Each month, Senior Market Advisor packs its issues chock full of hot marketing and sales tips and strategies. If you find that information helpful, then you’re in for a treat. But before I go any further, let me say we couldn’t have pulled this off without your input, which runs the gamut from straight out of the pages of a Marketing 101 textbook to first-person narratives to a quote from the English playwright William Shakespeare (didn’t know he was a marketing guru?).
Inside, you’ll find we have pull out sections that highlight Suitability issues, Web marketing and Insiders’ Views, just to name a few. You’ll see some commonality in the ideas, but the details in those entries reveal different ways to approach topics such as direct mail.
We believe we’ve compiled a terrific list of marketing ideas to help your business thrive. By no means do we feel it is the final word on the subject. If, after you’ve read it, you have new ideas to add, please send me a note at [email protected] and we’ll be sure to add it to our ongoing list at www.seniormarketadvisor.com
See our 2012 list at: LifeHealthPro’s 100 Best Sales & Marketing Ideas Ever
1. Pick up the phone. I have yet to find a better way of “marketing oneself” then speaking with a prospect on the phone — it’s way better than direct mailings and cheaper too. Looking for folks to call? Try whitepages.com or do a search on neighborhoods — it’s free.
- Allen E. Shea, independent advisor
2. Referrals. My best marketing plan is this: Friends telling friends of my services and products.
- Sam Hacek, Sr. Affordable Insurance Concepts
3. Identify your target customers. Create a three-tier or dartboard approach to profiling sales prospects. The top tier or bull’s-eye of the dartboard represents the prime target audience. Spend the most time with the tier in the bull’s-eye and the least amount of time with the third tier. The marketing strategy should focus on a message to address the needs of each group.
4. Establish and understand your primary geographical market area. Identify your geographic area by zip code, county, neighborhood or other parameter and understand the prospects who live there. Then develop marketing campaigns to promote relevant product offerings based on life triggers and other events that may be happening in your community, including new homebuyers, births, marriages within this area and target products and services to the event.
5. Develop a “drip” list. Create a list of your best prospects that you contact on a monthly (even weekly) basis with key information. Keep your name out in front of your target audience.
6. Sponsor or organize high-profile events. Invite your first and second tier prospects to speaking engagements, which highlight industry leaders. Often organizations sponsor quarterly or bi-annual speaking engagements with industry leaders from your organization. By inviting your best prospects, you establish credibility and show them that you appreciate them.
7. Use newsletters. Newsletters create credibility and stimulate interest in your products/services.
8. Create a bio sheet. Use a professional photo and share both your professional resume as well as personal information on what makes you unique within the industry and why prospects should work with you.
9. Develop an integrated marketing strategy. Contact your prospects through a number of marketing channels including direct marketing, Web site information, email, telemarketing and, of course, personal meetings. For example, you can use direct mail to drive traffic online to your Web site for product information, rate calculators and financial goals worksheets. Promote your online resources with direct mail and in other print media.
10. Have a true marketing plan. Develop a contact strategy consisting of direct mail, telemarketing, newsletters and special events such as seminars and other educational formats that is designed to build a relationship with their prospects over time.
- ChoicePoint Precision Marketing
11. Get published or speak. If there is a way to either author an article in a local publication or newspaper or participate in a speaking engagement – do it. Nothing creates credibility faster than getting published or speaking.
- Melissa Baker, Kathy Weaver and Brian Lara of ChoicePoint Precision Marketing contributed these marketing ideas.
12. “Don’t Miss the Boat” event. One of the most successful strategies I’ve seen for raising the awareness of referrals and bringing in a stream of new business is called the “Don’t Miss the Boat” event. Yes, it may be a little gimmicky, but this is an event we’ve never seen fail — it has consistently produced referrals and results. This event is similar to a client appreciation event, however the only people that are invited to this event are clients that have referred others to your firm.
- Maribeth Kuzmeski, MBA Red Zone Marketing
13. Buying lists of people turning 65 to 66. Many people are confused that even though the age for full benefits under social security has risen to 66, this year the age to join Medicare A & B is still 65. A lot of people are continuing to work and pay higher-than-necessary costs for health coverage due to this confusion. A quick call to offer to mail info regarding the real deal, and then a follow-up call to explain, has proved invaluable in gaining access to people’s lives at a time when so many needs are changing.
