The reigning AFC® of the Year, Patsy Collins, MA, AFC® led an entertaining and informative one- hour journey through effective cyclical marketing strategies to grow your financial coaching business. Ms. Collins opened with wit and wisdom and the observation that “Money is personal. And it’s very secret.” As financial counselors, we are challenged to get people to open up and talk about their personal money secrets. To make her program a success, Ms. Collins does just that in a very big way at Sam Houston State University.

Ms. Collins suggested that effective marketing can be accomplished by following a few easy steps. As Coaches/Counselors we must first identify our products and services. At the core, we offer financial coaching/counseling, but what can we do to get people to come to us? Ms. Collins identified speaking to classrooms, holding workshops and creating signature events as things that will get clients to come to your individual sessions.

Ms. Collins suggested that effective marketing requires getting to know one’s ideal client. She challenged us to make this step as detailed as possible. What is your client’s age? Gender? Social status? Just who is it you are trying to reach? Who is it that you want to help? What are this person’s likes or dislikes? Does he or she have hobbies? Once you’ve identified your ideal client, you are ready to start marketing. Create your marketing and your products with your target client in mind. If you do this well, you will get the ultimate marketing to work for you: word of mouth referrals.

In her own practice, Ms. Collins has found success by creating an organized and detailed annual marketing schedule. She considers the cycles of life. Each January, she offers debt management workshops. Later, in early spring, she offers marriage counseling for young couples. During the months of March and April, she holds workshops on tax planning, and so on. Ms. Collins tracks her marketing endeavors meticulously using an Excel® spreadsheet and an Outlook® calendar, so that she always knows what is coming up.

Ms. Collins mentioned the need to have a consistent communication routine. In her own practice, she maintains contact with her past, current and potential future clients. She sends thank you notes, written action plans, birthday cards, and holiday cards. With this type of communication, a service provider is simply building or maintaining a relationship and not asking for anything.

Once a practitioner has established a system, it’s time to begin spreading the word. Ms. Collins recommends taking flyers to all of your events and, when traveling, share them with other people. Ms. Collins challenged us to use all forms of communication, from print to digital. She suggested taking advantage of free marketing options, including social media. She also told us to use our networks and not be shy about letting people know what we do. Finally, Ms. Collins offered this simple advice. She suggested that just as she herself does in marketing her own practice, that we simply get out there and be the best version of ourselves.

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