With the novel coronavirus now reaching pandemic levels, financial professionals may be wondering how to conduct their business and marketing. Because so much of a financial advisor’s strength in selling relies on trust conveyed through in-person meetings, the preventative steps suggested to combat coronavirus spread (that is, avoiding large groups of people) can, at first glance, appear to curb an advisor’s marketing activity.
However, there are many tools (and approaches to using them) that can still let you present yourself as a knowledgeable financial professional. So whether you are looking to replace marketing activities or the means to communicate with your current clients, here are some ideas.
VIDEO CONFERENCING SOFTWARE
There are numerous video conferencing platforms available, many at little or no cost. Think Zoom, GoToMeeting, Join.Me and so forth. These tools can be both a way of reaching a large pool of people (seminar alternative) and engaging one-on-one with prospects or clients.
Whatever platform you use, here are some things to consider:
- Make sure your audience clearly understands how to access your video stream. Video conferencing tools typically issue an email with a participation link and a phone number to call. In the time leading up to your presentation, send out the code with reminder emails.
- Be considerate of any potential technical issues. Many of these platforms can be launched within a browser, without downloading additional software, but this is not always the case. Give yourself plenty of time at the beginning of your presentation to work out any kinks.
- Dress like you would for an in-person presentation or one-on-one consultation.
- Think about the visual aspect of your presentation. Since viewers experience it through a screen, how you and your setting look becomes very important. Think of an office with tasteful décor, bookshelves in the background. If your office is too, well, office-y, dress it up or consider other spots that may convey a sense of casual luxury. Perhaps your home office or home library, or a hotel conference room.
- Make sure your setting is well lit. People need to see you and your expressions.
- Block off appropriate amounts of time and inform your family. This is more for if you use your home as the setting for your presentation. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a similar situation as Professor Robert Kelly during a BBC interview.
Social media can be a huge asset when working from home or satellite office situation. Social networks and messaging apps can keep you in constant contact with colleagues and employees in the absence of face-to-face interactions. Tools such as Facebook messenger are faster and more efficient than email. These also feature group messaging options that allow your entire office to keep a line of real-time communication open.
The potential lack of in-person appointments and/or working remotely will also give you more time to focus on your social media marketing activities. before you might have had limited flexibility in your schedule to maintain a consistent social media presence, this would be a good opportunity to engage with consumers at a higher frequency. After all, you’re practicing “social distancing,” there’s a good chance that others are as well. It’s not a stretch to assume this means more people are spending more time on social media.
Take LinkedIn for instance. As the social network with the highest ratio of qualified prospects, engaging LinkedIn users can take time and finesse. Utilizing your free time to ramp up engagement and make more direct connections with users can pay off big in the long run. Aside from posting relevant articles and information on LinkedIn, take advantage of its messaging system to start conversations with users. Think of it as a “drip” strategy by sending consistent and relevant messages to your target audience.
Those of you who are new to LinkedIn marketing, or could benefit from some pointers, should refer to our Effective Prospecting with LinkedIn marketing kit. This complimentary download provides tips on how to leverage LinkedIn as a prospecting tool, along with message templates and scripts to help with productive conversations. Request your copy by clicking here.
You’re likely somewhat familiar with the wide world of lead programs. And true, there are many companies and solutions out there, all promising different things, so making heads or tails of what’s going to work for you can be tricky.
Here are a few ideas:
Direct Response Mailers
When it comes to mailers, agents often think in terms of seminar invitations. However, there are relatively affordable direct response programs that can be used to drum up individual leads. These leads are engaged with on a one-on-one basis, with a lead-up that generally involves phone work. And individuals may be more likely to venture out if they are dealing with just you and not a large group.
You can also adapt the lead mailer process to invite them to a webinar. This idea would require you to have the proper infrastructure in place beforehand—such as a webinar landing page, a registration link, and webinar code—but it can be a way of introducing yourself to new prospects during the coronavirus situation.
