In a recent post we spoke about creating a USP or “unique selling proposition.” Your USP answers the question of why someone should do business with you rather than with a competitor or just do it themselves. Your USP sets you apart from your competitors. Walmart’s USP reminds its customers that they are saving money and improving their quality of life by shopping at Walmart. You need to put your USP to work to grow your business. Your goal is to put your USP in all your marketing materials and in every communication piece your clients see. Let’s list some easy ways:
Other places may wait until you need to reprint:
The last one might seem odd at first glance but really it’s critical. Imagine if one of your employees was asked, “What makes your boss different from all the other financial advisors out there?” What would she say? Imagine, a Fed Ex employee being asked in 1978, “Why should I pay ten bucks to mail a letter?” “I don’t know” would be the wrong answer! All your employees should know what makes you different and better and be able to explain why you’re the best choice. You need to ensure that you can deliver on your promise so your employees must be trained to deliver on your USP. Proverbs 29:18 states, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Use your USP training to get your employees jazzed up on how you aim high and want to over deliver on your promises.
Remember that you can update your marketing materials over time. And when your business changes, you’ll need to update your USP to match. Be glad you don’t have a fleet of 30,000 trucks to repaint every time you update your USP!
In this insightful article, best-selling author Harvey Mackay explains how his “10 Commandments for the Office” will make you feel better at the end of a day. Your challenge is to live these principles out yourself and encourage your staff to do the same. Consider sending this list to your clients as well. Whether a big business or a home-based business, these “10 Commandments” will help them run a happier and more productive business.
10 Commandments for the Office
By Harvey Mackay
It’s just business as usual, day in and day out. The fast lane gets faster. Competition for business and jobs gets meaner. The world gets smaller every day. You’ve dealt with a hundred co-workers, customers, vendors, and the irritating kid who works at the lunch counter. It’s time to go home and unwind.
The traffic jam gives you an opportunity to replay some of the day’s encounters. Regrettably, you wish you would have handled a few things quite differently. How can you make tomorrow better?
My mother always told me, “You don’t have to like everybody, but you do need to learn to get along.”
Over the years, I’ve developed a list, a “Ten Commandments for the Office,” which makes my commute home a little less guilt-ridden. Better yet, it’s improved my commute to the office. If I follow my own advice, I won’t have to spend my time apologizing for what I should have done in the first place. Try it out.
1. Be respectful. This includes respect for other people’s property, ideas and time. Frankly, this commandment should about cover everything. If you are respectful of others, you can usually work out most issues – even if it’s agreeing to disagree. An added bonus is that when you treat others with respect, they are more inclined to return the favor.
2. Follow through. If you promise to do something, do it. No ifs, buts or maybes. No excuses, no whining. You are only as good as your word. There will always be a place in this world for the person who says, “I’ll take care of it.” And then does it.
3. Think before you speak. Don’t say whatever is on your mind, unless you want your mindless thoughts to come back to haunt you. Those ghosts can rise up years later, just when that promotion looks so promising. And while we’re on the topic, remember that how you say something is as important as what you say.
4. Help out. So what if it’s not in your job description. If you have an opportunity to be useful, jump at it. Even if the rewards are not in the form of a paycheck, your co-workers will remember who helped them when they needed it. Taking on a little extra work – or a lot – shows that you are a team player, an employee worth watching.
5. Learn something new every day. It could be a new skill. Maybe the latest developments in your industry. Or just the name of a person you see daily at the copy machine. You have millions of brain cells just waiting to work for you!
6. Pay attention. If you go directly to your cubicle and barricade yourself all day, you’re missing important developments in your workplace. Not the gossipy events, of course, but the really good stuff – new procedures, new ideas and so on. This commandment also covers those occasions when the value of your input depends on your familiarity with the situation at hand. In short, always keep your antennae up!
7. Ignore pettiness. Rise above it, or you will be dragged down with it. There will always be someone who will make a mountain out of a molehill. It better not be you.
8. Be patient. Not to be confused with tolerating incompetence, this commandment covers a multitude of situations.; Someone misunderstood you. A job is taking longer than you planned. You are missing every traffic light. What will you gain by losing your cool? I’m not a patient guy by nature, so I’ve really had to work at this one. If I can do it, you can too!
