Friday, December 30, 2011

2012 Personal Goal Planning


I am excited about what 2012 will bring! For me, 2011 had a theme and it was PERSISTENCE! Any successful person will tell you that as long as you stay on track, focus on your goals, and keep taking action you will succeed. (please also read this companion post Goal Setting Exercise)

Review and accomplishments
What have you accomplished this year?
  • Review your 2011 Business Plan - make note of what you accomplished this year. Look at your goals and review just how many of them you attained. Do you see any patterns?  
  • Create a Return on Investment spreadsheet - track where your income came from in 2011. What are the surprises? Make note of marketing tactics that take a lot of time and those that seem effortless. For 2012, get rid of non performing tactics and focus on those that work.
  • Personal development – how have you grown as a person? How has that made you better at what you do? How can you improve in 2012?

What are your personal goals for 2012?
We should all have goals that motivate us and keep us moving in a beneficial direction. What kind of goals should you have? Health Goals, Money Goals, Creative Goals, Home Environment Goals, Vacation Goals, Spiritual Goals, Lifestyle Goals, and Family Goals. Including goals in these areas help us to be more well-rounded and healthy individuals.

What's your theme for 2012?
My 2012 theme is CREATE A CAREFREE LIFE
I have laid out my goals/actions to create a carefree life here in my 2012 Goals.

2012 Personal Goals: #1 goal: debt free by September 2012; buy a 4 door truck and investigate the back roads of Arizona; vacation the entire month of August on the southern Oregon coast; complete a master bedroom and bathroom home renovation; hire a housekeeper and virtual assistant; save six months of expenses in my Vanguard Prime Money Market account; yoga, tai chi, and hypnotherapy once or twice monthly ; cardio and weights three times per week

So what are your 2012 personal goals?

Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach to Motivated Entrepreneurs 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Are You Writing Your 2012 Business Plan?


If you only look at what is, you might never attain what could be. (Anonymous)

At this time of year, how can a business owner ensure that they are moving forward attaining their goals while striving to be in the best financial shape possible? By staying ahead of the curve and writing their 2012 Business Plan before 2011 is over!

Writing a Business Plan each year has many benefits to the business owner. The main reason to write a Business Plan annually is that a business is not rigid. A business changes from year to year. By reviewing and re-writing your Business Plan you can discover what worked last year, what didn't work, and where you want to go next year.

By writing your Business Plan before the year's end you can also LEARN ABOUT YOURSELF and your willingness to do specific tasks. For example, you may have procrastinated implementing certain marketing tactics because you really didn't want to do them. If so, you may need to examine why and make appropriate changes for the next year.

You may also discover that you are NOT TAKING THE ACTIONS NEEDED to achieve your goals. For example, if you had a goal of asking for five referrals per week and you did not achieve that goal, you may need to examine ways to ask for referrals that are more natural and in tune with your personality.

You may also learn that you THINK BIG.  This is a lesson I learned by examining several of my previous years' Business Plans. I discovered that I tend to create TONS OF GOALS, far too many for one person to work on and achieve.  For example, my personal goals listed several international trips, several professional development goals, and far too many new information products to develop. There's only so much time in a year. The key is to decide what is most important to you and make a reasonable yet motivating goal to achieve that one thing.

Aside from learning about yourself, learning what actions you are not taking, and reviewing your goals, writing a Business Plan before the New Year can help you get ready for success. Here are a few benefits to writing your 2012 Business Plan:

Direction: Imagine getting in your car and driving to an unfamiliar location without use of a GPS or mapquest? There is not much likelihood that you would get to your destination. The same analogy applies to revenue goals. When I talk to prospects and they say they want to do "X" in production next year and I ask how they will do it, very often they don't have an answer. Writing your Business Plan before the end of the year will help you sort out how you are going to get new clients and how many you'll need.

Motivation: In writing your Business Plan you will create a 5 year vision of where you want to be as you attain more and more success. This is both motivating and comforting. A vision is motivating if you are a big believer in what you think about you bring about. Creating this vision will lead your subconscious mind in the right direction – a path to financial success. In your vision you will create your income in 5 years, your work schedule as if you were leading a balanced life, your team members.  A vision is comforting because you can convince yourself that life won't always be the way it is now. If you're too busy, with too many conflicting roles and responsibilities, you can have comfort knowing that as long as you work ON your business you can attain the life you want.

