Marketing Corner – 6 Best Practices For Running a Successful Workshop

Marketing Corner – Tuesday 5th, 2016

6 Best Practices for Running  A Successful Workshop

Workshops and seminars are powerful marketing activities for advisors. Even in our digitally driven world, nothing will replace the value of an experienced advisor presenting relevant information to a live audience. It should be no surprise that many advisors and agents rely heavily on this method to prospect for new clients. A well-run and informative seminar simply works. However, new and old advisors alike miss many opportunities to maximize their workshops. New advisors may overlook small details that can derail their presentations. Experienced advisors may become too rote in running their seminars, ignoring possible blindspots that can inhibit the effectiveness of their event. To help advisors and agents everywhere, here are six best practices for running a successful workshop.

Choose Your Topic Carefully

Advisors may want to try workshops/seminars but struggle with topic selection. This is also a problem that experienced advisors may face, after exhausting a set of topics. The topic you present is the most important part of your workshop. A good topic will be relevant and provide opportunities for elaboration. A good topic will relate to things that affect your client base, whether they know it or not. You must also have some knowledge or expertise with the topic you choose so that you can present it with confidence.

So here’s how to choose your topic:

1: Find a topic or focus that is relevant to your consumers.

2: Address current trends related to this topic.

3: Provide research and stats with your topic presentation. This will lend your presentation credibility and support your main arguments

For example, let’s say you want to run a Social Security workshop. You know that this topic is very relevant for a significant portion of your consumer base. Prepare a presentation that outlines Social Security basics, then discusses specific maximization strategies. Interlace your presentation with credible stats. Focus on new changes that may impact consumers. Social Security is subject to many changes this year, with the removal of “file and suspend.”

You may struggle with topic development not because a topic is bad, but it is too broad. Social Security and retirement income planning are both important areas of financial planning, but they are broad. So if you are struggling with a topic, think about a specific focus that you can present. If you are trying to reach pre-retirees and retirees, you may want to discuss things that Medicare will and won’t cover, with the angle that a good financial plan and an LTC policy may help to protect an individual’s finances. This has a good broad topic that will appeal to many of your target consumers (Medicare), a specific focus that educates consumers, and imparts the urgency of proper financial protection (solutions you can provide).

Involve An Assistant

During your workshops, your time should be spent presenting to and engaging with consumers. Collecting forms, managing the session, handing out pens, etc. can take away time you could spend educating consumers and interrupt the flow of your presentation. Having an assistant that handles the grunt work of running the workshop can make your presentation run smoother. From the time attendees arrive to the collection of follow-up forms, your attention needs to be on the consumers. An assistant that handles much of the operational aspects of the seminar frees you to build rapport and make a strong connection with your audience.

Be Thoroughly Prepared and Organized

The more prepared and organized you are, the more time you have to spend educating your consumers. Anticipate issues, rather than react to them in moment. This means:

  • establishing an itinerary for the session
  • arriving early
  • communicating with wait staff (if say you are doing a dinner seminar)
  • having extra copies of relevant forms and pens
  • testing any tech (such as microphones and projectors)
  • running through the event with your assistant to make sure you are both on the same page
  • allocating a buffer window for issues that may occur or Q &A portions that run long
  • creating take home sheets and evaluations

Your seminar could have many more components. The important thing is that you are prepared at every moment–before, during, and after the presentation. Not only will this reflect on you as a professional and ensure a smooth workshop, it will make things like follow-up and appointment setting easier.

Choose an Appropriate Location 

Where you hold your seminar can have an impact on how well it runs. Ideally you’ll want to choose a venue that is supportive and located in a central area to your target market. You should also consider issues like road construction that may make it difficult for your target market to travel. A high-end or well-suited venue can give your workshop more credibility, causing consumers to associate their positive feelings of the location with your presentation. For dinner seminars, find higher-end restaurants or event halls that have brand recognition in your local area. For more of an educational workshop, a library or community center may suffice, especially if staff is supportive of your seminar as community event.

Advertise Your Workshop Through Multiple Marketing Channels

Direct mail is the most common way advisors market a workshop or seminar. Certainly direct mail is an effective means to get the word out and get responses. However, there are other means that can enhance the marketing of your seminar, often at a minimal cost. Don’t discount the power of a local newspaper ad placement—in many communities physical newspapers still reach a large audience, especially older consumers. Digital ad placements can also greatly improve registration responses. Even something like a boosted Facebook post can help you reach your audience. These marketing pieces, all operating at the same time, also mean that a large segment of your audience sees your workshop ads in multiple places, through multiple channels. And of course, don’t forget the power of a simple flier at the venue to reach consumers.

