This is the time of year when most entrepreneurs are fully engaged in holiday marketing activities. The next few weeks will see businesses hitching themselves onto the Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other year-end sales wagons. However, there is another, often-overlooked event coming up that is also worthy of your attention – Small Business Saturday.
The locally-focused alternative to Black Friday, Small Business Saturday is an annual event held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The intent is to encourage people to patronize businesses in their own communities. In other words, get holiday shoppers to spend money with local retailers. However, there also are ways for agents and advisors to take advantage of Small Business Saturday.
Small Business Saturday Marketing Tips
During the weeks leading up to Small Business Saturday, reach out to a few local businesses about cross-promotional opportunities:
- Hand out each other’s promotional items to your respective clients and customers.
- Share each other’s social media posts and pages. Relevant hashtags include #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSat.
Don’t limit your partners to retailers. Engage with service providers and other non-retail businesses.
- Gyms/fitness centers
- Cafes and coffee shops
- Home improvement and remodeling contractors
- Auto repair shops
Connect With Your Community
Small Business Saturday is a community-wide event. You can meet a lot of new prospects by simply showing up. Bring plenty of promo items and offer incentives to those who join your email list.
Think of the resources you invest in Small Business Saturday as lead gen activity. Your presence will show business owners that you have a vested interest in the community. This can go a long way toward building solid B2B relationships. Contact your local Chamber of Commerce to see how you can get involved.
We all know that many consumers walk into an appointment with some form of behavioral finance bias. Common forms of these biases include Snake-Bite Effect, Loss Aversion, and Confirmation Bias. No matter how you define them, they can all be tough obstacles to overcome. Seasoned advisors have learned over the years how to both recognize a biased client when they see one, and how to set their mind at ease. That said, some of you might not recognize the obstacles you’re creating for yourself.
Advisors can be just as biased as consumers when it comes to financial products and planning. According to a recent survey by SEI, more than 25% of advisors admitted to being overconfident in their own skills. Another 21% stated that “regret avoidance” has affected the decisions they make when mapping out client’s plan. Are you among those who might be standing in their own way? Spend some time reflecting on any biases you might be bringing to the table.
As the SEI survey revealed, advisors who are a little too sure of themselves are also those causing the biggest problems for themselves. While confidence is an invaluable asset, overconfidence can often be interpreted as arrogance. This can lead to hastily made recommendations that don’t fully account for the client’s unique situation. After all, it worked for the last person, why wouldn’t it work for the next? As great as that sounds, we all know it isn’t true. For the client, an overconfident advisor can come across as driven more by making the sale than meeting their needs. This is a great way to help your competition land the client you’ve been working so hard to convert. If this sounds like a familiar situation, take your foot off the gas pedal. Using an approach that combines active listening, probing skills and a soft touch will help overcome overconfidence.
This one is obviously at the opposite end of the spectrum. Referred to in the survey as regret avoidance, and similar to the snake-bite effect that many clients carry, an under-confident advisor will often second-guess themselves into losing the client. This often stems from a string of recommendations that don’t pan out as well as they should have. It’s natural to keep swinging for the fences, but easy to forget that even Babe Ruth struck out on occasion. When stuck in a rut, consider ways to break out of your own box. Dedicate time to reading industry-related articles, product updates, and marketing tips for a dose of inspiration. Colleagues who are willing to share their insight can also help refresh your mindset and get you back on track. An even better source can be found at the FMO you partner with (or should be partnering with). Most importantly, keep in mind that you’ve had success in the past and will have success again. Everyone gets stuck in a rut from time to time. The key to getting yourself is to remain confident in your own abilities.
This can be a difficult bias to recognize and even harder to overcome for some advisors. Seasoned advisors might have years of experience in creating long-term strategies for young families. The flipside of that experience is that you’re getting older, but those new families and prospects you’ve become so used to working with stay the same age. Over time, you might notice a growing disconnect between you and those prospects. Each new generation enters the “real world” with its own set of values, needs, and situations. These might be vastly different from those you adhere to, making it easy to get out of step with your target market. Some of you might prefer to age with your target market, which is all well and good. However, Millennials now make up the largest portion of the American workforce and will inherit the largest transfer of wealth ever. Is this really a ship you want to abandon? Probably not. An open mind and a little research can go a long way toward bridging the generational gap that divides you and a new crop of long-term clients.
