Marketing Plan or Business Plan, Which Do You Need?

ideaplanaction14627091_lMost financial advisors start out with the same basic dilemma: they have neither a business plan nor a marketing plan. Instead, they’re winging it!

Needless to say, this isn’t the most efficient or effective way to run a financial firm. It’s
also a good way to consistently work 50+ hour weeks, suffer from the constant nag of stress, and end up with a dreadful case of burnout!

Do you know the difference between a business plan and a marketing plan? A business plan is not a marketing plan. Having a marketing plan without a business plan leads to churning through a lot of money fast. So what’s the difference and which one do you need? I’m glad you asked.

Business Plans for Financial Advisors

Your business plan is the foundation of your firm. It should include the answers to questions such as:

• Why does your business exist?
• What are your services and products?
• How much money do you want to make?
• What does your SWOT analysis reveal? (Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats)
• What makes your company unique?
• What sets you apart from other companies doing similar things? (comparison)
• What do you bring to your clients that is unique?
• What are your company’s values?
• Who is on your management team?

Marketing Plans for Financial Advisors

Your marketing strategies are informed by the answers to the questions above in your business plan.

Your marketing plan starts with your niche and ideal client profile. You want to manage your marketing for the best results versus what I call “spaghetti marketing”. You can’t decide what to spend your time on, marketing-wise, if you don’t know who you are marketing to!

If you don’t have an ideal client profile, start the process by reading these articles.

Here are some of the questions a marketing plan should answer:

• What do I have to do to remind others I’m here to help them?
• What are my pricing strategies?
• How do I distribute what I’m offering?
• What can I do to reach a large number of my ideal clients, in the least amount of time, and get the biggest bang for my buck?
• What does my marketing funnel look like? (You may have two — one for online prospects and one for in-person prospects.)

Your business plan, ideal client profile, and marketing plan now become systems that you monitor. They can be on paper, in Excel, or online. The main thing is that you define and create them, and use them daily to help you set better priorities.


With a system that monitors your business and marketing plan — be it a performance management system, dashboard, or spreadsheet — whatever you want to call it, you’ll catch what’s working and what’s not working. And you’ll be able to tweak your strategies and actions sooner, before they turn into very costly mistakes. More importantly, doing the business part of business will be easier to accomplish, you’ll spend more time with clients, and you’ll earn more! And isn’t that what business is about?

Putting a Business Plan and a Marketing Plan Together

Business plans and marketing plans have distinct purposes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t put them together into one comprehensive plan. Doing this makes your practice management more enjoyable, more productive, and more profitable.

To learn about the planning system I recommend that combines your business and marketing plan into just one page that helps you stay on track, visit

You can do business without all the fundamental best practices that this article talks about. But it’s better to do yourself a favor (which is probably going to also be a big favor to your team, significant other, and family). Put aside 5 days a year to do the planning necessary to give your business a better chance of more success.

If you want your clients to “do” their plans, do yours first.

©2008, Updated 2016. Elevating Your Business.

5 Quick Steps To Setting Goals That Stick & Energize

Most people set goals, at least yearly. However, the goals don’t stick any longer than the end of January.

Any time of the year, setting goals IS the start of a great process. Even better are turning those goals into (many) doable actionable steps that last throughout the year, and then some.

Here are 5 ways to create goals that stick and energize you.

1) Define 9 goals that include a number for easy measurement and completion date to keep you focused.
Sample: Bring in 30 new clients, 6 each quarter, by 12/15

2) Create 3-5 marketing strategies that you’ll execute consistently during the year to help reach your goals.
Ideas: make your firm referable, create a marketing plan, design a marketing funnel or calendar, run a family event next summer, hold a monthly webinar for your best clients, hold small private events, create a newsletter (in print and online), write blog posts, etc.)

3) Drop or upgrade 5 management strategies that didn’t work for you last year.
Ideas: technology that isn’t working, not cross-training, inconsistent client acquisition processes, no business plan, haphazard HR process, no systems in writing.)

4) Design a way to monitor your efforts; both time and money spent on the project AND result$.
Ideas: create an excel spreadsheet, use post-it notes, buy a white board, use index cards, subscribe to or purchase project management or online performance management software.

5) Take action daily and monitor your efforts at least weekly.
Ideas: catch mistakes as they occur, figure out ways to do more of what’s working, use a Lessons Learned report often.