Follow Up

Although you are educating your consumer base with a seminar, the bottom line is that you are trying to set appointments and capture new clients. Follow-up is crucial for these things to happen. This means that you need to have some form of an information-gathering sheet where a consumer can provide their concerns and other valuable information you can use to tailor a pitch to them. If you don’t already have emails from the workshop registration process, this is your opportunity to get them. After the workshop, issue a thank you message that also summarizes what you discussed. If you plan on doing a workshop on a different topic, invite the consumer to the next one. You can also use the list to build a drip marketing campaign.

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Marketing Corner – March 24th, 2016

CD Replacement Month April 2016

A Short History of CD Replacement Months

You might know that April and October are CD replacement months. But do you know why? The history that lead to these sales opportunities is actually rather interesting and shows how economic events can ripple far ahead in time.

Nearly thirty years ago, on October 19, 1987, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped a whopping negative 22.61%–the index’s largest percentage drop. This event would become known as Black Monday and many thought this was the precursor to another Great Crash. While markets rebounded, there remained a great amount of volatility, with after-shocks and mini-crashes like the drop that happened on October 13, 1989.

Even though the economy has been beaten and torn since 1987 (Great Recession of 2008) the effects of Black Monday are still felt today. As markets tanked in 1987, consumers pulled out of exposed investments and transferred their money into Certificates of Deposits.

Hence October and April are now CD replacement months, with six-month and twelve-month CDs up for renewal. For some consumers, CDs can seem like a great option for their money—certainly they did in 1987. With guaranteed interest rates and FDIC backing, CDs seem like a relatively sturdy ship to navigate the sometimes choppy waters of the market.

However, because of their low interest rates, CDs do not hedge against inflation well, when compared to other products, like certain annuities. This is especially true with long-range CDs that many consumers automatically renew out of habit. This means that some consumers may be losing real-world value that could be parlayed into another solution that works better against inflation and could provide lifetime income.

Obviously every consumer presents a different situation. For some, CDs may track well with their needs. Others may not even be aware that there are other options. However, what this means is that April and October are good opportunities for review, discussion, and product sales.

To help agents and advisors take advantage of these CD replacement opportunities, Legacy Financial Partners is offering our CD replacement kits. Fill out the form the to claim your free CD replacement kit.

Don’t forget out about our complimentary 1040 Overlay Kits as well.

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Speak To Clients With Language That Sells

Speak To Clients With Language That Sells

Language is a powerful tool in your interactions with clients. The best solutions and products won’t matter if you don’ t use the right language to sell them. Some advisors are naturally great at conveying meaning and clearing production with clients, while many others don’t realize how they speak may be negatively impacting their conversions. With that said, here are five best practices when talking with clients and prospects.

Focus on “You”
When consulting with a prospect or a client, it is critical that you demonstrate empathy and understanding. Focusing too much on your value, your credentials, your experience, can easily kill a sale before it begins. Make your interactions client-focused and connect to details that are relevant to your prospects. Using the pronoun “you” throughout an appointment makes it clear that you are trying to look at things from their perspective, from the things that matter to them.

Words: “You, yours, your [spouse, child], your retirement, your future” etc.

Focus on Value
As you undoubtedly know, there are many different financial products and solutions. These may have special features or unique benefits, which can add another layer of complexity when you break them down for the client. You might understand this complexity well, and may be excited by them. But when you present solutions, present the value, not the bells and whistles. Think of a vacuum salesman: the salesman knows all the technical reasons why the vacuum is great, but the consumer only cares if the vacuum will work well and lasts long. Focusing on the great, but overwhelming, details of financial products can disengage the client. Remember that financial products are difficult for many consumers to process to begin with. Simplify.

Words: “What this means for you,” “this provides you with______,” “what you and your family get from this,”

Focus on the Goal
This is related to the point above. Consider what the ultimate goal is for the consumer and why they are coming to you. Sure they may have a specific goal, like transferring a lump sum in a cash accumulation vehicle or making sure their retirement plan is tax-ready for distribution. But ultimately their goal is broader, such as a stress-free and independent retirement, the means to pay for a child’s college education, or the ability to travel. That is the large value the client is hoping to achieve. So as you discuss solutions and specific strategies, connect the pieces to the larger goals the prospect has. This will enhance the value of your solution, allow the prospect to make an emotional connection to your solutions, and give them a sense of the big picture while you discuss the details.

