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The Power of Niche Marketing

Learn how to identify a proper niche and watch your sales soar.

By Todd Bramson

How would you like to grow your practice, work fewer hours and have more fun while working? That has been Todd Bramson's goal since he began in this industry. Here, in an excerpt from a speech he gave at the MDRT's annual meeting, he shares one of his successful strategies: defining a niche market.

Early in my career, I started cold calling residents and fellows at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I thought if I was going to work hard to attract new clients, I wanted to work with people who would have increasing needs for my services, so that I wouldn’t have to continue to add as many new clients every year. As these young physicians finished their residency and went into private practice, or on staff at a hospital, their incomes continued to climb.

They often asked me, “Why are you calling on me? I don’t have any money.” I would answer, “I’m doing my residency, just like you. I am willing to invest three to five years in our professional relationship now, just like you are in your career, so that hopefully you will continue to work with me as the years go by and your financial options increase. When you are in practice, everyone and their brother will want to have you as a client, and so will I, but I’m willing to put my time on the line in the meantime to prove it.”

BRAINSTORMING A NICHE

Open up your mind to the unlimited target markets in your community. Write down as many groups as you can; don’t put any thought into which group is better or worse. Then as you review your list, you can start eliminating groups until you narrow it down to the one or two that you want to pursue. Here’s a quick list of possibilities:

  • Pharmacists at Walgreens
  • Builders
  • Attorneys
  • Teachers or professors
  • Employees at area companies
  • Young student engineers
  • Chiropractors
  • Owners of dry cleaners           

... the list is endless

I realize that everyone is not going to develop a client base of physicians. So, let’s explore the characteristics of any target market, so you can identify a group to develop. Good target markets have the following characteristics:

1. The group is well defined. There is a finite list of members, and the list is obtainable.

2. There are aspects of the target market that are unique. Their schedules, routines and lives are often similar to others in their group. As you learn about their unique circumstances, you can relate to them, they to you, and it is easier for a relationship to begin. As an example, most of my young physician clients had huge student loan balances, producing a negative net worth. So, I would help them calculate this, and then help them start their financial planning to get their net worth to zero. I’d then tell them to celebrate the fact that they were worthless! To this day many of my now very successful clients laugh and tell me they remember when we celebrated the fact that they were worthless.

3. There are some planning opportunities unique to these people. This may be due to association discounts on insurance, special employee benefits or other issues unique to this group. Perhaps you have an employer in your town that has a defined-benefit pension that is very confusing to the employees. Get to know and understand that plan so well that you can explain it to them. Viewing you as an expert enhances your credibility and increases the chances that the employees will respect your opinions on all other financial topics.

4. They know and respect the others in the group. This fosters a sense of mutual respect that allows for ease of referrals.

There are thousands of target markets. Some are easier to penetrate than others, and some have more upside potential. It doesn’t matter which target market you choose. Pick a group of people you enjoy being with and who are accessible at the times you want to work. Remember that the harder it is to see someone, the harder it is for everyone. If you can simply be persistent and disciplined in your effort to cultivate a relationship with that prospect, you will be rewarded for your hard work. Keep in mind this saying, “The man who says it cannot be done, should not interrupt the man doing it.”

BECOME AN EXPERT IN THEIR FIELD

Once you have identified your target market, it is time to learn about this group to the point at which you become an expert. I’d encourage you to do any and all of the following things to increase your knowledge of the group and become a valued resource:

  1. Interview these people. Take them out to lunch, tell them of your plan and ask them to help you learn about their circumstances. What journals or magazines do they read? What professional associations do they belong to? Then subscribe to those publications and join those organizations.
  2. If you are working with many employees at one company, get to know the key people in the organization that the employees go to for their information. This may include the human resources people, the employee-benefits coordinator, etc. Let them know that you know the employee-benefit packages well and are available to their employees.
  3. Try to get yourself published, as the media has a lot of credibility. This may be in the form of letters to the editor in their trade journals, writing articles for company or industry newsletters, or even an opinion position paper.
  4. Seminars are always a good way to increase your visibility and credibility.
  5. Coordinate your marketing to demonstrate that you are indeed a “specialist” in that target market. Business cards, stationery, fax cover sheets, and resumes should all note your expertise to reinforce this. There is no reason you can’t have several sets of these for different target markets.

Printed with permission from MDRT. All rights reserved.

Todd D. Bramson, CFP, ChFC, is a senior associate with North Star Resource Group in Madison, Wis., and a member of Madison-AIFA and MDRT. Contact him at 608-271-9100 or todd.bramson@northstarfinancial.com.


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