Live Lead Transfers / Inbox Leads
Depending on the level of qualification and vetting, these types of leads can come at a premium. But the price may be worth for advisors looking to get in front of the right people. And while some programs certainly involve commitments, subscriptions, or territories, others have more relaxed options. For instance, Financialize.com has both a territory model requiring a commitment of leads and an auction model that costs nothing to participate in (other than, of course, any winning bids you place).
We’ve recommended aged leads to agents in the past as a way to complement or supplement marketing activities. While there may be some grind with lists—they are aged after all and we know that leads depreciate a little bit each day—they are generally sourced in the same way real-time, direct leads are. And these leads are typically very affordable, so all it takes is one hit to get a significant return on investment.
If you would like to discuss lead programs in detail, please give us a call at 1.800.255.5055.
As the nation embraces for a long period of uncertainty during the ongoing coronavirus crisis, it is critical you keep the health of your prospects, clients, staff, and family members in mind. We don’t know how long this will last and what ultimate impact it will have. However, as we’ve discussed above, there are still ways to make connections and conduct business. It might require some adjustment and adaptation, but we are here to help you through the process.
The value of incorporating video into your overall marketing strategy cannot be understated. No matter the platform, video outperforms every other advertising medium by a longshot. The answer to why video marketing is so effective can be summarized in one word – psychology. Televised messages have become commonplace. We tend to look for those connections that might exist between ourselves and the person we see on the screen. This level of emotional engagement isn’t as easily or quickly found with other mediums. A good video marketing strategy will help you tap into the audience’s emotions and establish that sense of trust and credibility.
Why Advisors Need Video Marketing
Video marketing is becoming increasingly more prevalent for advisors. According to a study by Wibbitz, those working in the financial industry are leveraging video marketing more than those in any other industry but manufacturing. So, have you jumped on the bandwagon yet?
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth far more. According to a report from Forrester Research, one video is worth about 1.8 million words. This doesn’t mean the articles and emails you draft aren’t important parts of the overall process. However, a short video message is a more effective way to capture attention. This is especially true for those who love faster-paced, “time-is-money” lifestyles, like the 65% of senior executives (a.k.a. high-end clients) who stated they visited a website related to a video they had watched (Impact).
Delivering Your Video Message
Not only is video a powerful tool by itself, it adds value to most other digital marketing tools you have at your disposal. Your emails, social media engagement, and website can all benefit by being utilized as delivery methods for your video. Look at the insights below to determine how to best connect your audience with your message.
- Including the word “video” into the subject line of an email has been shown to result in a 7% increase in open rates.
- Adding videos to your email can increase click rates by 300%.
- Social media posts with video have 48% more views.
- The average engagement rate for Facebook video posts is 6.01%.
- 71% of consumers find Facebook video ads relevant or highly relevant.
- 51% of video marketers use LinkedIn, with 84% saying it has been successful.
- Videos attract 300% more traffic and nurture leads.
- Video on a landing page can boost conversion rates by up to 80%.
- Video can increase organic traffic from search engines by 157%.
As we move farther into the age of streaming media, advisors who utilize video can expect increased engagement, interaction, and conversion rates. And, with that, more business.
The relationship between you and the client is one of your most important assets. Focusing on loyalty and long-term engagement will almost always pay off more than “turn-and-burn,” sales-focused approaches. This is especially true today where consumers value experience, communication, and personality. Not only do they value these attributes, but they have also come to expect them from businesses. This is why relationship marketing should be the focal point of your overall strategy.
Strong advisor/client relationships are often built through in-person appointments and various other marketing touches. Informational emails and monthly newsletters are good for ongoing education and product updates relevant to their situation. Sharing articles on social media will provide a similar benefit. A brief phone call to catch up and chat about any life changes is another powerful form of relationship marketing.
These are all tried and true examples of relationship marketing. And you’ve probably been practicing many of these since your first year in the business. While these slow-burn methods are effective, there are other, more subtle ways to establish credibility and build strong relationships.
Transparency is a necessity for businesses today. Your clients expect their personal information to be kept under lock-and-key. Obviously, you will need some of that information. Clarify why you’re asking for it and the channels it will pass through. Other ways to boost transparency include:
- Make sure to let the client know as much as possible about you and your business (core values, background, education, credentials, etc.)
