How did Jeffrey Schweitzer of Northeast Financial Strategies in Wrentham, Mass., win Life Insurance Selling’s Life Now! YouTube contest in September? With a good video illustrating the importance of life insurance, obviously. But, more importantly, with the power of social networking.
The 36-year-old producer called on his Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn followers to vote for his clip, and they turned out in force. Schweitzer handily beat his competition, with 55% of the vote, to win a free iPad. What’s more, a handful of those followers ended up contacting him about purchasing insurance.
“I use social media both personally and professionally — blogging, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn,” he says. “So I just asked my followers to vote for me, and they did. I got a lot of good comments on it and at least six people interested in buying insurance.”
It’s fitting for a guy who, along with his father, has largely built his practice on the notion of community, online and off. Their company serves individuals and small businesses in their area, providing everything from tax preparation to insurance products and financial planning.
“We kind of offer a one-stop shop for all of our clients,” Schweitzer says. “Because we do all the pieces of the pie for them, we know how one affects the other.”
Most of their business comes through referrals and word of mouth resulting from the company’s heavy involvement in the community. Schweitzer and his dad sponsor local sports teams, host hole-in-one fundraiser golf tournaments for local organizations, and coach teams for the local American Legion baseball program — which they helped start. Schweitzer’s participation in the extracurricular activities of his three active daughters — ages 8, 5 and 2 — also brings in clients.
“We just do things in the community, kind of give back to all these organizations where we live,” he says.
The approach has earned them about 750 individual and roughly 100 small-business clients — not bad for a company that consists of just Schweitzer, his dad, his wife and a neighbor. It helps that Northeast Financial Strategies accepts a broad client base. In an industry that has become increasingly focused on serving wealthy clients, the company is one of the few helping an underserved middle market.
“We’ve always been pretty much open to anyone who walks in the door,” Schweitzer says. “We don’t discriminate. We’ll work with the people nobody else wants to work with.”
There was a time when Schweitzer didn’t see himself working with anybody’s finances, regardless of income. Though his dad has worked in financial services since 1976 and Schweitzer spent time working for him in high school, he left for the University of Maine with every intention of getting a degree in environmental science.
While in school, he became interested in radio, though, and changed his major to business. After graduation, he looked for radio DJ jobs all over the region — and wound up disappointed with the wages most of them offered.
“You hear these people on the radio and think they’re making millions, but there wasn’t a lot to be earned in the radio industry, especially to begin with,” he says.
So, in 1998, Schweitzer started working with his father, servicing agents at the firm where his dad worked at the time “to get my feet wet,” he says. He started taking taxation courses and spent a lot of time watching his father in action. “Having someone to work alongside with, day-to-day, who has been in the business, was a big help,” Schweitzer says.
And he insists it’s not weird working so closely with his family all these years. “We really are a family business,” he says. “It’s nice because we all get along, and it’s our business. It’s not like we have employees coming in just to punch a clock, not caring.”
Today, Schweitzer often finds himself feeling like the dad he grew up with. The career’s flexible hours allow him to attend his kids’ events and coach games — but often also mean nighttime catch-up sessions. “Growing up, our dad was always involved,” he says. “We never saw, though, at night, when we went to bed, that he was back on the phone, getting work done. And that’s kind of what I do now.”
But Schweitzer’s not exactly like his father, considering he’s just as likely to be on new-school Twitter as he is on the old-fashioned telephone. He recently added a new client, thanks to a Facebook friend from high school who referred him to her retiring father. When Schweitzer asked her what made her refer him, she said he was just the first to come to her mind, since he showed up in her Facebook feed every day.
“I really find the social media does help us become part of our community and stay top of mind,” he says. “More people are turning to smart phones and Google to find you, and that’s only going to increase as younger people start needing financial services. If people in this business don’t make it a point to get on these platforms today, then they’re going to miss out.”
Schweitzer likely won’t be one of those people, especially now that he has an iPad. The device has already come in handy in his personal life — he used it to entertain his daughters with videos and games during a snowstorm power outage recently — but he also plans to use it for business. He’s working on more sophisticated presentations, but for now, he takes it out during meetings to show prospects his winning video and demonstrate various financial calculators.
“I can show them the calculations right there and then email them a copy of the results,” he says. “Instead of, you know, the old yellow pad or something.”
To view Jeffrey Schweitzer’s entry that won Life Insurance Selling’s LIFE NOW! video contest, go to www.LifeHealthPro.com/lifenow.
Corey Dahl is managing editor of Life Insurance Selling.