2017 CSOs: How These Numbers Will Impact the Entire Insurance Industry

As we approach 2020, an important deadline nears. No, it’s not the presidential election. It’s the complete transition to the 2017 CSOs.

Commissioners Standard Ordinary Mortality Tables (CSOs) are actuarial tables developed by the Society of Actuaries (SOA) and the American Academy of Actuaries on behalf of NAIC. These calculations have been used to develop underwriting guidelines and reserve targets for insurance companies for almost 80 years now. While client-focused advisors may not delve too deep into the actuarial aspects of our industry, CSOs can have a significant impact on products, pricing, and procedures. Which for the smart advisor, means sales opportunities.

First a little background. CSOs were originally implemented in 1941. The first CSOs were based on the experience of sixteen life insurance companies in the United States and Canada, drawing on policy information from years 1931 to 1940. Since this, there have been four major iterations of CSOs, in years 1958, 1980, 2001, and 2017. Like the first CSOs, subsequent versions were based on industry experience from a set period of time preceding their development. The idea is to provide a base standard for carriers while accounting for changes over the decades. With each CSO, more carriers participated, more data was provided, and more analysis prepared.

Why you should care about 2017 figures in 2019

Each CSO has a three-year transitional period, at the end of which all carriers are required to implement the new tables in reserve values and underwriting. The deadline for full implementation of the 2017 tables is January 1, 2020. While every company will have their own specific underwriting process, the CSOs are used as a common base.

The adjustment of reserve values impacts how carriers price their products. Additionally, features such as guaranteed cash values and other non-forfeiture benefits see a relationship to reserves (which again, has a key relationship with the most current CSOs).

Amongst insurance carriers, you will find a variation of who has already adopted the new CSOs and who is waiting until the deadline. The main difference between the 2017 tables and the 2001 version—the most recent—are the mortality rates. As life expectancies have generally improved in the sixteen years between the versions, new mortality rates will generally be lower. Consider that since 2001, tables have been calculated to age attained of 120 years. This has led to some surprising developments, like 35- and 40-year term life insurance policies available with a few carriers.

With the 2017 tables, there is also the creation of a new reserves calculation method called the Principle-Based Reserve formula (PBR). This formula seeks parity on reserves requirements; under current methods carriers can carry an excess of reserves on one group of products while maintaining inadequate reserves on another.

In general, the new CSOs will likely result in lower premiums on term life and GUL policies. For cash value products target premiums will likely stay static, while cash value growth accounts may see diminished accumulation.

Sales Opportunities

With cheaper insurance on the market, a client who was previously priced out of a product may be better positioned after the CSO adoption. Or there may be alternatives to their current coverage which not only incurs lower premiums but possibly additional features. As we near the CSO implementation deadline, policy reviews will become an even more valuable prospecting and sales technique.

**

September is Life Insurance Awareness Month. Request our complimentary 2019 LIAM Sales Kit today.

 

Exploring and Overcoming Your Own Bias

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.

Overconfidence
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.

Under-Confidence
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.

Generational Bias
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.

Should You Manage Your Own Website?

A website is among the most valuable marketing tools an agent or advisor has at their disposal. As the “digital face” of your brand, this is typically where consumers will come to form their first impression of your business and the value you can provide. Because most people will only spend a couple of minutes browsing your pages before moving on, it’s vital that your site looks professional, is easy to navigate, and gives a clear overview of everything you offer. Anything less will likely be a bigger asset to your competition than to you.

There are three key ingredients that go into creating a well-designed website – time, effort, and money. The process usually starts when you take out the credit card to purchase a domain name and hosting services. Then come the hours you can spend and work that goes into crafting content, such as service overviews, your professional credentials, and general information about your business. Once that’s all covered, it’s time to put it all together and click publish. Simple enough, right? It is if you moonlight as a web designer, but most advisors are more focused on finances than they are coding and layout.

Sure, there are plenty of services available that provide cheap and easy ways to “get your website online in minutes.” As great as this sounds, these are often generic alternatives offering limited functionality and design options. The end result is usually a bland website that does little to set your site apart from others using these services. Today’s consumers value experience when visiting a website. First impressions are often based on the “wow factor” of your site. The actual content featured on your pages is secondary to the overall look and feel of the site.

Although drag-and-drop builders and templates have improved over the last couple of years, there are still a few things to consider before locking yourself into a long-term plan with one of these services. You want prospects to believe that you stand apart from other advisors, right? This starts with a website that promotes brand identity. In other words, if you don’t look any different than the competition, consumers won’t think you’re any different. Because many templates are built with specific businesses and industries in mind, chances are good that the advisor down the street is using the same one you just bought. And, because of service agreements, your site’s hosting, its content, and even its domain may be scuttled if you decide to go somewhere else. In short, even though you paid for your site and put effort into it, you do not truly own it. Many FMOs that provide marketing function this way as well.

