Santa Claus has one of the most memorable and beloved brands in the world. He has endured recessions, depressions and wars, defeated imposters and persisted despite philosophical foes. He is more than just a cultural icon; he is a marketing genius.
But how did he achieve such global acclaim? He has mastered the secrets to marketing success.
Here are eight secrets to Santa’s success, along with a tip for how you can follow his example to enhance your brand and grow your estate planning business.
Santa’s brand is universally recognized. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, you have to agree that Santa has one of the strongest brands in the world. It has evolved over the years, as any good brand does. How do you learn from Santa’s branding example? Don’t let your estate planning practice get lost amidst other professionals. Take time to develop a recognizable brand for your firm and promote it consistently in all of your messaging. Consider how memorable Santa’s red suit is and dress your brand up in something just as memorable and timeless.
Santa encourages conversation. He solicits wish lists, drawings and fan mail. Not only does he initiate dialogue, he responds to every single message he receives to the best of his ability. All he asks in return is for us to tell him what we want. What can you learn from Santa’s penchant for chatter? Ask your estate planning clients and prospects what they want. Encourage them to communicate with you, and provide as many methods for them to do so as possible. Set up suggestion boxes, utilize surveys, take a poll, send out comment cards, and let your fingers do the walking once in a while to ask how you are doing and what you could be doing better. Talk to your clients. And then listen to what they have to say.
Santa gives without expecting to receive anything in return. Can you claim the same when it comes to your marketing strategy? Everyone wants free stuff. Santa never asks your children to sign agreements and contracts before delivering their Christmas presents (or lumps of coal, as the case may be). Learn from Santa’s generosity and be charitable in your marketing messages. Rather than focusing on selling your estate planning services, give your prospects the answers to their questions, solutions to their problems and the benefit of your experience and wisdom. Give it freely and often. This will establish the trust and thought leadership you will need for that long-term, profitable relationship that will follow. Santa is a top-notch email marketer; he knows that email newsletters and social media pages are excellent vehicles for giving great advice, quality content and free (yet valuable) information that your market will appreciate.
4) Identify Your USP
Santa has a unique selling proposition (USP). While he may oversee business operations at the North Pole, supervise toy manufacturing procedures, and manage Christmas correspondence, that’s not what makes him different. Santa’s USP is that he is the only one in the world who can deliver toys to all of the deserving children in the world in one magical night. That is his unique selling proposition (although his unmistakable red suit, fleecy white beard and hearty Ho Ho Ho help sell it). Learn from Santa by identifying what your firm does the best and then shouting that USP from the rooftops. Incorporate it into all of your marketing messages and differentiate your practice from others who provide similar services.
Santa rewards good behavior. Even the faux Santa at the local mall asks the children “have you been naughty or nice?” when they up climb onto his lap. Children recognize that their actions affect their chances for the new Barbie dolls or video games on their wish lists, so try to be on their best behavior (at least between Thanksgiving and Christmas). How can you follow Santa’s example? Be a role model. Practice random acts of kindness. Reward your clients and prospects when they do something that you want them to do. Positive reinforcement is a strong marketing tactic that works wonders. When clients buy additional services, reward them with a discount. When a prospect signs up for your email newsletter, reward her with a free whitepaper. When referral sources send a new lead your way, reward them with a thank you note or small gift as a token of appreciation. You may be surprised at how often rewarded behaviors are repeated. And that leads to new (or better) business.
Santa delivers the goods. And I don’t just mean gifts and presents. He delivers what you want. I’ve already talked about how Santa gives freely, with no strings attached. But how successful would that strategy be if he gave away things that people didn’t want to receive? Give your estate planning clients and prospects what they want all year round. Use only the best, most relevant content in your email newsletters. Split up your email lists (not just by who has been naughty or nice, but by other demographics as well) and deliver high quality content on topics that your subscribers want more information about. Share engaging articles and images on your social media platforms. It’s better to give than to receive in marketing. You’ll reap your own rewards in the end.
Santa provides the very best customer service. He is conscientious and meticulous. He doesn’t let anything stop him from fulfilling his promises. Like any well-oiled marketing machine, he has a team helping him as well (including the occasional parent who fills in for him when he’s not available). How can you provide the same level of service to your clients and prospects? Make sure you have a client service philosophy that cultivates raving fans. Help prospects fall in love with your firm. Create your own agile team of elves and hire surrogate Santas as needed to help you consistently provide delightful service. Trust is the fruitcake that keeps on giving all year round.
Santa never sells himself. He doesn’t have to. He maintains confidence that his services and actions will speak for themselves. He focuses on each of the above marketing strategies, which have earned him enough word of mouth referrals and recurring business that he can enjoy continuous growth without falling back on sales pitches. What can you learn from Santa about growing your marketing empire? Take maximum advantage of your referral sources. Connect with your top referral sources and best estate planning clients (who are, in fact, your most profitable and dependable referral sources) frequently. A well-designed word of mouth referral campaign may very well be the most precious and lucrative program in your marketing plan.
Become the Santa Claus of your estate planning firm
Santa may understand marketing strategy better than most marketers and entrepreneurs. He has built a global branding empire by organizing his marketing team to consistently brand, talk, give, propose, reward, deliver, provide and earn repeat business. You can do the same by following his stellar example. Create your own marketing magic this coming year.
Becca Fieler is an Online Marketing Specialist for BizActions | PDI Global Marketing Solutions, a division of Thomson Reuters. She provides strategic planning and oversight for our online marketing and email marketing initiatives. Becca also works with clients, developing comprehensive marketing and lead generation programs for professional service providers, including attorneys, accountants, banks and credit unions, human resource companies and others, through her role at BizActions | PDI Global, Thomson Reuters. She is a prolific writer when she has time. Read more of Becca’s blog posts here.
Academy Guest Blogger
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
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San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (800) 846-1555