The effort you put in at the end of one year can have a significant impact on how you start the next. This is a good time for settling accounts, getting your books in order, and conducting holiday marketing activities. But what are you doing to prep for the beginning of the new year–or in this case, the new decade? While this can be a hectic and distracting time, it’s vital you carve out time in your schedule to work on your 2020 plans now. Otherwise, you’ll burn away the first few weeks of January trying to catch up. So, take a deep breath, grab a cup of coffee and ask yourself, “What do I want 2020 to look like?”
Set Your Goals
Break down your various production goals into monthly or quarterly increments. This is an efficient way to track your progress and determine whether you need to make any adjustments to your plan. Set up a document outlining your monthly/quarterly production goals and split those goals into specific categories. As the year progresses, compare those goals to your results. This will give you an organized and detailed overview of your growth. Aside from production and revenue, consider the other goals you’d like to achieve over the next year. Do you want to target new markets? Or bring on new employees? Outlining any operational, administrative, or non-specific goals is an important part of staying focused on the big picture.
Establish a Marketing Budget
Make a list of the different marketing activities you use or would like to explore in the new year; web development, seminar marketing, community events, lead gen, etc. Now, assign a dollar amount you feel comfortable spending on each. This won’t be a concrete budget, as changing trends and results will likely call for periodic adjustments. But it will give you a foundation on which to build your overall plan of attack. Plus, you can start the year off with a better idea of the returns you would like to see from each investment.
Personal & Professional Development
Your plan for a bigger and better 2020 should include quantifiable metrics such as goals-versus-results and revenues-versus-expenses. Think about steps you can take to grow as both a person and a professional. What can you do to better serve your clients? How can you build credibility? What are your strengths and weaknesses? You might be a financial guru who could fill a book with retirement advice but need to brush up your writing skills. Or maybe you want to tap into video marketing but tend to freeze up in front of the camera. We all have those areas in which we could use some improvement, and they certainly don’t take away from our tangible job skills. However, pinpointing certain weaknesses and working to overcome them can be very beneficial to your business. Think of personal/professional development as a list of new year’s resolutions you won’t forget about by the end of January. For example:
- “Sharpen my writing skills and improve the quality of my original blog content.”
- “Learn more about generational marketing so I can more effectively target Millennials.”
- “Keep up with emerging trends in social media marketing.”
- “Practice my on-camera presence and delivery for video marketing campaigns.”
The examples above may not be what you think of when drafting a marketing plan but can have a significant impact on how well you execute that plan.
Obviously, there is so much more you will need to consider for the year to come, but it’s important to start somewhere. And just as important to get started ASAP. Get in touch and let us know how we can help.
This is the time of year when most entrepreneurs are fully engaged in holiday marketing activities. The next few weeks will see businesses hitching themselves onto the Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other year-end sales wagons. However, there is another, often-overlooked event coming up that is also worthy of your attention – Small Business Saturday.
The locally-focused alternative to Black Friday, Small Business Saturday is an annual event held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The intent is to encourage people to patronize businesses in their own communities. In other words, get holiday shoppers to spend money with local retailers. However, there also are ways for agents and advisors to take advantage of Small Business Saturday.
Small Business Saturday Marketing Tips
During the weeks leading up to Small Business Saturday, reach out to a few local businesses about cross-promotional opportunities:
- Hand out each other’s promotional items to your respective clients and customers.
- Share each other’s social media posts and pages. Relevant hashtags include #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSat.
Don’t limit your partners to retailers. Engage with service providers and other non-retail businesses.
- Gyms/fitness centers
- Cafes and coffee shops
- Home improvement and remodeling contractors
- Auto repair shops
Connect With Your Community
Small Business Saturday is a community-wide event. You can meet a lot of new prospects by simply showing up. Bring plenty of promo items and offer incentives to those who join your email list.
Think of the resources you invest in Small Business Saturday as lead gen activity. Your presence will show business owners that you have a vested interest in the community. This can go a long way toward building solid B2B relationships. Contact your local Chamber of Commerce to see how you can get involved.
