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Grow your business by partnering with a CPA

December 19, 2013 by

You know that you need referrals to grow your client base, and a CPA can help.

A CPA can help grow your business because they provide an inroad to a more reliable referral system. Consider the following factors:

  • A CPA’s clientele can include people within your target demographic who may need your services.
  • Your clients might need a CPA, but don’t know one they feel comfortable contacting.
  • Use your experience and connections to help a CPA expand their client network.

Click here to find out how you can get connected to CPAs in your area through the Brokers International, Ltd. CPA Alliance Program.

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Travis Redfern

Travis Redfern is a Relationship Manager for Brokers International. He works closely with key producers to help identify products and services that they can use to grow their businesses. Travis has been with Brokers International since 2002. In his spare time, he enjoys hunting, golfing, team roping, time with friends and family and escaping to his “man cave” to watch football. ADR-1263

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Five customer loyalty tips

October 1, 2013 by

What is customer loyalty? If you search this question online, you will find many definitions and opinions on how to cultivate it. BusinessDictionary.com defines customer loyalty as the, “Likelihood of previous customers to continue to buy from a specific organization.” How likely are previous customers to return to you for financial services? Do you have a plan to keep them coming back?

There are many ways to foster customer loyalty and most are not new. Here are five of my favorite customer loyalty tips to keep customers coming back.

  1. Make people happy. I love this quote by Derek Sivers, founder of CD Baby, “The single most important thing is to make people happy. If you are making people happy, as a side effect, they will be happy to open up their wallets and pay you.” Enough said.
  2. Provide superior customer service. Many times I have walked into a business and sworn never to return because of poor service. However, when I experience superior customer service, I become a brand advocate, spread the word and send referrals. Have you ever asked your clients how you are doing? Check out our blog post “What’s your client’s experience?” for tips on soliciting feedback.
  3. Do more than expected. George S. Patton, considered one of the most successful combat generals in U.S. history,1 said, “Always do more than is required of you.” Take the time to add personal touches: Send hand-written thank you notes, acknowledge birthdays and remember the little things—even if it’s as simple as if they prefer coffee or tea.
  4. Listen. Principle number seven in Dale Carnegie’s famous book How to Win Friends and Influence People is, “Be a good listener. Encourage other to talk about themselves.” In the financial services industry, this seems especially important. We must understand what clients need (for example, income or legacy planning) before we can propose a solution.
  5. Keep in touch. Create a client nurturing program to make sure you stay connected with customers on a regular basis. Nurturing not only helps you maintain and build client relationships, but it helps move customers from point A to point B in the buying cycle. To learn more about nurturing, visit our blog post, Nurturing Dos and Don’ts for Sales.

1 “George Patton. biography.” bio. True Story.. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Sep 2013. <http://www.biography.com/people/george-patton-9434904>.

2 Carnegie, Dale. “Golden Book Principles from How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Dale Carnegie Training. Dale Carnegie and Associates, Inc., n.d. Web. 18 Sep 2013. <http://www.dalecarnegie.com/assets/1/7/GoldenBook_English.swf>.

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Kristine Garrett

Kristine Garrett joined Brokers International in 2012 as a Marketing Project Manager. She brought with her a strong background in sales and marketing that she uses to write helpful blog tips and marketing ideas to grow your business. Kristine shares a hobby farm near Panora with her husband, farm critters and beautiful bulldogs. 11854-1/30/13

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Ready for your close up?

September 5, 2013 by

Kristi Piehl Media Minefield Founder and CEO

By Kristi Piehl
Founder/CEO Media Minefield, Inc.

“When can I be quoted in the Wall Street Journal?”

It’s a pretty typical question that we are asked at Media Minefield.

Before you determine that a framed Wall Street Journal article featuring a quote from you is the next “must have” for your office lobby, ask yourself: Why?

National financial publications certainly carry a significant amount of credibility. When a client walks into the office and sees a framed article with a quote from their financial professional, it is impressive. The majority of financial professionals I talk with are quite good at working with clients who visit their office. But they have a bigger problem getting new prospective clients to actually walk in their front door.