- Responding ASAP to phone calls/messages with questions, concerns, or criticisms
- Disclose all fees and expenses associated with their plan
Professionalism is of the utmost importance when dealing with clients. You need to look the part and come across like a true pro. At the same time, you want to show off some personality. Clients, especially newcomers, want to feel comfortable with those they do business with. The value of personalized engagement cannot be understated. Be proactive and consistent with communication and speak in terms the client can easily digest. Active listening is also crucial. Show the client you’re invested in their situation and give them a sense of ownership in the process.
Keep in mind that maintaining long-term clients is much more cost-effective than onboarding new clients. An easy-going and relatable personality will earn that loyalty.
The Low-Pressure Cooker
An aggressive sales pitch is a great way to turn a new or potential client into a missed opportunity. People would rather buy than be sold to. In-person appointments are your best chance to build rapport and strengthen relationships. Spend a few minutes engaging in small talk before transitioning into education and, ultimately, the pitch.
Relationship Marketing Stats
- 77% of consumers will recommend a company to a friend after having a positive experience (Get Feedback)
- A 5% increase in customer retention can increase profitability by 75% (Drift)
- 33% of Americans say they’ll consider switching companies after just a single instance of poor service. (American Express)
- New acquisitions can be 5 – 25 times more expensive than retaining existing clients (Oberlo)
- 65% of a company’s business comes from existing clients (Small Biz Trends)
Marketing efforts that make an emotional connection can be one of the most effective ways to capture consumer attention and leave a lasting impression. Do you remember the movie “Old Yeller?” Of course, you do. And you also know why you’ll never forget watching the film. A boy and his dog. Love and loss. Life and death. These are all very real themes that every one of us can relate to in some way. And when we see these experiences unfold in front of us, we can’t help but internalize them. This is why making an emotional connection can be an effective marketing tactic.
What Makes Emotional Marketing So Powerful?
Content aimed at eliciting an emotional reaction – be it sadness, happiness, fear, anger, nostalgia, etc. – can inspire people to act. Often, the more impactful the content, the more significant the action. We see this play out all the time on social media every time someone shares a meme, story, or video. Whether the content is funny, political, sad, or motivational in nature, it impacted that person enough that they wanted to share it with friends and family. If they hear a song or watch a show that hits close to home, they buy the album or binge-watch the series. The point is, they take action.
Connecting Through Content
Consumers favor content that connects with them on an emotional level. It gives them a reason to remember your brand, follow your social media channels and, hopefully, pick up the phone. All of these are forms of engagement that can ultimately lead to you shaking hands with a new client.
Insure Your Love
Look back at 2019’s “Insure Your Love” campaign ad (video below). It’s easy to see why and how this type of content can be such an effective vehicle to promote the importance of life insurance. It puts us in front of a very real, and likely familiar, scenario. The endearing parent/child moment draws us in before the heartbreaking surprise at the end. The emotional reaction is genuine, the impression left is long-lasting, and the message is powerful enough to inspire action.
While the “Insure Your Love” campaign is exclusive to February – and Life Happens has already rolled out its 2020 campaign – the concept is evergreen. So, next time you’re brainstorming for your next marketing effort, think about those things that would inspire action on your behalf. Chances are that your prospects feel the same way.
Whether you love it or could live without it, Facebook is one of the most effective digital marketing tools financial professionals have at their disposal. The platform is a one-stop-shop for targeting prospects and new leads across multiple demographics. However, Facebook is only effective when used strategically. Are you getting the most from your Facebook posts? If your posts are going unnoticed, try incorporating these tips into your social media strategy.
Timing of Your Post
The day and time you schedule your post can play a huge part in its overall reach and engagement. The general rule of thumb has been that posting on weekdays between 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. will generate the best results. While these are peak traffic times, that doesn’t guarantee your followers or target audience will be actively engaged during that window.
