Upon my return from the recent NAIFA conference in Washington, I couldn’t help but reflect on the dilemma faced by the agents I saw there, remembering them as they wafted through the sea of booths collecting trinkets and printed materials and hearing praise for the litany of the best products to hit the marketplace.
It started me thinking, as an advisor, how would I ever make an informed decision as to which one of these organizations I should affiliate with? Information overload at it’s best. What should a marketing organization look like in a perfect world? What should it be doing for the brokers who have entrusted their clients and livelihoods to them? I reference here not only the seasoned producers who have finally “arrived” after many years, but also the new generation of young producers who are coming into the independent agent production channel for the first time.
You should not jump at the first organization that gives you 100 free leads or offers you the highest commission, nor should you need more than one marketing organization to assist you. A good marketing organization should cover 100% of your business needs–life insurance, annuities, disability, long term care, premium financing, advanced markets, life settlements, case design, a multitude of competent insurance carriers and even a medical director–all housed for you in a “one-stop shop.”
You must regularly take the temperature around yourself. Do you have a system of checks and balances in place to allow you to measure your professional progress and effectiveness? Has your business increased? Or have you flat lined and become stagnant?
In today’s rapidly evolving market, you can easily be overrun unless your marketing organization empowers you to grow and build your business. Here’s what to look for:
Service and support
What does this mean to you? Have you ever called your organization to ask an important question while you’re sitting with your client only to get voicemail or be told that someone will call you right back, yet 48 hours later you are still waiting? Unacceptable, wouldn’t you agree?
How often have you received a thank you call for your business? Not often enough, I would imagine.
Are your marketing organization’s representatives proactive? Do they regularly advise you of marketplace changes before they occur? Are they keeping you abreast of this ever changing industry?
Do they over-promise and under-deliver? Do they offer advice that they can’t stand behind, or do they have a cavalier attitude–especially towards client suitability issues? Do you have to call them, or do they regularly follow up with you?
A good marketing organization should be available even after normal business hours. Do you have your contacts’ cell phone numbers? Time zone differences are no excuse for lapses in service.
Do you enjoy a strong rapport with your marketing organization? As an agent, whether you’re an independent or part of an agency, the insurance/financial industry can be a very lonely place because ultimately it will be only you and the client. You want to rely on a marketing organization that stands firmly behind you every step of the way, ready to update, guide and support you through every sale, every time.
Marketing experience and expertise