Advertising for financial advisors might soon enter the 21st century. The Securities and Exchange Commission voted in early November to propose amendments to rules that have long constrained advisors’ ability to advertise their services. If the amendments pass, they will be the first updates to the Investment Advisers Act since 1979.
According to the 507-page document filed by the SEC on November 4, the “proposed amendments to the solicitation rule updates its coverage to reflect regulatory changes and the evolution of industry practices since we adopted the rule in 1979. The Commission is also proposing amendments to Form ADV that are designed to provide the Commission with additional information regarding advisers’ advertising practices. Finally, the Commission is proposing amendments under the Advisers Act to the books and records rule, to correspond to the proposed changes to the advertising and solicitation rules.”
In a nutshell, the SEC’s Advertising Rule will finally be tailored to fit in the modern, digital landscape. Among the most notable changes to the rule will see “advertisement” redefined to include communications “disseminated by any means,” and will “recognize developments in technology, changing profiles of investment advisers registered with the Commission, and our experience administering the current rule.”
The expanded definition will include emails, text messages, instant messages, electronic presentations, videos, films, podcasts, digital audio or video files, blogs, billboards, social media, newspapers, magazines, and direct mail.
The newly proposed definition of “advertisement” will not include:
- Live oral communications that are not broadcast on radio, TV, the internet or similar medium
- Communication that does no more than respond to an unsolicited request for information about the advisor or their services (this provision gives exception for communication to a “retail person” that includes performance results or any message that includes hypothetical performance).
- Ads, sales material or literature about an investment company registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940.
- Information that requires statutory or regulatory filings.
Other changes would allow advisors to solicit clients with testimonials, endorsements, and 3rd party ratings. According to the documents, the SEC is “We are proposing to expand the rule to cover solicitation arrangements involving all forms of compensation, rather than only cash compensation, eliminate requirements duplicative of other rules, and tailor the required disclosures solicitors would provide to investors. The proposed rule would also refine the existing provisions regarding disciplinary events that would disqualify a person or entity from acting as a solicitor.”
The SEC is taking public comment on the proposed amendments through January 3. Read the full press release about the proposal, including comments from SEC Chairman Jay Clayton here.
The holiday season provides a wealth of marketing opportunities for advisors. Retailers and similar businesses will be bombarding consumers with ads leading up to the Black Friday rush. The overabundance of aggressive messaging can leave people suffering from a serious case of ad fatigue. Use the Thanksgiving ad blitz to your advantage by taking an approach that taps into the sentiment of the occasion.
The overall goal of a Thanksgiving marketing campaign is more about showing appreciation than sealing a deal. By setting aside the sales pitches in favor of softer and more subtle interactions, you will stand a better chance of engaging with new prospects and fostering existing relationships.
30 Days of Gratitude
The “30 Days of Gratitude” challenge is a popular social media trend during the month of November. This is a simple, low-to-no-cost way to boost your social media presence and show a little personality to your audience. Spend a few minutes each day thinking of something that you are personally thankful for and share the sentiment across your social networks. Encourage your followers to reply with their own expressions of gratitude. Use relevant hashtags for improved organic reach.
Thanksgiving Dinner Giveaway
Giveaways are extremely popular during the holidays, especially when the offer involves food. They’re also great for lead generation and prospecting. A contest that offers a free turkey, desserts or even a full dinner is going to attract a lot of attention. For you, it could mean a fresh list of prospects added to your pipeline. Partner with one or more local businesses that are willing to set out a stack of registration cards for customers. Give your contest some extra juice with a sponsored social media post that takes consumers to an online registration form.