9. A good attitude is up to you. It takes a lot for the world to come to an end, so don’t act like it’s happening every day. Be encouraging, be cheerful. Refuse to be brought down by minor – or major – setbacks. Bad attitudes are contagious. The good news is that positive attitudes are catching, too.
10. Do your best. Like commandment #1, this should also cover just about everything. No one can ask you to do more.
It’s important to decide early on how you will conduct yourself. Then, when a crisis erupts or challenge arises, you won’t have to think twice about the right thing to do. I’ve always said that perfect practice makes perfect. These rules are no exception. And just for the record, these commandments work outside the office too.
Mackay’s Moral: Some rules are made not to be broken.
Harvey Mackay’s latest book might help someone you know get hired for the job they really want. “Use Your Head to Get Your Foot in the Door: Job Search Secrets No One Else Will Tell You”
I have a client who is a painfully slow hunt and peck typist. And his handwriting isn’t any better. Yet he is a clear thinker and speaker. Let me share how he reduced his typing time by over 50%.
He used to take handwritten notes during client meetings and then type them into Act! before the end of day. He knew he had to do it and when he was busy his notes were less detailed and only hit the highlights. Sometimes the handwritten notes went into the folder with plans to type them in later. Often his assistant would ask him to decipher what he meant so she could get them entered into Act! While necessary, this process was tedious and always a pain in the neck. No longer.
Now he just calls in client meeting notes into his cell phone and gets a Word transcript in a couple hours.
He uses the CopyTalk mobile scribe service. You can leave a message up to 4 minutes long. So at 250 spoken words per minute, you can record about a thousand words. For comparison sake, this article is 662 words. Maybe you type 50 words per minute. This service would make you 5 times faster…and no hitting the backspace key to fix typos.
You really can “say it” and not “type it” and be a lot more productive. So let’s look at just how this works:
1. Eliminate Handwritten Client Notes. Immediately after every client meeting, my client calls a phone number, enters his cell phone number and a PIN. He then has 4 minutes to describe what happened in the meeting:
He hits the # key and it’s ready for another message. Within 2 hours he gets an email with his spoken words typed (by a human being) as a Word attachment. He attaches it to the client’s record in Act! and he is done. It saves an amazing amount of time and allows him to provide better service to clients. They think he has a prodigious memory because he recalls so much detail from the last meeting!
Now that you understand how the service eliminates the need for handwritten client notes, let me give you 3 other ways he uses this service.
2. Client letter creation. He drafts client letters by calling in and forwarding the email to his assistant. She just copies the message into the letterhead template and prints it for his signature.
3. Task Delegation. Instead of telling his assistant what he wants done, he delegates work with a detailed written description of what he wants done. And in much less time because he doesn’t need to slow down and wait for her to scribble down some notes.
4. Radio Scripts. He creates radio program scripts by practicing into CopyTalk. The printed “transcript” gives him something to reference in his own words.
Communication snafus with staff have been reduced saving them time and reducing frustration. Remember that helping your staff be more productive frees up their time for marketing activities as well. And handling more clients.
Click here and learn more about “Copytalk” services. Mention your broker/dealer and clearinghouse and you should get a discount off the monthly cost of $79.95.
You should also take a look at Jott Assistant found at http://www.jott.com/. Jott offers more and less than CopyTalk.
For $12.95 per month you can do an unlimited amount of 30 second voice to text conversions. 30 seconds means shorter messages, yet you can link Jott Assistant directly to Outlook, iPhone and Blackberry. Wherever you are, just call Jott and dictate….
5. Email drafts. Get the first draft done quickly when you’re away from your computer. Then clean it up when you get back and send it out.
6. Calendar appointments. This helps keep your calendar up to date so your assistant doesn’t double book you.
7. Tasks. You just call your number, leave your task, and it appears in your Outlook Task List. One less thing to remember to do.
Jott allows just 30 seconds per message so you need to speak quickly and to the point. We all should develop this habit.
You can try it for free for 7 days and see if it works for you. It really depends how much you’re away from your office (i.e. your PC.)