Going back to the time factor, how many hours can you put each week toward your site? You have business to write, clients to meet with, prospects to engage, and a laundry list of administrative duties to keep up with. Most independent agents and advisors can’t afford to put things on hold to focus on maintenance and posting fresh content. And what happens if your site goes down? Can you stop everything in the middle of the day for a lengthy phone call with tech support?

Many independents have come to rely upon the services of a professional web developer. While this comes with added expenses, hiring a team to manage your online presence is often a worthwhile investment. This will not only provide you with a site that is customized to your brand and services, it will help keep things up-to-date and running smoothly. Additionally, you won’t have to worry about spending time building temporary landing pages when promoting a specific product or seminar.

For those working in the financial industry, it’s important to have a team that understands your business and services. Many web design firms cast a broad net and develop sites for a variety of different businesses. They might not have the insight needed to craft content tailor-made for your target market. For many, partnering with a quality FMO is the best solution, but again, this can come with locking an agent into service level agreements. This is why Legacy Financial Partners strives to provide top-tier digital and web services. Our creative team is able to create customized and fluent websites, that not only look and feel professional but include content made to engage prospects. And you own it. Beyond your website, our digital services include SEO, microsite design, social media, email campaigns, and more. Learn more about how we can help amplify your digital presence here.

 

What Advisors Should Know About The SECURE Act of 2019

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;
  • loans;
  • 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.

 

 

Annuity Awareness Month Marketing Tips

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

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:

#annuity

#annuities

#AnnuityAwareness

#AnnuityAwarenessMonth

#retirement

#retirementsolutions

Email

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.

Additional Resources

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.

Annuity Awareness Marketing Kit

 

10 Simple Steps to Generating Online Leads

In an ideal world, your agent website is enhanced for both passive and active marketing activities. If there is good, SEO-rich content, your target market will naturally engage with your web collateral. And if you’ve got great calls to action and active marketing processes, you can lead consumers to your web properties, which may inspire them to take further actions (such as submitting their information or calling you directly).

Below you will find ten simple steps to optimizing your website to generate good online leads.

Appeal to Your Target Market

A clean, well-designed website is the key to making a good first impression to online consumers. Generally speaking, your site should be user-friendly, responsive, easy to navigate, and support multiple devices. It’s also important that your contact information and social media links are easy to find. Now consider what your specific target market would find appealing and adjust the content and design of your site accordingly. You want prospects to visit your site and feel like they’ve found someone who understands—and can provide solutions for—their needs and concerns.

Identify & Use Pertinent Keywords

Make a list of keywords and search terms that relate to the products and services you provide. When a consumer in your target market is searching online for information, you want them to land on your site for the answer, right? Think about what those consumers might be searching for. Are they looking for ‘top annuity rates,’ ‘how does life insurance work’ or ‘financial advisors in my area?’ Identify those keywords and layer them into the content of your site. This will better index your site, making it more likely to appear near the top of the consumer’s search results.

Say NO to Templates

You’ve seen those ads that offer quick and easy business websites. Avoid these at all costs! You want your website to be unique and stand out from the competition. What you don’t want is for the consumer to see a generic website and leave with the impression that you aren’t invested enough in your own business (or clients) to sink any resources into a quality online presence. Furthermore, template sites offer limited functionality and do not allow for proper Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Contact us if you’re interested in a functional, custom-built website.

Create a Call to Action

The prospect is on your site, now what? Why should they pick up the phone or submit their information? Your Call to Action should give them that answer before they ask the question. An effective CTA is concise, visually-appealing, and tailored to your target market. You could offer anything from a white paper, video or complimentary appointment; just give the prospect as many reasons as possible to contact you. See our recent post on landing pages and calls to action.

Avoid Jargon

Work to minimize jargon, acronyms and complex terminology from your content. Write to the consumers, not over their heads. Jargon-heavy content can be intimidating or confusing to many consumers. If they struggle to grasp the meaning of your message, you’ve lost them. Additionally, buzzwords like “turnkey” and “cutting-edge” will likely find the prospect rolling their eyes as they exit your site. What you say, and how you say it, plays a huge role in whether or not the prospect contacts you.

Create a Blog

Fresh content drives traffic. All things being equal, the website with the freshest, most relevant content will index better. Well-written and informative blog posts can also do wonders for your credibility. Sending e-newsletters with a link to your blog is another good way to drive additional traffic to your site.

Implement Email Marketing

It’s unlikely that prospects will make visits to your website a part of their daily routine. This is why we recommend sending regularly scheduled email blasts. Keeping your prospects updated with your latest blog posts and relevant news can be a good way to convert them into clients. If you have questions about how an e-newsletter campaign can benefit your business, or if you’d like us to design one for you, call us today.

Leverage Social Media

Spreading your message across all mediums is key to generating measurable results. The average prospect has to be touched 6-9 times before they buy. Many of those prospects spend roughly one-third of their time online actively engaged in one or more social media platforms. Use your social media channels to boost your online presence, interact with consumers and build a loyal following.  Additionally, sharing links to your blog, website, landing pages, etc. will boost web traffic and search engine ranking, which ultimately leads to more conversions.

Test & Track

Your website has a call to action, but how effective is it? You can’t just put it up there, walk away and expect results. Keep track of how well (or poorly) your CTA is performing and make changes as needed. Switch out different gives and see what generates the highest conversion. If you’re curious about what offers and gives typically yield the highest response rates, call us for a complimentary report.

Partner with an FMO

Work with an FMO that understands how digital marketing works and can help implement your plan. This can be the difference between having an online business card and an online marketing engine. Contact us now if you want to take your business to the next level.

 

B2B Life Insurance Marketing Tips

When it comes to life insurance, many agents and advisors focus most of their efforts on consumers. This can be a wide-open market that consists of young families, those nearing retirement, and everyone in between. However, it would be a mistake to overlook the equally-open territory of small businesses. Many business owners may not be aware of how life insurance can be used to enhance their operations. Marketing to these entrepreneurs often requires a different approach than you would take with the average consumer.

Use the following tips to enhance your B2B life insurance marketing efforts.

Networking

Credibility and trustworthiness are two crucial elements of any relationship. When targeting consumers, agents and advisors often rely on various content marketing tactics (educational materials, articles, etc.) to establish a sense of trust. However, converting a business owner might require extra effort on your part. Don’t be afraid to get out there, shake some hands, and do a little schmoozing. Face-to-face networking is one of the most effective B2B marketing tactics an agent or advisor can put to use.

Chamber of Commerce

Joining your local Chamber of Commerce can be a good way to get face time with a wide variety of business owners, non-profits, and economic development entities. Attend chamber meetings on a regular to build relationships with other members. Doing so will also show you have a vested interest in the local economy. This can go a long way with other entrepreneurs.

Additional Business Networks

Most communities have loosely-knit groups that exist for this exact purpose. These are usually established by other local business owners looking to establish B2B relationships of their own. In many cases, these groups consist of business owners who don’t belong to their local Chamber of Commerce but still seek networking opportunities. These casual get-togethers are great chances to exchange marketing ideas, meet local media personalities, and make new B2B connections.

Knock and Talk

There’s something to be said about the straight-forward approach. Keep an eye on new businesses opening up in your area. News outlets and your chamber of commerce can be a good resource for this. Attending ribbon-cutting ceremonies can be a great opportunity to show support and introduce yourself to the owner(s). If the business is located near your office, make it a point to stop by on occasion. Simply popping your head in the door to see how things are going can lead to a productive, professional relationship.

Presentation

Small business owners know how important it is to make a first impression with customers. From physical location to digital presence, successful entrepreneurs will pore over even the smallest details to make sure they come across as professional as possible. Why would they expect any less from you?

Be Organized and Professional

It doesn’t matter who the prospect is, or what they do for a living, your overall presentation is a crucial part of the sales process. That said, you should expect a higher level of scrutiny from business owners than the average consumer. In other words, professionals expect professionalism from other professionals. Assume you will be under a microscope from the start. Even the slightest hint of disorganization or poor etiquette can hinder a potential B2B relationship. When approaching business owners, it’s crucial that you put your best foot forward and strive to make a flawless impression at every point of contact.

Bring the Right Materials

Consumer-facing materials are a necessity when presenting life insurance information. Giving the prospect a brochure, pamphlet, or one-sheet to take home will give them the chance to go over details without feeling pressured by your presence. When pitching to a business owner, make sure you have materials that pertain to their business needs. Don’t overload them with extra brochures that aren’t relevant to the business applications of life insurance. Keep things on topic until they decide they’re interested in additional products, such as a personal policy.

**

Request our Life Insurance Overview guide, which includes sections on:

  • Types of Life Insurance
  • Benefits Beyond a Death Benefit
  • Business Application of Life Insurance
  • Life Insurance at a Glance

Geo-Targeting Tips for Advisors

A 1-mile geo-fence around Chicago’s Willis Tower, within Facebook’s ad platform

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.

A 1-mile radius around Legacy Financial Partners HQ

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.

