So we're onto our first chapter which is on Marketing. Marketing was the reason why I refused to do an MBA 15 years ago because I only wanted to focus exclusively on number. It is ironic that my career began in P&G which held thought leadership in brand management and marketing right up till today.
There are four different schools of thought in marketing and these four schools have a deep impact on my work as a trainer.
a) Product Focus
Like any engineer, if I have any spare time, it will be devoted to my main product line which is the Early Retirement Masterclass. I am obsessed with gathering the latest and greatest information for my class attendees. Almost every lesson I conduct is different and I am always innovating to make the sessions more hands-on driven and interactive. No prizes for figuring out that NDP 2019 will play a heavy role in my materials moving forward.
But sadly, it is not true that just because you invent a better mousetrap, folks will beat their way to your door. I can have the best course in the world but without the other focuses, I will not be able to scale my product to grow my revenue.
Engineers need to understand that they cannot fall into the Product Focus trap.
b) Sales Focus
This is the part that investor-trainers enjoy the least. Selling is the hard work of persuading someone to buy something. My previews mainly conduct the work of selling but I am supported by Dr Wealth's team of excellent salespeople to expand my top-line.
I like the amount of energy salespeople bring to the table but I am also very aware that a class of trainers have given us a really bad name by spamming folks with their sales videos on Facebook.
Sell too little, and you can't survive. Sell too much and you're no better than MLMers hawking some health product and you will gain a bad reputation as a scammer. The balance to me would always be to look at the customer's needs and say enough to demonstrate that they can meet their retirement goals.
c) Marketing Focus
This is very important but also very subtle. This is where most MBA programs focus their teachings at. The 4Ps - Product, Price, Place and Promotion. This is I have meetings with my partners to determine how often we conduct previews, what demographic is buying my product and how to tilt my message to get more conversions.
This is super important and we don't get enough of it to drive the strategy planning on whether to emphasise sales and marketing.
d) Societal Marketing Focus
Trainers don't do enough of this. Having a societal marketing focus means doing good to the customer and society over the long term. Socially Responsible Investing is being bandied everywhere and I'm not even sure how real this is.
My course attempts to eliminate conflicts of interest by assuring my students that I will use me fees to bet on their investment decisions, but it cannot stop there. As my community grows stronger, I am building coalitions with other partners who share our values.
- We promote Stocks Cafe because we believe that it is a superior product at the current price point. This I do with a small kickback.
- I found a new margin broker recently who happily bent their backs to give competitive pricing to my students. This I do with no fee because I told the broker that his usefulness will end the moment someone gives my students a better deal.
- I am also working with a non-commissioned advisor and directing business to them because my students are facing so much pain with their insurance policies. Denying business to possibly a commissioned agent is more satisfying than any payment I can get.
Ultimately, my position is that DIY investing is a net social good because it generates wealth for the customer and it also makes them more savvy about current affairs and world politics, giving them a stake in nation building.
In any business endeavor, all four schools of thought has to be considered when it comes to marketing.