Results: A written Business Plan helps the business owner stay focused on results. Meandering from here to there with no focus or direction is NOT what you want in your life. Having a living document that you can pull out and review quarterly helps the business owner remember what they want and the actions they need to take to get it. Don't say your Business Plan is in your head because it's not. Put thoughts to paper, review your goals and actions, and you will see results.

Aside from the obvious, writing a Business Plan keeps you on your toes and keeps you honest. When you say I am going to increase my revenue 30% and this is how I'm going to do it, you will be more likely to DO IT. So write your 2012 Business Plan before the end of the year and see your business boom!

Suzanne Muusers

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What are your 3 Critical Business Functions?


It's easy to forget.

Easy to forget what you need to be doing with the majority of your time. Yesterday I got caught up in processing an online order for my city newspaper. Believe it or not it took me an hour to purchase my newspaper subscription online. I could have called the 800 number and have processed the order in far less time. But I wanted to use the online system. I found out at the end of the process that I would be billed for the entire twelve months at one time. So then I really had to call the 800 number to straighten out the mess.

I wasted my time with this task. But when I looked back on my day, I realized that I had spent the majority of my time doing what I needed to do.

  • Do you make it a habit to review your day?
  • Do you use your time productively?
  • Did you spend time on critical business functions?

What are critical business functions? These are the business activities that only you can accomplish with great success.  These are not tasks that can be delegated to your assistant. These are tasks where you shine.  These are tasks that help you grow your business and make your clients happy.  

Here are my three critical business functions.
  1. Writing content for one of my four websites. Content positions me as an expert in my field. Creating content for my blog and my websites brings me traffic which also brings me qualified prospects.
  2. Consulting with serious prospects. The qualified prospects that end up in my sales funnel go on a journey learning more about me and how I can help them focus on their business and create success. I don't have time to consult with everyone, so I put prospects through a process to determine if I should utilize my time consulting with them.
  3. Coaching my clients. Once a prospect becomes a client, I meet with them via phone weekly helping them focus on their goals and strategize various business and marketing tactics. The time I spend working with my clients is the most enjoyable to me.

What are your three critical business functions?  What should you spend your time doing? What are you wasting your time on right now?


Suzanne Muusers
Could coaching be what you need?
Find out here: Are We are a Good Fit for Coaching?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Increase your Income by Rebranding


This month, my focus is on branding as one of my clients is ready to launch a new business concept using a visual marketing campaign that uses branding extensively.  This post is about how you can increase your income by rebranding your business.

Take a long hard look at your brand. What are you communicating to prospects and clients with your brand?  Could it be that an investment in your brand could allow you to take your business to the next level?

Here's a story about how rebranding can lead to new business revenue. I pass a pizza restaurant almost daily not far from my home.  The restaurant has been in the same location for many years and I had never set foot in it. To me the restaurant was nondescript with a rather bland exterior that did not catch my attention hence the reason why I drove past it and never ventured in.

Recently however, the owners have started a new branding campaign. They invested in a vibrant color palette and new logo which they painted around the restaurant windows and duplicated in the overhead signage.  Suddenly they stand out. Suddenly I can't drive past without seeing them a mile away. So I stopped in the other day to buy a pizza. The restaurant was crowded with eat in diners and folks like me looking to take home a pizza. I asked the young kid behind the counter why they were so busy and he said "Gee I don’t know, but lately it seems like more people are coming in saying that they didn't realize we were here."

So, the owners may not be sure that the reason their business revenue has increased because of their brand, but it seems pretty obvious to me that the restaurant was invisible before the rebranding.

Is your business brand too bland? Do you need to consider how to stand out from the crowd? I hope you'll consider rebranding one of your goals in 2012. You might find yourself with lots of new clients and a new look on life.

Suzanne Muusers

Monday, September 19, 2011

Cooking Classes Client Appreciation Event


The most fun I can remember having during a business event has been the cooking classes I've attended that were put on by Scottsdale Business Network. These events were held at Classic Cooking in McDowell Mountain Ranch, Scottsdale Arizona.  

Can you imagine the scene? Business owners coming together in a non business environment to spend time together cooking several dishes, drinking wine, laughing, and finally eating the meal we prepared, all the while being watched over by the chef, Pascal Dionot.

In my continuing series on Client Appreciation Event Ideas, today we will look at the elements that go into a cooking Class event.  Past posts have focused on How to Host a Wine Tasting Event, putting on a Golf Event, and how to host a Sporting Event.

