Marketing Corner – April 13th, 2015

Managing Expectations with Prospecting

Let’s begin with a less-than-controversial statement: prospecting is hard business. This is true even if you are lucky to convert a sale on the first interaction, because after you have satisfied that client, you have to think about where the next one will come from. Prospecting, especially within the financial services industry, is never-ending, with very few fish that jump into the boat.

The problem that many advisor and agents have regarding prospecting is a somewhat unrealistic attitude of instant conversion. Many of the advisors we work with have an immediate need; they may not be getting the same amount of leads they used to, or they may have a harder than usual time converting prospects into clients. While there are things in the immediate that advisors and agents can do to work through these challenges—such as purchasing leads, boosting web presence, and repositioning overall marketing strategies—you should also work to manage your prospecting expectations, and understand better pay-offs will often come with time.

Here are some prospecting pitfalls, followed by some thoughts on how to overcome prospecting challenges:

Prospecting Pitfalls

Your net is too wide, too narrow, or too unvaried.

As we’ve discussed before good marketing comes down to understanding your target market [ https://legacy-financial-partners.com/marketing-corner-thursday-jan-8th-2015/ ], and understanding the consumer profiles within your broader target market. So is the answer to become niche? Not exactly. Be both broad and niche. Have varied and dynamic marketing strategies; once that are rooted in what works and allows for experimentation.

The natural inclination is to try to convert the sale immediately

This can create tunnel vision. Obviously when interacting when with prospects, you should make the best case for your services and solutions, but closing away from a consumer once it becomes clear they aren’t ready, can waste an opportunity that occurs once they are ready.

You spend time burning and turning leads, rather than growing the seeds of opportunity.

Again prospecting is hard business, taking up significant time and resources. Why would you want to spend effort on a busted lead, when you could try your magic on a fresh prospect? Isn’t prospecting a numbers game? Yes, but it’s a numbers game on multiple axes of movement. If you only go after slam-dunks, you will miss the other shots that let you ultimately win the game.

It’s not an “either, or” situation. You can still aggressively pursue those clients that convert on a first pass and also have a measured approach to prospects that need time.

Some Suggestions for Overcoming Prospecting Pitfalls

Manage Expectations

You undoubtedly hope that trigger events such as retirement, would make prospects susceptible to your charm and expertise. Understand that these trigger events are not the same thing as a prospect screaming, “I need help, now!” It means that a consumer has a potential need, likely in the near future. It also probably means that the consumer will explore a lot of options and consider their overall goals by the time they reach you, and that your initial interactions with them will be seen as part of their option-weighing process.

Even if you have gathered a group of pre-retirees for your seminar on Social Security and Retirement Portfolio Maximization, you may get very little or no appointments out of that (or you may convert every single attendee into a client). But you have inserted yourself into those individuals’ evaluation process, assumed an authoritative role, and provided good information. What may be a failure in the short-term could very well be a success in the long-term. This is why when you do live events you capture as much prospect information as possible — for analysis and follow-up.

Use Direct Mail and Drip Email Campaigns for Serial Contact

Direct mail is an old-school way of marketing that still proves it’s worth, especially with pre-retiree consumers. So don’t discount it just yet. Drip email campaigns provide serial contact that track along with a prospect’s long-term decision-making process. So while a consumer takes the time necessary to figure out their financial priorities and weigh their planning options, they will have a periodic reminder of your services, expertise, and interactions.

If you can automate this process, even better. This will allow you to split your time between immediate converts and long-range opportunities.

FOLLOW UP FOLLOW UP FOLLOW UP

Always follow-up on a prospect. Demonstrate your concern and expertise. Provide a personal touch.

