Marketing Corner – January 14th, 2015

Supercharge Your Leads!

According to Aberdeen, it can take an average of 10 “touches” to draw a lead through your marketing funnel before a sale occurs. Although the actual amount of marketing touches will vary across industries and target markets, it’s generally true that the best leads take nurturing. Rarely do you snag a sale on the first go; rather it takes serial contact, sometimes months, even years.

What this means is that while playing the long game can pay off hugely, the first stages of contact are especially critical. Many advisors (wisely) have a drip marketing system in place, but how do you supercharge leads before they enter the drip? How do you make it more likely that a lead will convert (and convert early) in your pipeline?

This is where efficient lead nurturing comes in to play. There are many different ideas about what exactly lead nurturing is and various methods to perform it. For our purposes, lead nurturing is any serial contact with a prospect. Your methods can include emails, phone calls, direct mail, social media—really anything you already have in your tool kit to communicate with prospects. It’s the how that’s the secret to efficient nurturing and supercharging your leads.

What methods you use will be specific to you and your target market. You likely will use a variety of methods as you communicate with a prospect, especially if you identify early on they are a type of client you want to work with. That said, this guide is going to focus on phone and email, since that’s what you will use most when you begin to talk with a prospect. We’ve also found, through the advisors we work with, that thirty days is a good timeframe for actively nurturing leads before placing them in a more passive drip campaign. It’s in this thirty day period you should learn enough about your prospect to place them on a targeted track, and they should be able to learn enough about you and your value proposition.

Here’s the how:

Follow Up As Soon As Possible, Be Persistent
Whenever you identify a lead, don’t waste anytime in reaching out to them. Multiple marketing studies have confirmed that the likelihood of contacting a prospect, and their value as a lead, decreases significantly over time. Even a lapse of a few hours can dramatically make connecting with the lead more difficult.

However, the chance of making contact rises with every attempt. One study found that the chance of contact rose to 90% by the sixth call attempt.


Be Succinct and Clear
Unless follow-up emails warrant lengthy explanations, be as succinct and clear as possible, while still having a friendly, professional tone. The financial world can be overwhelming to those without their feet in it, so avoid unnecessary jargon and overexplanation. This does not mean, however, you shouldn’t try to educate—you absolutely should—just be aware of the limitations that come with engaging with someone who may not be familiar with financial concepts through email.

Probe
It sounds simple enough, but it can’t be overstated. Use probing skills to find out the specific needs or inquiry of the prospect. Once a prospect has explained their situation and identified that they aren’t ready to buy, many advisors focus their probing on reasons why the client isn’t ready to purchase. Certainly hesitations and concerns need to be addressed, but asking a lead “what’s preventing you from purchasing today” only goes so far and came across as aggressive.

Balance this question with further probing into the prospect’s specific situation. Use soft skills to build rapport and take the edge off pointed pitches. If you have good interactions and demonstrate you care, the lead will be receptive to further marketing touches.

Personalize
While you should take every effort to personalize every piece of communication with a lead (and certain email systems make this possible to do on drip emails), having an active hand and high personal touch in initial interactions can go a long way to fostering a good relationship and increasing the likelihood of purchase at some point. Lead nurturing emails can get 4-10 times the response rate as compared to regular email blasts. According to Aberdeen, personalized emails increase conversion rates by 10% and click through rates by 14%.


Draw on Relevant Content and Articles
As you go back and forth with a lead, make sure to take note of the areas that concern them. This could be held in your CRM or some other detailed note taking process. When you come across articles that speak to the concerns of your prospect, share them. Better yet, you could create content based on your conversation and interactions. Say a prospect is concerned with Social Security changes—if you had some pieces ready to go, plus a current news article that delves into this topic, plus maybe an infographic, you would a have a bundled package that not only educates them on their concerns, but demonstrates your expertise and specific interest with the prospect.

Don’t Stop Nurturing a Lead
In our marketing funnel framework, we’ve outlined that the first thirty days are a critical period to engage with a lead. This is when you apply your most direct, active, and personal marketing touches with the aim to convert the prospect or leave them with a good impression by the time you drop them into your passive drip marketing process. This structure allows you to provide the most personal marketing touches when it matters most.

However, just because a lead is in your drip funnel, doesn’t mean that you can’t (or shouldn’t) make more direct marketing touches every now and then. Touch base with phone calls, issue targeted offers, and send personalized emails. This will allow you to “rake the coals,” so to speak, and potentially leverage a prospect that is further down your marketing pipeline.

**Need help with Supercharging Your Leads? Legacy Financial Partners has created a helpful sales guide that includes this article, email templates, and a marketing funnel illustration. Submit your information for your free guide.

