Many brokers have relied upon traditional models of business to drive both renewals and growth. Meeting people, word of mouth, visiting clients, networking, and ultimately great customer service which leads to a strong brand reputation and good rates of renewal.
These traditional methods have been rocked as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, leaving many brokers with a large question mark over where new business will come from.
Practically every business ‘markets’ itself in one form or another. While for some, a formal marketing and sales strategy may be viewed as being unnecessary, for others, marketing is at the core of what they do.
Now is not necessarily the time to make radical changes to your firm’s overall strategy but changes in the market will require you to reflect on the approach you have in place and to potentially start building a more refined model.
All firms are encouraged to familiarise themselves with key marketing principals to better understand the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead:
- Marketing is process driven. It should not be a knee-jerk reaction which results in communications being issued without due consideration, particularly within a regulated environment.
- The marketing process typically begins with an audit to determine where the firm is now, what its internal situation and external market looks like, what challenges are on the horizon, etc. You could use a framework, such as SWOT and PESTLE, as well as an analysis of company specific resources, skills, systems, trading data, etc. Crucially, a firm should also review its client profile – who are your clients? Do your clients have any shared characteristics? What ‘needs’ does your firm fulfil for clients or what problems do you solve?
- The next likely step is to establish clear objectives - what is it that you want to achieve? Without a clear objective, the firm is basically undertaking activity with no idea of what success looks like. Objectives also help with the analysis of the potential return on investment, the allocation of resources and KPI measurement.
- ‘Segmentation, targeting and positioning’ would likely be the next stage of a firm’s marketing strategy:
- Segmentation is a process which seeks to divide the total market into groups based upon similar wants and needs. You may be able to identify segments or you may determine that the entire market is a potential client.
- Targeting looks at the identified segments and attempts to identify the ones with the greatest potential of meeting the identified objective. Which are within the firm’s core focus? Does any segment match the existing core customer profile?
- Positioning refers to the first thing that people think of when encountering your brand. By creating a clear positioning statement, you can begin to project the characteristics of your firm that you wish to convey. What makes you truly unique that will grab your prospects’ attention (not generic things that everyone says) and how can this feed into your marketing mix?
- This is the point at which a firm can define the tactics it will use. The marketing mix is often referred to as the 7Ps, which are:
- Product - What is the product or service?
- Price - What is your price point? Do you have a pricing strategy?
- Place - Where can people buy?
- Process - What is the customer journey? Can it be improved?
- People - Are staff ready to support implementation of the strategy? Are they trained on the products? Do they have the right skills?
- Physical evidence - What will your customers see, feel, or experience? This will include any printed materials, your website, premises, uniforms (if applicable), etc.
- Promotion - this is the communications part of the process and draws from the positioning statement stage. Promotion challenges you to define the channels you will use to communicate with the target segment[s]. When defining messages, brevity is very important - focus on clear points that you wish to convey and don’t forget to include a ‘call to action’.
- The promotion stage will also require you to map out the platforms, publications, and channels that you have selected to implement the strategy and define the content or themes that you will use across each channel. Whether you use a Gantt chart, to do list or custom project tracker, you should have a timeline of your activities, which defines the tasks, people, resources and dates for each of the planned activities. Wherever possible, prepare content in advance and ensure that all deadlines are documented - you don’t want to rush to produce content (particularly in a regulated environment). Preparing content in advance will give you time to consider, test and importantly, to get sign-off for promotions from a regulatory standpoint.
- Tracking key performance indicators is vital. What works for your firm? What is the source for each enquiry? What response did each activity get? Where should you focus efforts in the future?
- It might be useful to complete a conclusion report which reflects on the successes and weaknesses of the campaign.
If, after reading this, you are still on the fence about the need to market your firm, ask yourself, “how many of the truly successful brands achieved their success without marketing?”
No one know what the future holds, but a fresh look at your marketing opportunities could help your firm to better understand the opportunities that exist today and those that will potentially emerge in the future.