Recipes and Holiday Cooking Tips
Do you have an old family recipe that’s too good to keep to yourself? Maybe you know the secret for the perfect turkey or have a few quick and simple appetizer ideas. Online searches for recipes and menu ideas skyrocket during November. Offering your own culinary tips, tricks, and techniques can be a great way to latch onto one of the top trending searches of the month. Post this content on your blog/website and share liberally on your social media pages. Your monthly newsletter, email blasts, and direct mailers are also good delivery methods to consider. This is a subtle, yet effective form of content marketing that can not only help with brand awareness but make you come across as more personable to clients and prospects.
Where would you be today without those long-time and loyal clients? Thanksgiving is a good time to show them your appreciation. This can be as simple as sending clients a handwritten card in the mail. For high-end clients, you might go the extra mile with a gift certificate to a local grocer, baker, or winery.
The Spirit of Giving
Obviously, people are in the spirit of giving during this time of year. It’s common to see businesses foster this goodwill by hosting food and charity drives. While these are more effective with businesses that receive higher amounts of foot traffic, every little bit helps. If you operate out of an easily accessible office, place a container for canned food donations in your lobby. Use different advertising mediums (flyers, social media, e-newsletters, bulk emails, etc.) to get the message out to people who would otherwise have no reason to walk through the door. As people come in to drop off their donations, hand out small “swag bags” that include branded pens, notepads, etc. Of course, you’ll want to include a business card and consumer-facing materials. Not only is this good for brand awareness, but it’s also a great way to give back to your community.
An advisor’s first face-to-face meeting with a prospect is, like all first impressions, very important. This is where your prospect gains a sense of you as a professional and service provider. If they leave the appointment confused or with a bad taste, they probably won’t park their retirement with you, no matter your years of experience or credentials.
While some advisors are naturally proficient at nailing initial meetings with prospects, there are many easy ways advisors—even the best—can tank first appointments.
The High-Pressure Approach
One of the easiest ways to ruin the first appointment is to sell right away or sell too hard. The first appointment should be about getting to know each other. Focusing on products will make you more of a salesperson, rather than a financial professional. Instead of centering the conversation on products, talk about solutions and results. Products are just tools that solve problems. Spend time engaging the client in a two-way conversation that addresses their problem/specific situation. By asking the right questions and providing viable answers, you can make a personal connection with the client and demonstrate your expertise.
The way in which you explain financial concepts and solutions during the first appointment will be one of, if not the biggest factor that determines whether you schedule a second. Over-explaining – using too much technical jargon or providing unnecessary, off-topic information – can be overwhelming to consumers. On the other hand, not providing a clear, full explanation of a process or product inhibits the consumer’s ability to see how it might be appropriate for them. A productive interaction will walk the fine line between the two.
Ignoring Key Details & Goals
The consumer will come to you ready to outline their needs and retirement goals. Pay attention to this information. Discussing solutions that ignore these goals will alienate the consumer, leaving them with the impression that you aren’t listening. Taking notes during the conversation will help you keep track of these details. This will also demonstrate professionalism and show you’re taking a proactive role in their situation.
You Crash the Conversation
While you are the expert and will likely have a lot to say regarding a consumer’s situation, dominating the conversation makes the consumer feel invalidated. Allow your consumer time to interject. Make them feel comfortable to ask questions. At the same time, you should also not lose control of the session by letting a prospect go on and on. Keep the conversation focused on a specific need or goal. This goal may involve many individual concerns or considerations but having one, overarching goal that they all move toward can help keep the session focused and help you maintain control over the appointment.
You Don’t Relate Information to Their Needs/Goals
At the end of the day, what does the consumer need or want? What are their goals? A financially secure retirement? Upside potential? College funding? All three? Every solution is going to involve detailed processes and specific considerations. Bring your prospect in closer by relating the solution back to their goal. For example, after explaining an overfunding IUL strategy, say, “This allows you to retire safely and send little Jenna to college.”
Big news this week from the Social Security Administration. The SSA on Thursday revealed they would enact a 1.6% COLA (Cost-Of-Living Adjustment) increase for 2020. The newest increase is significantly lower than the previous two years (2% in 2018 and 2.8% in 2019). Last year’s boost gave beneficiaries and an average of $40 more a month on their checks. Next year, those 69 million Americans who receive Social Security payouts will see an additional $23 on their monthly benefits. The average payout will be roughly $1,460 per month.
