People who choose to sell annuities tend to have a herd mentality when it comes to marketing. Bad chicken dinner seminars, cookie-cutter radio programs, and Internet pop up ads are just a few examples of the “me-too-ism” follower tendencies too many agents take when it comes to finding new clients.
FMOs and carriers are to blame for most of this “be like Mike” (remember that Michael Jordan ad?) approach that agents seem to fall for in droves. The Jordan correlation is relevant, because it’s hard to be like Mike when you aren’t 6’4”, and you can’t jump 45 inches off the ground. No, the shoes don’t help! The same common sense logic applies to agent marketing, so maybe it’s time to look for the blue water that no one is sailing toward and build your own boat.
Let’s take a look at just a few examples of what I would consider pure annuity blue water opportunities, and why you should start thinking more outside the box when it comes to marketing.
I know that we all keep hearing that 10,000 baby boomers are retiring every day, and that demographic is the target of most annuity sales. Numbers don’t lie and those stats are phenomenal and every agent on the planet is throwing darts at the baby-boomer bull’s-eye. Because everyone is focused on the older folks, that means the young professional-type is not hearing about annuity strategies at all.
With income riders that can be deferred for decades and longevity annuities (aka: deferred income annuities) that can defer for up to 45 years, the solutions are there to be presented to this fertile and un-prospected demographic. With looming uncertainty concerning future Social Security payment guarantees, it’s a no-brainer to approach young professionals with future pension-type strategies.
Baby boomer legacy
Instead of targeting boomers for income planning like every other agent is doing, why not focus on the contractually guaranteed legacy aspects that some annuities offer. Death benefit riders have been somewhat overshadowed by the income rider story, which is unfortunate because the-leaving-money-to-the-heirs story is just as powerful in my opinion. It’s important to remember that there are a lot of boomers out there that cannot qualify for life insurance, so annuity death benefits are the only viable legacy alternative. As the funeral home says, “Death is a good consistent business.”
This is the bluest of all blue-water strategies in my opinion. The fastest growing segments of the country are minority groups. In fact, in a few decades, studies show that they will become the majority. Some female advisors are already targeting the female demographic, so what I am really referring to here are the specific race demographics.
Whether it’s the Asian-American, Hispanic American, African-American, etc., there is a huge void in the annuity industry to address these growing communities that need the same contractual guarantees and income solutions like everyone else in the country. As an industry, we somehow need to figure out how to focus our efforts to get to these groups in a professional manner and educate them on our fantastic transfer of risk strategies. This is a definite win-win for both parties.
There are many annuity agents that focus on educators or the 403b market, but there aren’t many that I know of that try to build a client base around specific target industry. Why not just prospect doctors, or lawyers, or dentists, or architects, etc.? All of these groups have trade shows that you could attend and speak at and market to on a local, regional and national basis.
Imagine developing specific sales materials for a targeted group that addresses their issues and unique goals. I’m sure that there are a handful of annuity salespeople that are doing this, but you will never hear about them or be told some sales story from your FMO. Why you ask? It’s because they are most likely making so much money that there is no reason to tell anyone.
The new buzz with pensions and company-sponsored retirement plans is the possibility of offering lifetime income strategy options within those qualified plan choices. It’s predictable that the carriers will probably put their own internal sales teams together to address this huge employer market, but this annuity blue water is so massive that you could literally choose a region, industry or business size and be busy forever chasing those unlimited prospects.
Are you a specialist or general practitioner?
In the world of medicine, the specialist always makes more than the general practitioner. The same can be said of most financial services professionals. People that focus on one product area or one type of client seem to always outperform the person that keeps changing their business model, offering a bunch of different products, or seems to be chasing after the latest hot idea.
The bottom line to this annuity blue water thought is to just be yourself. Forget about everyone else, and use your own creativity to build your business. Go with your gut instincts when it comes to marketing and stop listening to the FMO marketer repeating this month’s too-good-to-be-true success story.
It’s a big world out there, so find your unique niche and discover your very own annuity blue water.
For more from Stan Haithcock, see: