Selling financial products and services can be a challenging profession. The process of turning a newly identified lead into a loyal client involves multiple factors. Everything from your initial marketing touches to the way you come across during personal interactions can, and will, influence the consumer’s final decision. One of the biggest factors at play here is also among the most challenging to work through – behavioral finance bias.
A concept rooted within the sub-field of behavioral economics, behavioral finance bias involves the psychological, social, and personal reasons a consumer might struggle to make rational financial decisions. More broadly speaking, these biases are the answer to questions like:
- Why do your clients balk at logical solutions?
- What causes them to reject options that will help achieve their goals?
- Why are you getting panicked phone calls from a client who suddenly changed their mind about a sturdy financial plan?
The cognitive and emotional nature of these biases can present a tough obstacle to overcome, despite the financial impact. However, a little insight can be a valuable tool when trying to convince a biased consumer to make a rational financial decision. Let’s break down a few of the more common biases.
This describes the tendency to avoid loss, rather than go after gains. For example, the emotional effect of losing $100 is heavier than the financial gain of finding $100 on the sidewalk. This can impact the ability to fully recognize the value of products with growth components or even lead to a flat-out rejection of any financial solution whatsoever.
You don’t have to look very hard to see examples of confirmation bias. For instance, they will ignore information that contradicts their own beliefs. Or they might spin that information in a way that supports a predetermined conclusion. Because it can create a sense of overconfidence, confirmation bias can have dramatic consequences on one’s financial decision making. A client or prospect with heavy confirmation bias will often resist advice or options, even if backed by research or relevant information.
Snake Bite Effect
Once bitten, twice shy. It’s only natural for people who have a negative experience with financial solutions to be cautious when presented with a product or plan. The issue here is that the conditions could be completely different, or the consumer could be conflating products that are not comparable.
Some people tend to hold on to properties they already own, placing more value than they are actually worth. For instance, a prospect may have a large sum of money in a low-growth savings account. Because they have accumulated that sum over the years, they may be averse to using these funds to purchase specific retirement vehicles that match their goals.
Most, if not all, advisors will encounter these and other behavioral finance biases at some point in their career. In fact, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that nearly every consumer carries some sort of bias affecting their decisions. The problem arises when that bias creates misconceptions about the value of money and financial planning. Overcoming a behavioral bias can be a little more challenging than a “typical” consumer objection. Even more so when that bias is rooted in emotions and/or personal experiences. The trick is to first identify the bias as soon as possible. Use probing skills to determine why that specific person holds that specific bias. From there, use your expertise to educate, inform, and change their perspective.
Content marketing is becoming one of the most valuable and effective methods for consumer engagement, rapidly outpacing traditional strategies many businesses have come to rely upon. According to recent studies, 70% of internet users would rather learn about a product or service through content versus traditional advertisements (Cision). Chances are, most of you are already engaged in some form of content marketing. This could be through press releases, blogging, or social media posts. While the overall goal for any marketing strategy – content or traditional – is the same, there is one aspect that separates the former from the latter – storytelling.
The concept behind story-driven content marketing is simple – deliver the message in a way that resonates with the people you are trying to reach. Note that we use (and emphasize) the word “people,” rather than “consumer” or “prospect” here. This is an important distinction to make, especially for financial professionals. After all, you’ve built a career around your ability to make personal connections with clients, so why wouldn’t you use a marketing strategy that does the same?
Humanize Your Message
Like any other entrepreneur, you are selling a product – financial advice, life insurance policies, annuities, etc. Beyond that, you are offering something far more significant – peace of mind, protection, the financial security to retire without worry. These are more than just buzzwords we see used frequently in ad/marketing campaigns, they are real goals set by real people. Facts, figures, percentages, and stats are all an important part of the overall persuasion process, but not many people find data emotionally compelling.
