Marketing to Generation X: What Advisors Should Know
There will be many dramatic demographic shifts over the next decade. In fact, we’ve already seen huge shifts in population vectors over the last few years, with a growing (and increasingly relevant) Millennial population, squeezed Gen-Xers, and a large Boomer/Senior market facing challenges other retirees never had to face.
Reaching each segment of the population will require understanding and skill. You may only focus on Boomer/Seniors for retirement planning services; however in ten years you will be dealing with digitally savvy Gen-Xers. You may feel that Millennials aren’t worth the chase, but in short time they will present a huge opportunity.
A truly successful agent or advisor will need to be able to sashay between the generations, which means having a good grasp of the issues each segment faces and marketing in a manner that best reaches them. We’ve already discussed in detail what will impact boomers in the next year. In this two-part series we’ll discuss what Gen-Xers are Millennials are facing, and how advisors can reach them. Part I, Generation X, is below.
Generation X is generally considered to be individuals born between 1965 and 1981, although other demarcations may be used. What that means, however, is that some Gen-Xers are turning 50. Yes, the generation that saw the rise of MTV, hip-hop, and heavy metal, is now AARP eligible.
So how do Gen-Xers feel about retirement? Generally, they are pessimistic. Gen-Xers were the hardest hit by the Great Recession, losing nearly half of their wealth. They have less money saved for retirement, and the amounts they do have is not enough. Gen-Xers have a high lack of confidence when it comes to retirement, with 42% of respondents in an Insured Retirement Institute survey stating they feel they won’t have enough retirement funds to live comfortably.
Gen-Xers are also getting squeezed by Boomers and Millennials, both of which are larger in size than their generation. In many ways, the longer life expectancy of their parent’s generation is hurting Generation X. Throw in their adult Millennial children with limited earning power, and you can see how the former x-treme generation is facing a great deal of financial pressure.
This is not to say that Gen-Xers don’t have assets or good retirement planning instincts. A recent PNC survey found indications that many Gen-Xers have overcome some of the challenges associated with the Great Recession, even if they still express fears of outliving their money in retirement. However, other things like consumer debt and risk aversion continue to drag on many Gen-Xers’ ability to build a robust retirement portfolio. Time horizon may also be a factor in Gen-Xers retirement thinking; according to the PNC survey, this generation expects to retire at the average age of 63.6, more than two years earlier than Boomers.
In short we have a generation that:
- is squeezed by other generations
- took a critical hit just as they were reaching their peak earning power
- may have significant consumer debt
- may have more familial obligations
- may have unrealistic time horizons for retirement
- is worried about outliving their money
- is taking steps to save for retirement
- has some investable assets
How to Reach Gen Xers
Although Gen-Xers face challenges from many financial angles, they still have time to make up for retirement saving deficits. With a mix of assets and earning power, it is possible for a troubled Gen-Xer to have a retirement plan that, while perhaps not wholly ideal, is robust.
One problem is that they may be too suspicious of financial advisors. A 2014 report from the Insured Retirement Institute found that 77% of Gen-Xers are not consulting with a financial advisor. Yet the same report found that only a third of Gen-Xers rate themselves as highly knowledgeable on financial matters.
Reaching Generation X
According to the Allianz Generations Apart Study, 64% of Gen-Xers would consult with a financial professional “who’s empathetic and nonjudgmental.” The same study suggests that there are some contradictory feelings about retirement within Generation X: 72% are unable to pin down their retirement expenses, while 55% envision retirement as being relaxed and easy. So there is a real need for practical solutions, yet Gen-Xers are clouded by their own confusing ideas of retirement.
Vanderbilt suggests being transparent and straightforward with Gen-Xers, which is certainly good advice for any business, but especially important with this segment of the population. The more studies you read about Generation X and their financial concerns, the more you get a sense of a group a people gun-shy and battered by the economic storms they’ve had to weather. It makes sense that this generation would be confused and protective of their money, even at the detriment to their asset building potential.
Marketing and Media
While Gen-Xers are very active online, their usage, segmented by digital platforms and devices, often falls between Millennials and Boomers.
While Gen-Xers use many different devices to access information, they prefer laptops for “high-attention/high complexity” tasks.