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Marketing Corner – January 7th, 2016

Jump Start the New Year

After an eventful 2015, the New Year is finally here. While you reflect on how you did last year and consider what 2016 holds, you may be searching for new strategies for growth. Certainly the beginning of the new year is a good time to reevaluate your business and set goals. We’ve already discussed how to properly evaluate your year, what things will affect boomers and advisors in 2016, and what marketing platforms you should consider this year. Long story short, there are many changes you should be aware of that will impact your business and your potential clients.

If you are looking to try new things this year (and why shouldn’t you be) Legacy Financial Partners has created a 16 Tips for 2016 sales guide that can help you jump start 2016. This exclusive guide provides quick and handy tips to achieving your growth objectives. Click here to download.

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Marketing Corner – December 22nd, 2015

Four Things That Will Impact Financial Advisors in 2016

Across the board, 2015 has been an especially eventful year. This is certainly true for the financial world, with many regulatory changes, legislative initiatives, and deeper signs of economic recovery. While we can’t say for sure the next year will be as eventful, we do know there are some things in 2016 that may affect the way financial advisors and agents do business. Here are four things that may impact you next year.

A-G 49

Although it sounds like a Star Wars droid, AG-49 actually stands for Actuarial Guideline XLIX. This a life insurance illustration regulation established by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). When the NAIC initially adopted illustration regulations in 1995, indexed universal life insurance had yet to really exist. So in the past half-decade, as IUL became a popular life insurance solution, the NAIC took steps to incorporate it into their regulations. This is where we get AG-49.

The purpose of these changes proposed by AG-49 is to make IUL illustrations more consistent and to ensure that consumers understand how IUL policies credit growth. The first phase of AG-49 was implemented in September of 2015. This changed the way the crediting elements of IUL policies can be illustrated, applying benchmark standards for illustrated scales and discipline current scales.

In March of 2016, phase two of AG-49 will roll out. The main change from this second part relates to how policy loans can be illustrated. In an illustration that includes a policy loan—often a huge selling point for cash value life insurance contracts—the difference between the loan rate and illustrated yield cannot exceed 100 basis points, or 1%. These changes may inhibit the flexibility you have when illustrating these products to your clients.

Dept. of Labor Fiduciary Standard

Despite attempts, legislators opposed to the Dept. of Labor’s new, controversial fiduciary standard rule failed to attach a repeal or defunding rider to the must-pass omnibus bill. This means that the rule is going to push forward, and with President Obama expressing his support for it, the rule will likely weather further opposition.

The main crux of the rule is to hold advisors and agents to a fiduciary standard, similar to the SEC standard. This means that agents will have to disclose compensation and attest to acting in the client’s best interest. While this is good in theory, it may have an impact on how advisors can sell, reduce compensation, and change the way insurance carriers transact business.

Updated Mortality Tables

Beginning in 2016 all annuity carriers will update their mortality rate tables to reflect current life expectancies. This can have an impact for the consumer and you. While insurance companies shore up their liability to meet growing minimums due to longevity, the consumer will see a decrease in lower projected lower monthly benefit payments on income riders.

Federal Interest Rate Increase

After a long period of speculation, anticipation, and worry, the Fed finally raised rates earlier this month. This is the first raise in nearly seven years; a quarter point increase from historic lows. While this small hike can be taken as a sign the economy is ready to shake off some of it’s wounds, the increase can have a wide-ranging impact across many sectors, including the banking and finance industry. And what’s more important than this specific increase, are the other raises that will be coming in the future. Some, like The Street’s James Langford, suggest that interest rates will increase quicker than many are anticipating in 2016.

rofessionalism, and friendliness. The more you see these as opportunities, rather than duties of running a modern business, the more value you will get out of them.

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Marketing Corner – December 16th, 2015

What Will Impact Boomers in 2016?

2016 Presents Many Challenges For Boomers, But Opportunities for Advisors

Most demographers consider the Boomer generation as being born between 1946 and 1964. Within this range, there is a wide variety of individuals. Those who came of age in the 1980s will certainly have a different range of experiences than those who came of age in the 1960s. But this generation is facing a shared general concern—longer life expectancies which imperil old modes of retirement planning. As an advisor, you probably already know this, but it’s important to keep in mind as you deal with this type of client. They may not know that they should be concerned or they may not know there are strategies that can help them.

