Are you looking to harness the power of modern, cost-effective trends in marketing and practice management technology? Are you wondering how to begin the process of leveraging these game-changing tools? Marketing and practice management tools can vary: financial planning software, automated social media management, website hosting and CRM.
You may not realize it, but you have inadvertently sought to use tools that are sometimes referred to as SaaS. SaaS is also known as “software as a service.” This type of delivery model is one that’s centrally hosted in the “cloud” by independent software vendors or application service providers. Although it sounds a little like rocket science, there are ways you can easily assess whether this type of technology is right for you.
Without a doubt, practice management vendors want you to use their programs or services. However, will their services or products be worth the investment? Donning the hat of CEO, entrepreneur, financial expert, investor and rainmaker requires more than hard work; it demands working smarter. You must employ a well-organized process for evaluation, adoption and reporting. You can streamline this process by employing the same methods you use to help your clients ascertain their objectives. This is accomplished with four simple steps:
1. Identify Your Audience.
You have the expertise and qualified customers. Now you seek to reevaluate where your brand is and where you want it to go. Don’t attempt to serve everyone; instead, concentrate on your specialties. You want to stay away from the old-school mentality of declaring, “I’m a generalist.” Like doctors, general practitioners are a dime a dozen. Specialists, on the other hand, can separate themselves from the crowd. This principle will help you recognize “whom you serve” and determine what type of SaaS can enhance and elevate your business.
2. Have a Budget.
Start a simple financial, technology and marketing budget with specific breakdowns. If you apply similar rules of discovery to those that were discussed with your clients about their investments and insurance, you will have an easier experience identifying your own needs and desires. This cost is similar to maintaining a minimum amount of life insurance for your clients’ planning needs. You have only so much capital and so much time. Your business needs to treat practice management and marketing technology as fixed costs.
3. Complete Your Due Diligence.
When deciding which program or technologies you’re going to commit your money to, be sure to perform a level of due diligence similar to what you would do before making any new investment.
- Who are the top vendors in the space?
- What is the cost?
- What are the break points?
- Is the technology intuitive for my clients, my staff and me?
- Does the service have integration with other services?
- Have other subscribers had success with the platform or program?
- What is the anticipated ROI?
- How long is the cycle from the initial engagement to expected results?
- Is customer support supplied via phone, online chat and/or email?
- Is the service cloud-based, desktop, PC, Mac and/or mobile-friendly?
- How can I do more of what works and opt out of what doesn’t?
- Is the service compliance- and audit-friendly?
- What are the privacy policies?
- What type of security and encryption do they use?
- Does the vendor retain, track and present historical performance analysis or proof of value?
4. Set realistic expectations.
The greatest misconception anyone can make when trying a new strategy is expecting the new process to work immediately. Ensure your expectations are clearly defined from the beginning. You may not need to create a legal document, but instead make a checklist that includes time horizons and mutually understood expectations.
Remember, financial SaaS companies are competing for your wallet share. Any marketing technologies that have impressive results won’t be cheap. If the services are very inexpensive and promise a large return, you may want to understand why. Whenever it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If a service is free, you also may want to understand how it is making money.
In today’s digital age, you are most likely looking for ways to leverage new technologies to help expand, enhance and advance your practice. But it’s important to utilize smart steps to ensure you’re making the right investment. Utilize the four steps I outlined in this article, and you will be a calculated risk-taker.
As an independent producer in the field, you need to practice what you preach. You guide your clients to plan for the future depending on their time horizons, risk tolerances and future income expectations. Therefore, you must apply these same strategies to ensure your personal and business relevance. Marketing and practice management technology that utilizes SaaS doesn’t need to be something to fear if you take the proper steps before jumping into the proverbial pool. So go ahead and put on your swim trunks.