What do the Reds, LSD, Doc Ellis and Kent State have in Common?


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At the very moment in last nights NLDS game that I thought the Reds looked more like the Keystone Cops than a professional baseball team I received the following tweet from @BillSledzik: “Reds are truly pathetic. Is this little league?”  Followed moments later by this classic: “ If only the Reds had Doc Ellis on the mound. Now that would be a trip. Oh well. http://bit.ly/cEBi2f #Reds “.  The word “trip” may have been lost on others, but not on those of us who grew up in the 60’s, man.

If you read the story it will become clear how LSD and Doc Ellis made their way into baseball lore, and thus into the title of this blog.  But that’s not the point.

Where does Kent State fit in? With a fair amount of curiosity, heightened by the Reds collapse, I figured I was only a mouse click or two away from learning more about Bill Sledzik.  Two clicks and there I was on Bill’s www.toughsledding .com site greeted by this headline: “Kent States’ Online PR Master’s is set to launch”.

An exciting time at Kent State for sure as they prepare to launch the program in January 2011.  Unique to this program is that faculty members have been living in the social media space for 5 years or more, but to date have been delivering half their classes online and half face-to-face (F2F).  This entire degree program will be delivered in the virtual world.

In the world of social media, life is viewed as a two-way communication street.  If you don’t want to know what the world is thinking about you, don’t ask. It appears that Kent State asked.  The responses they received helped them; identify the need for an Online PR Master’s program; necessitated they communicate their intentions to their core audience; solicit feedback market research); and, based on the data gathered they developed their Online PR Master’s program solution.

What they learned was “the majority of working professionals seeking a master’s in PR can’t put life on hold for 2 years and move to Kent, Ohio.  And our market for part-time students in the F2F program is limited to those who live and work within 50 miles of campus.”

“Professionals seeking advanced degrees want to do them online.  The online degree has no geographic restraints or real-time class schedules.  Students access content from anywhere, so long as they have an Internet connection.  They absorb lectures and join discussions at their convenience, not ours.”

The question financial advisors need to ask themselves is: Does your current client acquisition, client retention and revenue growth strategy match-up to Kent State’s?

The challenges of client acquisition facing today’s financial services professionals are no different then those faced by Kent State.  Potential clients know no geographical boundaries.  They are seeking professional guidance that will help them achieve their short and long-term financial goals.  That guidance can come from the advisor down the street or across the country – they don’t care. Savvy advisors are meeting the client acquisition challenge by creating an online persona designed to differentiate themselves in the cluttered marketplace through defined thought leadership campaigns.

If, as is the case with Kent State’s audience, they are seeking advanced degrees online, what does that tell you about your current client’s communication preferences?  My guess would be your client base is educated, several with advanced degrees, professionals and business owners in some cases – not unlike Kent State’s student profile.  Accelerating your online communication strategy can go a long way to enhancing your client retention statistics.

Financial advisors can also takeaway a revenue growth strategy from the Kent State example.  Recognizing that their F2F market is limited geographically they looked to the Internet to deliver additional revenue.  Combining well thought out client acquisition strategies with client retention strategies results in a more stable and predictable revenue stream for your business.  It’s well documented that the most expensive client is the new one – better to take care of what’s you’ve got versus what you’d like to have.

Some habits are hard to break. I couldn’t help but notice the “Sigmund your slip is showing” comment:  “It’s imperative that every element of every class be up and running 60 days before the students arrive.” If they arrive it certainly won’t be by car.

Amazing what you can learn by going back to school, be it by car or online!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Bruce Johnston
Over the course of 25 years serving as Chief Executive Officer and President of such firms as Gartmore Global Investments, Sentinel Funds and Old Mutual Investment Partners, D. Bruce Johnston is bringing his sales and marketing expertise to a wide range of companies both inside and outside of his financial industry roots. Named Fund Marketer of the year by Institutional Investor, Bruce has built some of the country's most successful marketing programs and sales teams.


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