Life expectancy for a 65-year-old American is three-to-four more years longer than the previous generation at the same age. This is a significant amount, and many can expect to live longer, which drains on retirement resources. This is especially true in a long-term care situation, where funds are depleted by a medical condition that a generation ago may have resulted in death. An Insured Retirement Institute survey, released in April of 2015, found that only 27% of boomers expressed confidence they will have enough money to last throughout retirement. The same survey found that only 6 out of 10 boomers had retirement money saved.

There are 10,000 people turning 65 everyday, a staggering number that is projected to maintain until 2030 or so. According to Pew Research, there are roughly 75 million boomers as of 2015. Although this number will naturally decrease as we approach the middle of the century, for the next thirty, thirty-five years, we have a huge swath of people that are facing a retirement crisis. Part of this may be because retiring at 65 may not make sense when life expectancy is extended by nearly a half-decade for today’s swath of boomers. Certainly many advisors will advocate delayed retirement and many boomers transition into retirement by working part-time. It is important to also consider that aging parents and adult children may burden many boomers, especially those born later in the range.

In addition to the background anxiety of securing retirement, boomers will likely be concerned with the following in 2016:

Social Security

There are two aspects of social security that are likely to worry boomers in 2016.

The first is that there will be no Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA). Not only is this going to impact boomers/seniors on a very fixed income, this will also affect some Medicare beneficiaries—about 30%–who will see an increase in their Part B premiums. Although a flat COLA and rise in Medicare premiums will most directly impact fixed income retirees, higher net worth clients may see the changes (or lack of changes) in the programs as turbulence. Either way, it’s a good door opener topic for advisors and agents in 2016.

The second aspect of social security that may trouble boomers is the loss of the file and suspend strategy, which ends May 1. This has been a key strategy of social security maximization, and seniors likely need a better sense of how it will impact their specific retirement plan, especially if they are pre-retirement. Again, for the advisor, this presents a good door opener.

Medicare

The 30% of Medicare beneficiaries who will see an increase in the Part B premiums includes those not receiving social security benefits, those that pay an additional income related premium (i.e. IRMAA), and new Part B beneficiaries. While the premium increase is not the 52 percent hike that Medicare Trustees Report predicted, the increase is a significant 16%, from $104.90 to $121.80. In addition to the raised premium, deductibles have increased.

Long-Term Care

A report released by the CDC in 2015 demonstrates the impact of living longer. While overall deaths are down for boomers (identified in the study as aged 55-64 years old), chronic conditions such as obesity, high cholesterol, and diabetes, have risen compared to the previous decade for the age group. These conditions may lead to other long-term care incidents and conditions. As such, long-term care may (and should) be a big concern for pre-retirees.

Market Exposure

Obviously, we can’t predict what the stock market will do, but given the inherent risk of investing and the last few years of volatility, we know that it can be unpredictable. Not only do boomers have a significant amount of their retirement funds allocated in stocks, as many as 35% are overexposed, according to a Fidelity study released in 2015. Ten percent of boomers aged 51-69 have their entire 401(k)s allocated in stocks.

What we do know is that there are things that have have far-reaching impacts, such as the fed rate, oil prices, and global market influence. Because boomers are either pre-retirement or in retirement, they have no time margin to make up any deficits. So 2016 is a good year to discuss asset reallocation and risk exposure.

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Marketing Corner – December 10th, 2015

Four Marketing Platforms That Will Be Relevant in 2016

There’s no question that the financial services industry has changed over the last few years and will continue to change. We are, after all, in the age of robo-advisors, financial social media, digital optimization, fin-tech, and increased regulation. This is all set against the backdrop of market volatility, shifting demographics, and a larger sense of uncertainty amongst consumers. So how are you supposed to effectively market to new clients when it seems like everything is changing in all directions?

The answer will not come from one whiz-bang marketing platform or activity, but rather a collection of techniques. Technology will certainly be a factor, but so will the core things that make a financial advisor especially helpful to a consumer. In the last few years we’ve seen content and social media marketing mature, with consumers seeking out brands that can impart humanness through their digital platforms. With that said, here are four marketing mediums that will be relevant in 2016.

Video

Over the years, we’ve seen the rise of video, from both a social angle and from a marketing angle, and in the realm where social and marketing intersect. In 2016, we expect video to continue it’s rise as a powerful marketing medium. According to ICE Portal, rich media, such as videos or interactive visual tools, “increase conversion rates by 64%.” In late 2014, eMarketer found the average engagement rate for rich media ads, including video, was 16.85%, vastly out-performing banners (2.14%) and mobile (1.62%). Obviously actual effectiveness may vary across industries, but the takeaway for advisors is that video is a tool that should not be ignored. Video can be implemented in (and enhance) almost all digital marketing activities. It can also be relatively inexpensive, whether it is produced in-house or through a vendor.