Words: “This achieves _______,” “With this, you will be able to_______,”

Use Positive Words Instead of Negative Ones
This is an old language-of-sales trick, but very important to remember. Using words like “issue,” “problem,” “critical,” “difficult,” and so forth, can subtly shade interactions with prospects negatively. In some instances, it may be necessary to use words with a negative connotation, but reducing your usage overall will make the interaction more positive and the prospect’s buy-in all the more likely.

Avoid: “issue,” “problem,” “critical,” “difficult,” “challenges,” “complicated” etc.

Use: “opportunity,” “benefit,” “solution,” “peace,” “manageable” “strategy”

Give Confidence
Confidence is crucial for the prospect to trust your expertise. Instead of wavering or using hesitant language, use phrases that imply completion or action.

“I’ll try” becomes “I will.”
“This can,” becomes “this does.” 
At the same time, develop your own client’s sense of confidence. This can be:

  • positive reinforcement when they show understanding of your solutions
  • praising the positive steps they have already taken toward a good financial plan
  • giving the prospect a sense of ownership in the process by giving them ample space to discuss their thoughts, worries, and goals

using “own” and “invest” instead of words like “buy” or “purchase”

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Marketing Corner – The Informed Advisor

The Informed Advisor

A few weeks ago we published a post entitled “25 Marketing Stats Every Advisor Needs to Know.” This was a collection of eye-opening marketing statistics culled from recent research to give advisors struggling with marketing and prospecting some real-world insight. Many of our readers let us know they found the post helpful, but wanted more information on how they could effectively use these stats in their marketing.

This is why we created our latest complimentary sales kit. LFP’s “The Informed Advisor” provides you with more powerful statistics, as well as short action guides tying all the information together. Learn practical information about email marketing, direct mail, social media, mobile, web design, video and more. Below is a sample of the information you will find in this kit.

Email Marketing

Learn why email marketing is still a valuable marketing solution and how you can optimize your email efforts.

For example:

Organizations using email to nurture leads result in 50% sales-ready prospects. (Forrester Research via Hubspot)

According to an Experian study, personalized messages received 29% higher open rates and 41% more unique clicks.

Action: Create a lead nurturing drip system with as much personalization as possible. Many email clients make this an easy, built-in function.

Direct Mail

Is direct mail dead? Hardly. While direct mail can be more expensive than some other solutions, the return is greater.

According to the Direct Marketing Association, Direct mail is nearly seven times more effective than email, mobile, social media, internet display, and paid search—combined.

(Direct Marketing Association Response Rate Report 2015, DMA via PremierIMS)

Action: Develop mail pieces that can also function as prestige pieces as well to maximize your cost

Video

You’ve probably heard quite a bit about how video is the next tool for marketing. Video can be a powerful tool to reach consumers and give your prospects a clean, modern experience. Using short videos can enhance your website and keep prospects on your website.

For instance, according to the Merchant Marketing Group, consumers spend an extra two minutes on websites with video, versus sites that don’t.

Merchant Marketing Group

Action: Use short videos throughout your website, especially on your home page. While it can seem that producing high-quality video is difficult and time-intensive, there are many inexpensive options that give you acceptable quality.

For more about email marketing, direct mail, social media, mobile, website design and more in your practice, request your free guide now.

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Marketing Corner – Creating Your Elephants

Creating Your Elephants

When it comes to basic customer segmenting, there are often two schools of thought: rank your prospects and clients based on value or provide total parity with your level of service. While it’s a nice ideal to treat every consumer with above and beyond care, the economy of time and resources—especially in financial services—makes this a difficult goal. So with one model, you may be ignoring consumers that may become valuable so you can target and service your elephants, those few big clients that can make your business grow at an accelerated rate. With the other model, you may spend more time with mid-value consumers that keep your practice afloat, while missing the opportunity to go after those elephants.

elephatn

What we suggest is neither model–or actually both. Consider a hybrid platform that uses technology, proper targeting, and client fostering that allows you to focus on the elephants while growing mid-value prospects and clients into high value ones.

Here are four ways to do this:

Clearly Define A Ranking System

Obviously you want to work with the best people possible, the elephants, the whales, or whatever large animal you want to use to describe high-value clients. But what does “high value” actually mean? This can mean any number of things for advisors across the country. In a basic ranking system, you might assign your clients and prospects by letter grades–A, B, C, D, and so forth. Focusing only on A and B consumers may ignore those C level (or even D level) prospects that could evolve, through your expertise, into A’s and B’s. But again, you have that issue of what an A or B client is for you. Is it investable assets? Net worth? Time span left for the next life event (and sales opportunity)? It could be all of these. Identify for your practice what these ideal clients and prospects are and consider things other than assets as a ranking signal. Referrals, community status, and industry placement, can easily make a B-MINUS/C-PLUS prospect or client into an A-level star of your book.