According to a study by Fractl and BuzzStream, the top five most consumed content types for Generation X are in order:
- Blog Articles
- Case Studies
While the most favored type of content for all generations is entertainment, when compared to the Boomers and Millennials, Generation X is the segment that most prefers content on personal finance.
Generation X uses Facebook and Twitter more to share content, when compared with other platforms, according to the study by Fractl and BuzzStream.
Smart Hustle suggests avoiding hard sales pitches and a blended marketing (traditional and digital) approach when trying to reach Generation X.
- 8% of heads of households age 35-44 respond to direct mail
- 1% of those in the 45-54 age group respond (most likely to respond)
Since Gen Xers are skeptical of financial advisors, you should consider a drip campaign to successfully bring a lead to appointment or conversion. Provide clear solutions with no hard sales pitches. Create blogs, eBooks, and case studies that speak to Generation X concerns. While this generation is engages digitally, it is also receptive to direct mail, so do ignore direct mail as a marketing platform.
It’s important to remember that within every population segment, there will be variation. Not every marketing approach will work, which is why it’s crucial to have an adaptive marketing strategy, even with target market segments. However, Gen-Xers, broadly speaking, are very concerned about their retirement prospects. They need financial advisors, whether they know it or not.
Stay Tuned For Part II: Millennials.
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Great American Lowering Rates
Great American has announced a series of rate, bonus, and commission decreases that will take affect February 15th and February 21st. Interest rates are dropping for 5 products and the American Valor 10 will see commission, rate, and bonus decreases. Call today to get an updated rate sheet.
North American has announced that they will be discontinuing the Custom GrowthCV and Custom TermGUK effective March 1st. North American cited low sales volume for the reason of the discontinuation. Applications must be received by the home office by March 1, 2016.
Many advisors don’t realize that they’re wasting a huge opportunity with aged leads. With any marketing campaign there will be prospects that are ready to do something now and others that are interested but not ready to move forward yet. Oftentimes advisors tend to only focus on the prospects that are ready to do business now and fail to nurture the leads that don’t take action now. Implementing a drip marketing system can be a great way to continue to stay in front of prospects that haven’t done business with you yet. Not only will it help position you as a knowledgeable advisor it also increases your chances of doing business with the prospect when they are ready to move forward. The other benefit to drip marketing is that if structured properly it can be automated so that the marketing is going out while you are focusing on other aspects of your business. Call us today to discuss how to get an effective drip marketing campaign implemented.
Genworth Suspends Sales
Genworth has announced that it will suspend sales of all life insurance and annuity products effective March 7, 2016. In addition Genworth announced a round of layoffs last Thursday. The news was announced last Wednesday and it remains to be seen what the next steps for Genworth will be.
North American Income Choice
The Income Choice 10 is a 10 year product that offers a variety of competitive index options in multiple indices. In addition to this it offers a 5% GLWB bonus and offers a 2% stacking income rider plus 150% interest credit from the accumulation value to the income account value. Call today for additional details.
North American Dropping Rates
North American will be dropping caps on several of their IUL Products effective February 29th. Money will need to be received at the home office by February 25th to receive current rates. Call today to get an updated rate sheet.
National Life Dropping Rates
National Life has dropped rates on their UL and IUL products effective February 1st. Most of the decreases are around .25bps with participation rate strategies dropping 5%-10%. Call today for an updated rate sheet.
Athene Sales Opportunity
Athene is currently running a sales contest through April 8th of this year for their Performance Elite FIA series. Clients can get up to a 12% bonus with an annual point to point cap. While the advisor can earn up to an additional 1% bonus on top of their commission. Call today for additional contest details and product information.
Symetra Completes Transaction
Effective February 1st Symetra completed the transaction to sell to Sumitomo Life Insurance Company of Japan. With this completion of the sale Moody’s has upgraded Symetra’s financial strength rating from A3 to A2.
Forethought Income 150+
Forethought’s Income 150+ is a competitive 10 year product that offers competitive income and caps. The product offers up to a 50% premium bonus to the income account value and effective February 1st has added a new volatility control index managed by Blackrock. Call today for details and state availability.
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Go Deep on Ideal Retirement
“What does your ideal retirement look like?”
This is an important question, often posed by advisors and agents to potential clients during an initial appointment. The question helps to gauge what matters most in retirement for the consumer and to plot financial planning strategies. However, consumers likely offer up general answers (i.e. “I’d like to travel, or I want to spend more time with family”), which the advisor uses to roughly outline a plan. The truth is that many consumers have yet to fully consider what retirement means for them and also that advisors don’t spend enough time going deeper into retirement specifics.
Deeper probing can help prospects identify their retirement goals and target the solutions needed to the achieve them. For the advisor it helps build rapport and makes you seem more empathetic. More importantly, once you have delved deep into retirement lifestyle specifics, consumers connect strongly with you and your expertise. They now have a more tangible picture of what retirement means and have more “buy in” to your solutions. You may identify other planning needs.
This is somewhat related to the behavioral concept of mental accounting. This particular bias describes how individuals attach irrational value to money (or accounts) based on it’s origination or intended purpose. So a $10 windfall from a lotto scratcher is likely seen as “free money” to use on entertainment, even if you owe a friend $20. Or money saved for a vacation may get treated differently than other sources of income, even when it comes covering unexpected bills. Financial planning can work the same way and turn mental accounting into a positive that ultimately helps the prospect actualize their retirement goals. Going deep in ideal retirement discussions allows consumers to attach more value to a hypothetical source of funds that will become real with your expert solutions.
So how do you go deep? Here are some questions that help you probe further.
The prospect wants to travel more-
- “Do you know where you wish to travel once you are retired?”
- “How much will your travel cost? How have you saved for this retirement goal?”
- “Will there be a central base for your travels?”
- “How often will you travel?”
The prospect wants to spend more time with family-
- “Will you move to be closer with family?”
- “Will someone move to be closer to you?”
- “Do you plan on helping family members financially, for instance helping to pay education for a child or grandchild?”
The prospect wants to start a new business-
- “Is this business designed to be a main source of income, or a passion you will follow?”
- “How have you saved for this retirement goal? How much will it cost to establish your new business venture?”
- “Will you need further education to pursue this goal?”
- “If this business is unsuccessful, will you be able to maintain acceptable retirement income?”
The prospect wants to focus more on hobbies, leisure, or passions-
- “What types of hobbies do you plan focusing on?”
- “What kinds of costs are associated with these hobbies?”
- “What types of leisure activities will you engage in during your retirement?”
- “Do you plan on purchasing a recreation vehicle or boat to pursue your interests?”
- “Will you be spending time volunteering or performing charity work?”
- “Will you need extra sources of income for your volunteer or charity work?”
- “Will you downsize to a smaller house?”
- “Are you thinking about moving to a new place?”
- “What’s still left on your bucket list?”
- “Will a spouse be dependent on your resources?”
- “Will you retire much earlier than your spouse?”
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Lincoln National Dropping Rates
Effective February 1st Lincoln National will be dropping rates on several of their fixed and indexed annuities. Applications must be at the home office by January 29th to qualify for the current rates. Call today for an updated rate sheet.
Equitrust Raises Rates
Equitrust has raised rates on the WealthMax Bonus IUL. This single premium simplified issue product offers a return of premium in addition to competitive cash accumulation and death benefit. Call today for additional details and an updated rate sheet.
The new year has ushered in a number of tax changes from last year. Since W-2’s and 1099’s must be mailed by the 1st this can be a great opportunity to meet with clients. Available for download is a 2016 tax update that lays out all of the changes for the new year.
AIG Advisor Group Sold
AIG announced today that AIG Advisor Group(the company’s network of broker dealers) has been sold to Lightyear Capital and PSP Investments. The deal is expected to be finalized in the second quarter of this year.
Term with Living Benefits
We get a lot of questions about life products with either ltc or chronic illness benefits. This is an area where production continues to grow year over year as consumers have started to look at alternatives to traditional LTC. While most advisors are aware these riders are available on permanent products there are also a number of lower cost term plans that incorporate these types of benefits. Call today to get a full list and product detail.
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Energize the New Year with a Short-Term Marketing Plan
It’s finally 2016. While you may be finally getting over the hangover of the holidays and slowly settling in for a new year of business, there’s one thing you may have overlooked—your marketing plan. This is important, as the first couple of months for many advisors can be a down period. Although having a long-term marketing plan is going to be best, here are five best practices for creating a short-term solution to get you through the slump.
