It's time for bloggers, tweeps, LinkedIn and Facebook addicts to take a timeout and realize that while building a positive online presence is important, it’s also crucial for financial advisors to think about their overall business image.

Year-end is the perfect time to review everything in your marketing toolkit. Is it time to polish up an old brochure or Power Point presentation? How about that logo and tagline? Are they still fresh-looking and on target? Have you neglected your professional bio? Has your Ideal Client Profile changed? Maybe there are some holes in your marketing toolkit? And how about that website? Is it dull and boring, built on an old web platform, or basically out-of-whack?

Let’s revisit some of the essential elements that will set you apart and help you create “the wow factor.”

Complete Marketing Materials

Your marketing toolkit should include:

A client-centered brochure

A compelling Web site

Professional looking stationery and business cards

A branded PowerPoint template

A personalized e-mail signature

A newsletter template

An executive note card

Seasonal postcards

A handful of branded promotional gift items such as pens, coffee mugs, post-it notes or note pads)

Branded apparel (e.g., polo shirts, fleece jackets, windbreakers)

A “core issue article” or special report

A power bio

An Ideal Client Profile

This week: The Ideal Client Profile

Prospect Profiles

When you ask for referrals, do you communicate exactly who you're looking for and why you would be their best choice? Start by creating a clear written statement describing your best clients. Include demographics -- where they live, their ages, incomes and professions -- and psychographics: their values and motivations, problems, issues and aspirations.

Finally, determine where these clients congregate and how to reach them.

An advisor in rural Missouri was having a hard time articulating his firm's value. He was perplexed because although he felt his firm did an awesome job for its clients, referrals were few and far-between. While there were several other advisors in town, he ran the only truly independent investment advisory firm. A twice-published book author who was often quoted in the local and national press, he was the quintessential hometown boy who'd made good. But he knew he could never convince the upper echelons to fire the bank trust department, so he decided to target the middle spectrum and newcomers to town.

After working up an Ideal Client Profile, he began meeting with key clients and advisory board members. The one-page profile, which was branded with the firm's logo on top and contact information on the bottom, clearly outlined in concise, bulleted form whom he best served and why he was the best choice for busy professionals and business owners.

The Ideal Client Profile served as a good meeting agenda and conversation starter with influential people in the community. It provided all the talking points he needed for dedicated lunch and breakfast meetings. After a focused 15-minute discussion about what he could offer, the conversation turned naturally back to kids, hobbies and other mutual interests.

The meetings fostered relationships and left dozens of referral partners with a handy reference guide explaining who the advisor was looking for and how to facilitate an introduction. When the referring party thought someone might make a good client, she was asked to say a few positive things about her experience working with the advisor, provide his Web site address -- which was easy to spell and remember -- and ask if she could facilitate an introduction. If the prospective client seemed open, she would suggest that they have lunch or golf. If the three of them shared a common interest or membership in an organization, she was asked to connect the advisor and the prospect personally when the occasion arose.

Finally, she was asked to call or e-mail the advisor, just to check in and discuss possible other ways to establish a connection.

A happy byproduct of the process was the advisor's own clarity about his message and target market. As a result, he is able to talk about the firm's value to the right people much more easily.

BENEFITS TO YOU

Creating or revisiting these materials should help you get a clearer understanding of who you are, whom you serve best and the value you provide. In the process, you will gain the confidence to speak and write in an engaging and even passionate manner. As a result you will impress people with your clarity, focus and professionalism.

If you develop these essential marketing tools, you'll have built the foundation you need to launch an effective drip marketing campaign Whatever you do to promote your business -- seminar marketing, networking, public relations or drip marketing -- don't let your business image tarnish.

As the old saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. If you are not sure that your marketing materials are all that they should be, contact my office and ask for a Marketing Muscle Check Up; I’d be happy to have one of my firm’s marketing consultants evaluate your materials, website, social media strategy, etc. and provide recommendations.

NEW VIDEOS ONLINE

As you know if you’ve been reading The Marketing Maven for any length of time, I like to carry a small digital recording device in my purse so that I can capture good content, in a video format, whenever I’m at an industry conference.

I’ve just posted a new two-minute video clip on the FPA Twitter Live blog. This week: Michael Kay, CFP®, author of The Business of Life: An Inside-Out Approach to Building a More Successful Financial Planning Practice, talks about consolidation in the industry and how to build a better business that will stand the test of time.  View it at www.FPATwitterLive.blogspot.com.

In addition, you might want to watch The Dull Investor, Allan Roth, CFP®, author of How a Second Grader Beats Wall Street and a columnist for CBS MoneyWatch, talk about his business model choices. View it on my Best Practices in the Financial Services Industry blog www.marieswift.com.