Have you unintentionally been carrying any of the biases listed above? Or maybe you’re dealing with one we haven’t explored here. If so, what sort of bias-born obstacle are you dealing with and how are you trying to overcome it? We’d love to hear your story. And might even be able to offer some advice. Drop us a line and we’ll talk about it.
The 116th U.S. Congress took office on January 3, 2019. Since that day, the spotlight has been permanently affixed on Capitol Hill. With all the attention Congress has been getting this year, it seems one very significant piece of legislation has gone largely unnoticed – The SECURE Act of 2019.
Introduced in late March by Rep. Richard Neal, a Democrat from Massachusetts, the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act restructures current retirement and pension laws. With overwhelming bipartisan support, the bill passed the House in late May and has since been waiting to be picked up by the Senate.
The SECURE Act consists of nearly 30 provisions, many of which would have a direct impact on small businesses and their employees. As summarized on Congress.gov, the bill would bring the following changes to employer-provided retirement plans:
- multiple employer plans;
- automatic enrollment and nonelective contributions;
- tax credits for small employers that establish certain plans;
- lifetime income options;
- the treatment of custodial accounts upon termination of section 403(b) plans;
- retirement income accounts for church-controlled organizations;
- the eligibility rules for certain long-term, part-time employees;
- required minimum distributions;
- nondiscrimination rules;
- minimum funding standards for community newspaper plans; and
- Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation premiums for CSEC plans (multiple employer plans maintained by certain charities or cooperatives).
In short, Congress is trying to make it easier and more affordable for small business owners to provide their employees with retirement plans. This would boost retirement security for nearly 60 million American workers by loosening the rules dictating multiple employer plans. Currently, MEPs are allowed for employers who are connected through various professional associations or share similar economic interests. The SECURE Act would remove those restrictions and make it easier for unrelated employers to enter these types of arrangements. This would cut costs, cut red tape, and reduce legal liability for businesses.
Additional items included in the bill, many of which advisors should keep an eye on, involve lifetime income options. The bill would open the door for employers to offer annuities options as part of their retirement packages. Also of interest to many of your clients are the incentives it gives to employers to give part-time workers access to 401(k) plans. For advisors, this could mean a new segment of prospects whose employment status has limited access to retirement products.
Something else that could impact clients with retirement accounts is the provision that raises the Required Minimum Distribution age from 70 to 72. According to the Tax Policy Center, this will help offset the cost of longer lifespans, which have risen significantly since the current RMD rules were enacted in the 1970s.
While the SECURE Act brings numerous additional changes to the current retirement laws, advisors should pinpoint those that will most directly affect their clients and work to ensure they understand the ins and outs, pros and cons of the bill should it be passed into law. Will it survive the Senate and land in the White House? Only time will tell. Use that time to do your homework and be ready in case it does.
Read the full text of the bill here.
Thanks to a calendar full of finance and retirement-related awareness campaigns, agents and advisors are rarely short on reasons to reach out to consumers. Most of you have probably taken advantage of the resources made available by Life Happens for September’s Life Insurance Awareness Month. April and October, both recognized as CD Renewal months, offer two chances to discuss products that might serve clients’ needs better than a Certificate of Deposit.
As May comes to a close, so too does Disability Insurance Awareness Month (covered in a recent edition of Marketing Corner). Fortunately, you don’t have to wait long for the next round. June is designated as Annuity Awareness Month, a campaign that serves to educate consumers on, you guessed it, annuities. Use this time to start the conversation with clients and prospects about how an annuity might help their retirement goals.
Two big features they might find appealing are 1) The ability to accumulate tax-deferred cash value (as with fixed and fixed indexed annuities); and 2) The ability to trigger a source of income that cannot be outlived (as with a lifetime income rider).
Of course, some consumers may not even be familiar with the fundamental structure of an annuity. So successfully selling a prospect on an annuity can depend on educating them on the basics and clearly illustrating how an annuity product can fit within their retirement goals. However, you need to make the connection before starting the conversation. Try these simple engagement tips to reach more consumers during Annuity Awareness Month.
