Marketing Corner – Thursday December 14th, 2017
In last week’s Marketing Corner, we discussed how advisors can use the downturn around the end of the year to evaluate their year in the business. This week’s post discusses how to create an insurance marketing plan to hit the next year running.
A marketing plan is a lot like a business plan. It organizes many aspects of your business and projects forward to specific, achievable goals. You can think of a marketing plan as part of your overall business plan or as something that dovetails with your business plan. However you think of it, having a written catalog of marketing goals is particularly helpful in charting the growth of your practice.
It may seem like unnecessary homework, especially when you have many operational, day-to-day duties. But use the end-of-the-year downturn to consider at length your marketing plan. Draw on input and feedback from all your employees and draft a document that can be shared among relevant parties.
Here is a simple five-step process for creating an insurance marketing plan.
Step 1: Assess Current State of Business
Using metrics and feedback, assess how your company is growing. Consider what’s working and what isn’t. Compare metrics to previous months and years. Get an overall sense of how the company is situated. Is there a particular market that you are seeing more business from? Less?
Step 2: List/Brainstorm Goals
Consider your main goals for the next coming months and years. Identify them by timeframe, i.e. “in two months, I’d like to see this much growth,” “by next year I want small businesses as clients as well as individuals,” “in eighteen months, we need to see a 200 percent increase in revenue.” Obviously, your goals will be unique to you and your practice, but don’t be afraid to list out everything you want and what you think is reasonably achievable. Once you have your list of goals, prioritize them and plot them on their respective timeframes.
Step 3: Identify Specific and Non-Specific Goals
From the list, separate your goals into specific and non-specific categories. When we ask agents what they want for their business, many initially offer non-specific goals like “I’d like to see growth,” or “I want to get more appointments,” or “I’d like to convert more leads.” Non-specific goals can be good for the broad trajectory of your business, but being more
specific will help you figure out how to achieve short-term goals.
For instance, let’s say you did $500,000 in production last year. You might say, “I’d like to see if I can do a million even.” Depending on your area and specialty, this may or may not be a reasonable goal, but at least it is specific, with quantifiable and measurable metrics.
Here are some non-specific goals with their specific equivalents:
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|“I’d like to see more business by the end of the year.”||“In the last half of 2017 we did $250,000 in production from twelve clients. For the last half of this year, let’s see if we can do $400,000 in production from 15-20 clients.”|
|“I want to do more digital branding and marketing.”||“We should have an interactive consumer-facing website in the next two months and implement an email drip campaign.”|
|“I want more big fish clients.”||“Let’s target pre-retiree doctors and try to convert ten to clients by the end of the year.”|
Non-specific goals are not always bad. They can provide you a sense of your company’s big picture and provide direction for your various specific goals.
Step 4: Identify Your Target Market(s)
Every business should have an idea of who is buying from them and who they want buying from them. A large retailer or restaurant wants anybody and everybody to shop from them, but they also know based on experience and purchase habits, who is coming to their stores. They are fine with a large number of small-to-medium sized purchases, but they obviously want as many big purchases as they can get.
Likewise, you as an insurance agent or financial advisor might want anybody (usually meeting an income threshold) who can benefit from your services. So if you think that your target market is anybody, you will get anybody—which could be a hodge-podge of leads and prospects that burn before you can convert them or might be a steady stream of small fish clients that keep your business afloat without significant growth. This type of business is good and well—it’s where the majority of business likely comes from and it’s important to not ignore it.
But if you can target specific market types while you conduct everyday business you will be positioned for growth. Going back to step 1, where you assessed the state of your business, think again about the client types you already work with. Where does the majority of your business come from? What are things you can do to enhance production from this segment of your business? What are potential client types to pursue harder? Profile your target clients. For example:
Client Type: Pre-Retiree Doctors
Income Threshold: 80,000 per year
How Many Current Clients: 5
How Many Brought On Last Year: 2
Goal For This Year: 4
Client Type: Mid-Level Professional
Income Threshold: 60,000 per year
How Many Current Clients: 18
How Many Brought on Last Year: 7
Goal For This Year: 12
Step 5: The How (Matching Marketing Solutions To Target Markets and Goals)
This step is where you begin to think about marketing solutions to go after your target markets and specific goals. With any new business initiative, cost will always be a deciding factor. The one thing we’ve found working with our agents is that not one single strategy will work; rather, it is a mix of targeted strategies that grow brand awareness and bring in more prospects.