To get a better idea of when your followers are online, go to the “Insights” tab on your business page, and click “Posts” on the left side of your screen. Under the “When Your Fans Are Online” tab, you’ll find a graph showing the number of your followers on Facebook at any given point in time over a one-week period. Use this to determine when to best schedule your posts.
It’s important to keep your content flowing on a consistent basis. It’s also important to avoid overdoing it. Much like the time of day you post, pay attention to when your audience is online to determine how much you put out there each week. Ideally, you want to post around two-three times a week.
Quality & Type of Content
The average Facebook user logs on around eight times a day, spending roughly two hours or more scrolling through their news feed. During that time, they’re exposed to hundreds, if not thousands of posts from friends and family, news outlets, followed pages, and advertisements. Standing out amongst that much competition requires your content to be compelling, relevant and high-quality. Keep the following guidelines in mind when drafting your posts:
Short & Sweet – Posts with 50 characters or less are more likely to be read. According to Statista, 96% of Facebook users access the site through a mobile device. Assume that many of them are on the go when scrolling and don’t have time to engage with a lengthy post. Brevity is crucial. Your copy is a call to action. Be concise and clearly state your value proposition. Starting your post with a question is a great way to keep people engaged and interacting with your content. Images, videos, and links to relevant pages will help round out your overall message.
Images – A sharp, quality photo or graphic will catch a Facebook user’s eye as they come across your post. Choose an image that helps tell your story and pique the audience’s interest. Keep any text you add to your image to a minimum. Facebook recommends using images with less than 20% text for optimal engagement.
Video – Video is by far the best way to capture the attention of your audience. Roughly 60% of Americans who watch digital videos do so on Facebook. Posts with video average 6.13% engagement rates, compared to the overall average of 3.6% (Hootsuite). Shorter videos (between 30 – 90 seconds) will get better engagement and retention rates than those longer than two minutes.
Show Some Personality
Strive to connect with and relate to your audience. Remember, you’re targeting people that you will (hopefully) be sitting down with to discuss their financial goals. Let them know you’re someone they can be comfortable with while in that setting. Posts that showcase who you are as a person and professional can help plant that seed. Keep in mind there is a fine line between personality and unprofessionalism. It’s ok to have fun and be light-hearted, or even to tap into a current trend. But always think before you post. Content that edges up to or crosses the line of good taste is a good way to lose followers and credibility.
Annuities can be a very important piece to your clients’ retirement puzzle. Terms life “tax-deferred” and “low-risk” should be music to the ears of anyone looking for the savings vehicle that will carry them into and through their golden years. But with numerous options available, annuities are as complex as a financial product can be. Advisors need to have a clear understanding of the clients’ situation when drafting a retirement plan that involves annuities.
This also means that the client needs a clear understanding of how annuities work. While some may, you should expect that most people will come in knowing very little about, or carry one or more misconceptions about, annuities. It’s the latter that will almost always bring objections to overcome.
Below are a few examples of annuity misconceptions/objections you might hear from clients, and tips on how to respond.
Exposure to Market Volatility
This is an easy one. Fixed Indexed Annuities are low-risk savings vehicles. While cash value does accumulate based on the performance of a specific stock market index (S&P 500, Dow Jones), the annuity had no direct exposure to the market. Use the crash of 2008 as an example to highlight this point. When the market crashed, countless retirement accounts went down with it. However, those with fixed annuities came out with their principles relatively unscathed. This level of protection should be especially attractive to those who are close to, or at retirement age and don’t have the luxury of waiting for a fluctuating market to recover.
High Management and Contract Fees
It’s true that management fees can chip away at the annuity’s cash value. But the same is also true with IRAs and 401(k) plans. It might be helpful to explain that some of those fees can go toward extra layers of protection, such as a Lifetime Income Benefit Rider, or additional options. Overall, it’s important the client know the fees associated with the annuity before making their final decision, but also realize that any savings vehicle they use is going to come at an expense.
