By

Seattle, Wash.

“The issue of marketing has been so overlooked by the industry it really blows your mind,” said Robert Krumroy, CLU, ChFC, in an educational session here at the Society of Financial Service Professionals annual meeting.

“We’ve got companies who spend millions to launch a product, but nothing to launch an agent,” he said.

Krumroy, who is president of Identity Branding, Inc., Greensboro, N.C., explained that agents today are taught to “hunt and kill,” or prospect and sell–but they are taught nothing on marketing. “The greatest challenge is not selling, not prospecting, it’s marketing,” he said.

He explained that many agents he has encountered–even those who are very successful–have no idea where their sales will come from 6 months down the road.

Developing a good local market attraction will relieve agents from having to constantly prospect for new clients, he said.

“Marketing is not about getting you closer to a client, it’s about getting a client closer to you,” he said.

Krumroy said there are 3 components to brand marketing, the first one being that you must have a name-specific prospect database. This is different than just coming up with a list of 100-200 potential prospects you might be able to call on, he said.

One way to build your prospect database, he said, is to visit your local chamber of commerce and obtain a list of members in your community. Contacting these members electronically with periodic e-mail newsletters will help brand you as a valuable source of financial information.

“Build your commonality,” he said. As a member of the same community, you have something in common with all these people, he said.

Another example he used was a strategy of teaming up with other local businesses to sponsor a wine tasting, or a cigar sampling, or some other type of event. Organizing joint events with other local businesses will place you among a community of people you can build commonality with, he said.

Many times these other merchants will provide their services at no charge, just to brand their own business throughout the community–just as you are doing, he said.

Krumroy explained that another way to help build your name-specific database of prospects is to sponsor a Child ID day, inviting everyone in your community with children.

“There are over 1.1 million children missing every year,” he said. “Get a photo, a fingerprint, and a laminated card for every child and parent.”

This provides a great public service to the parents in the community, and Krumroy noted that these parents may eventually be interested in doing some college planning down the road. Get them on your list and send them some college planning material.

The end result, he said, is you’ve helped out the community, made some very valuable planning information available to parents of future college students, and expanded your name-specific prospect database.

The next component Krumroy discussed was the need for market intrigue, or differentiation.

“Sameness creates no attraction,” he said. “Isnt that true of everything you buy?”

He demonstrated this concept by giving a series of examples of other product marketing successes and failures.

One example Krumroy used had to do with sales of McDonald’s hamburgers. When asking the session attendees which fast food restaurant placed second to McDonald’s in hamburger sales last year, there was no general consensus. Finally, Krumroy let the audience in on the answer: White Castle.

There were only a few people who were familiar with White Castle, and even fewer who had actually eaten there. Most session attendees failed to understand how White Castle could be #2, beating out such household names as Wendy’s and Burger King. The answer: differentiation. While other chains were chasing the competition, trying to sell more hamburgers over the counter, White Castle reinvented itself by making its product available in the freezer section of most supermarkets, he said.

This brought Krumroy’s point to the forefront: “If you chase the competition, you’re going out of business.”

He explained that identity branding begins with seeing what all your competitors are doing, and then doing what none of them are doing. In his White Castle example, that is exactly what they did.

“Being first is always better than being better,” he said. Krumroy explained that differentiation is a requirement in today’s environment.

Finally, he described the third component to brand marketing as “Consistent Connection.”

He explained that if you are sending out a quarterly newsletter, it is not often enough. In order to create a brand for yourself, Krumroy said you need to continuously stay in front of your prospects. “Visibility creates credibility.”

E-mail and internet technology are effective means of reaching all the people on your list of name-specific prospects, said Krumroy.

“If you’re not using technology in today’s marketplace, you’re not falling behind, you are behind,” he said.

Consistently getting in front of a number of prospects with whom you share a commonality, and providing them with valuable information is how agents can create a local market attraction to their business, he said.

“Name recognition is not the same as local market attraction,” said Krumroy. “You can’t depend on your company to create a market for you–they just can’t do it.”


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, April 8, 2002. Copyright 2002 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.