When thinking about marketing solutions consider:
Appropriateness for target market
The senior market may be less receptive to digital marketing and a younger market may not be receptive to direct mail
Cost and ease of implementation
Digital solutions like social media, email, and web campaigns, may be relatively cost-effective for a broader audience. But more expensive solutions like workshops may be what pull in higher-end clients
Metrics and Logs
What kind of measurements will you use to track your marketing campaign? Digital marketing is great because platforms like social media and e-blasts provide easy ways to track response rates.
Once you have followed through on your marketing plan examine what worked and what didn’t. Then you go back to Step 1. While your overall, non-specific goals for the business may not change, your specific ones can and should. A good marketing plan is not only a document to chart the future of your company and keep you accountable, it is a living document that changes and grows as you do.
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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Prudential Price Reduction
Prudential has announced a price reduction on the Term Essential product line. The reduction will become effective January 2, 2018.
SBLI Double Your Money Bonus
SBLI is running a promotion from December 1st-January 31st for their term and whole life products. For every 5 applications with a premium of $500.00 or more an agent can earn up to $750.00 in AMEX gift cards. Agents can earn a total of $5,000.00. Call today for additional details.
Estate Planning Mistakes
It is a common misconception that only very affluent individuals need to do estate planning. The reality is that everyone needs to have a plan for how assets will be distributed at their death. Available for download are 10 common estate planning mistakes.
According to LIMRA sales of LTC hybrid products increased by 12% in 2016 while sales of standalone LTC fell by 13%.
Athene Performance Elite 7
Athene’s Performance Elite 7 is a short term 7 year product designed for accumulation. The product offers up to 115% participation rates, 10% free withdrawals starting in year 1, and a return of premium feature after the fourth year. In addition to this an optional income rider can be added to the product that also provides a 5% premium bonus. Call today for additional details and state availability.
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In a recent post, InsuranceNewsNet discussed the challenges presented by companies that are “born digital.” These “Born digital” companies (think Amazon, Airbnb, Uber, and the like) have set customer service expectations that filter to all kinds of organizations, including insurance companies, argues Lincoln Financial president and CEO Dennis R. Glass.
This is especially true for younger consumers. Born digital companies connect directly with their consumers, offer efficient and immediate brand response, provide clear and user-friendly interfaces. “Born legacy” organizations, say insurance companies, have to match the consumer experience offered by born digital firms.
Here are five ways you can compete with “born digital” companies:
Whether you engage with your consumers through email, social media messaging, or phone, it is always going to be a good idea to respond quickly to inquiries and follow-up questions. Leads decay a little bit over time—this is true if you’re dealing with a Boomer prospect who responded to a direct mail piece or a Millennial who asked a question on your company’s Facebook page.
Publish Engaging Content
A good content strategy will employ a mix of formats and topics. For example, short status updates, brief blog-style posts, longer in-depth articles, leveraged content from other sources. While you may have a specialty or focus, create posts that address a variety of topics. Financial planning has many different areas that can be covered—consider who your audience is. Boomers may be more concerned about Social Security and positioning assets for retirement, whereas younger consumers will likely be concerned with wealth accumulation and dealing with student debt.
Modernize Your Website
An outdated website can make it difficult for your client base to quickly access relevant information about you and your company. Your site should have clear, easy to follow information presented logically, adhere to good design basics. Large buttons, uncomplicated fonts, and high-resolution visuals enhance the user experience for all consumers types—Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials. Modernizing your site also means that it is mobile friendly with numerous ways for your consumers to contact you directly from their phone.