It is important to remember that doing just one of these will be insufficient to properly engage with your community. You should look at all of these practices, as well as any others, to build and maintain your community presence. Whatever methods you practice, also remember that engagement is supposed to be an extension of you—your services, business philosophy, professionalism, 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 – April 6th, 2015

Don’t Miss Out On April CD Renewal Opportunities

October 19, 1987. The largest percentage drop of the Dow Jones Industrial Average—a negative 22.61% loss. This is, of course, Black Monday. At the time many thought the effects of this market crash would rival the Great Crash of 1929 (Black Tuesday). However, markets rebounded, with some volatility. For example, just as Black Monday was preceded by all-time highs, so too was the Friday 13th Mini-crash that occurred in October 1989.

The stock market has since experienced much change in the intervening 27 years or so (2008 anyone?) the effects of the 1987 crash are still rippling through the marketplace, in a curious way. One immediate effect (and possible contributor to the severity of Black Monday) was that many individual consumers took their money out of exposed investments and stuffed them into Certificates of Deposits.

This explains why the months of April and October are known as CD renewal months—when consumers’ six-month and twelve-month certificates of deposits are up for renewal. When compared to the market risks, CDs seem like a good bet, and certainly did in October of 1987. CDs provide guaranteed, but by no means huge, interest rates and they are backed by the FDIC.

Many consumers are comfortable with their long-range CDs, but the problem that some face is that CDs do not track as well with inflation as other products do, such as modern versions of annuities.

This presents a great opportunity for the agent or advisor. A client or potential client could see a better—and still safe—return by parlaying their CD funds into an instrument that has greater interest rates and underlying guaranteed structures. Many consumers from the CD boom that resulted from Black Monday may not even be aware of modern, more agile, financial products like fixed indexed annuities. They may renew their CDs out of habit, out of a sense of familiarity and security.

Certainly every consumer is going to be different. For some individuals, their CD may be perfect for their needs and desired level of marketplace participation. It will depend, but it does mean that April and October are good times of the year to have these kinds of discussions, uncover new needs, and make product sales.

To help take advantage of CD renewal opportunities, Legacy Financial Partners is pleased to offer our CD Replacement Kits. Click here to get your complimentary CD Replacement Kit.

It’s still tax season, so don’t forget about our 1040 Overlay Kits.

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Marketing Corner – March 6th, 2015

Don’t Overlook Millennials

While they typically have no immediate retirement or financial planning needs—compared to say a pre-retiree—Millennials represent a significant emerging market for financial advisors and life insurance agents. Accessing this generation can be particularly difficult for a number of reasons and advisors are likely to focus on pre-retirees and boomers, taking in millennial clients as they come.

Here are some sensible and practical reasons advisors don’t pursue Millennials:

 They Have No Money

The average Millennial enters a choppy marketplace wearing the cement shoes of student debt. According PNC Financial the average Millennial is burdened with $45,000 in debt, most often in the form student financial obligations.

They Have No Jobs
Last year, Millennials represented 40% of unemployed workers, slightly greater than Generation X and nearly double than Baby Boomers.

They Have Different Values and Priorities Than The Last Generation
Their values and priorities are very different compared to their parents or grandparent’s generation. This can be a reflection of the marketplace they entered—it’s hard to prioritize owning a home and establishing a retirement plan when the job market is squeezed tight.

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For most financial advisors this gives the impression that this generation is not worth the effort. How do you begin the financial planning process for someone that has significant debt exposure, unstable income, and differing values? Why would you want to?

The reality is that there is good opportunity with this generation. Millennials will comprise a large portion of the workforce in the next ten to fifteen years. As the economy and job market improves, this generation will move into more stable positions and be primed for financial planning.

So why not wait until this generation is ready? Well, time for one. A significant portion of Millennials essentially had a half-decade or more of early earning power scrubbed from them—a period that could have been used to effectively manage student debt loads. So even when this generation becomes stable they will still be carrying heavy financial burdens. They will have lost time and earning power.

Here’s why you should look at this market, now:

They still need you
Although Millennials don’t have an immediate need for financial services, they still have a strong planning need (whether the kids appreciate it or not). More importantly, now is the best time for them to begin to plot their financial future

They Are Positioned To Get The Most Out of Financial Plan
Because Millennials are roughly thirty or so years away from traditional retirement age, they are in the best position to save for retirement, from a timeframe standpoint.

