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Wipe the dust off your website and give it some branding love.

May 28, 2014 by

Consider this ridiculous hypothetical situation:

You decide to stop cleaning your office. Clients come in, sit in dusty chairs and can only choose from outdated magazines. The receptionist doesn’t acknowledge them. The floor’s dirty; there’s no complimentary coffee; and the artwork is reminiscent of a 1970s-era dentist’s office.

It seems kind of ridiculous, and not something you’d do, because of the reputation you’d get as being outdated, unfriendly and not professional.

By failing to keep your website up-to-date and branded, you’re risking the same reputation peril. A website is an online store. It’s sometimes the first introduction to a potential client. You wouldn’t let your office fall in ill repair; don’t do the same thing to your website.

According to the New York-based web design firm, Ironpaper, 94 percent of people cited web design as the reason they mistrusted or rejected a website.1 That means that if your website isn’t up-to-date with your brand, and doesn’t represent you, it may not resonate with your clients.

The best way to illustrate the power of incorporating branding into a website is using an example. I’ll use Apple. Visit their site, www.apple.com. It looks and feels like the company’s television commercials, retail stores and the devices themselves. It’s streamlined and perpetuated.

You don’t need to be Apple. But there are some simple things you can do to take your website from brand drab to brand fab. Click here to see them all.

Rebecca Prescott

Rebecca Prescott joined Brokers International in March 2013 as a Marketing Project Manager. Before joining Brokers, she worked extensively on branding and product marketing. She also has a strong writing and graphic design background. Rebecca loves branding, grammar, swatchbooks, live music and her family and friends.

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Annalee believes teaching is a best practice

May 21, 2014 by

You don’t have to go much further beyond the answers to these questions to see that Pensacola-based Annalee Leonard believes that growing a successful client base goes beyond selling. She notes in the interview that teaching people about retirement is important to her.

It only takes one look at her firm’s website, www.mainstaypensacola.com, to see that she uses an educational approach to reaching her current and potential customers.

Read on to learn more.

Annalee_LeonardName: Annalee Leonard
Years in industry: 25 years
Specialties: Working with people to help preserve their hard earned assets; teaching the rules of use, preservation, and legacy.
Licenses: Life; Health; Series 6, 65,66
College: Our Lady of Holy Cross
Volunteer or hobbies: Golf; my three schnauzers; Impact 100

 

What’s the (not-so) secret to your success?

Educate, enlighten, and empower people. If I can educate you, I can enlighten you. Once you are enlightened, you have the ability to be empowered.

If you were to give advice to an agent starting out, what would you tell them?

Keep learning. Start at the bottom and work your way up and know every part of the business. Love what you do and do it because you love it, not for the money. That will come.  Listen, listen, and listen.  Care about your clients.  Learn to delegate.

What marketing techniques work for you?

Teaching people about retirement is important to me. We have a radio show that is holistic where we teach listeners about many of the things that they may encounter during retirement years.  We also try very hard to keep in touch with our present clients and to make them know they are special.

What keeps you motivated?

My desire to teach as many people as I can keeps me motivated.  I don’t want any family to go through what mine did because of poor estate planning on the part of my father. Teaching young people who are coming into the industry also is very important to me. They need to realize that we are problem solvers, not salespeople.

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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Learn the importance of a call-to-action

May 15, 2014 by

Here’s one way to lose a potential client: Write a 7-paragraph email without asking the reader to engage with you. (I tried to avoid that here just by doing it in the headline.)

By leaving out a call-to-action you’re taking the chance of losing a client conversation.

If you’ve read the past Brokers International blog about creating drip marketing campaigns, you’ve already spent time segmenting your database. Don’t forgo that hard work by skipping the call-to-action.  If you don’t provide a call-to-action, your reader will not know what they should do next. So what do you need to do?

Get creative.

A call-to-action is the mechanism that you use to get a client to engage. Once you’ve set the goal (example, call to set up an appointment) it’s time to create the call to action. Here are some tips:

  • Use the active voice
  • Try synonyms of everyday words
  • Focus on benefits (not features)
  • Give a deadline
  • Guide their actions
  • Create value

A call-to-action not only motivates a reader to engage, but it also changes your advertising piece—which is meant to build brand awareness—into a direct marketing piece that can help drive traffic.

Do you need some call-to-action examples? Click here to download a list that we developed to help you go from advertising to selling.