 Some tips:

  • Make your videos short, with the best production quality possible.
  • Use video on your homepage
  • Use video in your email marketing activities (not only can video increase open rates, it can help reduce email opt-outs)
  • Be personable and educate 

Video Conferencing and Personalized Video

Although the use of robo-advisors has increased, the reality is that nothing is going to replace the value a human expert can provide. Certainly there have been many articles written about robo-advisors and the potential threat they pose to agents and advisors, as well as to the consumer. Be aware, but don’t be scared. Instead embrace technology but retain the interpersonal essence that makes one-on-one advising so valuable to consumers. This is where we think video conferencing, as both a marketing tool and a service add, can enhance your value proposition while still engaging with an increasingly tech-savvy consumer base.

Some tips:

  • Many video conferencing tools allow you to share (and even sign) documents. This can be great as you onboard a new, busy client
  • Use video conferencing to engage with your client, with follow-ups, or even record a personalized video message

Direct Mail

Did we say direct mail? Direct mail? Yes. Even as society becomes so dependent on the digital realm, direct mail has shown, time and time again, to still be an effective marketing medium. Why? There are probably many reasons why. For one, direct mail has a tactile aspect to it—your message is something that is tangible and can be held. Another reason is that because so many companies are focused on digital, a direct mailer is going to stand out more. A recent Direct Marketing Association study found that direct mail is far more effective than digital channels with house-file response rates. So, while you absolutely want to have a great digital presence, don’t forget the power of direct mail in 2016.

Some tips: 

  • Direct mail costs can range from relatively inexpensive to costly, depending on the campaign. If budget is a concern you should be judicious with the direct mail option
  • Use digital targeting tools to dial-in your direct mail list
  • Make offers that your target market will actually want
  • Complement key digital marketing campaigns/offers with a direct mail component

Mobile/Tablet

We’ve already discussed a couple times the importance of mobile-friendliness when it comes to your digital collateral, but it’s worth bringing up again. In response to the growing usage of mobile platforms, Google made changes to it’s search algorithms earlier this year to prioritize mobile-friendly websites. With 60% of adults now using tablets or smartphones, over desktops, to get information about services or products, having a mobile-friendly version of your website will be crucial to staying in front of consumers over the next year. According to Social Media Today, nearly half of consumers “start mobile research with a search engine.” It’s not enough to be optimized on desktop anymore.

Your email content should likewise be optimized for mobile platforms, as mobile email opens have increased by 180% over the past three years. (Social Media Today).

Some tips:

  • Test the mobile-friendliness of your website with this Google tool
  • Create email campaigns with both desktop and mobile in mind

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As we suggested in the introduction, focusing on just one of these will likely not give you the return on investment you’d like to see. All four platforms discussed above can be integrated with each other and just about any other marketing/lead generation activities you perform.

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Marketing Corner – December 3rd, 2015

5 Best Practices for Client Appreciation Events

Client appreciation events are a great way to reward your clients and reinforce your relationship with them. However, advisors and agents often struggle with how to properly run an effective (and fun) event. Many will offer a dinner, maybe a wine and cheese party, or even a few rounds of golf. While a free nice dinner is certainly nothing to sneeze at, putting on a memorable event goes beyond these approaches. Here are five best practices for organizing a knockout client appreciation event.

Time it Right

Many advisors time their get-togethers to occur around the holidays. This certainly makes sense—people are in a cheery mood, you may have more time available at the end of the year for an event, plus it serves as a good transition from one year to the next. It fits nicely with the sense of thankfulness and generosity that come with the holidays. However you may want to consider looking at off-holiday opportunities. This is because the end of the year can be a very busy time for your clients, even if it’s a wind-down time for you. Holding your completely awesome client event in the second or third week of December will be as good as not doing it all for some of your clients, possibly the ones you wish to acknowledge the most. So look at times that fit for you and your clients. Perhaps early November, or even in the summertime. You may even want to reach out to your top clients and ask them what dates work for them.

Know Your Client Base

Having a good knowledge of your clients’ interests will go a long way to organizing an effective event. You may have clients that love golf and some that absolutely hate it. You may have clients with food allergies or some that don’t drink alcohol. Having a good understanding of who you are putting the event on for, not just why, will make the event all the more meaningful. This will also affect whether the event is more formal or more casual. If you have more of a formal client base, a tailgate BBQ may not resonate. If you have a more casual base, a black-tie event may be uncomfortable.

