What the Girl Scouts — and Several Boxes of Caramel deLites — Taught Me About Good Marketing

Okay, I admit it – this spring I couldn’t get enough Caramel deLite® cookies (also known as Samoas®).  I had a steady stream of them coming into my office for two months.  They were a delicious little break in my day, and with my newly installed personal Keurig®, it added a little bit of a coffee shop feeling to my office. Cookie with Bite Missing

One day, as I finished my daily dose of blogging, cookies and coffee, I found myself wondering how the Girl Scouts® of the USA had pulled me in, and how they continually pull me in year after year.  There are several things they do well, but three items stood out to me that absolutely apply to your advisory practice. 

1.    Awareness

I’m pretty sure I started to see social media mentions on Twitter and Facebook as early as the first week in February. Then again in our local newspaper, as well as several posted signs around town. After that, it hit frenzy status as people started talking about Girl Scout cookies in the office.

Making people aware of your practice is the first step to successful marketing. Build awareness through multiple channels – don’t rely on just one method to let folks know you are in business. For example, Marketing Media for Small Businesses Infographic, from PR Web and copyblogger, is a great place to start. Don’t get overwhelmed – I’m talking about the same or similar content – it’s the delivery you’re expanding.

2.    Branding

I immediately associate Girl Scouts® with cookies, and more importantly, those delicious Caramel deLites®. What do you want people to know about your firm?

It’s important that the content you distribute aligns with the brand, or perception, you want to develop. If you pride yourself on investment selection and monitoring, your content should focus on that message. Everything a prospect sees should add to that image.

Too often, advisors and financial professionals toss as much content as they can at the wall and hope it sticks. You may catch a few leads, but you aren’t establishing yourself as unique or different, and that’s a key to branding.

3.    Consistency & Persistency

The Girl Scouts® got me engaged, and I’m looking forward to the next installment (is it January yet?). But, I haven’t always been a raving fan — it’s taken time and different marketing channels to win me over. And that’s an important point for every advisor and financial professional to consider: regardless of what you do to market yourself, the most important thing is persistency. You aren’t going to open the floodgates of prospects from one email campaign. Continue to invest in marketing over time – it’s a sum of all the parts that builds your brand.

Keep it all organized with your marketing plan. If you have one already, you’re a part of the 52% of advisors who have a written marketing plan.1 If you don’t have one, it’s never too late to jot down your marketing goals. Remember though, execution is key.

Cookies vs. Retirement Plans

The Girl Scouts® have a delicious, exciting product to market. It’s too bad retirement plans aren’t nearly as exciting, or delicious for that matter. Regardless, it’s important to consistently market – stay front of mind and differentiate yourself from the crowd.

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In addition to blogging here, I also tweet regularly about advisor-focused practice management topics like sales and lead generation, marketing, service and management/operations. Follow me on Twitter at @Rschutty.

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Affiliation Disclosures

Girl Scouts® of the USA is not an affiliate of the Principal Financial Group or any of its member companies.

1Ann Schleck & Co. LLC, May 2012. 185 advisor firms, comprising over 850 financial professionals, 52% or 539 financial professionals use a marketing plan.

Insurance products and plan administrative services are provided by Principal Life Insurance Company. Securities are offered through Princor Financial Services Corporation, 1-800-547-7754, Member SIPC and/or independent broker dealers. Securities sold by a Princor® Registered Representative are offered through Princor. Princor and Principal Life are members of the Principal Financial Group® (The Principal®), Des Moines, IA 50392.

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