Who to Invite
In a cooking class, the key to success is who you invite. A good mix of personalities is important for conversation so review your "A" client list and look for a good balance of extroverts and introverts. Most classes have a limit of 30 participants so 14 couples plus you and your spouse should do it.

Where to hold the event
An upscale cooking school is ideal. I would google "cooking schools" in your area and try to find a school that caters to those who want to have fun rather than learn a new profession.

How much will it cost?
The approximate cost per person for this type of event is about $100.00, so for 30 participants you are looking at a cost of $3000.00 including food and wine. Obviously you want to reserve invitations for those really special clients that you can call Ideal –the clients you would like to duplicate.

Why is this fun?
Getting together with your clients, putting on an apron, drinking wine, and learning a new recipe is fun. The chef will give you preparation tips, and demonstrate how to professionally dice, cut, and arrange the ingredients for your dish.  I must say that I have learned some great kitchen prep techniques in this manner and made some good friends. Why not give it a try as part of Infatuation Marketing – getting your clients to become infatuated with you and what you do for them.

Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach for Savvy Entrepreneurs

Monday, September 12, 2011

You Deserve It When You Earn It


My husband and I just returned from a long weekend in Northern Arizona where we hung out with family, made some delicious meals, drank some good wine, and had a great time. We certainly deserved to take time off as we have been very busy the past few months with new products and new clients and we really needed the rest. 

How hard are you working in your business?
Are you really doing all you can to grow personally and professionally?

Have you ever met people who coast along on others' coattails? They seem to be successful but on closer inspection they have simply hitched a ride on someone else's success. This was the case with my husband's former business partner who announced one summer that he and his non-working spouse were taking a six-week trip up the California coast because they deserved it. They then proceeded to raid the company checking account at every stop they made taking money for assorted non-business expenses. In my book, they would have deserved it if they had saved up the funds in their own account. Thankfully my husband is no longer in business with this lazy crook and accomplice wife and he's much better off.

Have you hitched a ride on someone else's success? Do you feel that you deserve to take time off? If you've been putting real effort into your business growth then you certainly deserve it. Unfortunately many people say they deserve a break or reward when in fact they don't.

A new Florida client recently confided in me that he has been riding an accidental success wave without any real effort by accepting referrals from a powerful CPA. He's grown by mostly luck. Now that the CPA has retired he has realized he's actually going to have to do some real work.  

You deserve success when you EARN it. What are you doing to earn it?

Suzanne Muusers

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Eliminate Toxic People from Your Life


In my desire to have more serenity in my life I am writing about toxic people who bring us down.  You know the ones – they zap our energy, demand too much, are easily offended, and bother the heck out of us. Sometimes we have no choice about having them in our lives because they may be family members. But if they are clients, acquaintances, or friends, we can decide not to tolerate their bad attitudes and eliminate them from our lives if we want to.

In the alternative we can communicate with toxic people and let them know our boundaries in a non-threatening way.  When we do this we are standing up for ourselves and placing value on our serenity and happiness.

So let me ask you: Who do you have in your life that is a toxic person? Can you communicate your boundaries or decide to eliminate their presence in order to have more peace and serenity in your life?

Part of a successful entrepreneur's education is learning how to maintain a positive attitude in the face of poor economic news, a slowdown in revenue, and a culture of negativity.  But an often overlooked aspect of business success is learning to eliminate toxic people from your life.

As part of my role at Toastmasters, I often mentor new members to help them assimilate into the group and learn beneficial tips about how to speak in public with confidence – I have performed this role with great success in the past.  A new member was assigned to me last year whom I recognized as a toxic person. As such, I was still unprepared for the negative attitude in her vocabulary, emails, and voicemails.

I offered to meet this new member for coffee – please understand - I have the kind of business where I work with clients via phone, in most cases. I rarely have to leave my office. So when I offered to meet at a location halfway between my office and her home I expected her to jump on the offer. However, that wasn't good enough. She wanted me to meet her at a time that was convenient for her at a location that was close to her home. None of this was convenient to me so the meeting was postponed.

When I noticed that she was giving her first speech (icebreaker) I emailed her:
Hi - ,
Looks like you are giving your icebreaker on Thursday.
Please let me know if you’d like to talk by phone!
Warmly, Suzanne
She asked if I could meet her before the meeting on the day that she was giving her speech. Since I had a client meeting scheduled I emailed her that I could not swing it.