No Pitching, No Selling

An invitation to an event run by a financial advisor or agent often means there will be selling involved. Consumers know this. Your clients know this and in fact you may have earned their business from an event like a dinner-plate seminar. However, with your client appreciation event you should not sell at all, because this is supposed to be about your appreciation of your current relationship with your clients. Presentations about a hot new product line or attempts at upselling will spoil the spirit of your get-together. Leave the upselling for policy reviews and follow-ups.

Allow Friends and Family of Your Clients

While you should not seek out referrals with an appreciation event, encouraging your clients to bring friends or family members is a good way to put your face in front of potential new clients. A successful, fun event will leave an impression that can pay off down the road. This does not mean, however, that you should actively collect information from potential clients. Rather, have a few business cards handy and brand the event if possible.

Make Your Client Appreciation Event Unique

A good client appreciation event will have two main things: a meaningful activity and an opportunity for interaction. A big stuffy dinner will have neither, no matter how delicious the steak is. A wine and cheese party may give an opportunity for conversation, but will likely not be that memorable.

A golf outing may be very memorable, but will not give a chance to interact with all of your clients if you have a large book. So when you think about a client appreciation event, look for more unique opportunities that fit your clients. Obviously budget can have some effect on what you are able to do, but it’s important to realize that, 1) client appreciation events are investments and 2) there are many relatively inexpensive unique solutions. You may look at holding your event on a rented yacht, as one of our advisors did. You may look at a tailgate BBQ event, if it’s appropriate for your clients.

If budget allows, you could even look at renting a skybox for sporting event in your area. Even something as simple as picnic can be memorable if it is tied to something else. The point is, to really show your sincere appreciation of your clients, look for events that are different than what they are used to.

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Marketing Corner – November 19th, 2015

Evaluate Your Year

At the end of the calendar year, many advisors find themselves thinking about how well they did during the year and what they can do better in the next. However, advisors and agents often evaluate their year from one single metric: production. It’s the only thing that matters right?

While production can be an indicator of success, it is not the only metric that matters. Production is in many ways is like a baseball player’s batting average. Many students of baseball and statistics will challenge batting average, and the way it is calculated, as flawed, not revealing enough about the true strengths of the player. It tells part of the story, but not the whole thing.

Assuming production does impart the whole story of your year in business can leave you vulnerable to blindspots and missed opportunities for more sustained growth. Digging deeper can not only help you more accurately evaluate the year, it can help you build a better marketing strategy for the next year. Here are four ways to dig deep and evaluate the year.

Examine Your ROI of Marketing Activities

You may have done bang-up production over the year, but how much did it cost you to hit those numbers?

Look at the past year’s marketing activities and see if you can directly tie them to specific cases.

Obviously marketing is a little more complex and may not always offer a direct correlation to a case. You may conduct certain marketing actions purely for the sake of brand awareness and these are less likely to receive a direct return on investment. However, think about the quantifiable aspects of the past year’s marketing to get a sense of what’s paying off.

There’s a huge difference between clearing a million in production from a $20,000 marketing budget than there is clearing a million from a $500,000 budget.

Examine Your Target Market

If examining your marketing activities gives you an idea how your production came to you, looking at your target market will tell you who it came from. This is important because it can help redirect your marketing activities or even open you to new markets. Did the majority of your production come from your ideal target market or was it a range of demographics?

Most advisors will have a certain client profile they target. Some may specialize with pre-retiree boomers. So if you target pre-retirees, but saw more business from younger clients, you’ll want to rethink how you are marketing, maybe to readjust to your preferred target market, or to focus more on the new client base.

Related to this, you should also examine how much of your business came from existing clients and how much came from new clients. And from your new clients, how much of them were referrals and how many were from your marketing efforts.

Examine Your Consistency Quotient

Just by being in the game, you might hit a fluke homer or even a grand-slam. (Sorry, but not really for all the baseball metaphors). Landing big cases with high production is certainly a goal for most financial advisors—who wouldn’t want to spend their career shaping high-value cases that pay off big every time? Unfortunately not every case will be as big as you like. (Taking on smaller, or more run-of-the-mill, cases may pay off down road, especially if the client becomes a lifetime customer). Just as you wouldn’t want to judge your performance based on the very small cases that yielded slim comp, you shouldn’t judge how well you did based on your big cases (unless, of course, you kept hitting it out of the park). To get a better appreciation for how well you did, isolate the outliers and look at the bulk of the past year’s cases. The areas where you are consistent and see consistent growth are going to be better signals of your success than a few big cases as you move into the next year.

Examine How Well You Achieved Your Business Plans

What were your goals at the beginning of the year? How many did you achieve or how close were you to achieving them? What prevented you from doing so?