A good way to capture their attention is to lead with a narrative that focuses on the overall value of financial services/retirement planning, rather than you specifically. Tell a story based on the goals, concerns, situations, pain points, and – ultimately – solutions that many people experience on their journey toward financial independence. Remember, at this point, you’re trying to engage; not sell. Keep things loose and low-pressure, but close with a call to action. Once your well-crafted and emotionally-relevant story draws them into your funnel, follow up with more detailed and specified content geared toward their situation.
Fine-tune Your Message
Before launching your story-driven content marketing campaign, there are a few key things to remember:
- Be Concise: Creativity and flowery language is fine and can often help drive the emotional aspect of your content. But don’t go overboard. Your narrative should be well-rounded, concise, and easily digestible. Avoid using jargon and industry speak until they get a little farther along in the funnel.
- Be Real: Most people can smell a hard sales-pitch a mile away. This is one reason why more businesses are moving away from traditional marketing in favor of content marketing. A good story-driven campaign shouldn’t come across as an obvious advertisement. Make it a conversation that gets more personal with each interaction.
- Be Credible: Your narrative not only feel real but be real as well. Using a real-life scenario as the foundation for your message can provide a sense of authenticity. Clients who have given referrals or testimonials are a good source for this. Reach out and see if any might be willing to share their success stories.
**Side Note – This tactic can also be used for agent/advisor recruitment campaigns. Who better to speak on the benefits your agency has to offer than current employees?
Delivering Your Message
The medium used to deliver your content can be just as important as the content itself. While blog posts and/or emails might be ideal for written content, don’t limit yourself. Consider repurposing your content as a script for a short video to post on social media and your website. This will let your audience put a face with your name. In turn, you will establish a sense of trust and credibility.
Story-driven content doesn’t always mean “long-form” content. A well-designed mailer or social media post that uses compelling imagery and minimal text can just as effective as a two – three-paragraph narrative. Whatever methods you use, stay focused on making meaningful and emotional connections with your audience.
It’s Your Turn
Have you delved into the world of story-driven content marketing? If so, did your efforts pay off? What worked for you? What didn’t work? If your campaigns could benefit from a little outside support, or if you just want to brag about your latest success, feel free to get in touch. We’d love to hear your story.
Historically speaking, October has been a tumultuous month for the economy. This year will bring the 31st anniversary of Black Monday (October 19, 1987) and the 29th anniversary of the Friday the 13th Mini Crash (1989). While the more recent financial crisis of 2008 played out over several months, much of the action – Lehman Brothers and WaMu bankruptcies, stock market crashes, global panic, bailouts, etc. – all took place during the last half of September and throughout October. We won’t get into the reasons behind these crises, but each had one common result – investors went scrambling for safety.
The History of CD Replacement Month
Looking back to the Black Monday crash when the Dow Jones Industrial Average sank by 22.6%, many found that safety in the form of Certificates of Deposit. Investors withdrew their exposed investments and transferred their money into CDs. With guaranteed interest rates and FDIC backing, CDs were a widely used means of protecting one’s money from market volatility; a fact that remains true today. The return on CDs today is nowhere near what it was 31 years ago. However, things are slowly improving thanks to the recent federal interest rate hikes.
However, due to their low rate of return, CDs, do not hedge well against inflation. At least not when compared to other products, like certain annuities. This is especially true with long-term CDs that many consumers automatically renew out of habit. As a result, consumers may be losing real-world value that could be parlayed into another, better solution.
CDs and Interest Rate Hikes
Although this week’s rate hike will boost the “risk-free” return for CDs, it will take at least 30 days to see the effect. Consumers who jump the gun will be locked into the lower rates, stuck holding onto an investment that might not keep up with inflation. The top-of-mind awareness created by CD Renewal Month is a great opportunity for advisors to start the conversation with clients and prospects.
The discussion could be as simple as a CD review or renewal, or how they can provide retirement income. However, you should offer an overview of their options and alternatives to CDs. To help, Legacy Financial Partners has a wealth of resources for agents and advisors looking to leverage these CD replacement opportunities.
Our 2018 CD Renewal Kit is a comprehensive AND complimentary package that includes a CD prospecting letter, consumer-facing presentations, and additional materials that will help you take full advantage of CD replacement month.