Repeat Business
Becoming a trusted advisor for a young, upstart professional, can lead to repeat business as that client matures through their income life cycle. Solidifying a relationship early on will make you the go to resource for a Millennial client as they marry, have a child, or experience other life events.

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Although Millennials can be a complex mess of financial concerns, their problem is a very simple and familiar one when it comes to retirement and financial planning: how to save when in debt. Or how to save with limited income. Essentially it’s the old savers vs. spenders model.

It may be difficult to allocate toward a retirement program when every dollar is pretty much spoken for, but Millennials, as with anybody starting a financial plan, can grasp the importance of saving. So how do you access this market? The same way you access any new client needing a financial plan.

Explain to a Millennial Prospect:

Pay Yourself First  Saving is just simply paying yourself first. It is as necessary as paying loans, credit cards, and utilities.

Manage Your Debt Appropriately – Although it is important to squash large debts as quickly as possible, it is important to establish a plan for when that debt is cleared, especially when time is a great compounding factor.

Be Consistent Even During Financial Instability – Regular contributions to savings accounts and retirement programs are what help consumers accumulate, even with a debt load.

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Marketing Corner – February 27th, 2015

The Bucket


Universal Life insurance can be a great tool for many consumers. But, like other financial products, the way UL works can be difficult to succinctly explain. For some consumers this can be the ultimate barrier that inhibits understanding of the value of this particular product. Which, for the agent, can mean the loss of a sale.

This is where the following diagram comes in. The “bucket” is a great yellow-pad concept that explains the core elements of universal life insurance. The basic idea of the “bucket” may already be familiar to many of you, possibly from other variations, such as the “retirement bucket” or the “annuity bucket.”

bucket

In our Universal Life Policy bucket, we have two main faucets: Cash contributions and compound interest. The cash contributions represent a larger influx of water (i.e. money, cash value) into the bucket, as indicated by a large single water drop. The compound interest faucet dribbles at a smaller, but steadier, rate than the cash contributions and goes towards raising the level of the death benefit and accumulated cash value.

Our bucket is not entirety free of leakage however. At the bottom, there is a tiny spigot through which some of water will escape. This spigot represents the mortality and expense charges of the universal life policy. The amount of water (again, money, or accumulated cash value) that exits through this spigot is small relative to the rest of the bucket, but is still important to consider and understand. Provided, however, there is enough regular cash contribution and compound interest, the minimum death benefit will keep rising and easily overcome these policy charges.

The overall idea this illustration conveys: keep your bucket full and your death benefit rising.

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Marketing Corner- February 19th, 2015

Marketing Corner – February 19th, 2015


Go Big and Go Small: Periodization With Your Marketing


Name one goal for your business. Your biggest goal. What do you hope to achieve this year? The early months of the calendar is a time when many advisors and agents think about the successes and failures of the previous year and what they can do to make a big splash before the new calendar turns over.

Maybe you want to increase your AUM ten-fold. Maybe you want to see a fifty-percent revenue growth. Maybe you want to move to a bigger office. Maybe you want be more recognized in your field. Whatever it is, you undoubtedly have that one big, overarching goal for the year. While it can be daunting to think about the how, it’s easy to imagine the big win, the final objective that would put a nice bow on your practice come next Christmas.

It is good to have an ultimate goal as part of your annual plan. Where many businesses struggle is that either the big goal is too big to practically accomplish or the big goal creates tunnel vision that causes them to ignore other small opportunities and everyday needs. Let’s also not forget day-to-day operation tasks and unforeseen events that will affect any business, any person really, throughout the course of the year.

This is where the strategy of periodization can come in to help. The basic idea of periodization is probably already familiar to you. In essence it’s breaking down a big goal into a spread of smaller goals and training objectives. The concept has roots in sports training, especially for athletes that compete professionally. Adapted for business the concept is very similar and can be applied in several ways.