If your goal is to get your message in front of prospective clients, then it is important to spend your time, energy, and money focusing on the media they utilize. If they are like many people in or nearing retirement, then they likely are getting information from local news, and are connecting with friends and relatives on social media. Your message can be targeted to a local audience (by local I mean people who could get in the car and drive to your office) via local news and/or by targeted social media posts.

National news placements can sometimes do more harm than good. I recently heard a story from a financial professional who acquired a new client from a competitor, because the client felt the competitor only communicated to tell him about his next national news appearance. The client had the perception that the financial professional was spending too much time on national television and not enough time managing accounts. This is a problem. However, if you appear on local news talking about issues that are of concern to your target demographic, then you are positioning yourself as someone who cares enough about his or her clients to help them by utilizing media.

Don’t misunderstand. This blog does not discourage seeking national coverage. In fact, we frequently have clients quoted in national publications including Wall Street Journal.  However, if the purpose of engaging media is to attract new local clients, then any national media strategy should be paired with a sound local media strategy.

Think about your own news consumption habits. When you are watching or reading national news, do you think that the person being interviewed lives in your area? Probably not. However, if you see someone quoted in local news, you may be inclined to make an appointment or get more information from a website or social media.

Before you get ready for your close up, consider this: You might get more prospective clients through the doors of your office by meeting them first in their living rooms on the local news.

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I’m pretty handy…for a girl

August 27, 2013 by

My husband, Scott, and I live on a small hobby farm in rural Iowa consisting of a few unruly acres, a 160-year-old farm house, and a menagerie of animals. I’ll translate that for you: I’m broke and always fixing something.

I have taught myself to be pretty handy. I have a tool belt; I can do some plumbing; and my 18-Volt ½-inch Cordless Nickel Cadmium Compact Drill is my prize possession.

One day I went into a large home improvement store looking for a length of chain long enough to wrap around a fence post, and the gate that holds it closed, because my goats had been escaping.

While selecting the chain, an associate came to my aid. I explained that I needed to have a piece of chain cut. He responded, “Do you have a man to help with this project?” (Remember, I just needed a chain to hold the gate shut.) He then asked how much chain I needed. “Do you need enough to wrap around my arm?” he said showing me the girth of his arm. “Or, is it more like my thigh?” he said, standing on one leg with his other knee in the air. Oh boy . . .

I normally find these situations amusing, and will joke that I’m pretty handy . . . for a girl. It shouldn’t make any difference that I’m a female. I have all the faculties I need to use power tools!

Are you a pretty good financial professional . . . for a girl? According to a survey conducted by Edward Jones, one in five cited the financial services industry as the hardest glass ceiling for women to break through.1

Why is that? Don’t women have all the faculties necessary to excel in this profession? In the survey, which polled 1,010 men and women, 83% of respondents not only agreed that women faced career barriers, but cited a male-dominated environment as the main impediment.

Other obstacles the survey noted were: juggling family and corporate responsibilities; inadequate policies for women; and lack of mentoring and defined career paths.

Fortunately, there are programs available to support and mentor women in this industry. Check out our Women’s Mentoring Agent NetworkTM (WOMANTM). This program is dedicated to helping independent, female financial professionals to develop their practices—in spite of the male-dominated environment—by providing opportunities to network, share, and learn from their peers.

For some great face time with other female financial professionals, join us September 18 to 20 in Panora, Iowa for the WOMANTM Fall Forum. This event gives women the opportunity to discuss relevant topics with their peers; learn what makes other women in this industry successful; and cultivate valuable relationships.

To learn more about this event and the WOMANTM program, visit www.BILTD.com/woman.

1 Edward Jones 2013. Edward Jones Survey Reveals 65 Percent of Americans Agree “Glass Ceiling” Remains a Career Barrier for Women. [press release] June 5, 2013. Retrieved from: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/edward-jones-survey-reveals-65-percent-of-americans-agree-glass-ceiling-remains-as-career-barrier-for-women-210226341.html

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Kristine Garrett

Kristine Garrett joined Brokers International in 2012 as a Marketing Project Manager. She brought with her a strong background in sales and marketing that she uses to write helpful blog tips and marketing ideas to grow your business. Kristine shares a hobby farm near Panora with her husband, farm critters and beautiful bulldogs. 11854-1/30/13

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Why Earned Media Matters

August 1, 2013 by

Kristi Piehl Media Minefield Founder and CEO

By Kristi Piehl
Founder/CEO Media Minefield, Inc.

