Switch On Your Marketing Innovation Machine

The question I posed to the room full of financial advisors was “What new ways have you used in your marketing in the past twelve months?” I was really eager to hear the answers, and for other people in the room to hear and learn from the suggestions as well.

As I took answers from the people around the room I saw that one of the participants, Michael, had a self-satisfied grin on his face. I thought to myself “Great! He must have a good example to share.”

You can imagine my surprise when he said, “I’ve been at this thirty years. Frankly I’ve tried everything without predictable results and there is nothing else worth trying.” He really meant it. When I asked for details, he listed approaches he’d used years ago and never tried again since.

Sitting across the table was a new financial planner, Dave, who proceeded to list four things he’s doing to market his business…and each is getting him results right now, building his business.

I could list those four approaches for you but that’s actually not the point. The point is the difference in attitude and the steps Dave is actively using are producing his results.

As I probed further, I unmasked the fact that Michael took a scatter shot approach to his marketing and didn’t stick with any approach long enough to get real results. Dave on the other hand was persistent in moving his new ideas systematically through the four steps of innovation that I teach my clients to use.

These four steps both drive new activities through from first idea to completion, and also provide checkpoints that ensure you won’t get stuck along the way. It works for marketing a new entree or your professional services.

Step 1 “Create” a new approach

Some people are brilliant innovators. They see the pieces of new ideas and can assemble them into new approaches with ease. Very often, though, people keep ‘working the new idea’ trying to assure themselves they’ve got it perfectly designed before putting it into action.

If you’re like Michael, you tend to have new ideas, yet never move them forward. Ask yourself if you clearly see the new ‘thinking’ that is involved, and the new ‘action’ that is required. When you can see both of those aspects of your idea, move on to step two.

Step 2 “Advance” the idea with others

Having a new idea isn’t enough. At times, we become enamored with our own ideas and certain the rest of the world will love them. We need to get a ‘dose of reality’ by actually sharing the idea with others to get their opinion of it.

The quickest way to do this is to use a board of advisors, friends, clients or colleagues, as your sounding board. Present the idea and take down every single compliment and suggestion they have. It’s key to test it in the real world to see if it resonates with the market you’re trying to go after. Then use step three.

Step 3 “Refine” your idea

All too often independent professionals go from “idea” to “done.” It works for a while so they think that’s all that was needed. Over time results fall off and they classify the effort as ‘been there, done that, doesn’t work’ and drop it permanently.

Even if your advisors say “It’s great!” and a couple of clients do as well, you’re not done yet. You need to match your “thinking” to your buyer’s thinking. AND you need to match the “action” you’ll take to the way your buyers want to be approached.

Your goal is to create new activities that reach the most people with the greatest efficiency. Take every one of the suggestions you received, and fine-tune your planned approach. Now you’re ready for step four.

Step 4 “Execute” your idea systematically

Using your new approach successfully once is not enough. To build your business with new marketing activities, you need to implement a step-by-step process to use it over and over again.

Dave is getting High Payoff results because he’s learned that a good marketing idea needs a good plan of action. Dave’s plan consists of calendaring the time needed to accomplish his marketing activity on a regular basis, investing the resources needed to get it done, delegating all the pieces that would distract him from focusing on what he’s best at, tracking the results, and repeating the steps over and over again.

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