So let’s say your overall goal is to make $100,000 for the year. Not an impossible goal and when you’re identifying your key objective for the year, why not dream big. Now $100,000 is still a pretty significant chunk of money and if making that is your ultimate goal, you only have one opportunity for victory—that is, you either make that amount or you don’t. But what is $100,000 broken down throughout they year? It’s a little over $8,300 a month, which is a more palatable and achievable number, even if it has to be repeated over twelve months to reach that ultimate goal. By compartmentalizing the task, you give yourself twelve opportunities for victory instead of one.

The other reason periodization is a good approach to accomplishing an overarching annual plan is that it gives you better opportunities for metrics and progress tracking. This helps you understand why you may not be achieving the bigger goal—maybe you had to expend resources on a busted marketing campaign, maybe you lost one of your bigger clients, etc. Periodization allows you to figure out what is directly and indirectly impeding (or boosting) your progress. To go big, go small.

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Marketing Corner – February 13th, 2015

Crossing the Bridge


When it comes to retirement planning, there are many aspects and strategies to consider. These complexities can overwhelm a prospect and turn them away from the very salient points you are making about the critical importance of retirement and financial planning. This is where a good visual metaphor comes into play.

The Bridge is a simple and useful analogy in retirement planning and it can be adapted to illustrate key retirement ideas for those currently in, or nearing, retirement (Boomers) and those some ways off (young professionals). The bridge can be used to describe where a prospect is right now and what challenges may await them, or it can be used to demonstrate why they need to have a good financial foundation.

brooklyn_bridge

Now we are not just talking about any bridge—this is a bridge with trusses and cables. On a bridge this size, trusses are used to give the road stability over it’s span. In our retirement planning model, these trusses represent risk diversification; safe money v. risk. Generally financial plans that go the distance will involve some kind of necessary risk and upside potential, offset by safe money financial structures. These support the road of the bridge from below, and provide a base of safety.

brooklyn_bridge2

Supporting the bridge topside are the cables and pillars. On a real bridge these are designed to the keep the road and the rest of the structure on point during times of natural volatility—high winds, tremors, and yes, even earthquakes. In our retirement model, these represent tax diversification strategies (taxable and non-taxable retirement programs). Much like high winds and earthquakes are uncontrollable, so too is the tax environment, which is subject to constant change.

brooklyn_bridge3

What then makes a strong bridge that safety spans over a great distance and allows it’s user to reach the goal of sustainable retirement?

Strong, safe programs with diversified risk and a level of flexibility to weather changes. Otherwise the bridge will go nowhere.

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Marketing Corner – February 6th, 2015

Sequence of Contacts and Off Holiday Marketing


Christmas. Done. New Year’s. Over. We are through the first month of 2015 and time is only moving faster. If you are like us, you are back in the swing of things, back in crunch mode, drumming up new business and building on your client base.

Those end-of-the-year holidays are good times to reap on your year’s efforts and place big marketing pushes. With Christmas and New Year’s seeming like ages ago and the rest of your year to think about, you may feel like you are starting over fresh. New numbers to hit. New objectives. New budgets. New challenges. No big holidays.

This is where using off holidays in your marketing and prospecting structure can help.

What are off-holidays?

Holidays are tied to commerce and vice versa. Christmas, Thanksgiving, and even New Year’s, are great times of the year for many industries. These are high-profile holidays that have a lot of build up to them and many industries expend much of their marketing effort around this time of the year. Off holidays are those that, while still important and culturally relevant, don’t see the same kind of attention and commerce. Holidays such as:

  •             President’s Day
  •             St. Patrick’s Day
  •             Easter
  •             Mother’s/ Father’s Day
  •             Memorial Day
  •             Grandparent’s Day
  •             Independence Day
  •             Labor Day

What does this mean for the financial services industry?