Clearly Define Service Levels

Ranking consumers and aligning service levels may feel a little uncomfortable, since you ideally want to provide the best service to every person, every time. Having service blindspots or treating any potential client poorly can dramatically affect your reputation in a largely reputation-driven business. So make sure that the baseline attention you can provide to all clients is substantial. Then consider what supplemental services or attention you provide to your best clients/prospects. Many advisors already do this, without a clearly defined system. Say an A-plus client calls in, needing tax documents or advice within an hour. You or your staff will probably address this client’s needs right away, even if it means sacrificing time or energy. If say a mid-value client needs the same thing, you will likely have them follow your normal appointment making process, trying to see them as soon possible, sure, but not with the same urgency as the A-Plus client. Define who your top clients/prospects are and what service levels they receive. This will make the navigation between consumer types smoother and help your support staff be on the same page.

Use Technology To Maximize/Optimize Your Time, Touches, and Efforts

photo-1431605695381-f4a9c3cdd150

It’s no secret that we are a big proponent of using drip systems and automated campaigns to reach prospects and maintain good relationships with top clients. Lead nurturing (and client nurturing) is made all the easier with digital solutions like email marketing. Many email services make this process user-friendly and accessible to producers of all stripes. All of your marketing efforts should match the ideal target you’re chasing (i.e. market segmentation) and email is no different. But what gives something like email marketing and using emails for lead nurturing an advantage is the ease in which you can segment, build lists, and track results. So while you are angling after the big fish, you able to the keep a hand on your mid-value clients or unconverted leads.

Create The Elephants

This gets into the difference between your top ideal clients and your bread and butter clients—what is separating a C ranking client from becoming a top client? And is this something you can change or wait out? Odds are, with your dutiful care and effective baseline service, a low-ranking client will naturally graduate upwards. This is why it’s important to understand the basic value proposition you provide at a minimum. You can also catalyze the process by addressing the unique challenges these types of clients face. In essence, doing what you do with a client anyway, but grooming them for the long game, so that as your solutions pay off for them, they keep coming back to you.

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Marketing Corner – Marketing to Millennials

Marketing to Millennials: What Advisors Should Know

*This post is the second part of our two-part series, discussing Generation X and Millennials. Read the first part here.

Millennials, Millennials, Millennials. Are you tired of hearing about Millennials yet?

Millennials, it seems, are subject to an endless amount of attention and discussion, from snarky thinkpieces to research attempting to explain this generation. Some of the online discourse surrounding Millennials can come across as dismissive or sociological. While Millennials do have different values than previous generations and are saddled with student debt (an average of $27,000 according to Pew) they are still a target market worthy of effort and attention for financial advisors.

The Millennial Generation is generally considered to consist of individuals born between 1980 and 2000, although many organizations may use other ranges (Gen-We.com suggests a starting point of 1978). What this means, however, is that this generation came of age just as the modern Internet developed and entered the job market just as the Great Recession ravaged the economy. In terms of population, Millennials are the largest generation. Millennials are also the most ethnically diverse and educated generation. In 2015 this generation surpassed Gen-Xers as the largest generation in the American workforce.

So what do Millennials think about retirement?

Well, one study found that this generation grossly underestimates the annual cost of retirement and that a significant amount is banking on winning the lottery (15%) or being gifted money (11%) for their retirement resources. So, there’s that.

More than half of Millennials expect Social Security to be exhausted by the time they retire and nearly forty percent expect reduced benefits, according to the Pew Research Center. In a recent Facebook Insights study of affluent Millennials, 46% indicated financial success as being debt free, while only 13% considered being able to retire as the primary indicator of financial success.

Does this mean that retirement isn’t on the minds of Millennials? Well, not exactly. It indicates that short-term obstacles and the sting of a poor economy have shaped their priorities. Millennials delay typical signposts of success like home ownership and marriage out of generational attitude, yes, but also out of practicality.

However, Millennial participation in 401(k)s has grown in recent years, which may indicate a growing concern for retirement. And this generation has actually outpaced other generations with regards to retirement saving, showing the greatest percentage increase (although Gen-X and Boomers still beat Millennials on cut of salary apportioned for retirement). Millennials also start saving earlier than when Gen-Xers or Boomers did.