By the way, what do you think? Do you create written personal or professional goals? Why or why not? How often do you adjust your goals? What tips help you stick to goal setting? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

A helpful goal setting tool is a white paper called Executive Summary: How The One Page Business Plan® Can Help Grow Your Firm.  If nothing else it can get you thinking about a process that has helped more than 250,000 business owners and financial professionals. Request your copy here.



(c)2010. Updated 2014. Maria Marsala, EduCoach(TM) at Sometimes creating goals or strategies are challenging because you’re so close to your business or practice. When you need some support to figure things out, request a “Just in Time” Energizing Session at

Idea Mastermind Process

There is a graphic that has helped me in a variety of sistuation. It may help you, too. I take paper, and draw a big light bulb. It’s on the page with “rays” in th form of lines coming out of it.

I write the subject in the middle of the light bulb, and use the rays to write topics and thoughts. I add rays where I need them and event sub-sets of rays.

Then take the ideas and organize them.

You can do the same with each new subject you’re learning and/or writing about.

How Will You Leave Your Company?

Here’s a template I created for my clients.  It’s not the easiest subject to talk about, but it’s a necessity.   First and most importantly, when you know how you’ll leave, and when you plan to leave, you’ll make better business decisions now (because you’re taking the future into consideration, too.)  Plus we read horror stories about an owner who dies suddenly.  No one knows the password to get into their computer.    No one knows how to run the business.   Things fall apart and those left behind suffer.  

How would you like to exit from your company?   Fill it in and put your vision in the comments box on this page.  Remember, if you don’t plan it, it’s going to happen anyway.  Best that you exit in a way that will give you (or your family) the maximum return on the time and talents you’ve invested into your company.

Some of my clients have a 2 prong approach — they will work less, maybe manage the company  and then eventually retire 100%.  Some will sell it to employees, or family members.  Knowing how you plan to leave your company will help you set it up so that you can do, just that.

In the year 20___,   ____(your name)_______________, will exit

______(company name)______________________

In one or more of the following ways:

  • Drop dead at their desk
  • Become disabled
  • Get divorced or spouse dies
  • Sell to an outside 3rd party
  • Sell the company to employees ESOP
  • Sell the company to one or two key employees
  • Creates a public company IPO it
  • Hire a CEO and become a manager or employee.
  • Retain ownership but passively run it
  • Transfer, leave or sell the company to family members
  • Drive the company to the ground
  • Forced to sell to partner
  • Leave the company to languish on it’s own
  • Get tired of the business and want to start something different
  • Liquidate it
  •  Other

How are you planning to exit your company?

Are you playing it too safe?

What would your business look like if you knew the fastest route to get you to exactly where you want to be?

— Are you looking for ways to gain new clients?
— Do you have big business decisions to make?
— Are you uncertain which path you need to take to turbo-charge your business to the next level?
— Are you thinking about retiring in the next 5-10 years?

There is an easier way, a faster way to make a quantum leap, AND we’ll provide you with a step-by-step approach on exactly what’s necessary.

Join me for my 4-hour Roadmap To More Business Success: It Takes A One Page Plan program and you’ll walk away with much-needed clarity and knowing the exact steps you need to set you on the course for your trip up the steps of more success.

If you’ve even thought about it, SIGN UP NOW and save $50 while you are at it. Stop playing it safe and join me for an experience that will transform the way you build your business!

Click here to join the workshop

Good news! You still have until May 30 to save.

In this four-session you’ll work with other business owners and executives as you:
1. Create a new business vision that help you make better decisions.
2. Design a mission statement that attracts clients to you.
3. Discover the most important goals and strategies for your business growth during the next 12 months.
4. Create an customized action plan that propels you forward.
5. Increase the focus and productivity of your team.

Your Roadmap to More Success — Your Strategic Plan for the next 12-months along with 3 distinct Business Vision Statements will be complete at the end of the program and ready for strategic execution the very next day!

“…you provided much information and clarification that helped me refine my strategic plan. Your personal insight and input was greatly appreciated.”
–Kee Nethery, CEO
Kagi, Berkeley, CA

“… an educational, thought-provoking and fun business day! The marketing – strategies you recommended are both affordable and doable. Your style makes it very easy to ask questions and learn from.”
–Jodi Macko, Senior Florist
Woodland Florist, Duvall, WA


Click here to join the workshop Register today with Coupon Code “PLAN” and save $50!  Only 6 seats left.


“See” you there.