No Access to Funds if/when Needed
The ability to access funds in an emergency is a concern for many would-be annuity buyers. While other products may allow low or no penalty access to funds, annuities do allow for early withdrawals. The penalties involved largely depend on the type of annuity, the annuity owner’s age, and the length of time they’ve had the annuity. When discussing these details, stress the point that annuities are most effective when left alone to be used as a steady stream of retirement income, and not designed to be liquidated. If this is still a concern, recommend a strategy that includes cash value life insurance.
Lower Payout / Income Stream in Retirement
There are several variables that determine what the annuity will pay out each month. And that amount will likely be lower than monthly payments from a pension or 401(k). The key takeaway here is that the client will receive guaranteed, regular payments in retirement. Present this as a classic “risk vs. reward” scenario. One solution might offer higher monthly payments but could leave the client at risk of outliving that income. An annuity that includes a Lifetime Benefit Rider will eliminate that risk and provide a lifetime stream of cash. Some annuities now allow the retiree to pass on any unused balance to a beneficiary upon death. This is also a good time to present solutions that combine an annuity with life insurance, pension, and/or Social Security benefits.
These are just a handful of objections and misconceptions you’ll encounter when discussing annuity-based retirement plans. This is a complex financial product that comes with multiple variables and options. Hesitation and scrutiny are to be expected. The best way to overcome these barriers is to educate the client to the best of your ability. Keep in mind that this is a lot of information for someone to take in during an hour-long appointment. Sending them home with materials they can read through might be the key to conversion here.
Our Annuity Basics guide is the perfect resource to help with client objections and misconceptions. This consumer-facing brochure gives a comprehensive, yet easy-to-read overview of annuities as a retirement planning strategy. Claim your free copy of the guide now by filling out the form below, or by calling (800)255-5055.
With every new year comes a laundry list of new trends that will impact the way many of you will do business. Emerging tech, demographic shifts, and changing culture all play a role in the lives of a small business owner. As one of those small business owners, you’ve probably already seen your share of articles promoting the shiny, new social media and digital marketing trends for 2020.
But how many of those are relevant to you specifically? What might work for a retailer or coffee shop probably won’t benefit a financial advisor. That’s why Marketing Corner’s first “2020 Trends” list was written exclusively for advisors and agents looking to gain an early advantage in the new year.
Content continues to be king. And thanks to Google’s recent algorithm updates, it won’t be abdicating the throne anytime soon. In the fall of 2019, Google integrated BERT, a language processing technology, into its search engine. Without diving into the mechanics, BERT considers the nuance and context of each word used in a search query, rather than crawling for the individual terms. This allows for a more “human-like” understanding of the query and more relevant results for the user.
What does this mean for your website? Because people tend to search Google much like they would hold a real conversation (ex., “When should I claim Social Security benefits”), the search engine is going look for answers to that question. This more natural and conversational aspect of Google’s ever-evolving algorithm means it’s crucial to have a website that features a wealth of relevant and well-written content. Keep in mind there are several variables that factor into Google search rankings, but the importance of content will continue to grow in 2020.
According to the Content Marketing Institute:
- ROI for content marketing is triple that of paid search
- Small businesses that blog get 126% more lead growth than those that don’t
- Conversion rates are six times higher with content marketing versus other methods
- Websites with blogs have 434% more search engine-indexed pages than those without
The vast expanse of the digital landscape means a message limited to one channel is a message that is going to miss a portion of the intended audience. Marketing across multiple platforms is a great way to expand your reach and connect with as many prospects as possible. The benefits of omnichannel marketing can be seen in the stats below:
- Engagement rates for omnichannel are nearly 19% compared to 5.4% on single-channel
- Customer retention rates are 90% higher
- Purchase frequency is 250% higher
As it relates to content marketing, the most obvious omnichannel marketing technique to employ is to share blog posts across your social media networks. With numerous social platforms out there, this can be a daunting task. We recommend advisors and financial professionals focus on the “Big 3” networks to find qualified prospects:
A solid omnichannel marketing strategy means more than simply posting blogs and sharing the links on social media. It requires across-the-board consistency in voice, branding, and message. Make sure your logo, contact information, “about me” information, bio, and anything else related to your business is the same wherever they’re used. This not only includes your website and social media pages but any physical mediums you might use (flyers, posters, billboards, brochures, etc.).