Additional details from the SSA’s announcement include:
- The taxable maximum will increase to $137,799
- The earnings limit for workers younger than full retirement age will increase to $18,240
- The earnings limit for those turning 66 in 2020 will increase to $48,600
- No earnings limit for those who are full retirement age or older for the entire years
After two years of higher increases, the 2020 drop-off could be a reason for beneficiaries to be concerned. Because the SSA bases COLA increases on the consumer-price index urban workers (CPI-W), rather than that of seniors (CPI-E), a 1.6% boost is considered by some too insufficient in the face of real-world inflation and rising medical expenses. In a statement issued shortly after Thursday’s announcement, Webster Phillips with the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare says COLAs are “out of sync” the living expenses retirees face.
“Retirees have been living on very tight cost-of-living adjustments for a number of years now, which forces them to make hard decisions about their monthly budgets,” said Phillips.
Social Security recipients also need to be aware of how rising Medicare premiums will impact their monthly benefits. While those figures won’t be released until December, the most recent Medicare Trustees’ Report estimates that Part B premiums will rise by nearly $10 a month. For some retirees living on a limited income, this could lessen the buying power of their COLA boost.
An estimated 1 in 4 seniors will rely on Social Security benefits as a primary source of retirement income. With rising living and medical costs offsetting the benefits they receive, it’s vital that agents and advisors work to connect with retirees and offer better solutions.
So, how can you effectively reach the retiree/Baby Boomer market?
Even for seniors, social media can be a valuable marketing tool, with Facebook having the largest audience in that demographic. Some studies show that close to 50% of people aged 65 and up actively use Facebook. Reach these consumers by sharing relevant articles and/or blog posts on your business page. For more qualified results, use Facebook’s age and location targeting options for sponsored posts and ads.
Drip email campaigns can also be effective. However, because most Boomers value a personal touch over online connections, direct mail might get a better response. In fact, any marketing tactic that involves personal interactions will likely go a long way toward establishing credibility and building relationships with retirees and those nearing retirement. Seminars and workshops are a great way to make those connections.
What questions do you have about how to better engage with pre-retirees and retirees who could benefit from some education on Social Security? Get in touch and find out how we can help.
Seminar marketing is an effective prospecting and conversion tool for advisors. Getting in front of a roomful of engaged consumers can help boost brand awareness, establish credibility, and present an opportunity to secure multiple appointments at once. That is, of course, if you can deliver a quality presentation.
There are several factors that go into a successful seminar. Everything from venue selection to the time and day of the seminar will impact the final results. Logistics and mechanics aside, focusing on the subtleties of your delivery can significantly increase your chances of success. Here are some things to consider:
Meet and Greet
Before the first attendee enters the room, you should be standing at the door ready to greet them. If you introduce yourself to guests on an individual basis, rather than waiting until you begin the presentation, they will be more likely to tune in once you do get up there. A simple handshake and “Hi, I’m _________,” will set a casual and comfortable tone for the rest of the evening. People tend to pay more attention to someone they’re familiar with than they would a complete stranger. When greeting guests, be sure to ask their name and thank them for coming. You want to keep the introduction brief to prevent a bottleneck at the door.
You can’t expect an audience to stay engaged with a speaker who isn’t engaged with them. If you spend most of your time glancing at notes, looking at the PowerPoint behind you, or looking over the crowd’s head, they’re going to lose interest. Try to maintain eye contact with different attendees as often as possible. Not only will this make you seem confident but will also help you read the room during your performance.
When people want to see a statue, they’ll go to a park or museum. Not a financial seminar. An unanimated speaker will lose the room within a few minutes of introducing themselves. Once you’ve lost them, they’re gone. Make use of the space you have and move around the room while you speak. Hand gestures, facial expressions, and other forms of non-verbal communication will help give you a more commanding and animated presence. Just don’t over do it. Remember, there is a fine line between energetic and hyperactive.