Identify Your Target Market
Any good marketing plan, whether short-term or long-term, will begin with identifying your ideal target market. However, your short-term target may be different than your long-term target, since you are likely looking for quantity as much as quality in the short-term. Leads that while not yielding higher production, are easier to convert.
Have Specific Goals
Just because you are looking for quick short-term growth does not mean you can’t be specific with your ideal results. If this year, as it is for many advisors, is starting in a slump, identify specific goals you hope to achieve. This could be a revenue target, or number of appointments set, or a number of leads in a set timeframe, or it could be a mix of all of these. The point is that having ill-defined objectives will get you ill-defined results.
Consider Marketing Platforms That Offer Efficient and Immediate Results
Once you have figured out your target market and specific goals, consider the means of your marketing. While the central question in evaluating your marketing options is what’s going to give the most bang for your buck, in a short-term plan, you will want to focus on things that give you immediate results. This can include methods and programs such as live lead transfer systems, direct mail, presets, e-blasts, online leads and networking events. When compared to more involved means such as seminars, the leads may not be as qualified in your short-term marketing strategy, but they should get you in front of more potential clients. Some of these options may ultimately cost more on a per-lead basis, but they can dramatically shorten the time to convert. Some of them, such as e-blasts and digital marketing, are relatively inexpensive and things you should be doing already.
As with any marketing plan, you will need to establish a reasonable (and practical) budget. Since you will be working on a shorter time frame, and are starting at the beginning of the year when cash flow may be weakened, the budget you can set for your short-term marketing may be limited. This is actually okay, as you probably don’t want to use large portions of your overall yearly marketing budget in the first six weeks of the year. Choose smart marketing options that balance your immediate need for qualified leads with your need to keep operational costs low.
Develop Your Long-Term Marketing Plan
The points above can help you survive a slump or jumpstart a down period, but they do not make for a sustainable marketing plan. Relying only on these short-term solutions may deplete your budgets and exhaust your target market. You may find that your marketing solutions are not worth the return on investment. As you implement your short-term marketing plan, make sure that you also spend time developing your long-term marketing plan. Consider goals on longer timeframes, i.e. where do you want you business to be at the end of the year, where do you want it to be in five years, what new client types will you pursue. For more information about how to develop a long-term marketing plan, check out our earlier Marketing Corner post, “Your Insurance Marketing Plan.”
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Lincoln National has announced a reprice for their LifeGuarantee UL that will take affect February 8, 2016. Premiums for all cells will have either been reduced or will remain constant. In particular rates have been improved in the 50+ market. Call today for additional details.
Equitrust Certainty Select
Equitrust has announced it will be discontinuing the optional rider for the Certainty Select MYGA. The rider will be discontinued February 1, 2016. Applications must be at the home office by January 29, 2016 to still get the rider. Call today for additional details.
Advanced Lead Nurturing
When you generate a lead you try to set an appointment with the prospect. If you’re not able to set an appointment then you drop them into your drip marketing bucket. It’s no secret that the highest probability of setting an appointment is in the first 30 days after receiving the lead. In addition to this the chance of setting an appointment increases with each contact you have with the prospect. Available for download is our Supercharge Your Leads sales guide which shows you how to create additional non invasive contacts with a prospect to increase your appointment setting ratio.
Interesting Stats From LIMRA
Two-thirds of women age 50 and older say they split financial decisions with their spouses, while fewer than half of men admit to sharing decisions.
For both women and men who are primary decision makers, only one-quarter have a formal retirement income plan.
Advisers who help their clients with retirement income planning have greater client satisfaction and loyalty.
Voya Wealth Builder Plus
The Wealth Builder Plus by Voya is a competitive 8 year FIA designed for accumulation. The product offers 4 crediting options with annual point to point caps up to 7.5%. In addition to this product allows for flexible premiums and offers a nursing home rider as well. Call today for additional details and state availability.
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Supercharge Your Leads!
According to Aberdeen, it can take an average of 10 “touches” to draw a lead through your marketing funnel before a sale occurs. Although the actual amount of marketing touches will vary across industries and target markets, it’s generally true that the best leads take nurturing. Rarely do you snag a sale on the first go; rather it takes serial contact, sometimes months, even years.