The SECURE Act has already brought about a huge overhaul of American retirement laws. The legislation was designed to make it easier for people to save for retirement. Last week’s Marketing Corner gave a brief overview of how the new law impacts saving vehicles such as annuities, 401(k) plans, and IRAs. Those who missed out can read the post here.
For an even deeper dive into the SECURE Act, including details on how it impacts small businesses, we just launched the first in a two-part series covering the SECURE Act. Get your copy of Key Highlights from the SECURE Act: What You & Your Clients Need to Know at this location.
It’s important to note that the full effects of the SECURE Act won’t be felt for some time. The next year could see additional modifications that could change the way advisors help clients plan for retirement. Also, consider the potential for new laws and reforms to be enacted in the coming months and beyond.
One possible change to keep your eyes on is a proposal by the Trump Administration to restrict eligibility for SSI disability benefits. And with 2020 being an election year, conversations about Medicare For All, LTCI reform, and other related topics are going to take their share of the spotlight for the next several months.
On a state level, Medicaid expansion and marijuana reforms are two hot button issues that could change the way many advisors do business.
Security & Privacy
This isn’t exactly a tangible item to keep in your marketing toolkit but should become part of the overall conversation you’re having with prospects and new clients. Fraud in retirement accounts has been on the rise since 2018. While the estimated $14.7 billion lost to cyberfraud that year was lower than previous years, more cybercriminals are finding their way into retirement savings accounts.
Your first instinct might be to avoid this topic altogether. After all, no one wants to leave your office with words like “cybercrime” and “dark web” ringing in their ears. However, it’s enough of a concern to warrant discussion. Because trust and credibility are paramount to the consumer experience, the effort you make to educate clients on the importance of cybersecurity won’t go unnoticed.
Spend a few minutes going over some simple cybersecurity tips, such as:
Attention to security extends beyond sharing a few tips with your clients. A secure website and digital presence are absolute necessities in 2020, especially for businesses with their hands on a client’s life savings. The list below includes items that should already be a part of your cybersecurity arsenal. Make them part of the discussion to ensure your clients that you have their best interests in mind.
- SSL Certified website
- HIPPA Compliant CRM
- Privacy Disclaimer on Drip Emails
- BBB Accreditation
In the interest of transparency, make sure you also explain to your clients why you need the information they share with you, and the steps you take to keep that information safe.
On December 20, 2019, President Trump signed the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Act into law. The SECURE Act marks the most significant overhaul to retirement policy in years. And with these changes, comes a need for many people to review, or even revise, their retirement plans. This presents multiple prospecting and marketing opportunities for financial advisors.
In total, the SECURE Act consists of 30 provisions, each one affecting the way people save and plan for retirement. While the 125-page document addresses a wide array of topics, some stand to have a more immediate and direct impact on the everyday wage-earner.
Below is a brief overview of some of the key provisions from the SECURE Act that advisors should be discussing with their clients.
- Expanded retirement savings opportunities by making it easier to include annuities into 401(k) plans
- Portability of lifetime income options for qualified plans.
- The Required Minimum Distribution Age has been increased from 70 ½ to 72.
- The change does not apply to those who reached age 70 ½ by December 31, 2019.
- Certain long-term, part-time employees can now participate in 401(k) plans. These employees must meet minimum service hour requirements.
- The maximum automatic contribution percentage for “safe harbor” 401(k) plans has been increased.
- The age cap for contributing to traditional IRAs (previously 70 ½ years old) has been eliminated. Like Roth IRAs, traditional IRAs now have no age limitations.
- Stretch IRAs for certain beneficiaries are no longer allowed. Those beneficiaries must now withdraw all money from the inherited plan within a specified time frame.
Overall, the SECURE Act covers a lot of ground. While designed to benefit retirees, it does comes with several complex changes that people need to be aware of. Advisors need to be proactive and start educating clients (and themselves) about how these key provisions from the SECURE Act could impact their long-term goals.