Writing out and memorizing a script word for word is a recipe for disaster. While it might sound like a solid plan on paper, scripts can be constraining in the heat of the moment. A simple, yet unexpected question or unresponsive crowd can be difficult to handle if your presentation lacks flexibility. You also risk major embarrassment if you get lost or completely forget a line. This can leave you nervously stumbling through your notecards or, even worse, leave out important information.
Instead of scripting, use bullet points to outline the overall structure of your presentation. While you’ll want to stick with this structure, take a more conversational and adaptive approach when speaking to your crowd. If it helps, practice different ‘improvised’ iterations in the days leading up to the seminar. Remember, they came to hear you speak, not read.
End on a Good Note
A positive parting impression is crucial for converting the seminar guest into a new client. The final words of your presentation should be a positive call-to-action that leaves them wanting to hear more. Of course, to hear more, they’ll have to make an appointment. After the presentation, take time to mingle with the crowd. Try to thank everyone before they exit and offer a few days and times that you can meet for an appointment. As exhausted as you might be at the end of the night, this post-seminar ritual can be the most important part of the event.
Many of you probably assume that retirement is the furthest thing from the minds of the mid-20s to early 30s crowd. However, a deep dive into a trending Twitter hashtag reveals this generation is thinking about retirement after all. A quick Twitter search of #MillennialRetirementPlans brings up a mixed bag of posts that sheds light on the generation’s perspectives on life after retirement. Some are funny, some are absurd, and a few are even poignant and devoid of sarcasm. However, all of them give the impression that a large portion of the youngest members of today’s workforce have no idea how they’re going to build a nest egg.
Unsurprisingly, student loan debt is a factor many believe will be a roadblock to retirement. Compounding those concerns is the possibility of that debt being passed on to children and spouses, rather than leaving them an actual inheritance.
Die as quickly & cheaply as possible once my ability to work has ended & ask to be thrown into a ditch so the only bills I leave are my student debt & a littering fee for my corpse. Look into disowning my family so they aren’t responsible for my debt. #millennialretirementplans
— RevScarecrow (@Rev_Scarecrow) September 17, 2019
But at least a few are holding onto hope that they’ll pay off that debt in time to start saving.
Yayy done paying student loans now i have 1 whole year to save for retirement 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼#MillennialRetirementPlans
— jesica lopez (@lopezjesicaal) September 18, 2019
While others have lost hope altogether.
My retirement plan comes in the form of a cyanide pill.
— Enojado (@Enojadoland) September 19, 2019
Some are pointing a finger at older generations.
Fix problems started by the Baby Boomers #MillennialRetirementPlans
— Lemon Tart (@LouiseLemonTart) September 17, 2019
Some are relying on them.
Hope the parents planned for my retirement too.
— Diane’s Casper (@AccountDiane) September 17, 2019
Or their own children.
— Leah Williams Fitch (@fitch_williams) September 17, 2019
Pessimism aside, at least they’re talking about retirement.
I see that #millennialretirementplans is trending. That’s good.
The sooner you plan your retirement, the ₿etter.
— The Crypto Dog📈 (@TheCryptoDog) September 17, 2019
The question is, are you joining the conversation?
If advisors can take anything away from #MillennialRetirementPlans, it’s that the need for education about retirement is at an all-time high. Thanks to the still trending hashtag, advisors can easily connect with the Millennial market to offer that education. As you might have noticed from the tone of these tweets, this is not exactly a consumer base who would feel comfortable spending money on the services of a financial advisor. However, a little coaxing might eventually convince them otherwise.
Leverage this opportunity by attaching the #MillennialRetirementPlans hashtag to posts that offer free whitepapers or e-books, podcasts, or brief videos that cover the advantages of budgeting early for retirement. These are all popular forms of media within this target market and will likely draw more attention than a simple link to an article. A more direct method of engagement would be to personally respond to some of these tweets. Twitter’s search engine features an option that only shows results from users near your location. This is a great way to target potential prospects.