These off-holidays give you an excuse to make contact. We know that the average consumer has to be “touched” 5-12 times before they buy, so these off holidays give you reason and context to make serial contact with consumers. While you might not want to send a client Valentine’s Day card (or maybe you do) you can still use the context of this holiday when reaching out to prospects or leads. Same thing goes for Memorial Day or the Fourth of July and so forth.

Off holiday marketing is not an especially radical concept. Retail stores and car companies have turned these lower profile holidays into monthly boosts and promotions. What is radical is it’s use in the financial services industry, where this concept has been underutilized. Because the practice is so underutilized by advisors and agents, this actually gives whoever is using these opportunities a huge advantage.

Getting the most out of your off holiday marketing is the same really as any marketing and prospecting efforts—make sure your message is tailored to your target market and the appropriate platforms are used.

For more information about Off Holiday Marketing, check out our latest whitepaper “11 Tips for Effective Off Holiday Marketing.”

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Marketing Corner – January 29th, 2015

Retirement Planning and the 4 Principles of Flight


After a few weeks of offering best practices, this week we wanted to discuss an illustrative yellow-pad concept to convey the basic forces at play in retirement planning. This particular diagram is relatively simple but can do a good job at explaining that retirement planning goes a little beyond accumulation and distribution.

I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with the four basic principles of flight. Although there are other complicated factors at play with flying an aircraft, flight can be reduced to four main forces: lift, weight (gravity), thrust, and drag.

plane1 (1)

In this model, lift, created by the variation of air pressure on a plane’s wings, causes the craft to rise. It is countered by weight, which acts to pull the craft downward. Forward movement is provided by sufficient thrust. This is force is countered by drag, a result of friction and air pressure variances. In level flight, all forces are balanced.

We can use this model as way to explain concepts within retirement planning, especially plans with variable products and direct investments.

plane2 (1)

Here we see that thrust has been replaced with savings, drag with taxes and fees, lift with positive returns, and weight with negative returns and inflation. As with flight, we see an opposing relationship between the pairs; as one accumulates and moves forward with a retirement strategy, eventually there will be taxes and fees, even if they are minor compared to the movement and are easily overcome. Positive returns compound on accumulated value (hence lifting the aircraft upward), but this countered with negative returns and inflation that can drop the craft downward.

This is not a hard and fast analogy; you can easily adapt to your client’s scenario. But as a way to touch upon different external forces in retirement planning and conveying the importance of keeping a strategy “aloft,” the flight analogy drives home hard the value of a strong plan. In this diagram, it is not enough to get in the air; retirement plans need to be sufficiently structured to fly further and higher.

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Marketing Corner – January 23rd, 2015

Prospecting Versus Marketing


Agents and advisors often conflate prospecting and marketing as one and the same. While both have the same overarching goal—positive dividends for you and your company—the two terms can be seen as distinct activities. Understanding the difference between the two will help you focus your goals, provide for more efficient use of resources, and reap a high return on investment.

Both prospecting and marketing encompass not just one strategy or process, but rather many, often used in coordinated efforts. The problem for many advisors and agents is that they think a piece of marketing can also serve their prospecting needs, or vice versa. While there is certainly some overlap between what you could consider as marketing and prospecting, to get the most out of your efforts, identify one main objective you wish to achieve within the distinct categories.

In broad terms, good prospecting is an active process—speaking with clients, potential clients, referrals, and so forth. It is a direct activity with a level of personal engagement. You are actively seeking out leads and selling your value proposition. 

Most forms of marketing can subsequently be considered passive. While you surely hope that an advertisement, bench graphic, or a radio spot would draw a good response for your target clients, the results can vary wildly. Why do this kind of marketing then? Because it builds your brand and reinforces your value in your area. Although you would hope for a direct response, this kind of marketing is passive because it is more effective as an indirect way for consumers to identify your business and services.

So, prospecting—direct, active. Marketing—indirect, passive. These are not strict definitions, but rather a way to filter your communications and lead generation efforts. The more that you filter down to one achievable goal, the more you are able to target your ideal market.