Keeping up with the latest trends and evolving digital landscape—and implementing them into your existing marketing strategy—can be a time consuming, but necessary endeavor for advisors trying to stay ahead of their competition. While the time you spend looking for the next big marketing opportunity is certainly not wasted, sometimes it can be more efficient to stick with your existing resources.
For instance, we are now halfway through Life Insurance Awareness Month. With only a couple of weeks left to take advantage of the top-of-mind momentum created by this educational initiative, now might not be the best time to launch an untested marketing plan. This is one of those situations where the most effective and practical solutions might be those resources already at your disposal.
The old saying, “dance with the one who brung ya,” can be words to live by. Especially if time is a factor. For advisors, this means leveraging your current book of business to create new opportunities. Much like you would for milestone occasions (birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, etc.), email clients about life insurance coverage. This can be a reminder about a policy review or update, information about new products, or a simple invitation for an in-person appointment.
Wherever the prospect is in your marketing funnel, an event such as LIAM presents an opportunity to move them one step closer to conversion. Consider this an extension of your ongoing drip campaign and make contact through your regular newsletter or a lead nurturing email.
As the most popular social network Facebook is the typically the “go-to” platform for lead generation and advertising. However, LinkedIn is also a great marketing resource, especially for advisors trying to make professional connections. Like Facebook, LinkedIn allows you to post relevant content, share it with your connections, and participate in groups. Additionally, LinkedIn offers a wide range of targeting options for ad campaigns and sponsored posts.
Printed Promotional Materials
In the digital age, the value of printed materials is often overlooked. According to the 2017 Direct Marketing Association Response Rate Report, direct mail response rates once again outranked digital. According to studies, that’s 5.1% for house lists and 2.9% for prospect lists versus 2% for all digital channels combined. While effective, a direct mail campaign might not get off the ground quick enough to capitalize on the remaining LIAM momentum. This is when flyers might be a good alternative to consider. Use a well-designed flyer that directs åpeople to your website to promote your brand and services. Just make sure they’re in a well-trafficked area and posted with permission.
Ideal spots might include:
- Public Library
- Coffee Shops
- Book Stores
- Grocery Stores
- Gyms/Fitness Centers
Request our Life Insurance Awareness Month Kit to make the most out of your life insurance prospecting efforts.
What You’ll Get:
- Customizable Prospecting Letters
- Email Drip Templates
- Life Insurance Prospecting Ideas
- Concept and Presentation Pieces
- Consumer Facing Life Insurance Overview Powerpoint and more!
In many ways, Millennials are the perfect storm of opportunity for agents and advisors. The largest generation in American history currently represents more than one-third of the workforce. With an estimated $30 trillion over the next 30 years, they will inherit the largest transfer of wealth ever. With the majority of Boomers at or near retirement age, and Gen-Xers turning that corner, advisors would be wise to start paying more attention to Millennials.
When it comes to life insurance products, the Millennial market is wide open territory. The 2016 Life Insurance Barometer Study (Life Happens/LIRMA) found that only half of the Millennial population carries life insurance. Interestingly enough, half also realize the financial impact caused by the death of a wage-earner would be felt immediately. So, yes, Millennials are thinking about the big picture. And according to one study, are twice as willing to discuss long-term savings goals than Boomers. However, advisors who try to reach this demographic with traditional strategies are less likely to have those conversations.
Tapping into the Millennial market requires an understanding of their values, perspectives, needs and, more importantly, challenges. (Data source: Pew Research Center, unless otherwise noted)
Education & Employment
- Roughly 40% of Millennials (aged 25-39) have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher, making Millennials the most highly educated generation in history.
- Unemployment rates among Millennial college graduates are significantly lower than those with only a high school diploma (3.8% vs. 12.2%).
- Millennials are more likely than Gen-Xers to stay with the same employer for 13 months or more (63.4% vs. 59.9%).
- The median household income for Millennials is $72,500 (second only to Gen-X households).