Here's her response:
OK, so as a mentor, what could you help me with on the phone in the next day or so? Perhaps I was too quick to ask you to be one for me, since you truly do seem to be too busy. I went to a very grueling seminar this past weekend and realized that my # 1 reason for being there was to overcome the strange awareness that for most practical aspects of external life I am quite invisible. Being overlooked for doing my speech on the day originally scheduled didn't help alter that awareness. And, although you said you thought my speech was good, I really have no idea how to make it better, esp. since actually LOOKING at people when I give it will be an overwhelming challenge. Perhaps you could offer some just general suggestions.
(Notice the victim attitude and blame mentality).

My response:
I don’t think your response is appropriate and I decline to be your mentor.
Suzanne

None of us needs to be associated with pessimistic, demanding people who feel they are victimized and voice their negativity at any given opportunity. If you have family members or clients who are negative you must learn to create boundaries that protect you from their toxicity. 

Don't put up with toxic people!

Suzanne Muusers

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Did That Hit a Nerve?


Eleanor Roosevelt said "Do one thing every day that scares you."

Taking risks is scary because risk is all about doing what's uncomfortable. I believe that when we play it too safe we are not living up to our potential.  When we are safe we are comfortable. When we are comfortable we are not growing.

Fear has a way of keeping us up at night, turning our palms sweaty, and making our heart beat stronger. But it’s the risks in life that can lead to bigger rewards.  When you don’t frequently take risks, it's pretty uncomfortable to begin taking them. Like the person who doesn’t speak much in public and is terrified to be in front of a room. Or the person who is accustomed to the same routine day in and day out and is just fine with it thank you very much.

 

Think about the last time you took a risk…
  • Talking to a stranger in the grocery store checkout line
  • Speaking up in a crowded room at a seminar or conference
  • Asking a client for a referral
  • Asking a client for additional investible assets
  • Calling a prospect who hasn't returned your 3rd phone call
  • Deciding to attend your first Toastmasters meeting
  • Deciding to use public speaking as a marketing tactic
  • Getting off your duff and cold calling to get new clients

Yes, when you take a risk there is the possibility that it won't work out. The client may say no. The prospect may answer the phone and ask you not to call back. But more often than not there will be a reward and a feeling of accomplishment.

The wonderful bonus when taking risks is that you can better handle uncertainty. You build up a thick skin and a motivation to succeed. Taking bigger risks in the stock market can lead to bigger gains; taking risks in your relationship with clients will produce bigger gains as well.

When was the last time you took a risk? If you're too comfortable it could be time for change

Suzanne Muusers
Motivator and Risk Taker

Friday, July 15, 2011

Target a Niche and Create Information Products to Serve the Masses


How would you like to have your cake and eat it too? That's what targeting a niche for your practice and creating information products for the masses can do for your business.

Advisors are resistant to targeting a niche because they fear turning away clients. Yet taking on too many clients with too many diverse needs and concerns can cause a fractured focus, too many work hours, and personal dissatisfaction.  

Announcing that you specialize in a specific demographic, profession, business industry, or gender doesn't mean that you don’t take as clients Mr. and Mrs. Smith who are none of the above.  It just means that you specialize in this niche and know how to service their unique problems.

Imagine for a moment that you have created information products that you sell on the internet to prospects who don't meet your minimums

Rather than turning away the $4000 Roth IRA rollovers or the less than attractive investible assets showing up on your front door, create a product that could help these folks and sell it on your website.  This strategy can eventually evolve into a wonderful passive revenue stream.

Despite coaching only Financial Planners, I have created, trademarked and now sell many products on the internet. When I created my first information product, a Business Plan for entrepreneurs and independent professionals, it was a standalone e-book. I charged only $24.50 for the 20 page e-book and a word template for the finished business plan. Over time I added many sample business plans for various industries and professions, multiple marketing tools, and an e-course to help purchasers fully develop their custom plan.  I now sell the business plan at a higher price, have multiple additional standalone products, and I sell my products all over the WORLD! That's the power of the internet.

The moral of the story: think about information products you can create that could solve problems for clients who may never work with you. Passive revenue is AWESOME!

Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach and Strategist to Motivated Advisors

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Marketing Consistency Wins Every Time


Happy June! We are halfway through the year. At the beginning of the year, did you write your Business Plan? If you're like most people you diligently created your plan for the year. But what did you do after that? Great planning only works if you are consistent in the way you carry out your plan.  Great planning means you decided your target market, your marketing tactics, and you wrote out a marketing calendar with dates and actions.

What holds us back from doing what we need to do?

Many times it is lack of consistency.  We'll try something once. When it doesn’t produce results immediately we don't do it again. As long as you have a solid plan, you should see results six to twelve months later.  It's tough to get started and keep it up. It's almost like your exercise routine at the beginning of the year.  You decided to join your local gym. You went three times a week at first. Then you made up excuses about why it would be OK to skip one day due to work deadlines. Pretty soon it was OK to skip the entire week. Then you may have said "That's it. I'm done" and you stopped going entirely.

How can we stay on track?

Just like the gym example, staying consistent with your marketing requires real commitment.  Picture yourself when you've lost the weight and you've toned up. How will you look in that new shirt and pants? How will this change your view of life? How will you feel?  Will increased energy help you get through the day more easily? Will lowered blood pressure and cholesterol contribute to a better quality of life?

Picture your business when you have attracted the clients you desire.

More revenue means less stress and more time off.  More Ideal Clients means getting rid of clients who make too many demands on your time, clients who complain, or clients who are mean spirited. More revenue means the resources to increase productivity with new technology or additional office assistance. More revenue means traveling to luxurious vacation locations with your family and friends and the ability to dine at fine restaurants, enjoy spa amenities, and do it all without struggling!  

Marketing consistency wins every time. Create a marketing calendar (or purchase my Business Plan program which includes a color coded calendar) and detail your actions on a monthly basis. Then commit to action. Create a monthly appointment on your calendar to do the actions needed to get where you want to go.

If you would like to discuss how business coaching could benefit you, please complete the Complimentary Consultation Form on my website.

Suzanne Muusers

Thursday, June 16, 2011

3 Advisor Websites That Work

Planning a client attraction website is no small matter. Effort and expertise goes into the process not to mention a significant time investment. Unfortunately too many advisors stick to the same old website templates that all look the same and provide absolutely no enticing visuals, no search engine optimization, and too much ongoing financial investment. This post is about websites that work and what makes them work.

Beautiful images with appropriate marketing messages make this site a visual pleasure. Each image is linked to a site specific website page that further expands on the topic. The website area "above the fold," the most important visual aspect of the site, is used appropriately for the main menu, and social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. There's a sign up box for the newsletter on the home page along with links to many useful resources.


Again, this site features wonderful images depicting target clients doing what they do when their retirement is secure. The area "above the fold" is well utilized with social media buttons and images. The left area contains VISUAL boxes featuring distinct target markets such as consumers, financial advisors, and the gay and lesbian community.  Each of these boxes links to a page with information specifically for the target market. There is a visual link coaxing visitors to download the free report (which is excellent by the way – 6 Facts and Must Knows Before You Buy Long Term Care Insurance - you should take a look – the report highlights key facts in yellow). Last but not least, there's a visual box encouraging sign up for the monthly newsletter.

This site is a visual smorgasbord of the BENEFITS of hiring a financial advisor. Pass your pointer over the words below the images on the site and a new image appears with key words featuring benefits of financial advice. The "What's News" box features links to recent blog posts of interest to the target market.  The "About Us" page features a wealth of information about the firm's process, fees, principals, and even features a section about qualities of the ideal client.  There's a box lower left that shows the firm's portfolio benchmarks – a great differentiator!


Take away:
If you don't have some or all of these features on your website it may be time for an update or a completely new site. Put some thought into your target client, what the benefits are of working with your firm, and the visual brand you would like to portray. Find a design and development firm who can take charge of this project, preferably one that charges via the project, not via an ongoing fee.

Update:
My recommendation for website developers: Art Guy Creative
The Art Guy knows SEO and branding. 
Review his great Website Development Checklist

Suzanne Muusers
Prosperous Advisor™ Coaching Program

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How to Segment Your Book – Know Who Your Best Clients Are and Service Them Well


Quick, how many "A" clients do you have? What about "D" clients? Do you have many of those? There is real value in knowing how many clients you have and then categorizing them based on where they fall in terms of investable assets. Other useful metrics are future probability of additional assets, referrals, and just plain how pleasant they are to deal.