Provide Useful Digital Tools
Selling financial services and insurance online is very different than selling tangible products (ala Amazon) or providing a convenience service (ala Uber). Online shopping outlets can capture large spans of consumer attention with an endless array of products to peruse, ratings to compare, and digital widgets. In the financial services sphere, however, there are things you can do to encourage consumers to spend time on your website and connect with your brand. For example, quote tools, calculators, and other similar interactive elements. Some advisors do draw on these resources when constructing their website. But they fail to pick relevant calculator tools, or choose ones that have too many variables, or they put them on a little-seen Resources tab.
Offer Kits, Guides, and Whitepapers
Build up a library of guides and marketing material that can be easily accessed by consumers. This library can contain product information, concept pages, worksheets, and yes, even a brochure on why the consumer should work with you. These things should be available on your website and promoted on your social media platforms. You can (and should) also do e-blasts on them. Whether you offer them as a direct download or issue them through a follow-up email, you should still use a form capture screen—the simpler the better.
Consider Video – Video will generally see higher levels of engagement compared to other forms of content.
Balance Digital and Traditional Marketing – Just because you are attempting to attract more digital natives, does not mean that other, more traditional forms of marketing won’t work for you. Embrace both and strike a balance.
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Great American Sunsetting Product
Great American has announced that it will be retiring the Safe Outlook FIA. Applications must be received by December 29th and funds must be received by Friday March 2, 2018.
AXA Conversion Options
AXA has announced for a limited time they will allow the addition of their LTC rider to term conversions. The term application must be purchased between September 15, 2017- March 31, 2018. When the client decides to convert the term plan they can add the LTC rider with limited underwriting. Call today for additional details.
For many small businesses there is typically a small nucleus of employees that keep the company going in addition to the business owner. In the event that the business owner passes away a stay bonus can be a viable option to ensure that the succession plan works according to plan. Offering a stay bonus funded by life insurance ensures that key employees stay with the company in the event of the business owners death. Call today for additional details on how to implement this strategy.
The Department of Labor released a final rule on Monday the 27th officially delaying the enforcement mechanisms of the Fiduciary Rule until July of 2019.
F&G Retirement Pro
F&G’s Retirement Pro is a competitive 10 year product that offers a 7% premium bonus and is designed for income. This unique product offers a 14% annual pt to pt benefit base cap with no rider fee. In addition to this the product offers a Health Care Doubler and a fixed rate of 4.5%. Call today for additional details.
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Legacy Financial Partners would like to extend a hearty thanks to you. We hope that your Thanksgiving holiday is full of food, family, and fun.
In observance of the Thanksgiving holiday, our Topeka office will be closed Thursday, November 23rd, and Friday, November 24th.
Please check out our latest Marketing Corner, our weekly blog which helps advisors with tips on marketing and growing your business in an ever-evolving age.
LFP Closed For Thanksgiving
Legacy Financial Partners will be closed Thursday and Friday 11/23-11/24 in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday.
AIG A&H Product Changes
Effective November 18th AIG has discontinued sales of their Accident injury and stand-alone Critical Illness products. AIG cited uncertainty in the health care marketplace as well as a challenging regulatory environment as factors that led to the decision.
Many advisors will send cards and correspondence during the month of December as well as hold client appreciation events. Thanksgiving can be a great opportunity to let your clients know that you appreciate them being a client and can go a long way to further strengthening the relationship.
SEC Enforcement Priorities
The SEC has announced that its focus in 2018 will be enforcement efforts on retail investors, cybersecurity, and financial fraud. The SEC has developed a new team called the SEC Retail Strategy Task Force to implement the plan.
Global Atlantic Lifetime Builder ELITE
Global Atlantic has rolled out several modifications to its Lifetime Builder IUL. The new version of the product now offers a guaranteed 1% account value enhancement that starts at the end of year 5, flexibility to reallocate funds before the maturity date of a segment, and a new linked loan option. In addition to this the product offers competitive caps and was designed for distribution strategies. Call today for additional details and state availability.
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Wednesday, November 15th, 2017
Understanding Your Value Proposition
As important as prospecting and marketing are to your practice, these activities can be all for naught without a good understanding of your value proposition. Surely you’ve heard this phrase before and have some idea of what it means. But clearly understanding the term and how it specifically applies to your business, can enhance your operation.