“Today everyone is a star—they’re all billed as ‘starring’ or ‘also starring’. In my day, we earned that recognition.”  Bette Davis

The time of earning credibility via exposure is back. Unlike when Bette Davis was on the silver screen, it is now captivating audiences in high definition on mobile devices.

Earned media (media exposure that does not cost anything) is one of the hottest terms in modern day marketing and communications. For example, people who are interviewed for a television, radio, newspaper or magazine to comment on a trend or issue, do not pay for this exposure. Certainly there are opportunities in all media for paid commercials and shows, but it is typically very easy for the audience to tell the difference between an ad and legitimate news. Once the audience is aware that the exposure was paid for, the information is viewed in a different and more skeptical light. By contrast, people interviewed for news stories are often perceived as knowledgeable and experienced in their field, simply because a trusted news outlet chose to ask for their input.

Social media marketing is another type of earned media. According to Mashable, “Social media marketing programs usually center on efforts to create content that attracts attention and encourages readers to share it with their social networks.” When social media users share content, it is because the content is interesting, not because anyone is paying them to spread the message. What happens when you combine earned media via legitimate news interviews with social media marketing? It’s an impressive combination that has helped our clients become successful.

More and more companies are spending time and energy on earned media. According to a recent article in Business Insider, “Eighty-four percent of businesses said ‘the trend toward earned media via social media marketing’ was quite significant or highly significant to their organizations, and 90% believed it would be so by 2015, according to a recent Econsultancy and Adobe survey.”1 And if you think that no one watches the TV news anymore—you are wrong. According to a 2013 Gallup Poll, 55% of adults say they turn to television for news about current events.2

Television, radio, newspaper or magazine, earned media is rooted in talent, quality content and experience.

 

1 Ballvé, M. Earned Media and Social Media: How Brands can get Beyond the Hype. Business Insider. July 2013. Download the PDF.

2Saad, Lydia. TV is Americans’ Main Source of News. Gallup® Politics. July 2013. http://www.gallup.com/poll/163412/americans-main-source-news.aspx

 

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Be Smart and Make it Simple

July 9, 2013 by

Kristi Piehl Media Minefield Founder and CEO

 By Kristi Piehl
 Founder/CEO Media Minefield, Inc.

“If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.”

I love this quote by Albert Einstein. It’s the best way I’ve ever heard to describe a clear and concise message.

At Media Minefield, we talk about messaging every day. If you know your message, you can easily use it to describe your business and approach to your clients on your website, on social media, in online videos, mailings and television news interviews.

Why does messaging matter? In your area, there are probably dozens, maybe even hundreds, of people who have the same licenses and education as you. External communication focuses on potential customers who haven’t heard of you or your business before. Your message is what separates you from your competition. It is especially important to people who may not understand what you do or how you can help them.

While using words like “annuity” and “fixed-index” are commonplace inside your industry, not everyone outside your industry is familiar with those terms or jargon.  When you use “insider” language in your message, you run the risk of associating yourself with something that may be perceived as difficult, complicated or negative. Replace “insider” language with simple easily understood words. This may feel like you are diluting your work, but it is better to simplify it than to communicate it in a way that is not understandable.

Consider your message your elevator pitch; in a couple sentences, you want to give someone enough positive information so they understand what you do while giving them the opportunity to ask questions.

Here is a sample message: “I love helping families with their retirement so they can spend time with their grandkids or on the golf course and feel reassured about their retirement strategies.”

Here is an even simpler message: “I help people with retirement strategies so they have enough money to live on when they quit working.”

While these sample messages are clear, neither is personal. An effective and memorable message will set you apart from others in your industry. Think about your background, or what inspired you to get into the business, and incorporate that into your message. If someone visits your website, what piece of information could you share so your business will be associated with something positive and unique?