I'm fairly certain that most financial advisors know how many total clients they have and perhaps how many A clients, but very few know specifically where each of their clients fall on the scale of desirability.  This is a valuable exercise that will help you determine how to best service your clients based on the 80/20 rule. If you don't already know, the 80/20 rule states that 80% of results will come from 20% of inputs. Translation: 80% of your revenue will come from 20% of your clients.

How does this benefit you?
Your "A" clients deserve most of your attention. After segmenting your book, you should create a Client Service Matrix to plan how you will service each level of client in your book. This will help you identify what you need to do and when you need to do it.

Here's how to segment your book:
  • Use an excel spreadsheet.
  • Label the first sheet as a Summary Page to list your totals
  • Label one sheet each for A through D clients (or however you'd like to name your segments – you could do Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze or some other measure).
  • Determine the dollar amount for each level of client
  • Here's an example:
  • A clients - $1,000,001 and over
  • B clients - $501,000 - $1,000,000
  • C clients - $251,000 - $500,000
  • D clients - $100,000 - $250,000
  • In the first column of each page, label "Quantity" and enter the number "1" for each client
  • Second column, label "name" and enter the name of each client
  • Third column, "assets"  and the total assets of each client/household.
  • Perform an "autosum" for each column for number of clients and total assets
  • On the Summary Page, tally up total number of clients and total assets by using "Data, Consolidate" for each page of data.


Need help organizing your practice?
I have all my own custom exercises that will help you create financial success in your practice including an Excel Spreadsheet Template to help you Segment Your Book.
Schedule a Sample Coaching Session Today!

Suzanne Muusers

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Productivity Tip: Make a Calendar Appointment Listing Your Monthly Goals


Quick Productivity Tip: Each month I create a weekly recurring calendar appointment titled "May Monthly Goals" (where the name of the month varies) on Mondays at 5pm. This appointment serves to remind me what I should be working on this month.

On this list I have actions such as:


Articles to write
Blog posts to write
Topic ideas
Twitter posts
Facebook posts
Projects I'm working on
Follow Up that needs to be done

By reviewing the weekly appointment I am reminded of what I should be doing, not what I want to be doing. Of course I mix in a bit of fun too, but this helps me focus on productivity.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Keys to Branding Success – Invest in Yourself and Use Imagination


Everyone has heard the term "branding" but do you really know what it means? Branding is the art of attracting ideal clients through communicating a firm's core values, business name, logo, colors, tagline and much more.  Often this is accomplished through conscious and subconscious communication in print media, social media, and online through the use of creative visuals.

Firms use their brands to "position" themselves in the marketplace and make an impression on buyers. A brand must be strong enough to garner attention with the demographics or target market that your firm seeks to attract.  A good brand will influence buying decisions. That's why stock logos and template websites don't do much for anyone's brand: these bland devices don't stand out and don't make an impression on the subconscious mind

I'm often asked, "What qualities should be used in a brand to attract wealthy clients?" I believe that's putting the cart before the horse. Successful brands are based on the firm's core values and what's important to you, the owner. After all, your values are your passions, and if you attract clients who believe in your values, you'll be a better match and work well together, and you'll enjoy your work.

What are the keys to branding success if you want to stand out from the crowd?

Core Values: Decide what's important to you and your firm. What do you stand for? What is your investment philosophy? What's important to you when attracting ideal clients?

Business Name: Start with your firm's name. Create an image with your name. It's best to avoid using your own name in the firm's name to steer clear of sounding like a one person business.  Not to mention that succession planning will be easier with a name that is not your own.

Logo:  Clip art is not a logo. A logo is a visual representation of your firm and what it stands for. A logo is used to promote instant recognition among your target clients.  A good logo inspires trust and serves to differentiate you from an average firm in your field.

Colors: Advisors have traditionally gone with blue and white for their logo color choice because it stands for trust and integrity. Break out of that mindset and go with something new and different, just please avoid black and red – colors that definitely don’t work for financial planners.

Tagline: Wrap up your brand with a benefit driven tagline to finish off the concept. A good tagline serves to complete your business name with a BENEFIT of what the target client receives out of working with you. Using a benefit is appealing to buyers because they can conceptualize how your service can help them.
Using a creative tagline such as "Your Guide Down the Path to Prosperity" provides a better mental image than "Invest For Your Future" because the target client can see themselves walking down a vine-covered path to prosperity with you as their guide.

