I’m about halfway through the advertising and copywriting classic “Breakthrough Advertising,” by Eugene M. Schwartz. The original copyright on the book is 1966, and it’s not easy to find. On Amazon.com alone, there are only five available copies of the tome’s 2004 re-release by Bottomline Books. The price starts at $145.
Don’t bother cleaning your glasses or rubbing your eyes. That price is not a typo — but the book is worth every cent.
Why? Because it’s filled with eye-opening advice and instruction that’s as useful today as it was 40-plus years ago. So let’s take a look at Schwartz’s timeless, classic prospecting advice updated for today’s insurance agents.
Referrals will make you rich, and no referrals will end your career
A critical component of success and sustainability in the financial service business is your ability to obtain high-quality referrals. Without referrals, you’re merely a hamster on the prospecting wheel. So how can you garner these valuable referrals?
Plan easy ways for people to refer you. “Bring a friend” events that you sponsor at local events and venues such as sports games and theaters help your clients “shake the trees” for you. Sincere, no-strings-attached offers of free second opinions for your clients’ families and friends are another effective strategy.
“Forced” networking. Networking groups such as Business Network International (BNI) are great places to learn how to be referable, but only if you attend the groups’ meetings with open ears, eyes, and minds. Visit www.bni.com to find a local chapter.
Party poopers don’t get invited back. Be the pleasant, courteous, and fun person that people enjoy being around and you will make it easier for them to like and refer you. Take an honest look in the mirror and take appropriate action if you sense that your personality isn’t what it once was.
You — and your brand — must look the part
A good rule of thumb for personal grooming and fashion is that you should update your wardrobe and haircut (and, if you’re a woman, makeup) so that you look at least as fashionable as your town’s authorities, such as the school superintendent or the mayor. I’m sure there are places where this rule of thumb doesn’t work, but, in general, it does.
Virtual appearance is important, as well. Does your email address match your Web site domain name? Nothing screams “amateur” quite like a business card that lists an email address at an online service provider next to a proprietary Web site domain. If your website is www.blahblah.com, then your email address had better be something like [email protected], not [email protected] Your webmaster should be able to set up email accounts with your Web hosting company and have your email program pull all new messages from all your addresses into one inbox.
You — and your brand — must act the part
You have a brand, whether you know it or not. As Tom Peters’ branding guy once told me, “Your brand is what people say about you.” (For those of you who don’t know, Tom Peters is an American writer and expert on business management practices, best known for co-writing the book “In Search of Excellence.”) Your branding involves everything a client sees, hears, and feels when they deal with you or your organization. You might want to ask yourself questions such as: