Welcome to the Internet autobahn, where information zooms from carriers, to advisors, to FMOs, to regulators, to the media, to clients and back again — in seconds. It’s a world that has rendered the following excuse obsolete: “No one told me that.”

On the Internet, information is plentiful and 100 percent accessible. Those who know where to find it — and leverage it — accelerate past those who don’t (they sputter along in the breakdown lane).

We are only beginning to understand the full impact of this transformation. But one thing is clear: Being able to get the answers you need, when you need them, is a wonderful marketing opportunity. It can literally shift your business into high gear.

For instance, say you were contemplating offering a new product, but wanted to do some due diligence first. Here are a few things you could do on the Internet (unheard of just a few years ago.):

  • Google the product to see how it works conceptually. This will give you enough articles from newspapers and personal-finance magazines to paper an Interstate.
  • Visit the Web archives of leading trade journals. Here you’d just enter the product name in their search engines and then wade through tens, if not hundreds, of articles about when, and how, to use the product.
  • Get advice from colleagues on marketing the product. A premier site in this regard is ProducersWeb.com (Full disclosure: NEB is a PW content partner, and PW is owned by Benefits Selling’s parent company, WiesnerMedia.) And while you’re there, you can listen to their podcasts about product trends and sales opportunities.
  • Read up on carrier product offerings. Most insurance and securities organizations have robust advisor Web sites, where you can kick a product’s tires and look under the compensation hood.
  • See what clients think about the product. Here you’d veer over to Yahoo! Finance message boards, to Google’s newsgroup search engine, and to Technorati.com to see what bloggers are raving — or ranting — about.
  • Check out potential compliance potholes. Best online resources are your state regulator Web site (depending on your license) and the NASAA and FINRA Web sites. Browsing regulatory actions on such sites is very instructive. It shows you what happens when you ignore the rules of the road.

These are just a few of things you could do to get informed. There are many more. And we haven’t even mentioned how the Internet can help you track down answers to client questions — or better yet, anticipate them.

So here’s the bottom line. By fully leveraging the speed of the Internet, you can accelerate your learning curve, view the compliance warning signs, and position yourself to become a trusted advisor to your clients. Plus, you can do all this in record time compared to what it took just five or 10 years ago. If this isn’t a superhighway to success, I don’t know what is.

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