Mistakes to avoid

Being generic:  Financial planning naturally attracts left-brained individuals, but that doesn't mean you have to be boring. That's why using a professional is so important – they can contribute the creative force that you may lack.

Low-priced: Don't retain the services of a low price graphic design company.  The "dime a dozen" material they put out is not worth the few hundred you'll fork over. You are asking clients to INVEST with you, so make an INVESTMENT in your professional firm. Don't cheapen it by using an amateur.

Not using visuals: Good financial advice leads to a happy retirement. So please depict what that looks like to your target clients. What will they be doing in retirement that will make them happy?  Drinking wine, playing golf, gazing at sunsets, wearing pajamas during the day, and dining out with their loved ones. These images demonstrate the end effect of hiring a financial planner.

Using high-quality branding in your financial planning firm is a good business practice. Smaller firms can differentiate themselves from wire houses, carve out a niche, demonstrate value, and attract quality clients by investing in their brand. All it takes is looking at your firm with new eyes and deciding what you are all about and how you want to represent your firm with your branding.

Suzanne Muusers
Prosperous Advisor™ Coaching Program
Branding Packages

Monday, April 25, 2011

Local Sporting Event – Client Appreciation Ideas


Sporting events are a great way to break away from the office, nix the suit in favor of shorts and jeans, relax, and enjoy the moment.  Consequently, creating a Client Appreciation Event out of a sporting event can be a fun way to connect with your clients and prospects at a fairly reasonable cost.

Peggy B., ChFC, a Scottsdale Arizona Financial Planner, recently organized a successful event at Salt River Fields, the spring training facility at the Talking Stick Resort in Arizona.  Here's my interview with Peggy regarding the success and lessons learned from the event.

How many clients did you invite to your Client Appreciation Event and what was the cost?
We invited 47 clients. We sent invitations and then following up with a phone call.
We had approximately 70 people RSVP for the event including friends that clients wanted to bring along. It was a family event. Some clients brought children and some brought friends and coworkers. Tickets cost $10 each and we spent about $7 for each person's concession tickets.

How did the event play out?
We had 70 people on the lawn. I prepared ten blankets so that we could sit on the grass.
We told everyone that the first ten people to arrive would recieve a gift - we had ten Vineyard Financial baseball hats to give away.
We also raffled off a jersey.
We give each person tickets for hot dogs and drinks at the concession stand. We were  able to spend time with clients and experience the event.
This event was strictly a "Thank You" to our clients.
We told clients, "Wear jeans, we'll be on the lawn. Children will be running around."

What did clients like most about the event?
It was unique because we were at a brand new ball stadium. Everyone wanted to see the stadium since it was written up in the newspaper and was quite a novelty. The fact that we had seating on the lawn made it even better because it was a relaxed environment. You could talk to anyone, not just to people next to you.

How do you think the event benefited your firm?
We measured success on a few different levels. We earned "good will' and received several referrals after the event. Plus it showed that we were capable of running an event and made it look effortless.
We took pictures and sent them out with an email thanking the attendees.
The ballpark put our firm's name up on the board for all to see, so that was exciting.

What would you do differently next time?
We would follow up right away - within a week while the event was still fresh in everyone's mind. Get on the phone and call to thank attendees. I would also send a card with photos of the event.


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Suzanne Muusers

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How to Market Your Client Appreciation Event and Get the Word Out – Step by Step


Client appreciation events can be a very effective way to market your financial advisory practice, and if done correctly, can lead to happy clients, increased revenue, referrals to wealthy prospects, and increased satisfaction with your practice and your life.

This post will lay out a path to getting the word out about your event so that you can reap the benefits of a well-attended event through a systemized way of marketing. If you haven't already decided what type of event to host, see this list here. Just like any marketing event, to maximize attendance, you should count on a minimum of four touches to your client list. Any less than four could mean poor attendance and a waste of your marketing dollars.

The question is: How do you market your events so that they are well-attended? 

Here is a Client Appreciation Event Checklist for marketing your event:

Step 1
Two months in advance, use your monthly e-newsletter to create anticipation by issuing a "Save the Date" reminder. Many people don't attend an event because they haven’t been given enough notice. Think about yourself. How far in advance does your calendar book with parties and events?

Step 2
One month in advance, send out an official invitation. Spend some time selecting the invitation design. Use a custom designer or find something in stock from a stationary store that you can print on your desk top printer. You will want to BRAND your event and create anticipation. Think about the parties you have wanted to attend. What was it that made you want to go?

