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Tortoise Or Hare

by :: 27 October

Walk into Life Certain Wealth Strategies in Denver, Colorado, and you will find a busy place that is somewhat out of sync with the current economy, especially given their business - Financial Planning and Investments. Many businesses today are struggling with an economy that is in recession. But at Life Certain Wealth Strategies things seem to be at the other end of the spectrum.

Tortoise or HareThings seem especially busy from the office foyer. Clients are in the conference room and sitting in offices with their financial advisors. The phones are ringing and Herb White, the owner, has a big smile on his face as he walks to the front to greet me, his business casual attire given an even more relaxed feel to it due to the fact that his shoes remained in his office, tucked neatly under his desk.

Most financial advisors are struggling today because of the downturn in the economy. It’s a difficult business when customers are lacking funds and struggling just to make ends meet. But Life Certain Wealth Strategies is like the train that just keeps chugging along, impervious to the economic storm around it. I have worked with and known Herb since he started his company, nearly ten years ago. In that time we have had many conversations about the most effective way to build his brand. While others have looked for the quick-hit strategies that will get them in front of a lot of people and make a lot of money quickly, Herb’s has been the strategy of the tortoise, long, slow and deliberate.

What Herb understands better than most is that his business, in particular, is built upon trust. Earning trust takes time. And that’s especially true when people are being asked to place their money in your hands.

Herb identified an important aspect about marketing his business early on and has stuck with it over the years. His industry, and his business, does better by developing a long-term relationship with clients. The quick sale doesn’t work. So, his strategies have always seemed to be less than effective to the casual observer. As he said to me: “Many people would wonder why I write a monthly column for Prime Time for Seniors.” (Prime Time for Seniors is a small newspaper just for seniors.) Or they might wonder why he frequently contributes to other smaller magazines and newspapers, especially when writing takes time and can be a painful process for many.

Herb will tell you that no one article has ever lead to business or caused his phone to ring. More often than not, a new client will call with a familiar story. “I’ve been reading your articles for years and recently inherited some money and thought you were the one I should call.” Herb’s long-term strategy builds trust and establishes him as an expert. By the time new clients walk into his office they feel they already know him.

Life Certain Wealth Strategies is involved in a lot of small marketing campaigns that require knowledge and experience (build trust). Articles for multiple magazines and newspapers, ongoing seminars, and a radio show about money and investing are among the list of ways the business is marketed. Herb will be the first to say that none of them ever produced any revenue in the first few months. They take time. Each new venture that seems to fit the business and that addresses their target audience is given time to prove itself, or not. This is sometimes difficult. But results - and business - eventually come.

Tortoise or Hare?

Not all businesses are built this way, nor should they be. When marketing your business you need to know if it is the sort that can get immediate results or one like Herb’s that requires time to build. Retail stores can run sales and advertise them. The results are immediate. A music shop can put CDs on sale to get people in the door. Trust isn’t something they have to build for the immediate sale.

The same things can be said for an auto repair shop or a fast food restaurant. But each needs a strategy that blends trust-building with immediate sales. To define your business, your customer and to figure out where to emphasize who you are ask these questions: Why should anyone come to me? What makes me remarkable or exceptional? (The market is overflowing with average.) What is it I do that gets people talking? How can that difference best be conveyed to convert sales into long-term customers, or better yet, fanatics, people who advertise for you?

All businesses need to build trust over the long term, otherwise they fail to build a customer base, and most need to mix their immediate sale campaigns with their long-term relationship building. Knowing what type of customer you have or want to attract makes all the difference. Determining the ratio of long-term brand marketing to short-term sale marketing can significantly impact a company’s success.

Long-term trust building is not easy, but for most businesses it is necessary. It takes time and commitment. Results are not always easy to measure or fast in coming. In truth, if you have a passion for it (like writing financial articles) it can become more than just brand-building. It can become a release and a way to give back to the community.

We all know the story of the tortoise and hare. Understanding and applying the two approaches to marketing your business can be eye-opening, and it can provide a clear path to ensuring long-term success, even in tough economic environs.


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