Hello marvelous practitioners!

Thanks so much for your contributions from my prior columns. Your inspiring words are contagious.

In my next two columns, I’ll be covering the specific questions we need to think through in order to find our hidden money. Yep, there’s hidden money, so be sure to stay current with your LIS reading.

The two major thought questions we’ll talk about in this column involve internal marketing — the process of finding your future hidden money inside your existing business.

When we talk about internal marketing, what we are talking about is internally marketing to your existing business. I’m not talking in this segment about external marketing, which has to do with advertising and marketing to people who are not currently your clients. Internal marketing involves marketing to your existing clients, who are already your raving fans.

So our first major thought question is this:

What percentage of your business comes from trackable referrals?

Don’t guess because your guess isn’t correct. Trackable referrals from where? These are referrals from friends, neighbors, co-workers and relatives. That is where your next business is coming from. Did you notice? I didn’t say Internet leads! I didn’t say social marketing! Although these are very important, we get so hyped on the new things, we forget what brought us to the dance for years and years prior.

If you are guessing what percentage of your business comes from referrals, then you don’t know where your trackable referrals are coming from.

So let’s keep in mind the wisdom of William Edwards Deming, the famous statistician and the important American who improved Japan’s quality processes: “What gets measured gets done!”

You must implement a simple tracking system within your company to make sure that every single time your team is involved in a conversation discussing potential new business, they start with the question, “Where did you hear about us?” (No, you don’t need a computer or a spreadsheet for a simple tracking system.)

As a business leader, you really need to know the source of your new business. Why? So that your future allocation of advertising and marketing dollars will be spent on the highest yielding target audience.

That takes us to our second major thought question:

What percentage of each sale made is set aside for traditional advertising and social media marketing?

We’ve talked about asking for the referral and tracking the referral. Now we want to find out what percentage of each sale is set aside for traditional advertising and social media marketing.

As a practitioner, I suggest that you set aside a certain percentage of your gross compensation right off the top. When you need to take advantage of an advertising opportunity, the funds will be available. So plan it.

The discipline of planning may initially hurt, but your lifestyle won’t even feel a sting if you commit — right this second — to set aside 5%, 10% or 15% of your gross compensation specifically for this purpose. Whatever you commit to, keep that commitment. Monthly. Yes, even if it hurts.

There’s something interesting that I have found in my travels across America as I talk to insurance business leaders: The larger producers also spend a higher percentage of their gross compensation on advertising efforts.

That’s probably not just coincidental, marvelous people.

Try this exercise:

Pull open your QuickBooks or whatever accounting program you use, and find out exactly what percentage you’re actually spending now on advertising. (Hint: The first time you look, you’ll be shocked. Unless you track it monthly already, you will amaze yourself. Drop me a line and tell me what you discover.)

Decide now what you will be setting aside for future advertising efforts.

One last thought for this month: remember the example of Shamu at Sea World. Shamu will not continue to perform without being fed. So, too, must you feed your business with properly allocated advertising and marketing dollars.

Put your mind to work on the two questions above. Complete the exercise. Set your decided plan into motion. And let us know how you progress.

Marvin LeBlanc is a left-handed, right-brained, fun-loving Cajun who is obsessed with life performance and overcoming adversity. Marvin has been a fully licensed insurance professional since 1986 and is president of Marvin D. LeBlanc Insurance Agency. Marvin is an entrepreneur, writer, speaker and the founder of Marvelous Performance Systems. Marvin is available for business retreats, keynotes, breakout sessions, workshops and individual coaching programs. His Katrina comeback memoir, “Come Hell or High Water,” will be available in the fall of 2011 through New York publisher www.bloomingtwig.com. To rent Marvin’s brain or inspire your underperforming group, contact him at www.marvinleblanc.com/lis or (225) 938-4177 and request a free, fun conference call. He returns all voice messages within 24 hours unless he’s no longer alive.

For more on advertising strategies, see:

Better Prospecting: The art of prospecting by use of advertising

Branding vs. Timing: Maximize Your Marketing Efficiency

The Wonderful World of Marketing Conduct

For more from Marvin LeBlanc, click here.