While Millennials struggle with student debt and reduced earning power now, things will likely improve over time. With the increasing value of a college education, young graduates often see their student loans as an investment in their future. This suggests a willingness on their part to play the long game if they can be confident it will pay off in the end. Consider applying this logic to your strategy. Start with what they can afford/attain now and outline how that can be used as a stepping stone to bigger and better things down the road.
Values, Priorities & Perspectives
- 45% of Millennials feel that most businesses do not behave in an ethical manner (Deloitte).
- Half of Millennials say they do not want a primary financial advisor, and only 1 in 3 have one (Life Happens/LIRMA).
- Overall, Millennials are most likely to need information and education about life insurance (Life Happens/LIRMA)
- More than 80% rank family as their top priority (52% said “being a good parent” and 30% listed “successful marriage” as most important) versus 15% who said “having a high-paying career”).
- 31% say they currently earn enough money, while 88% feel confident they will in the future.
Millennials are skeptical when it comes to business and finance-related matters. This stems from a lack of understanding about the role advisors can play in their lives. At the same time, their optimism and desire to maintain a stable and successful household present an opportunity for advisors to ease that skepticism. A transparent, ethical, and mentoring approach will go a long way toward establishing credibility. Make a personal connection to show that you care as much about their family’s well-being as they do. Work with them, rather than sell to them.
Making the Connection
- 75% say new technology makes life easier.
- More than 50% will research life insurance online, but purchase their policy from a professional (Life Happens/LIRMA).
- 54% will turn to social media for recommendations on a financial professional (Life Happens/LIRMA).
- 67% say it’s important to meet with a financial advisor in-person (Center for Generational Kinetics).
While Millennials are fully immersed in the digital world, they also value human connections. They thrive on interpersonal relationships. Expect Millennial clients to come in armed with whatever knowledge they were able to gain from web articles, eBooks, and other digital content. However, they’ll need you to fill in the blanks for them. Also keep in mind that members of this tech-savvy generation might respond well to incentive-based wellness programs, like those that provide wearable gadgets to policyholders.
Depending on which study you read, anywhere between 30 – 60% of American adults do not have life insurance. However, 90% of consumers think a “family’s primary wage earner needs to own life insurance,” according to 2018 Insurance Barometer Study, from Life Happens and LIMRA. So, we have a product that nearly everyone sees a need for, but few actually purchase.
There are several common reasons people give for going without coverage, most can be traced back to one overarching issue – misconception. In today’s marketplace, factors such as affordability and health-related qualifications are not nearly as much of an issue as they have been in the past.
That said, there is still a large portion of consumers who don’t seem to be fully aware of the options available to them. The first step in educating these consumers is to understand their apprehensions and misconceptions. The next step is to use that insight to address their objections and guide them toward a solution that meets their specific needs.
Below are the three most common life insurance objections agents and advisors hear from clients, along with some responses that could help overcome them:
“I can’t afford life insurance.”
Looking at some of the key findings from Life Happens and LIMRA’s 2018 Insurance Barometer Study, you can see why this is among the most common objection to life insurance. According to that study, 44% of Millennials overestimate the cost of life insurance by as much as five times the actual amount.
- “When was the last time you looked at insurance prices?”
- “Did you know that most people overestimate the cost of life insurance?”
- “We don’t really know what the price of insurance is because it’s based on underwriting. So let’s get you medically underwritten and then we can talk about what the actual numbers will be.”
Additionally, 61% of people don’t buy life insurance, or more than they already have, because of other financial priorities.
- “Did you know premiums increase with age. You’re never going to be any younger than you are today.”
- “Most people don’t get healthier as they age.”
“I don’t need life insurance.”
Even though this sounds like a hard “NO,” chances are it’s rooted in a lack of understanding about how life insurance works, and/or the benefits a policy could provide for them and their family. Also consider the possibility that, while one member of the household feels that way, others disagree. In fact, 90% of those who took part in the Insurance Barometer Study think a family’s primary wage earner needs life insurance. Roughly 35% of them say that if the primary wage earner died, the survivors would feel the financial impact within one month.