What this means is that while playing the long game can pay off hugely, the first stages of contact are especially critical. Many advisors (wisely) have a drip marketing system in place, but how do you supercharge leads before they enter the drip? How do you make it more likely that a lead will convert (and convert early) in your pipeline?
This is where efficient lead nurturing comes in to play. There are many different ideas about what exactly lead nurturing is and various methods to perform it. For our purposes, lead nurturing is any serial contact with a prospect. Your methods can include emails, phone calls, direct mail, social media—really anything you already have in your tool kit to communicate with prospects. It’s the how that’s the secret to efficient nurturing and supercharging your leads.
What methods you use will be specific to you and your target market. You likely will use a variety of methods as you communicate with a prospect, especially if you identify early on they are a type of client you want to work with. That said, this guide is going to focus on phone and email, since that’s what you will use most when you begin to talk with a prospect. We’ve also found, through the advisors we work with, that thirty days is a good timeframe for actively nurturing leads before placing them in a more passive drip campaign. It’s in this thirty day period you should learn enough about your prospect to place them on a targeted track, and they should be able to learn enough about you and your value proposition.
Here’s the how:
Follow Up As Soon As Possible, Be Persistent
Whenever you identify a lead, don’t waste anytime in reaching out to them. Multiple marketing studies have confirmed that the likelihood of contacting a prospect, and their value as a lead, decreases significantly over time. Even a lapse of a few hours can dramatically make connecting with the lead more difficult.
However, the chance of making contact rises with every attempt. One study found that the chance of contact rose to 90% by the sixth call attempt.
Be Succinct and Clear
Unless follow-up emails warrant lengthy explanations, be as succinct and clear as possible, while still having a friendly, professional tone. The financial world can be overwhelming to those without their feet in it, so avoid unnecessary jargon and overexplanation. This does not mean, however, you shouldn’t try to educate—you absolutely should—just be aware of the limitations that come with engaging with someone who may not be familiar with financial concepts through email.
It sounds simple enough, but it can’t be overstated. Use probing skills to find out the specific needs or inquiry of the prospect. Once a prospect has explained their situation and identified that they aren’t ready to buy, many advisors focus their probing on reasons why the client isn’t ready to purchase. Certainly hesitations and concerns need to be addressed, but asking a lead “what’s preventing you from purchasing today” only goes so far and came across as aggressive.
Balance this question with further probing into the prospect’s specific situation. Use soft skills to build rapport and take the edge off pointed pitches. If you have good interactions and demonstrate you care, the lead will be receptive to further marketing touches.
While you should take every effort to personalize every piece of communication with a lead (and certain email systems make this possible to do on drip emails), having an active hand and high personal touch in initial interactions can go a long way to fostering a good relationship and increasing the likelihood of purchase at some point. Lead nurturing emails can get 4-10 times the response rate as compared to regular email blasts. According to Aberdeen, personalized emails increase conversion rates by 10% and click through rates by 14%.
Draw on Relevant Content and Articles
As you go back and forth with a lead, make sure to take note of the areas that concern them. This could be held in your CRM or some other detailed note taking process. When you come across articles that speak to the concerns of your prospect, share them. Better yet, you could create content based on your conversation and interactions. Say a prospect is concerned with Social Security changes—if you had some pieces ready to go, plus a current news article that delves into this topic, plus maybe an infographic, you would a have a bundled package that not only educates them on their concerns, but demonstrates your expertise and specific interest with the prospect.
Don’t Stop Nurturing a Lead
In our marketing funnel framework, we’ve outlined that the first thirty days are a critical period to engage with a lead. This is when you apply your most direct, active, and personal marketing touches with the aim to convert the prospect or leave them with a good impression by the time you drop them into your passive drip marketing process. This structure allows you to provide the most personal marketing touches when it matters most.
However, just because a lead is in your drip funnel, doesn’t mean that you can’t (or shouldn’t) make more direct marketing touches every now and then. Touch base with phone calls, issue targeted offers, and send personalized emails. This will allow you to “rake the coals,” so to speak, and potentially leverage a prospect that is further down your marketing pipeline.
**Need help with Supercharging Your Leads? Legacy Financial Partners has created a helpful sales guide that includes this article, email templates, and a marketing funnel illustration. Submit your information for your free guide.
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