Like everything else, you need to weigh the benefits of these services against the cost. The advisor who told me about CopyTalk would never give it up…unless he found a cheaper alternative which does the same thing.
Give these services a try and let us know work for you.
If you ran into an old buddy at your high school reunion, you’d probably be asked, “So what do you do?”
As an independent financial advisor, you have several ways to answer the question. What comes to mind first?
“I am a certified financial planner.” Or “I am a financial advisor.”
If he was curious to learn more, you might describe your approach to financial planning, estate planning, or risk analysis. You might talk about the financial markets, indexed annuities, or CD rates. You might mention the value of annual reviews and portfolio re-balancing.
This answer focuses on the main operational focus of your firm. It touches on your education, experience and what’s on your business card.
Yet in a big way you’d be wrong!
While you might really rather focus on planning all day long and every day of the week, the reality is that you need to see yourself as a “Marketeer.”
Just what is a “Marketeer”?
A “Marketeer” focuses on defining, reaching and serving his target market. This is job #1.
A Marketeer sees every aspect of his business as a way to enhance (or detract) from defining, reach and serving his targeted market. What does this look like?
Think the last bullet is a joke? Let’s take a closer look at this one.
If you only get one chance to make a good first impression, your receptionist will likely be the person to make it.
Will your clients care if she knows the ins and outs of six major phone systems? Or types 100 words a minute? Or has a degree in business from your local community college?
None of this matters if your receptionist greets your office visitors with a frown or a grunt.
If your receptionist has to “turn on the charm” because her default position is “strictly business” you have a problem in the making.
Your receptionist ought to care enough about people to chit chat while the client waits. Perhaps offers some coffee, tea or water upon their arrival. Ideally she knows what they like to drink and gets it without asking.
This does several things for you:
Of course knowing your phone system inside and out can help your receptionist better connect you to your clients. And typing 100 words per minute can keep your files up to date. And a business degree might bring new ideas into your practice and enhance customer service.
Yet do these things really matter if your receptionist greets visitors with a frown for a split second before the smile kicks in? Or makes callers wish you had a direct dial number so they didn’t need to “bother” the receptionist when they had a question?
In short, your marketing mindset causes you to hire the right person for every job, train them to know what’s really important (treating people kindly and with respect), and the all-importance of supporting the marketing vision of the firm.
When you develop a marketing mindset, you’ll view every aspect of your firm from the eyes of an A-List client. You’ll see many areas to improve:
I think you get the idea. A marketing mindset, once developed, can liberate you from the administrivia which drains time and energy and keeps you from growing your practice and turning your clients into raving fans.
Yes, your business card should say “Certified Financial Planner Professional” or “Financial Consultant” or “Financial Advisor.”
Be sure to give one to your friend at your high school reunion.
But tell him, you “help baby boomers plan for and enjoy a prosperous retirement” or however you benefit your targeted clientele.
You can eliminate a lot of paperwork by replacing your fax machine with an online fax service.
One of my clients has used the Metro Hi Speed fax service for several years. He and his staff love it.
For $25.90 per month he has all his incoming faxes sent via e-mail to his receptionist’s Outlook in-box. During the day, the receptionist routes the faxes to the recipients and attaches client related faxes to the client contact record inside Act! He kept his local fax number so his business cards and letterhead didn’t need to be reprinted.
His “faxes” now are really just e-mails with PDF attachments. You can do the same thing and dump your fax machine.
Because your faxes are already digitized, your service assistant can forward important fazes to you wherever you happen to be. And then attach them to the client record in Act! or Goldmine for future reference.
You can also send outgoing faxes from within Metro Hi Speed. This client uses his main copier/printer/fax machine for outgoing faxes. Click here to find out more about MetroFax.
Of course, you can choose to print them out and stick the pages in client folders. At least you’ve taken the first step toward a paperless office!
Compliance Caveat: Rather than investigate these online fax options yourself, consider giving your compliance officer a call. Your broker/dealer may already have a list of approved Fax Server and online fax solution providers for you to choose from. This will save you valuable time AND make a few points with your compliance officer. Why wait to speak to him when you need an advertisement approved?
Eliminating paper faxes is a big first step toward a paperless office and will save you time from day 1.