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Are You Lost in the Weeds Without a Plan?
Impact Communications, Inc.
Monday, November 12, 2012

“A man without a plan for the day is lost before he starts.” -- Lewis K. Bendele

Many advisors become so entrenched in the daily routine of responsibility, duties and heavy workloads that they fail to adequately plan for the ongoing success of their business. As we turn the corner from this year to the next, I invite you to take a “planning break”—to step back, to get away from the office, to turn off the email and texts and social media for an hour (or two or three), a weekend or a day, to stop and reflect on where you’ve been and where you’re headed, to journal a bit, and to create your strategic plan for 2013.

Your Big Vision Appreciative Plan for 2013

Some of you will want to include your management team, a partner, or your assistant in reflection and planning efforts. Whether you include other people in your planning process or not, if you need and want an “appreciative planning” coach, there’s no one better in our industry than Ed Jacobson, Ph.D. Dr. Ed has years of experience working with financial planners, leading strategic retreats and coaching advisors in the “appreciative process.”

In my conversations with him, Dr. Ed would often ask, “What’s good here, and what do we want more of?” Those questions in and of themselves could yield some very profound results. Stop for 15 minutes, get a blank piece of paper and your favorite pen, get centered, and write down the first 10-12 things that come to mind. Imagine Dr. Ed asking you in a wooded retreat setting, “What’s good here, and what do you want more of?”

A psychologist, business coach, consultant and public speaker based in Madison, Wisconsin, Ed works with individuals and organizations to help them to identify, plan for and achieve important goals that truly matter. He focuses his practice on serving the financial planning community—because he believes that planners make a profound difference in the lives of their clients and the wider community. You can learn more about Ed and purchase a copy of his book, Appreciative Moments—which would make great reading over the Thanksgiving holiday—at www.EdwardJacobson.com.

Your Laser-Focused Marketing Plan for 2013

I had the privilege of co-presenting with Loring Ward’s Chief Marketing Officer, William Chettle, at the Loring Ward Advanced Symposium in Chicago a couple weeks ago.

Before joining Loring Ward (www.loringward.com) in 2007, Chettle was the Director of Brokerage Marketing for Wachovia Securities. He also has an M.F.A in film-making from New York University, and graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard with an A.B. in English and American Literature and Language. Chettle oversees all the firm's marketing and communications efforts, including public relations, marketing to prospective advisor partners, ongoing communications to advisors, and developing investor materials, such as brochures, fact sheets and articles.

Sheesh, I didn’t know whether to be grateful or intimidated.

Thankfully, Chettle was a gracious co-presenter with much to share. It’s no wonder that he quotedAntoine de Saint-Exupery saying, “A goal without a plan is just a wish”—very appropriate to the one-hour session we lead together at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business - Gleacher Center. With the words of a passionate Nick Murray (www.nickmurray.com) ringing in our ears from his presentation the day before—“now’s the time…get out and tell the story!”—Chettle and I did our best to motivate and inspire the 50 or so advisors in attendance.

Financial advisors cannot afford to “wing it” in the years ahead. You must have a clear vision of what you want to do, why you want to do it, who you best serve and why you are uniquely qualified to serve them. The most important element of a marketing plan is defining your market and then developing the messages and methodologies to reach 2-3 specific target markets. As my friend Steve Wershing, the “referral coach” for Financial-Planning.com, likes to say, “the biggest mistake advisors make is not having a clearly defined niche or two—without a clear and specific target market definition and a compelling value proposition, you’ll be diluting your message and wasting your time.”

To create a laser-focused marketing plan, take out a blank notebook or open a new document in your favorite word processing program. On page one, your table of contents, write down the five essential steps:

Step 1: Target Market Definition

Step 2: Message Development

Step 3: Marketing Methods

Step 4: Time And Money Budget

Step 5: Timetable And Steps

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