- Roger T. Nickel, CSA, CLTC Bankers Life & Casualty Company
14. An insider’s view: The Asian market For the last 30 years of my sales career, I have sold aviation services. One thing I learned is it takes time to earn the Asian population’s trust but once you have, they are truly loyal customers who are quick to refer you to other potential customers. While I have only been selling FIAs for just over one year, I have begun earning that trust in this field as well. Living in the San Francisco Bay area, we have a heavy Asian population attending my seminars. These attendees are slow to commit and required patience in appointments as they are very diligent in their research.
Consider selling to ethnic specific markets and you will find a tight knit community that will follow recommendations from their friends and family.
- George Stark, life insurance and annuity advisor
15. Radio, radio. I host and produce a live, weekly financial radio program. This has enabled me to establish credibility and define myself as a financial resource. It has also been a platform to advertise my financial workshops. In addition, it has provided a forum for people to ask questions and for listeners to call and arrange for individual consultations.
- Stefanos Loisou, Financial Workshops/Strategies for Life
16. Upsell. When an applicant is approved at the top rate, make the suggestion that he take advantage of increasing the amount because he has qualified for the very best rate. Point out that he may not be able to qualify again for this rate in the future and that the premium for a greater amount is quite a bit less on an overall basis because there is no additional policy fee, and higher amounts are banded resulting in a lower cost per $1, 000.
- James (Jim) Carow, AIC
17. Knocking on doors. When I started in this business, I ran out of my initial market within 60 days. I decided to cold call and began knocking on business doors. I would also send out a letter that focused on the magic of tax deferral with current rates. I discovered that, in some cases, by following up with a phone call to inquire the receipt of the mailing ultimately gave me a few daytime appointments.
Today, 60 percent of my new business comes from my existing clients that introduce me to their friends, family and business associates.
- Thomas Doncaster, CLU, CWM, Doncaster Insurance & Financial Services, Inc.
18. Referrals are priceless… By making yourself known, either through local organizations or just by being an active member of your community, people tend to ask, “What is it that you do?” From there you will receive not only clients, but an endless supply of referrals. People want to do business with someone local. This is what has driven me to qualify as an MDRT member.
- Fred Claghorn, CLTC, USV Financial Advisor
19. The ad approach. I use a statement in my advertisements and materials that says: “Financial planning? Long term care may be the only asset you own that affords you the ability of never going to a nursing home. What asset are you missing in your portfolio?”
- Curtis V. Cloke, CLTC, LUTCF Financial advisor/agent
20. Biography. Develop a strong biography and fact sheet that describes your accomplishments and experience.
- Larry Klein, author of “Marketing Financial Services to Seniors”
21. Networking. Recently, I was invited to join the local Chamber of Commerce. Much of what we accomplish is by marketing and networking and these organizations offer great opportunities for us as financial professionals to meet more people and promote our services.
22. Don’t spend your entire marketing budget at once. Marketing works on repetition. The more a consumer sees your ad, the greater the chance that consumer will buy your product or service. And understand that advertising is salesmanship. When you create an advertisement, it must sell just as a salesperson would. Use conversational language and words.
23. Write and distribute a press release at least four times a year. The media, particularly your local media, is always on the lookout for a great story, so write one for them. Use these stories to tell customers why you are different, and why that difference is a benefit. This must be done in every aspect of your marketing.
24. Speed networking. The local Chamber of Commerce recently hosted a speed-networking event. As a result, there were several alliances that appear to be in development for me including an estate planning law firm that wishes to employ my services on behalf of their clients and a large property and casualty, multi-office group that wishes to allow me to offer financial workshops.
25. Keep plugging away. We must continuously market and introduce ourselves and display to others the enthusiasm and dedication that we share for the important work that we do.
26. Suitability spotlight Don’t try to make your client fit a product. Find a product to fit your client. Too many agents have a favorite product due to its commission structure, bonus opportunity or crediting style. Then, they try to make each client fit into that product. Yes, you can have a favorite and if it fits, sell it. But many times, the client will tell you what they want. Don’t be afraid to search out a product that most closely resembles what they want without sacrificing what you believe they need.
- Kevin Wedmore, president, A2Z Annuity Marketing, Inc.
