At the 2014 Advisor Network Summit, Steve DeJohn, who specializes in selling annuities, highlighted the 10 marketing tactics he uses to gain clients and boost sales. DeJohn, president and CEO of The DeJohn Advisory Team in Rolling Meadows, Ill., touts these strategies as the keys to his success in lead generation and branding, and provides the specifics of his campaigns to shed light on how other advisors can do the same.
1. Present a clear, no-nonsense seminar.
DeJohn uses a 30-slide PowerPoint presentation centered on the pros and cons of the four main types of annuities, so there’s zero ambiguity about why attendees are coming to see him. “Quit talking ‘around’ annuities and start talking ‘about’ annuities to your clients,” he says. DeJohn’s seminars typically include an appointment sheet, turnkey material to invite and engage prospects, and three influential videos (click here to watch one of the humorous SNL clips he uses). The whole objective is to get the seminar attendees to like you.
Estimated dollars per month spent on seminars: $2,200
2. Produce radio commercials with calls to action.
“Radio is absolutely a lead-generation source,” says DeJohn. His 60-second radio commercial promotes fixed index annuities in his immediate region. The ads are designed to pique listeners’ interest by mentioning the benefits of FIAs, and urge listeners to call to learn more. DeJohn’s ad includes offers for a free DVD about annuities, a quote, and an email with additional information. “[From these radio ads,] we are selling via email or phone without ever leaving the building.” A celebrity endorsement won’t hurt, either. DeJohn happens to play golf with Mike Ditka, and Ditka’s voice now can be heard on DeJohn’s ads in his area.
Estimated dollars per month spent on radio commercials: $3,000
3. Use TV commercials to enhance credibility.
While radio ads are a major lead-generation source, TV is more efficient at building a solid brand. “It’s perception reality,” DeJohn says. While he doesn’t obtain many leads from his TV airtime, he does gain credibility, which increases how often he closes. “People think that if you can afford to be on TV commercials, you must be the guy to work with.”
Estimated dollars per month spent on TV commercials: $1,200
4. SEO and PPC are two solid tools.
Another large lead-generation source is the Internet. Right now, if you were to type “Retirement planning using annuities” into Google, DeJohn says, you’d fine 12,600,000 search engine results. With pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, he is able to optimize his search engine result ranking. His company appears in the top three paid advertising results. “You get superior ad positioning, a lower price point, 100 percent coverage, and a high traffic volume,” he says. This is an easy way to experiment with consumers, too. By testing multiple geo-targeted landing pages and conversation paths, you can see which ads get the most action and which landing pages pay off the best dividends for your firm.
5. Market, educate and close with a personalized DVD.
“Marketing and closing business is easy with our DVD,” says DeJohn. His DVD shows clients and prospects how an FIA works and how beneficial it can be to their retirement goals. It uses easy-to-understand concepts to inform clients about risky investments and safe investments. “It also illustrates a five-year example of the market going up and down,” he adds.
6. Don’t overlook email marketing.
It’s crazy not to employ a drip email marketing system, says DeJohn. “You’ve spent a lot of money to find and meet prospects though the year, but you’ve gotten no business from them because the timing wasn’t right.”
To create better timing, DeJohn crafts email templates to send to clients and prospects to keep them interested in annuities. Some of his emails are centered on:
- how the market doesn’t go up forever
- fire sales, when bonuses or income rider rates are going down
- how to supercharge your IRA
“IT is so inexpensive. I move a million a month from emails from people who either saw me or never saw me,” he says. “We’ve picked up $5 million in premium this year.”
Estimated dollars per month spent on email marketing: $100
7. Find a quality telemarketing service to do your cold calling for you.
DeJohn suggests following in his footsteps to optimize the telemarketing process:
- Register for the DNC.gov
- Buy lists within 100 miles of your office
- Have two telemarketers, one who calls from 9:00-12:00 am and another who comes back from 5:00-8:00 pm
- Pay $10 an hour, $25 for each qualified appointment
- Offer a 5 percent bonus on all sales
The key to success is to craft a very detailed script, DeJohn says. “I let them know what qualified means versus unqualified, etc.”
8. Direct mail with postcard marketing.
DeJohn doesn’t want any prospects walking into his office who view annuities with a negative connotation, so he makes sure to answer their questions before that point. Direct mail helps in this regard. “Turn your office into a direct mail machine,” he says, and watch how the appointments flow. Here’s his typical process:
- Send out 1,000 postcards every two weeks.
- The mailings direct the recipients to call his office or visit his website.
- Once prospects make contact, his office fact-finds on the phone.
- Then his firm qualifies the lead.
- Send the lead a DVD and email as it pertains to their situation.
- Book an appointment.
9. Advertise on commuter trains.
In addition to the branding done by his TV commercials, DeJohn also purchases poster ads on commuter trains. Consumers are exposed to his message every day to and from work, keeping his brand top of mind. His ad reads, “10 minutes could add up to 10 percent to your retirement account.”
10. Use billboards.
Billboard ads are yet another way to get your brand in front of consumers. DeJohn suggests targeting a billboard on an expressway in your home town. His reads, “Convert your IRA, 401(k) or any retirement accounts into income you can’t outlive!” He also includes a call to action: Visit the website for a free retirement DVD; receive a bonus for all new clients; etc.
DeJohn’s billboard ad costs $450 a month, and the return is plentiful. “I got a $650,000 client and made 8.5 percent commission on that,” he says, all from a billboard ad.