Remember, an effective message is clear, simple, memorable and even a first grader should be able to understand it.

 

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Why am I talking about this?

June 13, 2013 by

Kristi Piehl Media Minefield Founder and CEO

By Kristi Piehl
Founder/CEO Media Minefield, Inc.

Why am I talking about this? There’s a question I’m surprised I don’t hear more often.

Here at Media Minefield, we place clients in television news interviews. There, they have the opportunity to increase their visibility in their community, and reinforce their reputation as someone who is knowledgeable in their profession. But, that doesn’t always mean they’re talking about something directly related to annuities, stocks or bonds.

For example, at the office, our financial industry clients typically focus their efforts on helping people who are in or near retirement with investments. Outside the office, those same clients have been on TV talking about everything from document shredding to cell phone bills, and even motherly financial advice for Mother’s Day.

That’s where the question comes in. “Why am I talking about this?”

The answer we give our clients about TV appearances can also apply to other forms of non-traditional marketing, like seminars.

While the topics they’re on TV talking about may not be at the core of what they do for their customers, their knowledge is still valuable to the interviewer and to the viewer. And, if they think they don’t have anything more to add to the topic than the average person, they underestimate themselves. Many of the topics our financial clients are interviewed about deal with protecting or saving money. Financial professionals are qualified to talk about the importance of being smart when it comes to money. They help customers with money every day, and see the cumulative impact of a lifetime of financial choices.

Some may also wonder, “What’s in it for me?”

In traditional marketing, you say who you are, what you do, and why you’re better than your competition. You’re paying for the time so you get to control the message. It’s advertising, and the audience knows it.

With non-traditional marketing, the message typically isn’t as direct, but the women and men we work with have found it to be effective. Providing information helps guide people to make smarter decisions can build your reputation as someone who is knowledgeable and helpful. Being likable and showing off a little personality can help seal the deal, letting the viewer know you’re a real person who’s approachable and friendly. When someone in the audience needs the services of someone in your profession, they’ll remember you.

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Not All TV Marketing is Created Equal

April 12, 2013 by

Kristi Piehl Media Minefield Founder and CEO

By Kristi Piehl
Founder/CEO Media Minefield, Inc. 

I worked as a TV news reporter/anchor for more than a decade and regularly experienced the profound impact local TV news can have on a community. For small business owners in particular, the medium has the unparalleled ability to drive visibility, boost credibility and attract new clients in their local communities … if it’s done correctly.

The savviest business owners and marketers know that being positioned as an experienced professional in a TV newscast is more valuable than any 30-second commercial.

Not all TV appearances are the same. So, if a company claims they will put you on TV, I want you to ask them these five questions:

Will this segment actually be on broadcast television?
At my company, we are huge fans of the Internet and social media and their marketing potential. But, if you’re interested in maximum visibility, credibility and reach – broadcast television remains king. It’s not even close. Online distribution is fantastic for niche audiences. But, it’s rare for a single video on YouTube to reach the amount of people you can reach on broadcast television. Plus, a credible TV interview is a valuable asset that can be leveraged on social media.

What time will this segment air?
Unless you are selling sleeping pills, people watching TV at 2:00 a.m. are probably not at the top of your ideal client list.

Where will this segment be broadcast?
At first, it may seem that national distribution of your message is the best. However, ask yourself …  where are your clients? Why are you paying to be placed on a network that airs in California when 90% of your clients are in Virginia?

Who will be interviewing me?
For you to gain maximum credibility, the interviewer needs to be a well-known journalist in your local community. Viewers will attach the respect they have for a TV personality to you. If you’ve never heard of your interviewer or the news program, odds are your potential and current clients haven’t either.

How well-known is the broadcaster’s brand? 
Everyone can name that TV station in their town that “everybody watches” or has “been around forever.” You want to appear on these stations. The station’s longevity, reputation and influence will rub off on you and have a direct impact on your credibility.

Don’t let this discourage you. Being portrayed as an experienced professional on local TV news is one of the best marketing tools available. It can be extremely beneficial for your business … and a lot of fun!

Financial Professional Robert Baltzell is interviewed on KY3, the NBC-affiliate in his hometown of Springfield, Missouri.