In short we have a generation that:

  • Is facing reduced earning power.
  • Entered the job market just as the economy was crashing.
  • May have significant debt.
  • For reasons both cultural and practical, delay marriage and home ownership.
  • The largest generation ever in American history.
  • Currently represents the largest workforce.
  • Is risk adverse and conservative with assets

Why You Should Be Prepared For Millennial Clients Right Now

There are many reasons why Millennials represent opportunity for advisors.

Along With Gen-Xers, Millennials are set to inherit the largest transfer of wealth ever, some $30 trillion over the next 30 years. Being unprepared for this generational shift will cause you to lose out significant amounts of money.

According to Investment News, 66% percent of children fire their parent’s advisor upon receiving inheritance. This speaks to the value of maintaining good relationships with multiple generations of a family.

While Millennials face challenges to their earning power, things are improving. In five-to-ten years, many Millennials will be cresting and will be focused on retirement planning more than they already are.

While affluent Gen-Xers have more net worth, affluent Millennials have more assets.

Compared to Boomers, Millennials are twice as likely to discuss saving, retirement planning, and investing with family and friends.

According to Nielson, Millennials have the least ownership of life insurance, when compared to other generations. However, Upscale Millennial (those more established and with more assets) track closely with life insurance ownership for other generations.

Because retirement is so far off for Millennials, they will benefit most from appropriate planning strategies (compared to Gen-Xers who might have 10-15 years left of earning power and Boomers/Pre-retirees that are nearing their ideal retirement age).

How To Reach Millennials

Like their Gen-Xer parents, Millennials are generally suspicious of financial advisors and value doing things themselves. While some segments of the Millennial Generation are prepped for retirement planning, many see it as a far off project. This can derail advisors who woo Millennials with traditional strategies. What some have suggested is focusing less on the idea of “retirement planning” and more on the idea of “financial independence.” This shift in philosophy could address the way Millennials approach finances, especially with the impediment of debt. This shift makes it clear that retirement planning is less about getting to an end point, but rather a continuous strategy that follows Millennials through the remaining phases of their life, especially with Millennials not confident they will be able retire when they would like too, or at all.

Even though this is the generation that grew up with digital integration and gave birth to social media, Millennials value in-person appointments. According to a recent study by the Insured Retirement Institute and The Center for Generational Kinetics, the majority of Millennials (87% of those surveyed) said it was important for advisors with meet with them in person.

Other factors for working with a financial advisor include fee transparency and authority (i.e. highly rated).

The study also found that while Generation Y recognizes the importance of retirement planning and the value of being walked through every step of the retirement process, they are not seeking out financial planners.

Marketing and Media

According to a study by Fractl and BuzzStream, the top five most consumed content types for Millennials are, in order:

  • Blogs
  • Images
  • Comments
  • eBooks
  • Audiobooks

The majority of Millennial use mobile devices to access content.

Millennials are more confortable sharing personal information with online businesses, when compared to older generations. This is especially true regarding relevant, targeted advertising and coupons/deals for local businesses.

Direct mail is still useful at reaching younger audiences. According to the 2015 DMA Statistical Factbook (citing the USPS Household Diary Study) 9.0% of individuals aged 25-34 are likely to respond to a direct mail piece. Those aged 22-24 are 8.2% likely to respond to a mail piece. While these stats show a slight decrease from the previous year, one demographic, those aged18-21, had a significant increase, from 4.1% in 2012 to 12.4% in 2013.

–DMA Statistical Factbook via eleventygroup

According to the Pew Research Center, 89% of individuals aged 18-29 use social media. 82% of those aged 30-49 use social media.

Across all demographics, Facebook is the most popular social network.

No surprise, but 86% of Millennials own a smartphone.

YouTube is valuable source for Millennials. According to Google, 67% of Millennials say they can find a YouTube video for any subject they want to learn about.

According to a survey by web video company Animoto:

  • 50% of Millennials will read an email from a company if it has video.
  • 67% of Millennials prefer a company video, versus a newsletter.
  • 4 out of 5 Millennials find video useful when making purchasing decisions.

Basic Marketing Suggestions:

While it is certainly true that members of Generation Y incorporate the digital world into their daily lives, they still value in-person appointments and direct mail. It’s important that you build authority with your branding and don’t provide empty content that will be easily dismissed, even when read. To reach this demographic (and subsets of other generations) you must absolutely have a digital strategy, but this does not mean forgoing the essential value proposition you provide. Rather, Millennials expect to find information about you and your company across multiple platforms and in multiple ways; email, social media, mobile, video, direct mail, and more. While this can seem overwhelming, the great thing is that many forms of digital marketing are cost-effective and can be leveraged across multiple platforms or integrated into other marketing strategies.

