Marketing Corner – Evaluate Your Year
As we near the end of the calendar year, advisors often find a slowdown in business. Usually this affords some family time, some time to tie up loose ends, and some time to think about how business went in the previous year and what needs to be done in the next.
However, advisors and agents often evaluate their year from one single metric: production. While production can be an indicator of success, it is not the only metric that matters. It tells part of the story, but not the whole thing.
Focusing only on production 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 excellent 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
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. Smaller, 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. 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. 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.
Stay tuned for next week where we will discuss tips on creating an insurance marketing plan.
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