Financial Professional Robert Baltzell is interviewed on KY3, the NBC-affiliate in his hometown of Springfield, Missouri.

Financial Professional Scott Walker (right) talks about retirement with a local TV News anchor on the heavily-watched CBS affiliate in his hometown of Wichita, Kansas.

Financial Professional Scott Walker (right) talks about retirement with a local TV News anchor on the heavily-watched CBS affiliate in his hometown of Wichita, Kansas.

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30-Day Business Resolution Challenge Follow-Up

March 8, 2013 by

It’s a good thing I’m giving up pop for my New Year’s Resolution because I just read that you need to run two miles to burn off a bottle of Coke.* The only way I’m running two miles is if there is a giant shoe sale at the finish line.

How are you doing on your 2013 Business Resolutions? Last month I gave you a 30-Day Business Resolution Challenge. I challenged you to spend at least 5 minutes a day on the Brokers International, Ltd. website (www.biltd.com) viewing our “anti-resolution breaking” content.

Did you accept my challenge? The Brokers International, Ltd. (BI) website has the tools you need to help support your business year round. By getting familiar with the information provided, it can make some of your day-to-day tasks easier.

For example, our new Search & Compare tool let’s you quickly and simply enter your client’s annuity criteria to search and compare a wide range of options such as strategies and rates or minimum guarantees. Plus, after completing your search, you can request a quote for one or all of the options with the push of a button. Best of all, you can take the Search and Compare tool with you everywhere you go by accessing the web tool from your laptop, tablet, and even your mobile phone. Click here for a short introduction.

Now, while you spend some time checking out the site, I think I hear a pair of Italian leather wedge-heel pumps calling my name.

 

*http://news.menshealth.com/cure-your-soda-addiction/2012/01/02/?cm_mmc=Yahoo-_-ETNT-_-Shocking_Soda_Facts-_-MH_News_Soda_Addiction

 

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Kristine Garrett

Kristine Garrett joined Brokers International in 2012 as a Marketing Project Manager. She brought with her a strong background in sales and marketing that she uses to write helpful blog tips and marketing ideas to grow your business. Kristine shares a hobby farm near Panora with her husband, farm critters and beautiful bulldogs. 11854-1/30/13

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30-Day Business Resolution Challenge

February 8, 2013 by

If resolutions were easy to keep, I would have given up pop years ago.

I’m not the only one that struggles to keep resolutions either. According to Steven Covey, by this time of year one-third of people have already fallen off the resolution wagon.*

Why do so many people break their resolutions?

Rory Vaden, a self-discipline expert and New York Times bestselling author says it basically comes down to a lack of self-discipline.** A survey conducted on his behalf found you are three times more likely to keep your resolutions if you can stick with it for the first 30 days.***

That’s good news! If you can just get past the 30-day hump, you are 76% more likely to keep your resolutions.

So, I have a 30-Day Business Resolution Challenge for you.

Over the next 30 days, I challenge you to spend at least 5 minutes a day on the Brokers International, Ltd. website (www.biltd.com). The website is packed with “anti-resolution breaking” products and services to keep you motivated in 2013 like:

The website is designed as a tool to make your workday easier. So, clear a few minutes from your calendar each day. Check it out and see how many minutes it saves you in return by providing resources at your fingertips!

And remember, with a little self-discipline you can grow your business . . . and I’ll start drinking water!

*HULIQ. (2012). New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Last Long, Survey Finds. http://www.huliq.com/12092/new-years-resolutions-dont-last-long-survey-finds

**http://www.knoxvilledailysun.com/lifestyle/2012/december/new-year-resolutions.html

***Kelton (2012). Rory Vaden New Year’s Resolutions Survey. Kelton: NewsWorthy Analysis.

 

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Kristine Garrett

Kristine Garrett joined Brokers International in 2012 as a Marketing Project Manager. She brought with her a strong background in sales and marketing that she uses to write helpful blog tips and marketing ideas to grow your business. Kristine shares a hobby farm near Panora with her husband, farm critters and beautiful bulldogs. 11854-1/30/13

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