The Great Facebook Crash of 2019

If you’re reading this, it’s safe to assume you survived the Great Facebook Crash of 2019. And thank goodness you did make it through the March 13 outage. Judging from the way many users reacted, one would think the Earth itself froze in orbit. Like any other website, Facebook is prone to the occasional outage. While most are brief, the most recent crash was the longest the platform has suffered in its 15-year history. For roughly 14 hours, millions of Facebookers were left stranded, unable to share memes, opine on current events, or post selfies.

The lights eventually came back on and life returned to normal. For the casual user, the outage was little more than an annoyance. But “annoying” probably isn’t strong enough a word to describe how businesses that have come to rely on social media as their primary marketing vehicle were feeling that day.

The Cost of the Crash

Facebook, as a corporate entity, took a hit due to the outage. The next day saw the company’s stock drop by 1.5% and, according to some analysts, the downtime cost them about $189 million. While that might be merely a drop in Facebook’s very large bucket, it was a much bigger deal for others. A full day without social engagement, advertising, and marketing can have a serious impact on small businesses. Some companies have claimed the outage cost them thousands of dollars in lost revenue and opportunities. Those losses could continue as many businesses are working to recover from the sudden drop in organic engagement.

Hopefully, the outage was not nearly as damaging to your businesses as it was to others. Most independent agents and advisors run pages geared toward localized, niche audiences. For them, a day without sharing content or boosting posts probably wasn’t the end of the world for most. But the outage very well could have hindered any time-sensitive/specific campaigns.

The Takeaway

The Great Facebook Crash of 2019 should teach us a very important lesson – don’t put all of your eggs into one basket. Facebook is among the most effective digital marketing tools out there, but it’s crucial that you diversify your efforts.

A well-rounded marketing strategy should incorporate a variety of methods to connect with your target market. LinkedIn and Twitter are both good ways to maintain a digital presence and keep your message out there. And while email might not be the best or quickest way to generate new leads, a well-organized and segmented list can allow you to get relevant content to multiple prospects at once.

Outages like this are not unheard of and should not give us any reason to be concerned over the future of Facebook. Zuckerberg’s social media monster is not going away anytime soon, if at all. However, the recent crash was a stark reminder that a world where businesses ran successful marketing campaigns did exist before Facebook. That’s not to suggest you learn Morse Code to promote your brand. But it does shine some light on the many digital mediums that have cropped up since (and probably because) Facebook came into existence. The digital landscape is a wide-open and full of opportunities to engage, connect, and convert. The question is, will you start exploring those opportunities now, or wait until the next Great Facebook Crash?

 

Should Advisors Become Redditors?

Reddit LogoWhen it comes to online marketing, social media is one of the most powerful tools out there. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Nextdoor all present a wealth of opportunities. We use them to boost brand awareness, generate new leads, and stay connected with clients and prospects. One of the biggest benefits of social media is the ability for entrepreneurs to actively participate in conversations with their target market.

This level of engagement is your chance to showcase your expertise to social media users looking for advice from a knowledgeable professional. The time spent scanning these platforms for opportunities can pay off big in the end. That said, social media can be a crowded and competitive space. This is why advisors may want to include alternative avenues of engagement. There is one avenue in particular that has been gaining momentum as of late – Reddit.

What is Reddit?

Reddit is a forum-styled news aggregation board that launched in 2005. By 2018, it had become one of the most highly trafficked websites in the world, with more than 542 million users logging in each month to post about an endless number of topics. The site does have somewhat of a questionable reputation due to the amount of explicit content. But there are plenty of legitimate and productive conversations taking place within the hundreds of “safe-for-work” communities hosted by the site.

Navigating Reddit

Reddit communities, known as “subreddits,” cover a wide range of topics. This includes several that fall under the wheelhouse of financial professionals. These subreddits are filled with posts from users with questions and concerns over personal finance, life insurance, investments, and other relevant topics. Advisors can build and foster relationships with users by responding to these posts with credible and qualified answers.

Keep in mind that it might take a little time and effort for new users to learn how to properly navigate the site. They also set strict rules outlining what you can and can’t post. But once you become familiar with things, you’ll have access to dozens of finance-related subreddits. Some worth exploring include:

Targeting Reddit Users

Reddit’s ad platform is set up to target specific communities and users. Reddit campaigns can be used to boost brand awareness, drive website traffic, lead generation, and other methods of engagement. Advertisers can target users based on location, interest, or the subreddits they frequent. The platform also features scheduling and budget options.

The value Reddit can provide for you as an advisor is largely based on how well you use the site. Some may find it worth the effort, while others might not. But due to the number of Millennials who actively participate in the site, it deserves some exploration.

Good luck and happy Redditing!