- “Why do you feel that way?”
- “How does the rest of your family feel about that?”
- “What about your final expenses?”
- “What plans have you made to make sure your family is taken care of after you’re gone?”
“I don’t qualify because of health issues”
While health issues, certain lifestyles, and occupational hazards can disqualify people from certain policies, most of them probably don’t realize they have options that don’t require medical underwriting.
- “You’re not the only one who has run into this problem. While you might not qualify for certain types of policies, there are other solutions. Would you like some information about guaranteed issue life insurance?”
- “Just about anybody can qualify for a life insurance policy, regardless of health issues. There are many different types that account for many different situations.”
- “Many people may have misconceptions about the underwriting process, what is prompting you to say that?”
Beyond the “Big 3” listed above, there are numerous reasons a person might give for turning away from life insurance coverage. However, because most objections stem from misconception, the solution is simple – education.
Request our Life Insurance Awareness Month Kit to make the most out of your life insurance prospecting efforts.
What You’ll Get:
- Customizable Prospecting Letters
- Email Drip Templates
- Life Insurance Prospecting Ideas
- Concept and Presentation Pieces
- Consumer Facing Life Insurance Overview Powerpoint and more!
Listing your company on community-based business directories is a great way to boost your online presence. Because businesses with profiles on high-traffic platforms like Google My Business, Yelp, and Merchant Circle (to name a few) benefit from higher local SEO rankings than those that don’t, these sites can be great tools for brand awareness. That said, many only offer a snapshot of your business/services. For advisors targeting niche markets, this does little to generate qualified leads.
However, there is one rapidly growing platform that digs a little deeper to connect consumers with professionals that meet their specific needs. Launched in 2009, Thumbtack is taking a new approach to the traditional professional services model popularized by Yelp and Angie’s List.
Instantly Matched Leads
About a year ago, Thumbtack introduced Instant Match, a feature aimed at connecting consumers with the businesses that best suit their needs. When you set up your business profile, Thumbtack gives you several options to fine-tune your potential leads. You can specify your area(s) of expertise, type of clients you’re targeting, travel/location preferences, and other details meant to filter out unlikely matches.
Consumers searching for services that fall under the “Personal Financial Planning” category are required to answer a series of questions about their income, career status, specific needs (retirement, life insurance, etc.), and other relevant details. If your preferences match the consumer’s, your profile is included in their search results and the door is open for them to reach out.
How high or low you set your weekly budget determines how many leads can contact you. Because you’re charged each time a consumer makes contact (or vice-versa), it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on your budget settings if you want to keep a steady flow of leads coming in. Thumbtack only charges for that initial contact and doesn’t tack on (pun intended) any additional fees or commission if you and the lead decide to do business together.
Keep in mind that Thumbtack is a localized marketplace, not a guaranteed lead generator. Its value as a marketing tool is based largely on the demand for your services. If there aren’t many people in your area using the site to find financial advisors, you might not get much out of it. On the other hand, the leads that do come your way are more likely to be interested in doing businesses.
A few additional things to keep in mind when building your Thumbtack profile:
The contact information on your profile should match that of any other business listing you have (Google My Business, Yelp, etc.). Keep your physical address, business hours, phone number, email, website, and social media pages consistent across all platforms. This is one of many factors that help determine your SEO ranking.
…And So Does Content
A well-written and comprehensive bio will increase your chances of attracting the leads you want. Give a concise overview of your services to convince the consumer that you’re the right person for the job. You want to come across as both professional and personable. Include a few high-quality photos of yourself as well. Thumbtack’s Q&A section offers a list of questions related to your background, education, and experience. This lets you go into a little more detail about yourself without turning your bio into a novel. There’s also an option to incorporate a background check (via Checkr) into your profile. Use this section to list your professional licenses and credentials.
Keep a close eye on your notifications and try to follow up as soon as possible when leads come in. Remember, you aren’t the only advisor included on the list Thumbtack sends to the consumer. Reply ASAP and beat the competition to the punch. After the initial contact is made, proceed as you would with any other prospect who enters your pipeline.