27. Co-op your talents. For those of us that offer financial workshops or would like to start doing so and may have limited funding, offer to stage a workshop at a local Council on Aging. If you can convince the council director that you are sincere and knowledgeable, he or she will be very grateful to allow you to offer a valuable informational service to their senior community. This way you will not have the need for any cost involved except for refreshments.
- Stefanos Loisou, independent agent
28. Building a nest. It pays to know your territory, or more specifically the large-scale employers in your area. Very often these entities will have at the very least a 401K plan and sometimes a traditional, defined contribution/benefit plan as well.
Obtaining a favorable appointment with a handful of employees nearing retirement can yield big dividends. Also, obtaining referrals to co-workers will not require much effort and will provide an ongoing stream of prospects.
- Jim Medici, CLU, ChFC, CLTC, Senior VP of marketing, Zenith Marketing Group
29. The magic of the Web. I started doing online Web site marketing many years ago and, very truthfully, did it all wrong. Now, I clearly see the future in my practice has to be one that places my electronic business card, photo, information and ideas in front of people on the other end who are searching for me.
Finally, clients and I started to meet over the Web, even doing business world wide in some cases, and having never personally met many of my clients who find me on the Internet.
- M.D. Anderson, president, Financial Strategies, Inc.
30. Speak the language. Poor communication leads to poor sales. Understand your clients, know what motivates them and speak to that end.
31. Use daily newspapers. Ask the publisher what day of the week most seniors read the paper. That’s the day you want to advertise.
32. Avoid the junk trap. If it looks like junk mail, it’s headed for the garbage. Avoid the junk mail trap by sending mail in plain white window envelopes with a first-class stamp.
- Larry Klein Author, “Marketing Financial Services to Seniors”
33. Dinner time An idea that has worked out extremely well for our firm is taking our best clients at least once a year out to dinner along with the spouses. The clients meet my wife and this has taken our relationship to a new level. Now when I speak to these clients, their first comment is usually, “How is Linda?” Furthermore, it seems that this process involving the spouse has opened up new sources of referrals.
Stuart J. Pastrich,CFP managing director, Compass Financial Group
The drip approach
34. We mail birthday cards to existing clients; anniversary cards if we know that info.
35. Send an email blast regarding recent tax changes. In fact, we do a lot of marketing toward tax season with many different types of direct mail flyers.
36. We also hold client appreciation parties with our clients and their friends throughout the year, which include a seminar.
37. During the summer months we organize a golf tournament and give a short seminar before the event.
38. We are always getting our image branded (building brand name recognition). The image for our logo is something I feel the seniors can relate to.
39. We also host a monthly educational dinner 2-3 times per month for new prospects.
40. The most important thing to remember is that you always need to be marketing.
- Darian Andreson, president, Senior Tax Advisory Group, Inc.
41. Set appointments at your seminars. Sign up people while the information and desire is fresh; a cooling-off period will leave you with fewer appointments set and kept.
42. Change is good. We are always willing to try new things. For example, an invitation that worked well for you over the past three years may not work well for you in the fourth.
43. Although change is good, make sure your changes are tested and that there is a review process to determine if the change was beneficial.
44. Make your own confirmation calls for seminars. Although most direct mail marketing firms provide a confirmation call service, you may want to make them yourself.
45. Tax check Just ask each client to review their form 1040 with you to uncover who’s needlessly paying taxes on money they aren’t using. An annuity may be an ideal solution for these clients.
- Michael Harrison, VP, annuity sales and marketing, AIG American General
The Wedmore way
46. Stop prospecting for clients! Spend your time prospecting with people who associate with the type of client you are looking for. For example, if you are looking for clients who are transitioning into long term health care environments, network with people in that field. They are dealing with hundreds of your ideal prospects every year.
47. Use what you know best to become the local expert on that subject. Use that knowledge to write a column in at least one local senior publication. Many of the free senior newspapers that are available outside discount and grocery stores will let you write an article if you purchase a small ad.
48. Plan to prospect. Pick a time each week where you schedule appointments, don’t accept incoming phone calls and can’t be interrupted.
49. Learn to use the computer. I know it sounds trite, but using the technology available to you is important. Research and communication are the two primary areas to focus on, but being computer-savvy may just save you a case or two because of your ability to quickly get the information the client needs.
50. Find a niche and position yourself within it. If you know a lot about one thing compared to a little about a lot of things, you will be more focused and most likely, more successful.