When crafting your content and social media posts, address the tangible aspects of a savings strategy. Many of these consumers genuinely don’t believe that their budget will allow them to set anything aside for later in life. Throwing a sheet of infographics and hypothetical situations won’t help ease those concerns. Instead, take a commonsense approach by getting to know their situation and offering solutions that are within their reach.
With any luck, you’ll turn an outlook as bleak as this:
Most of us will die early from the lack of a universal health care system. The rest of us will never be able to retire from working our multiple jobs to pay off our massive student debt in an economy where wages have not kept up with inflation. #MillennialRetirementPlans
— Michelle Guido (@heyyguido) September 17, 2019
#MillennialRetirementPlans to have enough money to have a retirement
— 🎀𝑀𝓊𝓃𝒶🎀 (@MunaNawabit1) September 17, 2019
Awareness campaigns and social media go hand in hand. No matter the topic, these initiatives would struggle to get off the ground without social media driving the conversation. And as many of you have already noticed, this month’s conversation revolves around life insurance. While the primary intent of Life Insurance Awareness Month is consumer education, this annual initiative is a chance for advisors to boost their brand and reach new prospects.
Taking advantage of the social media momentum behind Life Insurance Awareness Month doesn’t require a complete overhaul of your existing strategy, but it does call for a little fine-tuning. Consider the following tips when outlining your September social media plans.
Post With Purpose
Launched in 2004 by non-profit organization Life Happens, Life Insurance Awareness Month is an example of purpose-driven marketing. This is a campaign that strives to make a more personal, emotional connection with the public by addressing a specific need or cause. Consistency is a crucial part of these campaigns, which is why advisors who leverage social media during LIAM need to make sure their message fits the overall narrative about life insurance awareness. There are a few trending hashtags that can help bring you into the LIAM conversation (and boost your organic reach in the process):
The most effective hashtags are both relevant to the topic and already in use. While there are other hashtags we’ve seen advisors use for LIAM-related posts, not all are exclusive to your services. Also, keep in mind that using too many hashtags in one post can actually limit post engagement. Avoid using more than two or three at a time.
The overwhelming majority of consumers, regardless of their age, now consider social media (or other online resources) to be a valuable source of information when searching for financial services. In fact, a recent LIMRA study showed that Baby Boomers are now more likely to use the internet for information and recommendations than Millennials and Gen-Xers (who are both more likely to consult friends and family for advice). This is why it’s crucial for advisors to not only maintain a strong social media presence and an up-to-date website. Additionally, they need to post content that will resonate with your specific target audience. Building custom audiences based on consumer details is a great way to get the right message to the right target.
Let’s say you want to share a message that promotes the “family protection” aspect of life insurance. Because this will likely hit closer to home for younger to middle-aged consumers with children than it would someone close to retirement age, use age and demographic-based metrics to hone in on parents aged 30 – 50 years old. Most social networks provide a wide range of targeting options. The key is to determine who will respond better to each specific post and target accordingly.
Timing Is Everything
The majority of social media users visit one or more platforms on a daily basis. However, few of them spend the entire day scrolling through their feed. Scheduling your posts during peak engagement times can significantly increase your organic reach. While your results may vary, peak posting times, according to several studies, are as follows:
- 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday & Friday
- 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. Saturday & Sunday
- 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday – Friday (with peak engagement on or around 3 p.m.)
- Early to mid-morning, early afternoon & early evening Monday – Friday
Keep in mind that social media marketing is an art, not a science. Use these tips as a starting point when crafting your LIAM social media strategy and adjust as needed. And remember that, when jumping on board with a widespread campaign like LIAM, you’re becoming part of a bigger conversation. It’s up to you to make the most of it.
September is Life Insurance Awareness Month. Request our complimentary 2019 LIAM Sales Kit today.