planning, even down to setting up payroll and the P&L.

If you have an interest in our services or know someone that could be, please contact us by any method you so desire.  Gee, we have so many 🙂

To you folks that provide services to advisors, please consider us for your next half-day workshop.  

And to the exec’s that train the trainers, let us show YOU how your clients would like to be called upon.  It will definitely gain you share.

Thank you for reading our Advisor’s Guide to Success and for listening . Welcome aboard!

Eliot

Guide – A strategic and tactical business planning professional with 30 years of experience is good to hire.

Action Item – I recommend you contract with The Advisors Center and let us Guide your way to Success!

© 2009 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

Please leave comments to share with others by clicking the comment link below the title of this article.

Newsletter – Should I??

 

Is the newsletter a staple worth preserving or is it a throwback to a bygone era?

Well I think the answer is, “it depends.”  But mostly, Yes!

Webster’s defines a newsletter as “a small publication (as a leaflet or newspaper) containing news of interest chiefly to a special group.”

Who is the audience for your newsletter? That’s easy: your top clients, centers of influence and best prospects.

How should you deliver it? Emailed as a PDF or printed in 2 colors and mailed.

The best content? Simple—as in easily skimmed, with light content encouraging a follow-up call from the recipient.

What is the mission/purpose of the content?  To showcase your expertise on timely topics of discussion that would appeal to a broad swath of your target audience.

And does it matter? Absolutely!  Remember that most clients leave due to a lack of contact—newsletters automatically add to the number of client “touches” in a given year.

What about the alternatives like blogs, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn? Although blogging could replace one article on a more regular basis, most people want “old fashion” delivery methods–paper or email, and they want it pushed at them. They do not want to have to go out and get it or “opt-in.”

The best way to create a newsletter? There are many options and all can be acceptable. In general: In-house, written by you or someone in your firm or it can be Outsourced through an industry vendor. The important part, however, is that it has a customized masthead that matches the look and feel of your letterhead and other firm literature.

Costs – Should run about $1 per issue.

Benefit – More communication will aid retention and solidify your reputation as a resource expert for clients, prospects and centers-of-influence.

Guide – A newsletter is a great way to communicate with clients and prospects who like that channel of communication.

Action Item – I recommend you contract with a vendor who can create a custom masthead newsletter with ghostwritten content.

© 2009 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

Please leave comments to share with others by clicking the comment link below the title of this article.

Do I need MY own website?

Asking if you need you own website is like asking if you need your own business card. 

Do you carry a company card?  This would be like a business card that doesn’t  have your name on it.  Or a card with your name printed,  but SOOO small that no one can read it!

I truly believe that today’s consumers and business clients DEMAND and deserve a personalized website.

This may be as simple as an electronic brochure to validate your existence (clean and neat) or as sophisticated as an interactive educational experience highlighting the virtues of your business and services.

I urge you to consider not using an advisor page template from your organization.   If you are selling your firm’s services, then maybe you are just another sales person and not a trusted advisor?  Think about that!

The benefit of your own personalized site is just that: personalization.  It speaks about you and your unique value proposition.  The cost is up to you.  You can spend several hundred dollars for a template site (like business cards from a mass marketer) or you can spend many thousands to create a custom design.

Guide – Not having your own website  = Not having your own business card.

Action item – Find a web developer in your area and within your budget to create something personal.

Bread and Fruit

So you have decided to have a client or prospect in to your office for an early meeting.

What’s an early meeting?  Any meeting that starts at 9AM or earlier!

And why does this topic matter?  Did your client or prospect have breakfast?

Consider the impact… they walk in to your conference room and there waiting….breads and fruits and cheese.

Depending on what part of the country you are from, you will determine the combo.

Here in the Northeast, that means Bagels, Cream Cheese and OJ.  Maybe some cut melon.  In the South (I am guessing), Sweet Rolls, or Danish, watermelon and a soft cheese.  In California…. Muffins, Grainy rolls, butter, Citrus and Jack.  I also use a small jelly (like the room service kind) and some butter.

Anyway, you get the idea!  People are thrilled.  You might even WANT to warn them NOT to eat, so when the appointment is scheduled we let them know that we will have it waiting for them.

For you, the cost is reasonable – I would say more than $10 but less than $20.  It can be picked up on your way in at the local market, bagel store or coffee shop (even Starbucks).  We have coffee in our office so I do not need to pick that up.  We use a Keurig maker which is very convenient.

In our office, this is an always, always, always event.  Our staff knows if I have a “breakfast” meeting, they leave out the dishes, napkins, silverware etc. the night before.  Then all I have to do is “spread it”.  And of course any leftovers are shared immediately among staff or taken home.

Guide – Your client or prospect want and need to know you care.

Action Items – Show them you care about them and serve them breakfast!


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