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Outsourcing Your Marketing Plan

You’re not a marketing expert—here’s why you should hire someone who is.

By John Graham

For many advisors, marketing can be a Catch-22: They must concentrate on cultivating prospects, closing sales and writing policies, but if they fail to get a clear, polished message out about their services there will be no prospects, sales or policies. Perhaps the answer is an outside marketing consultant or firm that can create a professional strategic marketing campaign for the agency, while allowing the advisor to focus on running his business. Here are some of the advantages to seeking outside marketing help:

Being close to the client is necessary, but maintaining a business-like distance helps filter out those tasks that eat up time and deflect energy and resources from the primary mission.

The focus is on the customer
The major hurdle for any advisor devising a marketing plan is focusing on the potential customer. The pressure to get new prospects and close sales tends to skew the way marketing programs are conceived and implemented because there’s no effective buffer between the advisor and the marketing message.

Even though the advisor-as-marketer presses to keep the eye on the customer, he may find himself opting for a more “practice-oriented” approach. What started out as customer-focused, shifts to one that is more about “us.”

Can a marketing agency avoid all of these pressures? Of course not. But with the experience of having “been there and done that,” it can offer a level of assistance that keeps the marketing focus where it belongs“on the potential customer.

Immersed in your whole business
The marketing agency is charged with both a total-picture responsibility and implementation duties, meaning the advisor doesn’t have to worry about day-to-day marketing problems. The marketing vision should emerge from consultants working together, performing the necessary research, analyzing results, developing and testing programs, making changes and reacting to emergency situations with eyes that are focused on the advisor’s business.

Keeping the right focus
A marketing consultant or firm is better positioned to remain focused on the agreed upon responsibilities. Being close to the client is necessary, but maintaining a business-like distance helps filter out those tasks that eat up time and deflect energy and resources from the primary mission. At the same time, an agency has the flexibility to bring in a staff to work on special projects while fulfilling the regular marketing tasks. The average insurance and financial services practice simply doesn’t have this luxury.

Handling emergencies
The right marketing agency is prepared to handle emergencies. When emergencies arise—and they always do—the systems are in place to bring together the disciplines required to deal with the situation. The players are always prepared to act. They know and understand the account because they have been working on it as a team. As a result, they are a tested and efficient resource.

Integrated disciplines
A marketing firm can provide a variety of disciplines under one roof, which proves to be a distinct benefit. While various disciplines—such as advertising, direct mail and public relations—are readily available from individual companies, having them provided by a team that works together all the time, sharing the same marketing philosophy and focusing on a unified objective, is a true benefit.

Getting the job done right
Beyond carrying out the daily activities of selling insurance and financial services products, all agents have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to running a practice. It shouldn’t be surprising that a company’s marketing activities tend to reflect the advisor’s capabilities and interests.

By outsourcing your marketing strategy to an agency, your practice can have an integrated marketing plan—one that looks at the whole strategy, instead of just “dealing” with advertising, public relations, direct mail and media relations when time permits.

John R. Graham is president of Graham Communications, a marketing services and sales consulting firm. You can contact him at 617-328-0069, through j_graham@grahamcomm.com, or through the company’s website www.grahamcomm.com.


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