There are many ways people think of a value proposition. First, as a broad, general idea of what distinguishes you from your competitors. What does your firm excel at or specialize in, that others in your area don’t? Why should consumers seek you out over XYZ Financial Group down the street? What service levels are inherently promised to new clients?
Often when discussing marketing plans with new agents, they will emphasize they want to highlight their “value proposition,” but really mean to simply market whatever they do. This is the more casual use of the term value proposition.
But there is a more specific and detailed use of value proposition that many firms ignore. In its more proper usage, a value proposition is a written statement, along the same lines as a mission/vision statement.
This statement can be focused internally, as a way for you and your team to align your business. The statement can also be focused externally, as a way for consumers to understand why they should come to you.
What’s In A Good Value Proposition?
At the most basic level, a value proposition explains the benefits your firm provides to your target market and how well you specifically do this. A value proposition condenses the whole arc of your business into a few sentences. It is the recipe for your operation.
There are four basic elements to a value proposition statement:
- Your consumers
- The specific problem(s) you solve
- The service you provide
- How you are distinguished from competitors
Writing A Value Proposition
Understand Your Target Market
Advisors and agents often have a very vague idea about who their target market is, especially if they can service many consumer segments. You can have value propositions for each consumer segment you target, or one overarching value proposition the encompasses your whole practice. The point is to have a definite idea of the individuals you want as clients—what do they need, why do they need this, when do they need it, and why is what you do relevant to them.
Understand The Problem
What problems/needs are facing your consumers?
Understand Your Service
How do your services solve the problem? Why does a consumer need your services?
Understand Your Uniqueness
Sometimes what distinguishes you from your competitors can be experience. Sometimes it can be a specialty or area of focus. Sometimes it can be an approach. But you should really consider what makes you unique with as much specificity as possible.
With 20 years’ experience, XYZ Financial Group helps Federal Employees optimize their pension choice for a better retirement.
Target – Federal Employees
Problem – implicit, but Fed retirement can be difficult.
Service – Pension Optimization
Uniqueness – 20 years, experience, fed employee specialty
Our Retirement Planning process involves a custom 5-step approach to uncover what really matters to you.
Target – Individuals planning for retirement.
Problem – Individuals may not know how to define what matters to them in retirement.
Service – Retirement planning
Uniqueness – A custom approach, a process
Finding a Medigap policy shouldn’t be a hassle. XYZ incorporates healthcare plan consultations into our retirement planning so Boomers like you are ready for retirement.
Target – Boomers, specifically pre-Medicare age
Problem – Finding a Medigap policy can be difficult
Service – healthcare plan consultations, specifically Medigap
Uniqueness – (implicit) Healthcare planning may not always be included with retirement planning, but this company does.
Certainly, there are many, many different ways to construct and use a value proposition. By considering your target market, the problems you solve, and the uniqueness of your business, you can better calibrate your services and market yourself to consumers. You may discover through the process of crafting a value proposition statement that what you offer isn’t all that unique or that you are overlooking a more distinguishing element of your firm.
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Global Atlantic Sales Incentive
Global Atlantic is currently running a promotion through 12/31/17 that is paying an additional .50bps for any annuities submitted via E-App. In addition to this producers can receive an additional .50bps on sales of the Choice Accumulation, Choice Income, or Income 150+. Call today for additional details.
Transamerica Financial Foundation IUL
Transamerica has sunset the TransNavigator IUL. Moving forward the Financial Foundation IUL will be the flagship accumulation product for Transamerica. Call today for additional details and state availability.
Liquidity For Life’s What If’s
AIG offers a competitive GUL that allows a client to access funds 5 different ways based off of longevity, chronic illness, or just a change in planning needs. Call today for additional details.
CVS In Discussions To Buy Aetna
It was announced last week that CVS was in discussions to purchase Aetna for $66 billion. Shares of Aetna immediately spiked and a deal would create a giant in the health services industry even eclipsing United Health Group.