In talking with financial advisors and agents, we find that many don’t have a set new-year business plan, and if they do, it’s often simply doing more production. As we’ve discussed before, having a specific set of goals, versus a vague direction, is going to be better for the mid-term and long-term sustainability of your practice. This is because a set of specific, reasonably achievable goals, gives you basic metrics to measure. This helps you to understand why you achieve these goals, and why you perhaps fell short on some of them.

If your goal is only to do more production, then what constitutes more? If you have a specific number, say, hitting your first million-dollar year, what will you sacrifice or overlook to achieve this? How much did it cost you to hit a million? What other opportunities did you overlook? The point is the story of your year in business is not just your production or revenue; it comes down to who your clients were, how they found you, how effective your marketing was, the consistency of your cases, and how you measured up to your business plans.

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Marketing Corner – 11/09/15

Finish The Year Strong

Well here we are in the last two months of the year. For some financial advisors, this is a time to wind down and set up for the next year. Some may have a mad dash to close as much business as they can through the month of November and ease off in December. However, there are several strategies that advisors and agents can use to make the most of the end of the year and finish strong.

Holiday Marketing

One of the main reasons advisors ease off toward the end of the year is because the period is loaded with holidays. This means that prospects and clients are likely focused on family and travel, rather than their big picture financial concerns. Advisors themselves may enjoy the ability to comfortably wind down, spend time with family, and reset for the new year. But this period presents several opportunities for marketing.

Now, you may know that a holiday—especially a big one like Christmas—is a great reason to touch base with you clients and prospects. Generally advisors will issue Christmas greeting cards to their existing clients and perhaps even to targeted prospects. It’s a nice way to keep your name in front of consumers and to show your current book of clients how much you appreciate them.

However, overlooked is Thanksgiving. This is arguably as relevant of a holiday as Christmas and presents another great opportunity to reach out to your target market. Plus, since not many advisors use Thanksgiving for holiday marketing, you will have a better shot of having your message stand out.

So what kinds of marketing should you do?

You may elect to do a simple holiday greeting card or you could incorporate the holiday into a marketing push around a specific program or service. (“Be Thankful for Lifetime Protection and Accessible Cash Value with our Life Insurance Solutions”). However you do it, be sincere, respectful, and professional with your holiday marketing.

Employ Pull Marketing

Perhaps you draw a lot of your business from seminars and presentations throughout the year. Many of the advisors and agents we work with run successful seminar programs. In our digitally driven world, seminars can still be very effective. However, at the end of the year, this style of marketing can be challenging. Since the last two months are busy for everyone, you might not see your usual attendance numbers and end up spending much time and effort on busted seminar presentations.

Here is where digital pull marketing solutions can work to draw consumers to you and help make up lost opportunities. Pull marketing generally refers to non-intrusive methods that work to draw consumers who have an interest in your services. This often includes SEO (search engine optimization), PPC (pay-per-click campaigns) and other digitals means of marketing. While a good marketing plan is going to incorporate many different platforms and methods, focusing on pull marketing can help overcome the challenges at the end of the year with push marketing. While pull marketing may not bring the same number of leads as a good seminar, it is not as time-involved and relatively inexpensive.

Use End of Year Tax Concerns to Target New Business

Toward the end of the year, consumers–especially high-earners and business owners–may have specific concerns about their tax liabilities. Some may be actively looking for ways to reduce their overall tax bill and some may be unaware of solutions for minimization. November and December present last chances to make choices that will have a positive impact for the year come tax time. These opportunities will vary depending on the consumer’s unique situation, but they are opportunities nonetheless. Beyond looking at deductions and credits, many of these beneficial tax arrangements may involve financial products like life insurance, annuities, and retirement accounts.

Incorporate Programs That Use Real-Time Leads

To squeeze the most out of the end of the year, you may want to consider using a real-time lead generation program to boost your production opportunities. Legacy Financial Partners currently has a new enhanced real-time lead program available to our clients. Like pull marketing, real-time lead programs deal with consumers who have shown an interest in relevant topics and positions them to you. However, in the case of real-time lead generation, these consumers may be vetted, qualified, or further enhanced through an intermediate specialist lead-gen affiliate.

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Marketing Corner – October 28th, 2015

Four Ways To Improve Your Digital Presence

With so much focus on in-person appointments, financial advisors and agents often treat their digital lives as an afterthought. This makes sense to a degree—even with “robo-advisors” and mouse-click policy shopping, nothing is going to replace the service an advisor can provide in person.