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Marketing Corner – February 10th, 2016

Marketing to Generation X: What Advisors Should Know

There will be many dramatic demographic shifts over the next decade. In fact, we’ve already seen huge shifts in population vectors over the last few years, with a growing (and increasingly relevant) Millennial population, squeezed Gen-Xers, and a large Boomer/Senior market facing challenges other retirees never had to face.

Reaching each segment of the population will require understanding and skill. You may only focus on Boomer/Seniors for retirement planning services; however in ten years you will be dealing with digitally savvy Gen-Xers. You may feel that Millennials aren’t worth the chase, but in short time they will present a huge opportunity.

A truly successful agent or advisor will need to be able to sashay between the generations, which means having a good grasp of the issues each segment faces and marketing in a manner that best reaches them. We’ve already discussed in detail what will impact boomers in the next year. In this two-part series we’ll discuss what Gen-Xers are Millennials are facing, and how advisors can reach them. Part I, Generation X, is below.

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Generation X is generally considered to be individuals born between 1965 and 1981, although other demarcations may be used. What that means, however, is that some Gen-Xers are turning 50. Yes, the generation that saw the rise of MTV, hip-hop, and heavy metal, is now AARP eligible.

So how do Gen-Xers feel about retirement? Generally, they are pessimistic. Gen-Xers were the hardest hit by the Great Recession, losing nearly half of their wealth. They have less money saved for retirement, and the amounts they do have is not enough. Gen-Xers have a high lack of confidence when it comes to retirement, with 42% of respondents in an Insured Retirement Institute survey stating they feel they won’t have enough retirement funds to live comfortably.

Gen-Xers are also getting squeezed by Boomers and Millennials, both of which are larger in size than their generation. In many ways, the longer life expectancy of their parent’s generation is hurting Generation X. Throw in their adult Millennial children with limited earning power, and you can see how the former x-treme generation is facing a great deal of financial pressure.

This is not to say that Gen-Xers don’t have assets or good retirement planning instincts. A recent PNC survey found indications that many Gen-Xers have overcome some of the challenges associated with the Great Recession, even if they still express fears of outliving their money in retirement. However, other things like consumer debt and risk aversion continue to drag on many Gen-Xers’ ability to build a robust retirement portfolio. Time horizon may also be a factor in Gen-Xers retirement thinking; according to the PNC survey, this generation expects to retire at the average age of 63.6, more than two years earlier than Boomers.

In short we have a generation that:

  • is squeezed by other generations
  • took a critical hit just as they were reaching their peak earning power
  • may have significant consumer debt
  • may have more familial obligations
  • may have unrealistic time horizons for retirement
  • is worried about outliving their money
  • is taking steps to save for retirement
  • has some investable assets

How to Reach Gen Xers

Although Gen-Xers face challenges from many financial angles, they still have time to make up for retirement saving deficits. With a mix of assets and earning power, it is possible for a troubled Gen-Xer to have a retirement plan that, while perhaps not wholly ideal, is robust.

One problem is that they may be too suspicious of financial advisors. A 2014 report from the Insured Retirement Institute found that 77% of Gen-Xers are not consulting with a financial advisor. Yet the same report found that only a third of Gen-Xers rate themselves as highly knowledgeable on financial matters.

Reaching Generation X

According to the Allianz Generations Apart Study, 64% of Gen-Xers would consult with a financial professional “who’s empathetic and nonjudgmental.” The same study suggests that there are some contradictory feelings about retirement within Generation X: 72% are unable to pin down their retirement expenses, while 55% envision retirement as being relaxed and easy. So there is a real need for practical solutions, yet Gen-Xers are clouded by their own confusing ideas of retirement.

Vanderbilt suggests being transparent and straightforward with Gen-Xers, which is certainly good advice for any business, but especially important with this segment of the population. The more studies you read about Generation X and their financial concerns, the more you get a sense of a group a people gun-shy and battered by the economic storms they’ve had to weather. It makes sense that this generation would be confused and protective of their money, even at the detriment to their asset building potential.

Marketing and Media

While Gen-Xers are very active online, their usage, segmented by digital platforms and devices, often falls between Millennials and Boomers.

While Gen-Xers use many different devices to access information, they prefer laptops for “high-attention/high complexity” tasks.