Symetra Accumulation IUL
Symetra has rolled out its first IUL. The product offers crediting methods including an uncapped strategy with a 130% participation rate. Symetra also brings their competitive underwriting along with a competitive chronic illness rider and a guaranteed persistency bonus starting in year 11. Call today for additional details and state availability.
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5 Tips For Using A Facebook Business Page For Your Practice
Earlier this year, we discussed five reasons why advisors should use Facebook. To summarize, although you might not feel that Facebook is all that relevant to your practice, it can be an affordable platform to build an audience, leverage content, and promote yourself. (And in 2017, not having a Facebook business page can work against your credibility and SEO rankings.)
So now you know that you should have a Facebook page for your business, but how do you use Facebook for your business? Here are five tips.
Create A Complete Business Page
Since some of our readers may be unfamiliar with Facebook, it might be helpful to distinguish what we mean by a business page. Spun from a personal page, a business page is created to build a profile for your firm. You can set multiple admins (so that others in your firm can contribute) and contributor roles.
When you log in to your personal page, look to the upper right at the navigation drop-down menu.
Here you should find many different options, including the tab to “Create A Page.”
On the next page, you’ll find options for many different versions of a Facebook page. The two that will be most applicable to you will be “Local Business or Place” and “Company, Organization, or Institution.”
From this point, the process is fairly easy and self-driven. But make sure to complete all relevant fields, including website, phone number, address, hours of operation, and so forth.
In the About section, you will be able to include a number of things. The About subsection on the About page allows you to write a 225-character summary of your page. The Impressum provides a spot for you to include disclaimers. Even if you do not have to run things pass compliance, it still may be a good idea to include a basic disclaimer, something to the effect of:
This Facebook business page may contain concepts that have legal, accounting and tax implications. It is not intended to provide legal, accounting or tax advice. You may wish to consult a competent attorney, tax advisor, or accountant.
In the Story section, you will be able to include a longer bit of text. This is a good spot to include your company’s bio, mission statement, core values, as well as more about you specifically.
Once your page is created, make sure to create a unique and memorable username. Otherwise, your page URL will be a random string of numbers.
Use Quality Images for Profile and Cover Photo
Too often when advisors use Facebook, they grab whatever picture or copy of their logo they have. Unfortunately, these images may not resolve well on the business page, weakening the page’s impact to visitors. You don’t want to leave a bad first impression to a potential client, especially if the fix is as simple as having a properly sized logo or photo.
For the square profile picture, use a photo that is at least 170×170 pixels. Cover photos must be at least 400 pixels wide and 150 pixels tall, but will display at 820×312.
Facebook suggests photos or logos incorporating text may display better when uploaded as a PNG file (versus a JPG image file).
One of the hardest things for business owners—especially financial advisors—to balance is the personal and professional. Social media provides a venue for fluid and casual engagement, and the best content demonstrates personality while maintaining a professional tone.
A good way to get started is to leverage relevant content. Share an article from a reputable source with a few sentences of commentary. For example, “this article gives consumers good insights on the challenges facing the next generation of retirees.”
As you build a digital trail and begin to gain an audience, consider what topics you can write about, in a competent and accessible manner. Once you have good back-trail of posts—leveraged and your own—consider boosting the page for likes and boosting the post to reach a wider audience.
We’ve mentioned many times before when discussing content marketing that regular activity is key to a successful digital presence. It’s worth repeating here. There are a few reasons why consistent, regular activity is important:
• It puts your content and profile in the feed of your followers with regularity. A consumer may not be ready to do business with you upon seeing one of your pieces, but may down the line, as you keep pushing out relevant content.
• When a new consumer first checks out your digital profile, recent content will help with credibility.
• Recent content, from your main website and social media platforms, can help with SEO
Use The Pin Post Feature
You have the option to pin a post to the top of your business page’s feed. This can be a good spot to highlight content that you want new and old visitors to view since it won’t be lost in the feed. Even better, you can use this spot to park an intro video. Consumers get a mix of media on your page and a way to see and hear you directly.
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