However, your digital presence matters, even if it simply acts to funnel leads to in-person appointments. Since consumers will research you online, your digital presence now serves as a first impression. How you run your website will also factor into your ranking on search engines and online directories. So with that in mind, here are five was to juice up your digital presence.

Brand

It’s important to treat your website and web collateral as more than a digital business card. Consumers should be able to get a sense of who you are and why you are uniquely qualified to serve them from your web platforms. One thing that will help you stick in the minds of consumers is good digital branding.

Now, in today’s digital environment, everything—from social networks, to your website, to your content—is branding. However, we are specifically talking about branding in a traditional sense–design, layout, and images.

If your website looks and “feels” outdated, consumers are less likely to have confidence in your services. When was the last time you updated your website’s branding? Is your logo outdated? Are photos low-quality or low-resolution. Does your website function the way a modern site should?

A simple, and often inexpensive, way to improve your digital presence is to invest in re-branding and digital infrastructure. This will give your consumers a modern and responsive digital experience.

Optimize for Desktop AND Mobile

Advisors that embrace content and edu-marketing may be aware of SEO basics. But this is typically thought of in terms of a desktop experience. Now, more than ever, mobile optimization is a crucial aspect of ranking and SEO.

Earlier this year Google made significant changes to it’s search algorithms, with more emphasis on mobile-friendliness. And so on April 21, the Mobile Apocalypse (or Mobilegeddon) arrived, forcing the hand of many website owners to evolve with the new digital landscape or fall behind.

While this mobile-friendliness ranking directly affects searches conducted on a mobile device–not as much on desktop—this change is still huge. According to a Local Search Association Study, 60% of US adults now use tablets or smartphones over PCs to get information about services and products. With more and more consumers using phones and tablets for their searches, having a mobile-friendly site will go a long way to increasing your visibility.

You can test your website’s mobile-friendliness using this Google tool [LINK].

Be Consistent With Content Marketing

Content marketing can be a great way to discuss topics that are relevant to your target market and educate consumers on important aspects of financial planning. Content marketing can also reap benefits with your SEO, as search engines tend to favor sites with recent consumer-facing content.

However, content marketing is not a set-it-and-forget-it marketing activity. Rather, it is an ongoing and evolving process. Advisors and agents certainly have a great deal of expertise to draw on when drafting content. The problem comes when content becomes stagnant. Maybe you become busy with big cases or you focus on other marketing activities with more immediate lead generation. Maybe you hit a rut.

But the key to content is consistency. Publishing posts at regular intervals is going to be much more effective than irregular intervals, even if the time span between posts is, say, two weeks.

So take a look your schedule, see where you can appropriate a few hours for content generation and stick to it. Draw on your resources and support staff. If you have sub-agents, use their knowledge base and experience to generate posts, or even relegate content activities to them.

**For more information content marketing and effective blogging, check out our Marketing Corner piece, “Writing An Effective Blog Post” **

Automate Drip Marketing

To a large degree, good visual branding, optimization, and content creation can be seen as passive marketing activities. You are trying to draw consumers to your website, learn about your services, and possibly submit information through contact forms. Many advisors use contact form submittals to generate leads and capture promising consumers to follow up with.

However, you can make this process more efficient–and still retain a personal touch–through automated drip marketing platforms that piecemeal information about you and your services over a period of time. In addition to complimenting other aspects of your digital presence, automated drip systems allow you to engage in multiple ways. Your messages are issued at a steady clip and you can (and absolutely should) follow-up in more direct means, like a phone call.

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Marketing Corner – October 20th, 2015

Why You Keep Reliving Your First Year In The Business


The first year of running a business is usually the hardest. While it promises great opportunity and can be very exciting, the first year of running your operation involves long hours, stressful work, and strategic risk taking. You struggle, sweat, and toil, with hopes that it becomes easier and that your vision will take flight. You walk through the crucible of your early years with the idea that the challenges you face later on will be welcome and proportionate to your business’ growth.

Many business owners find themselves, however, reliving the drama of their first year. This could be a problem that continues from year one of the company’s lifecycle, or emerge after periods of success. But if this year feels like the first, here are five potential reasons.

You Focus More on New Client Acquisition than Client Experience and Retention

There is no definitive statistic on the cost difference between going after a new customer versus retaining a current one. Most reports suggest a range of 4-10 times more, but the actual figures will likely depend on industry and specific consumer profiles. Some fields like financial services will have a generally high client acquisition cost.

Your client acquisition cost (CAC) is one of the key numbers you and your team should always know. Likewise, you should have a sense of the value a lifetime consumer represents, although, depending on your service mix and market, the value/cost ratio of retained customers can be subject to different parameters.

