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Five questions to ask about your marketing program

You must understand what sets you apart from your competitors

Whether you're promoting your brand, your products or your services, your marketing initiatives must be relevant and meaningful to your target audience.
"They must be part of your marketing plan, which is directly linked to the strategic objectives of your practice," says Caroline Grimont, vice president of marketing with Excel Funds Management Inc. in Mississauga, Ont. "It's easy to fall into a marketing pattern where you only push out messages focused on the positive attributes of our products or services. But is that sufficient to be successful in achieving your marketing objectives?"

Here are five questions to ask yourself to help you meet your marketing goals:

1. Is my marketing content client-centric?
Marketing messages that describe how your products are better-performing, that your fees are more competitive or that your service is more convenient will not necessarily appeal to your clients. That is because your competitors can probably say the same. 

"You need to take a step back and craft your messages in a way that answers the needs of your clients," Grimont says.

For example, when developing your message, think about what questions your clients really need answers to. Grimont recommends testing your message with a sample of loyal clients to ensure that it is relevant.

2. What is my unique positioning?
Your positioning is the way members of your target market regard you in the context of your competition. In order to have a unique positioning, you must understand what sets you apart from your competitors.Your positioning should be straightforward and meaningful, Grimont says. She recommends that you list the attributes, services and knowledge that set you apart from your peers. To get the best perspective, ask clients what they value most about your products and services and use their feedback to refine your positioning.

3. Are my marketing efforts consistent?
You should never take a "flavour of the day approach" to marketing. Using your positioning as a guide, Grimont says, ensure that your message is always clear and consistent across the various marketing channels — such as the web, newsletters and social media.

"Stick to your value proposition," Grimont says. "Conflicting messages can confuse clients about your brand and who you are."

To be effective, your message must reflect the objectives of your marketing plan and your strategic plan.

4. Am I leveraging my available resources?
You have a wealth of resources that you can use to reach your clients and prospects, including websites, social media, blogs, newsletters, apps, videos and advertising in various media.

"Maximizing the use of available resources requires an integrated effort that can be facilitated by greater use of technology," Grimont says.

You may have to outsource some activities for which you don't have in-house resources. And, naturally, cost is always a key consideration in how much marketing you can do.

5. What do I want to achieve through marketing?
Your marketing plan will define your objectives and the steps you should take to achieve them. The ultimate goal of most advisors is to increase assets under administration, grow revenue and enhance profitability.

You are more likely to achieve your marketing goals if other attributes are in place, according to Grimont.

"We all know that you need a good reputation, a referral system, open lines of communication and the ability to put your the clients' interest first," Grimont says. Meeting these criteria will make your marketing a whole lot easier, she says.

Disclaimer

Commissions, trailing commissions, management fees and expenses all may be associated with mutual fund investments. Please read the prospectus before investing. Mutual funds are not guaranteed, their values change frequently and past performance may not be repeated.