Ask yourself:

What are my expectations with this [direct mail piece, advertisement, radio spot, seminar]?

What do I want to happen with this activity? 

How will I measure results?

Is this activity more prospecting or is it more marketing?

If you can respond to these questions with simple and clear answers, you should find that not only are your expectations reasonable, you will have a better idea on how to achieve them. The big problem with trying to combine marketing and prospecting with a lot of expectations and desired results is that you will have poorly-defined goals and insufficient ways to measure results.

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Marketing Corner – January 16th, 2015

Calibrating your Target Market


Last week we discussed core pieces at the heart of an effective marketing campaign, beginning with the bullet point of “Understand Your Target Market.” This week we wanted to expand on this idea further, because of how important this is to developing a successful marketing program.

Having worked with many advisors and agents, we find that most financial professionals identify their target market through simple constraints, such as age and income. This is certainly understandable, because these are two key pieces of information used when generating an illustration and determining possible solutions for a prospect. However there are many other factors you should consider when targeting clients. Considering these other factors and broadening your approach will help you target better and generate more consistent results in your marketing.

Multiple Ideal Client Types

As we mentioned in our post last week, there are multiple ideal client types in different kinds of product lines and consumer profiles. Make sure that you have a good grasp of who are looking for in these different categories. Also think about the common denominator shared by all of these client types that you are looking for.

The Persona Profile

Many companies will develop and target their ideal client by giving a hypothetical prospect an identity, complete with name, age, needs, occupation, hobbies and sometimes a backstory. Developing a “persona profile” can be a good strategy to think of when trying to delve into the psychological identity of a prospect or client type, but you don’t necessarily have to go so far as to develop a whole fictional person. Rather think about your target market beyond “age” and “income” to access a better understanding of who your clients are and what they need. This will help to tailor your specific messages and identify potential client touchpoints.

For instance, lets say you wish to target retirees, or soon to be retirees. You want to target someone with investable income, a hobby or interest that reflects not only their assets but also quality of life concerns, and a need to protect the sum of their life.

So we have:

Retiree – Concerned about financial planning or is open to a financial planning conversation

Hobbies/Interests – Likes cars and sports

Your message can be placed in specific targeted media, like a car magazine or website, and connect the idea of “running on empty” to their financial plan. This is a simplistic example, but it demonstrates how much further you can reach just by thinking about your client’s hobbies or interests.

Another example:

Let’s say we have someone who his greatly involved in their community and local charities. This person is likely concerned with wealth transfer issues, be it to the groups he or she supports or to their own family.

Mind you, this isn’t radical thinking, but that’s why it matters and why it works. Not only do you expand your idea of a target client beyond age and income, but also you already have a direction in developing and placing your message.

Another reason why thinking about the hobbies and interests of potential clients is helpful is that a person with a passion will likely understand the value of a good financial plan, because money will mean more to them than money; it will be the means to access and maintain what is important to them. Individuals generally don’t see money as cold numbers and figures—they see what they can do with it. So getting away from a numbers and figures approach in targeting will make your messages hit harder.

Life Events

In the previous section, we are really discussing using what people do as a means of targeting. You can also use what people experience as way to access them. This includes the whole arc of a prospect’s life and the financial concerns that someone experiences at each milestone.

A new parent not only has a shift in financial expenses but also a shift in priorities, which makes them a likely candidate for a cash value life insurance policy. A person approaching retirement will have a whole host of concerns and complicated financial needs—from coordinating employer-sponsored benefits and shoring up other retirement assets. This person may also have interest Social Security and estate solutions. A new job, the loss of a job, marriage, the death of spouse, all of these are major events that have a need for financial services, whether the person experiencing them realizes it.

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If you want to increase the ROI on your marketing and produce better results, you need a firm grasp of the market you are going for. The better you understand the variety of your prospects, beyond simple input values such as age and income, the more focused and powerful your marketing will become.

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