Here are a few invitation sites I really like:

Step 3
Two weeks in advance, send out an email reminder that is specifically for this event. The subject line should read "Reminder | Don't Miss the Fun at Event Name on Date." In the email, give all the details of the event and a map to get there.

Step 4
One week in advance, get on the phone and start calling people. Although you may have asked for an RSVP, few people these days actually take the time to confirm attendance. By getting on the phone and asking for a commitment you could double the attendance and the success of your event.

Here's a sample script:

"Hi Bob – It's Jane with XYZ Financial Planners office calling to confirm your attendance at our Client Appreciation Event on Date. We are sure to have loads of fun and would love to see you there. Please call us at xxx-xxx-xxxx or email us at email address.  

It should be your goal to create a memorable Client Appreciation Event, one that your clients will talk about to their friends and associates. By putting in time and effort up front, you will greatly improve your chances of success.

Suzanne Muusers

Friday, April 15, 2011

How to Create a GREAT Tagline


Is there something missing from your business brand? When prospects hear or see your business name, do they understand or "get" what you are about? If not, could it be that you need a tagline? A tagline, also known as a slogan, is a great way to position a company in a specific target industry and can add value by communicating a distinct message that may be missing in an otherwise good brand.

When we think of good taglines, it's usually the ones that are short and snappy such as "Just Do It" or "Eat Fresh." Other memorable taglines are those that rhyme such as "Takes a licking and keeps on ticking" and "Don't Get Mad, Get GLAD."  So a good tagline is memorable and "sticks" in the brain.

As a student of branding, I often study business cards and websites. I find that the majority do not have a tagline, and even if they do they are missing one crucial element that would make them GREAT: the main BENEFIT that the target client would receive by working with the firm.

Checklist for a GREAT tagline:
*No more than 7 words (3-4 would be even better)
*Speaks to the firm's target client
*Finishes off the brand with a positive "message"
*Identifies a BENEFIT

Here's a PDF exercise that lays out a step by step procedure to create a tagline that you can save right to your own computer. It takes time to create a tagline, so don't rush it. I recommend that you brainstorm a few taglines and then put it away to come back later. You'll then find that one or two will jump out at you as being more effective than the others.  Then, ask a few of your best clients which one best exemplifies your business and your brand. That's when you'll find the best one.


Suzanne Muusers

Monday, March 28, 2011

HOOKS and BENEFITS in your Financial Advisor Elevator Speech


While helping a client today with his elevator speech, it dawned on me that this topic would make a great blog post.  We could all use help explaining succinctly what it is we do for our clients. Our "elevator pitch" or "30 Second Commercial" is one of the best ways of explaining our worth to non clients and can help us obtain better referrals to our ideal clients.

Follow this link here to a Step by Step Exercise to Write your 30 Commercial. You can improve your elevator speech by working on it. Don't sound like all the other advisors out there.   Dare to be different!  

Instead of starting off with "My name is Steven and I'm a financial advisor" we should use a HOOK to get the listener's attention, otherwise the audience may tune out or not hear what we're saying.

Here are some lead in phrases or HOOKS to start off your 30 Second Commercial:
Imagine your life with…
Did you know that…?
Now you can have…
Do you want more X in your life?
Does your business need…?
The secret of X…
Have you joined the X revolution?
Get rid of (problem) once and for all…
Here's a quick way to (solve a problem)…

Perhaps the biggest mistake we can make is explaining FEATURES versus telling BENEFITS.  Learn to use benefits in your 30 second commercial so as to explain the end result of working with you.

Here are some common finance-related benefits for advisors to use in an elevator pitch:
  • Achieve prosperity
  • Free up time to do other things
  • Simplify life - go from complicated to easy
  • Find peace of mind - no more worry
  • Retire early
  • Live a stress free retirement
  • Achieve goals more quickly
  • Invest intelligently
  • Live the good life
  • Clarify lifetime goals
  • Build a dream home
  • Improve future potential
  • Replace income
  • Achieve lifetime goals
  • Find financial freedom
  • Live a beachside retirement
  • Obtain clarity of financial direction
  • Plan for a carefree, wealthy retirement
  • Prepare for life's emergencies
  • Take care of loved ones
  • Work less, have more fun
  • Leave a legacy
  • Find a financial solution
  • Discover financial wellness

Suzanne Muusers