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The Magic of Multi-Purpose Marketing

Take one good idea, use it in multiple ways and watch your business grow.

By Phil Fragasso

Everyone knows the adage that “there’s never enough time to do it right, but there’s always time to do it over.” It’s a truism that speaks to the most basic form of inefficiency. But there’s another form of inefficiency that often separates true rainmaking advisors from rainmaker wannabes—single-purpose marketing. Effective marketing is not created in silos or as a series of one-offs. Instead, the best marketing reflects a brand-building continuum and embraces the concept of multi-purposing.

Singular message
Multi-purpose marketing makes your life a whole lot easier. Because while it’s impossible to come up with a truly compelling idea or unique marketing message every day; it’s quite simple to take one good idea and allow it to germinate and blossom in multiple ways. An idea that works well in one form will almost always work equally well in another format. Consider these examples from my own RIA practice:

  • My partner, Jane Mancini, was interviewed for the local Better Business Bureau’s cable television program. In addition to having the program air for a month, we sent out a press release announcing the program, posted the video on our website, and sent a promotional email to all our clients and prospects with a link to the video.

  • We hired an ERISA law firm to write a white paper on the Pension Protection Act. We wanted the white paper to reinforce the need for our services among 401(k) plan sponsors, but we further benefited by using it as an incentive in a Google AdWords campaign and in direct mail campaigns (both print and electronic).

  • I wrote an article about 401(k) advice and education for the monthly magazine of the Profit-Sharing Council of America. In addition to that broad exposure, we sent electronic reprints of the article to our database of TPAs, benefits consultants and 401(k) platforms; and we incorporated many of the article’s findings and conclusions in our client presentations.

  • We had an idea to explain the concept of diversification using a visual analogy involving dogs, turtles, pumpkins and rocks. It worked well as a promotional flier, so we turned it into a web page, a seminar invitation and a blog entry.

None of these multi-purpose approaches to marketing is particularly awe-inspiring on its own, but together they build a highly integrated marketing mindset that is consistent and continually reinforces a singular message. And that’s really what you should be aiming for as you market yourself and your firm.

It’s about the message
A rainmaker-style marketing mindset focuses on the big picture and a long-term strategy. When your marketing strategy is clearly defined, it becomes an integral part of who you are; and it helps you view every tactic as an element in that grand strategy.

Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, embodies the platonic ideal of multi-purpose marketing. And while he operates in a different industry, we can learn about the power of a marketing-focused mindset from his words, style and action. It is no accident that the iMac looks like a giant iPod Classic or that the iPod Touch is simply an iPhone without the phone. One good idea begets another in Apple’s world, and it should for you as well.

Back in the 1960s, Canadian scholar Marshall McLuhan used to say that “the medium is the message.” Today, with a degree of information overload and a range of communication vehicles that McLuhan could never have imagined, the message reigns supreme. In order to be heard and remembered, your message needs to be consistent and powerful across all media. Recognizing and bringing that fact to life in your practice is a critical step in building a rainmaker-marketing mindset.

Phil Fragasso is the author of Marketing for Rainmakers: 52 Rules of Engagement to Attract and Retain Customers for Life and president of I-Pension LLC, a Newton, Mass.-based registered investment advisory firm.

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