According to a study by Fractl and BuzzStream, the top five most consumed content types for Generation X are in order:

  • Blog Articles
  • Images
  • Comments
  • eBooks
  • Case Studies

While the most favored type of content for all generations is entertainment, when compared to the Boomers and Millennials, Generation X is the segment that most prefers content on personal finance.

Generation X uses Facebook and Twitter more to share content, when compared with other platforms, according to the study by Fractl and BuzzStream.

Smart Hustle suggests avoiding hard sales pitches and a blended marketing (traditional and digital) approach when trying to reach Generation X.

According to the DMA Statistical Fact Book, as summarized by eleventy group:

  • 8% of heads of households age 35-44 respond to direct mail
  • 1% of those in the 45-54 age group respond (most likely to respond)

Basic suggestions:

Since Gen Xers are skeptical of financial advisors, you should consider a drip campaign to successfully bring a lead to appointment or conversion. Provide clear solutions with no hard sales pitches. Create blogs, eBooks, and case studies that speak to Generation X concerns. While this generation is engages digitally, it is also receptive to direct mail, so do ignore direct mail as a marketing platform.

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It’s important to remember that within every population segment, there will be variation. Not every marketing approach will work, which is why it’s crucial to have an adaptive marketing strategy, even with target market segments. However, Gen-Xers, broadly speaking, are very concerned about their retirement prospects. They need financial advisors, whether they know it or not.
Stay Tuned For Part II: Millennials.

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Marketing Corner – February 5th, 2016

25 Marketing Stats Every Financial Advisor Needs To Know

Financial advisors often state that marketing and prospecting are the main challenges they face in their practice. This is certainly understandable; marketing is a rapidly evolving process and reaching consumers can be difficult. However, it is possible to position yourself for success in our digitally-driven world. The important thing to remember is that there is not one process that will give you the edge, but rather a collection of approaches that work in concert with each other. That said, here are 25 important marketing stats you need to know.

Email

Organizations using email to nurture leads result in 50% sales-ready prospects.
Forrester Research via Hubspot

These nurtured leads see a 20% increase in sales opportunities when compared to non-nurtured prospects.
Hubspot

Personalized messages are more effective than non-personalized messages. According to an Experian study, personalized messages received 29% higher open rates and 41% more unique clicks.
Experian

According to Campaign Monitor, personalized subject lines saw a 26% increase in open rates.
Campaign Monitor

Email is more effective for client acquisition than social media. McKinsey found that it was almost 40 times more effective than Twitter and Facebook combined.
McKinsey

 

Main Takeaway: Advisors should be utilizing email as a marketing tool and as a way to nurture leads passing through their marketing funnel. The more personalized you are, the better your open and click-through rates will be.

Direct Mail

Direct mail is nearly seven times more effective than email, mobile, social media, internet display, and paid search—combined. This is according the Direct Marketing Association Response Rate Report 2015.
DMA via PremierIMS

Over forty percent of people that receive direct mail items read or scan them.
DMA Statistical Fact Book via eleventy marketing group

A survey conducted by DMA found that seventy-nine percent of consumers would act on direct mail immediately versus 45% who said they would act on email immediately.
DMA via The Drum

A neurological study conducted by Temple University, and sponsored by the Postal Service Inspector General’s Office, found that:

  • While digital ads draw attention quicker, direct mail has more review time
  • Direct mail is more easily remembered than digital ads
  • Direct mail elicits more of an “emotional reaction” than digital ads

DM News

 

Main Takeaway: Even in a digital driven marketplace, direct mail is still a very effective marketing platform.

Mobile

70% of mobile searches result in website action with an hour
IAcquire

A little over 80% of consumers surveyed stated they would delete a mobile email if it didn’t render properly.
Blue Hornet

65% of all email is opened on a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet.
Venture Beat

Almost half of consumers will abandon a website if it renders poorly on a mobile device.
The Social Media Hat

40% of mobile searches are focused on local services
Think With Google

 

Main Takeaway: Consumers increasingly use their mobile devices to access the internet and interact with pieces of marketing. Your website and your emails should be designed for the mobile experience.

Video

Consumers spend an extra two minutes on websites with video, versus sites that don’t
Merchant Marketing Group

More than half of all mobile traffic is online video
Merchant Marketing Group

Video on landing pages leads to an increase in conversion, in one test case as much as 86% conversion.
EyeView

Main Takeaway: Video can be a powerful way to enhance your website and marketing materials.

