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Investing in marketing plan pays dividends

“Before we started working with Rachael, our marketing was scrambled and lacked structure.
What she gave us was focus, know-how and confidence. It’s been a highly positive experience and her support has been instrumental in helping us win more of the kind of people we want as our clients.”

Ovation Finance is one of Bristol’s leading financial planners. Everything they do is underpinned by a strong financial well-being ethic: they help people “become happier, not just wealthier”.

In 2018 they were in the process of becoming an Employee Owned Trust. This entailed some organisational changes, including the then current MD, Chris Budd, becoming Chairman and extracting himself from day-to-day operations.

A new marketing team was set up to manage the planning and activities and Tammy Devonald was appointed as the marketing lead.

But there was a gap.

They needed a marketing expert to help them come up with a strategy and plan, increase their knowledge of marketing, translate this into know-how and help them set-up and embed an efficient and effective marketing operation.

As Tom Morris, Director, explained: “Our marketing was unstructured and scattergun, without direction. We were doing marketing, but weren’t sure that it was as effective as it could be. And we didn’t know enough about what marketing was or could do for us to make best use of our people, time and money.”

The challenge – how we helped

It wasn’t that Ovation Finance weren’t doing marketing. They were writing regular blogs, recording well-received podcasts, posting on social media and sending a regular newsletter to clients.  The team wanted to explore whether they were the right activities undertaken in the right order. They also wanted to understand where they fitted with the customer journey.

The problem was there was no focus or marketing plan, no thinking behind what they did or looking at what marketing to do and why. What you’re missing by not doing this both balance and rhythm.

Firstly, you don’t necessarily have the right marketing in place that will do the job of supporting the potential client in making their buying decision. Second, you might not have the consistency needed to ensure you are doing at least the minimum needed to make a difference, daily, weekly and monthly.

“The workshop was an epiphany.”

Rachael ran an initial workshop with a small team, using Watertight Marketing’s Touchpoint LeakTM Assessment workshop. It was “an epiphany” for them (their words!) and showed them what their marketing plan and priorities were.

Related post: What are the Touchpoint LeaksTM

From workshop to plan

From that workshop came a prioritised marketing plan, tweaking the gaps in a certain order. They also created a crystal clear picture of who their ideal client was around whom they could shape their marketing. 

As Tom puts it “it’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to work with everyone.” Focusing on who you really want to work with, that will be energising and profitable, was an important piece of work.

Ovation expanded afterwards on the initial work done in the workshop and then shared it with everyone. It meant everyone knew what a ‘good client’ looked like and how to recognise them. Once this had been agreed, it informed all of the marketing, from the website to newsletters, from social media posts to interviewee choices for the podcast. It also framed how the team dealt with enquiries from prospects – whether to have the initial meeting or not.

Later, as part of her on-going support as outsourced marketing director, Rachael also worked with them to develop a monthly marketing plan that provided a marketing ‘heartbeat’ and identify enabling projects such as a new website that also needed to be undertaken.

A perfect time for change

The transition to being an employee-owned business provided the perfect point to ring the changes and get more of the team involved in marketing.

After all, marketing well-led is a team sport – and too important to be left only to the marketers. The first workshop marked a real change in Ovation’s approach to marketing. Our work with Ovation was as much about building the marketing capability of the whole team as it was about ensuring they had a first-class marketing operation. In practice, the real benefit is that everyone can contribute to marketing and it’s not left to one individual. Tammy leads the marketing efforts, but she does so knowing that others in the wider team will support her as needed.

Through monthly meetings, hands-on support, workshops and training, Rachael worked with Ovation over three years as an outsourced marketing director, implementing both the actions from the initial workshop and report and shaping and building their marketing strategy and plan.

Ovation Finance’s top three marketing gaps

From the first workshop that Rachael facilitated, looking at the Watertight Marketing Touchpoint LeaksTM (a customer journey gap analysis), the team identified their first priorities.

Leak #4 – No Gateway

The first one they plugged was a game changer. This leak looks at how you make it easy for your prospects to buy from you.

Tom explains: We were pretty good at converting customers once we met them, but we were asking them to become long-term clients with us at a very early stage. When we split our initial service into distinct stages starting with the first, a financial wellbeing report, we found more people were comfortable with this approach and signed up, because it didn’t seem like such a big purchase.

This meant they could get to know us without making that initial big decision of becoming longer term clients of Ovation. From there we found that if they did need our longer-term support and advice, they were happy and comfortable to sign up to this.”

By creating this new product, and laying down a clear pathway, we created a direct line between marketing and long-term sales.

Alongside a greater focus on attracting the kind of customers to whom they knew they could offer most value. What this meant was that, over time, they had initial meetings with more of the right clients and spent less time dealing with enquiries from those who were not a good fit.

Leak #6 – No Proof

When weighing up alternatives for a purchase of considerable value, people will look for evidence to back-up claims that are being made. This is true whether those people have been referred or if they have come across you from cold and are checking you out.

Ovation already had ‘fan’ clients and therefore a pool of people who they could ask for testimonials. Together we developed two kinds of videos. The first were video case studies to share stories of real people who had gained real value from working with Ovation Finance.

The second were videos about the firm, how they worked, their values, their decision to become an Employee Owned Trust and what being a Chartered Financial professional meant for clients. This helped to build the firm’s credibility and give prospects a good sense of what it would be like to be a client.

“The structure you’ve provided over last three years has really helped us build our marketing capability. We feel now that we can take the stabilisers off!”

Referrals on the increase

Since Rachael started working with them, a large proportion of new clients have come to them by asking existing clients for referrals. The simple change of putting on their radar that they would welcome more clients has increased the number of referrals from clients by 60% within 12 months.

Because of the excellent service delivered and relationship Ovation Finance build up with their clients, they are only too happy to recommend to others. This has borne a healthy crop of fruit and has been especially helpful through the tricky times of 2020. 

What’s been the impact for Tom and Tammy?

“For me personally, the big benefit has been to have someone else in the business who can crack on with it. Initially with your support and now Tammy has got to the point of feeling able to take this forward herself,” Tom remarked. They now feel more confident in their approach to marketing and have the tools and frameworks to keep incrementally improving, year on year. “The structure you’ve provided over the last three years has really helped us build our marketing capability. We feel now that we can take the stabilisers off!” 

For Tammy, marketing had felt very frustrating. Even simple tasks seemed difficult and she felt she was being very reactive, scrabbling around each month for ideas for blogs. Feeling like a “rabbit in the headlights” she needed a helping hand to understand her role and look at the bigger picture of what Ovation needed for its marketing to really pay dividends. She also wanted someone to help keep her accountable and question what they were doing.

“Having a detailed plan, with your help, was amazing. And it being there when everything went off the rails in 2020 meant we could adapt really easily. We’ve gone from marketing being about the basics of generating ideas for blog posts to really thinking about the client experience.

“I feel a lot calmer about marketing…. Confident as well, which has been brilliant.”

And now we’re working as a team, with the same goals. People are getting on-board with marketing. It makes me really smile when someone comes through with a marketing idea. That wouldn’t have happened before you worked with us.”

Tammy adds: “I feel a lot calmer about marketing…. Confident as well, which has been brilliant.”

© Bluegreen Learning Ltd