As a general rule, it is going to be more cost effective—and easier—to retain your existing client base than it will be to acquire new clients. Many business chase new clients aggressively as a way to bring new life into their business, to move into different markets, and to maintain an active company.

While capturing new clients and expanding into new markets is essential for any business to sustain growth, many businesses do so at the detriment of their existing client base, diluting the overall customer experience.

To combat this, balance your acquisition efforts by giving the same special attention to your current or previous clients. Create customer experiences that ensure your clients are likely to repeat business with you. Cultivate a business environment that is attractive to both new and old clients.

You Focus Too Much On Lead Generation Rather Than Branding

Let’s make one point clear: lead generation is absolutely crucial in any business. As suggested in the previous section, lead generation can come from both new clients and existing clients. Without leads and clients you don’t really have a business, right?

So the point of this section is not to diminish the importance of lead generation, rather, it is to convey the importance of brand awareness. Depending on your industry and business, you may have different ideas about brand awareness.

For one, brand awareness is a term that gets broadly shucked around. It is an important aspect of business that is equally measurable and immeasurable. You can quantify it through clicks and impressions, direct mail response rates, and surveys. Yet there’s an unquantifiable quality to brand awareness, and this is one of the reasons many small businesses spend more time on measureable actions.

Brand awareness is simply the level at which consumers are familiar with your company and your services, the idea being that the more recognized you are, the more a consumer is likely to seek you out. For some products and services, brand awareness drives the business. For others, this can be difficult.

If you are a tech giant like Apple, you are highly visible and have a wide audience to speak to. If, however, you are a small business like an auto shop or a financial advisor, your market is clustered with others that more or less provide the same service you do.

This is why your marketing should serve the dual purpose of lead generation and brand awareness. Go after the “now” clients with timely promotions, and capture the “later” clients with material that demonstrates what you provide and why you are one of the best at it. You may even perform actions that are solely for the purpose of brand awareness, such as content creation, edu-marketing, and community sponsorships. While these activities may not see an immediate return, you will have a brand recognition that can enhance the response rate of your more direct lead generation activities.

With a proper mix of marketing methods that includes both traditional and digital means, effective brand awareness can be performed relatively inexpensively.

Your Marketing Is Not Evolving

How you reach out to your clients is just as important as the message you send. Sticking with what has worked for you may provide good returns in the short term. However, over time you are likely to experience diminishing returns, due to a variety of factors, such changes in culture, new technology, and market shifts.

The means and the content of your marketing should match a unique aspect of your target market. For instance if you are targeting baby boomers, you might play on nostalgia and use direct mail pieces. For a millennial audience, you likely would engage with social media. Obviously these are reductive examples and don’t speak to complexities within all target markets. The point is your marketing should have a purpose and a target, and evolve as the means in which your potential customers access information evolves.

You Are Not Addressing Your Value

One reason you may be reliving your first year in the business is that you are not unique or are no longer unique. This can be a rough epiphany, but understanding what, if anything, distinguishes you against similar companies and service providers will help to focus your marketing and prospecting efforts.

Having a vague idea of the value you offer to consumers will result in a vague mix of business. Knowing your value proposition may be as broad as the level of customer service and care you provide, compared to other similar companies. Or your unique value may extend to areas of expertise—specific offerings that others in your area cannot provide.

So have a long hard look in the mirror and determine the value of your services and what makes you unique. The other side of this point is that you may have a unique value, but are not featuring it properly with your marketing and prospecting.

You Don’t Have a Direction or Specific Goals

It’s easy enough to say that you want your company to grow—what business owner doesn’t want to? But you may find yourself back in that first year scramble if you don’t have concrete goals that match your vision for your company. Or you may not have a vision at all.

In business, there are two types of goals: specific and non-specific. Both do have a function in developing a marketing and business plan, but many businesses overlook the importance of specific goals. Non-specific goals are great at giving a broad sense of momentum and help you see the bigger picture of your company.

Specific goals, however, represent actionable and measurable objectives to push your business forward. So instead of “I’d like to see more business by the end of the year,” think more a long the lines of “we did $100,000 last October. This October let’s hit this number again.” This may or may not be a reasonable goal—you could be experiencing an overall slump and need to hedge expectations, or you may be primed to shoot for a bigger number. The point is, you have a specific goal that you can now evaluate and design the means to achieve.

Your specific goals will likely fall in short-term ranges, simply because those are the easiest to measure and evaluate. But your overall vision for the company should have some specificity to it as well—what do you want to be doing with your company in 5, 10, 15 years? Having a specific answer to this will go a long way in keeping your business thriving.

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