Website

A one second delay in loading time can reduce conversions by 7%
Kissmetrics

A loading time of more than three seconds causes 40% of shoppers to abandon the website.
Kissmetrics

Not really a stat, but very important. In April of 2015, Google began using mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal in search results. This means if your website does not smoothly translate to mobile, it may not rank higher in search results when a consumer searches from a mobile device.

Main Takeaway: Make sure your website loads quickly and incorporates responsive design.

Social Media

Social media is now an important research tool for investors. According to a report from LinkedIn and Cogent Research, 5 million investors with assets $100,000 or more use social media to investigate their financial decisions.

LinkedIn/Cogent ResearchSocial Media’s Growing In­fluence Among High Net Worth Investors”

Most high-net-worth investors use social media (over 90%).

LinkedIn/Cogent Research

Social Media’s Growing Infl­uence Among High Net Worth Investors”

Over 60% of advisors who used LinkedIn for prospecting acquired new clients.
LinkedIn and FTI Consulting

According to a recent American Century Investments report, about 43% financial professionals identify a positive ROI to their social media use.
American Century Investments

The same ACI report found that LinkedIn helped advisors surveyed by:

  • Enhancing profile with clients (48%)
  • Enhancing business knowledge (28%)
  • Improving on referrals (28%)
  • Sharing insights with clients/prospects (24%)American Century Investments 

A recent Putnam survey of over 800 advisors, found that 79% had found new clients via various social media.
Putnam Investments

Main takeaway: Social media, especially LinkedIn, can be extremely useful to connect with new clients. These clients include high-net-worth individuals and others many advisors would identify as their target market.

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Marketing Corner – Go Deep on Ideal Retirement

Go Deep on Ideal Retirement

“What does your ideal retirement look like?”

This is an important question, often posed by advisors and agents to potential clients during an initial appointment. The question helps to gauge what matters most in retirement for the consumer and to plot financial planning strategies. However, consumers likely offer up general answers (i.e. “I’d like to travel, or I want to spend more time with family”), which the advisor uses to roughly outline a plan. The truth is that many consumers have yet to fully consider what retirement means for them and also that advisors don’t spend enough time going deeper into retirement specifics.

Deeper probing can help prospects identify their retirement goals and target the solutions needed to the achieve them. For the advisor it helps build rapport and makes you seem more empathetic. More importantly, once you have delved deep into retirement lifestyle specifics, consumers connect strongly with you and your expertise. They now have a more tangible picture of what retirement means and have more “buy in” to your solutions. You may identify other planning needs.

This is somewhat related to the behavioral concept of mental accounting. This particular bias describes how individuals attach irrational value to money (or accounts) based on it’s origination or intended purpose. So a $10 windfall from a lotto scratcher is likely seen as “free money” to use on entertainment, even if you owe a friend $20. Or money saved for a vacation may get treated differently than other sources of income, even when it comes covering unexpected bills. Financial planning can work the same way and turn mental accounting into a positive that ultimately helps the prospect actualize their retirement goals. Going deep in ideal retirement discussions allows consumers to attach more value to a hypothetical source of funds that will become real with your expert solutions.

So how do you go deep? Here are some questions that help you probe further.

The prospect wants to travel more-

  • “Do you know where you wish to travel once you are retired?”
  • “How much will your travel cost? How have you saved for this retirement goal?”
  • “Will there be a central base for your travels?”
  • “How often will you travel?”

The prospect wants to spend more time with family-

  • “Will you move to be closer with family?”
  • “Will someone move to be closer to you?”
  • “Do you plan on helping family members financially, for instance helping to pay education for a child or grandchild?”

The prospect wants to start a new business-

  • “Is this business designed to be a main source of income, or a passion you will follow?”
  • “How have you saved for this retirement goal? How much will it cost to establish your new business venture?”
  • “Will you need further education to pursue this goal?”
  • “If this business is unsuccessful, will you be able to maintain acceptable retirement income?”

The prospect wants to focus more on hobbies, leisure, or passions-

  • “What types of hobbies do you plan focusing on?”
  • “What kinds of costs are associated with these hobbies?”
  • “What types of leisure activities will you engage in during your retirement?”
  • “Do you plan on purchasing a recreation vehicle or boat to pursue your interests?”
  • “Will you be spending time volunteering or performing charity work?”
  • “Will you need extra sources of income for your volunteer or charity work?”

Other questions:

  • “Will you downsize to a smaller house?”
  • “Are you thinking about moving to a new place?”
  • “What’s still left on your bucket list?”
  • “Will a spouse be dependent on your resources?”
  • “Will you retire much earlier than your spouse?”

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