Thumbtack connects consumers with pros working in hundreds of different industries. And with the Instant Match feature still in its infancy, getting the results you want might take time. If things are moving slow, try tweaking your preferences a little or adjusting your budget for a few weeks. Like any other digital marketing avenue, Thumbtack comes with its own set of pros and cons. That said, this is an innovative platform that has great potential for those willing to put in the effort.
The value of incorporating video into your overall marketing strategy cannot be understated. No matter the platform, video outperforms every other advertising medium by a longshot. In fact, simply including the word “video” in the subject line of an email has been proven to increase open rates. Using video on social media and websites is far more effective than text or images.
Overall, video marketing is becoming increasingly more prevalent for advisors. According to a study by Wibbitz, those working in the financial industry are leveraging video marketing more than those in any other industry but manufacturing. So, have you jumped on the bandwagon yet?
The Value of Video
You don’t have to look hard to find an endless list of stats and surveys that support the hype surrounding video marketing. However, the answer to why video is so effective can be summarized in one word – psychology. Televised messages have become commonplace. We tend to look for those connections that might exist between ourselves and the person we see on the screen. This is a level of emotional engagement that isn’t as easily or quickly found with other mediums. And when targeting people with services that relate to their finances, retirement, and families, trust and confidence are key elements to conversion. If you think about it, one of the goals during any one-on-one interaction with a prospect is to earn their trust, isn’t it? Why should your marketing approach be any different?
If a picture is worth a thousand word, then a video is worth far more. Actually, according to Forrester Research, video is worth about 1.8 million words. This doesn’t mean the articles you write aren’t an important part of the overall process. However, a short, but sweet video message can be a much more effective way of capturing consumer attention. This is especially true for those living faster-paced, “time-is-money” lifestyles, like the nearly 60% of executives (a.k.a. high-end clients) who stated they prefer video over text, when given the option (Forbes).
Your Video Budget
Those working with a limited marketing budget might think that video production is too elaborate and expensive of an endeavor to attempt. In fact, producing a decent online video is much easier than you think. Most mobile devices today come with cameras that can hold their own against those used by pros. The rest of the equipment needed – a tripod, mobile device mount, and clip-on microphone – can all be purchased for $100 or less. Set it all up in a well-lit, professional setting, and you’re ready to roll.
Lights, Camera, Action!
If you’re a little shy about stepping in front of a camera, don’t feel bad. Some of you might take it right away, but many people are intimidated by the thought of being on a video that’s blasted out across social media. It might sound cliché, but pretending that you’re in front of a client, not a camera, is a great way to relax and present yourself as the same well-spoken and knowledgeable advisor you are in the “real world.” Composure and confidence are the two of the most important elements to delivering a good performance.
he third piece of this puzzle is practice (practice, practice). If you’re not the type who can memorize lines verbatim, you should at least have a good grasp of your talking points before shooting. Using cue cards or reading from a script while shooting might be necessary but doing so can make your performance seem unnatural and distracted. A video of an obviously nervous person uncomfortably reading from a script while their eyes dart back and forth is a video nobody wants to watch. Run through the spot a few times, critique each take, make note what worked, and identify where you need to improve.
Quality Content > Quality Production
While you want to put your best and cleanest take out there, it’s the quality of your content that matters most. Great content makes up for average production every time. As popular as live streaming media has become, the “DIY” vibe is becoming the trend to follow. If you’re comfortable going out there without a net, Facebook Live is the way to go. By the end of 2017, 20% of all videos on Facebook were live streams. Those videos were watched as much as three times longer and received around 10 times as many likes and comments as uploaded videos. With a little promotion and planning, a lengthy Facebook Live Q&A session can be a great way to drive traffic to your social media pages, while giving you the chance to strut your stuff in front of an engaged audience.
As we move farther into the age of streaming media, advisors who utilize video can expect increased engagement, interaction, and conversion rates. And, of course, with all that, more business. So, are you ready to roll? It’s time for your close up.