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Raising your profile

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  • 07/04/2003
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Marketing plans should not be thought of as the preserve of large firms as they can help all mortgage advisers to achieve their business objectives

What is marketing and what activities does it include?

Marketing is a broad concept and is defined by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as: ‘The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.’

Yet, when questioned, most people would think of marketing as the promotion of concepts or products, but there is more to the marketing function. To simplify matters it is best understood by examining the seven ‘p’s that make up the marketing mix:

• People ‘ the profile, behaviours, profitability and segmentation of existing and potential clients.

• Planning ‘ undertaking research and analysis to identify gaps and trends in the market. After interpretation of data, careful planning is required to set the path to achieve objectives.

• Positioning ‘ companies need to decide what position their product or service should have in the market relative to competing products ‘ for example, specialist or a generalist advice.

• Product (or service) ‘ define what you are offering and how you can add value.

• Price ‘ how does it compare with similar services and the competition?

• Place ‘ or distribution of the product or service, for example distributing face to face, by telephone or via the internet. Every contact with your company must enrich and reinforce the client’s experience and perception of your company.

• Promotion ‘ this covers a variety of areas such as advertising, public relations, direct mail, exhibitions, sales promotions, newsletters and internet marketing.

What is public relations?

Public relations (PR) is about reputation ‘ the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you. Public relations looks after this reputation. It aims to ensure audiences understand key messages and supports and influences opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its public. This is often achieved through a constant dialogue with the media using tools such as press releases.

For all businesses, effective PR is a cost-effective method by which advisers can talk to the media and position themselves as a voice of authority on financial issues. Combined with advertising and other forms of communication this can effectively build a profile locally, regionally, or even nationally.

How can I advertise successfully?

To be successful you must first be clear why you wish to advertise. There must be an objective, such as to generate a specific number of new business leads, and a judgement as to whether advertising is the best way of achieving the objective. If advertising is appropriate, it has to be targeted ‘ it should not try to appeal to everyone at the same time. Thinking about the audience is key.

How will I know what will work best?

Advertising needs to be clear and simple. Advertising need not be expensive and by targeting correctly it is perfectly acceptable to expect a good response for reasonable amounts of money. Remember to track responses from the adverts and how many of these turn into business. This will help realign future advertising strategies.

Are there any regulations I need to adhere to when developing marketing material?

The proposed regulation by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) warns that advertising undertaken by appointed representatives such as websites, mailshots and newspaper adverts will need to be signed off by their principal. Even if this does not become regulation adverts still need to comply with a variety of legal requirements. They must not be considered misleading and any promotion of specific mortgage or financial products must include a worked example. The Office of Fair Trading’s website has more detail on this matter: visit www.www.oft.gov.uk/.

How do I build a brand? Many marketeers talk about building the brand. But doing it properly is another matter. It is far more involved than developing a logo with a memorable strapline and then promoting the new image. Brands are built from within and its values have to be understood and believed in by you and the rest of the company before these can be relayed to the outside world. To build a successful brand, follow these tips: be client focused, treat clients with respect, keep it simple, be human, make it emotive so people like the brand and what to do business with you, be consistent across all media and stick with it ‘ do not chop and change the brand.

How do I develop a successful marketing strategy?

Any marketing initiatives must tie in with business objectives. You need to set out the objectives and then devise strategies and tactics that will be required to achieve these. You need to align your company’s strengths with external opportunities, while alleviating any internal weaknesses and being aware of threats ‘ such as regulation and competition.

There are many websites available that set out the traditional structure for a marketing plan that may a good starting point. One vital aspect of a successful marketing campaign is to analyse results. How many calls were received in response to an advert? Did a piece of direct mail encourage people to visit? All these results can be factored in to the ongoing campaign to ensure it is working, and to redirect or alter current initiatives to keep them on track. And like any plan, it will inevitably evolve due to market changes. To help with the planning it is vital you talk to and listen to clients and other stakeholders to find out how you, the company and the brand is perceived. You may then need to go about narrowing the perception gap between how you wish to be perceived against how you are perceived.

Finally, it must be emphasised that it costs much more to generate a new client than retain one, so your planning must have a strong focus on how you can meet their needs and communicate effectively with existing clients. For example, using a database will tell you when a client’s discounted mortgage will end, highlighting the need for contact.


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