Social Media marketing is an absolute necessity for agents and advisors. So, it makes sense that a good portion of your Annuity Awareness Month efforts take place on social platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. One of the most effective ways to do so is by sharing articles that cover the ins and outs of how annuities work. Ideally, at least a few of these articles will be original content posted to your blog/website. But any well-written, consumer-facing pieces will work if they catch the consumer’s attention. When crafting your posts, use relevant hashtags to help boost engagement. A few trending this month include:
Take a quick look at your email distribution list. Do you have a segment of subscribers who have previously expressed interest in annuities? Or maybe you already have a drip campaign going for those prospects. Now is the time to crank up the volume on those campaigns just a bit. While you should avoid overdoing the email blasts, an extra message this month might be enough to get a few prospects to pick up the phone. Make sure to use personalization and a strong call-to-action to make the email a little more enticing. Additionally, those of you who blast out a monthly newsletter should definitely focus on annuity education this month.
Pick Up the Phone
Calling existing clients or even prospects who might be close to conversion is perhaps the most straight-forward and personal way to get them thinking about annuities. Start with clients who are due for a policy review or any you might need to catch up with. From there, work through your list and strike up a conversation. This is much more time consuming than other marketing efforts, but it never hurts to reach out and say hello to your valued clients anyway, right? Even if they aren’t interested in annuities, this is your opportunity to chat about other products that might match their current needs.
Whitepapers, fact sheets, presentations, and other consumer-facing materials can all be very powerful and effective marketing tools. These resources are a great visual aid and, oftentimes, help consumers better understand how an annuity can benefit their situation. Emails and social media posts that offer free downloadable resources are not only more engaging, they drive traffic to your website and can be a great way to get their contact information. Customizing these materials to your brand and business is a subtle, yet effective way to boost your credibility and professionalism in the eyes of a potential client.
If you need access to updated and comprehensive annuity marketing resources, we can help. Our complimentary 2019 Annuity Awareness Month Sales Kit includes:
Annuity Basics Guide
Annuity Slide Presentation
2019 Quick Tax Guide
2019 Annual Tax Equivalent Tax Yields
CD Alternative V. Split Annuity Concept Sheet
Fill out the form to request your copy of our Annuity Awareness Month Kit.
Geo-targeting has become one of the most powerful digital marketing tools businesses have at their disposal. This game-changing tactic uses data from a consumer’s mobile device to deliver highly-targeted and relevant content. To make a broad analogy, think of geo-targeting like the tech-savvy grandson of direct mail marketing. But instead of spending good money to cover a broad area of mailboxes, geo-targeting allows you to build a customized audience of consumers based, not only on where they live but where they work, shop, eat and anywhere else they go.
Two or three years ago, geo-targeting was considered to be the “next big thing” in digital marketing. Today, it is the big thing. Businesses that have made geo-targeting a part of their digital marketing strategy are making better use of their ad budgets and enjoying a higher return on that investment. Are you geo-targeting?
Facebook, Google, and other platforms have for years allowed businesses to deliver ads to consumers within a specific geographic region. It’s effective but does little to account for relevancy. Your ad might reach a lot of people, but how many of them will actually care? Geo-targeting works to solve this problem by providing insight into the consumer’s interests and behaviors based on real-time, or historical location. For example, someone who makes daily trips to their local gym is probably going to be more interested in a health food store ad than someone who doesn’t frequent that location. While both people might live in the same zip code, the ad is only relevant to one of them. By geo-targeting the gym, the ad is more likely to hit the right target.
So how can agents and advisors put geo-targeting to use?
Consider Your Target
Think about who you’re trying to reach. Pre-retirees? High-net-worth professionals? Using generalized parameters like age or education to build your target audience is a good start, but that only tells part of the story. However, where these consumers spend their time can paint a much clearer picture. Where do these consumers work? Where do they spend their free time? That C-level executive you want to connect with can might spend their day in a nice office building downtown and Saturdays at the golf course.
Create a Geo-fence
Once you’ve determined who you want to reach and where you’re most likely to reach them, focus your ad on those locations. For more precise targeting, include any additional demographic information that might be relevant.
Use the Right Platform
The platform you use for your geo-targeted campaign can play a big role in the effectiveness of your geo-targeted campaign. Which social media channels are popular with your target? You probably won’t find too many baby boomers on Twitter, but there are plenty on Facebook. And that executive? Try LinkedIn.
Analyze and Experiment
Geo-targeted campaigns can be complicated and often call for a little tweaking as they run. Pay close attention to the analytics, measure your results, and act accordingly. If that geo-fence you drew around the downtown business district isn’t generating any new leads, try making a few changes. Maybe you need to expand your geo-fence or revise the content of your ad itself. Digital marketing is not a science, especially when it comes to a data-rich tactic like geo-fencing. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t strike gold right away. Keep experimenting until you find the strategy that works for you.
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.