In the next installment of our blog series on drip marketing campaigns, we’ll look at creating content that’s relevant, easy to read and encourages your audience to stay engaged.

 

Rebecca Prescott

Rebecca Prescott joined Brokers International in March 2013 as a Marketing Project Manager. Before joining Brokers, she worked extensively on branding and product marketing. She also has a strong writing and graphic design background. Rebecca loves branding, grammar, swatchbooks, live music and her family and friends.

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Polish your press-release writing skills

April 23, 2014 by

So you think you have something interesting to say? The key is to get someone to listen.

Press releases are one way for you to get attention and exposure from a local newspaper, website and radio or television station. So here are some tips on how to write a solid press release, and how to get it published.

A press release is a pretty simple document. A basic, solid release contains the following items:

  • Date
  • Contact information
  • Headline
  • News
  • Company description

When you start writing the body copy, put the most important information first in the release. The general rule of thumb is that people don’t usually read to the end of the article, so you want to get the most important information as high in the article as possible.

And don’t feel like you have to write a novel. Anytime that writing can be quick and to the point, you increase the chances of someone reading. For more detailed tips on writing a press release, download our sample here.

How to get it published

There are a couple of ways to increase your chances of getting your press released published.

Tie it to a philanthropic event: When I asked a group of fellow marketing and journalism friends whether the press release was still a viable tool, my friend and colleague, Sara Wilson responded with a resounding yes.

“We get about every one of our releases printed,” said Wilson, Marketing Director for the United Way of Story County. “Tell them to tie it into charity.”

I also heard from colleagues in manufacturing, health care and sales who agreed that releases work, especially in smaller communities. The key is to make your topic interesting to a wide group of people. Don’t just talk about yourself.

Include a photo: Newspaper readers love to see photos. Snap a picture of your donation and include it with the release. Make sure to write a caption to accompany the photo.

Be sure you’re sending it the right place: Most news organizations have information on their website to direct people with news releases.

Follow up: If it’s been more than two weeks and you haven’t seen your release published, follow up and ensure they received it, and ask if they have any questions.

Press releases are an affordable way to brand yourself to your local community. They take little time, and can provide you decent exposure. The thing to remember is: Every little bit helps you make a name for yourself.

Rebecca Prescott

Rebecca Prescott joined Brokers International in March 2013 as a Marketing Project Manager. Before joining Brokers, she worked extensively on branding and product marketing. She also has a strong writing and graphic design background. Rebecca loves branding, grammar, swatchbooks, live music and her family and friends.

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Choosing a segment

April 18, 2014 by

Choosing the correct segment—target audience—for a marketing message can dictate its success.

Segmenting allows you to use the information you know about someone—such as gender, age, income or interests—to create a persona/client profile.

According to Eloqua,1 a leading provider of marketing automation and revenue management software, “Personas are fictional characters created to represent your ideal buyer.” Click here for a sample client profile.

When creating a persona, recognize that there are different types of clients. Look at your client list and prioritize what type of client is most important to your business. For example, you may work with clients in different life stages such as pre-retirement or retirement. Which one of these segments is the most beneficial to your business? Create that persona first.

Click here to download a client profile template to help you complete your persona.

Here is an example of a segment you might look for in your database to market life insurance.

  • Workshop attendees: Keep track of workshop attendees in your database. And, record what workshop they attended. Creating a follow up campaign will help keep you top-of-mind after the workshop—and hopefully, when they are ready to buy.

When you are ready to create your next marketing communication, choose your segment or persona first so your message resonates. Remember, you can use multiple segments to narrow your marketing message such as: women who attended a workshop on estate planning.

The next step in creating a relevant message is to decide on your desired outcome. The next bog will go into detail about how to create a call to action.

1Pacheco, Claire. “EloquaU Power Hour: Creating Buyer Personas.” Topliners. Eloqua, 7 Feb 2014. Web. 28 Feb 2014. <http://blog.biltd.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/SalesFunnel_2.jpg>.

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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Life insurance selling tips

March 24, 2014 by

Although most Americans view life insurance as a necessity, many are underinsured or have no life insurance at all.

Here are some facts from LIMRA’s life insurance consumer studies:1

  • Almost 9 in 10 Americans view life insurance as a necessity.
  • Only 6 of 10 Americans surveyed said they actually own some sort of life insurance.
  • Half of American households said they needed more life insurance.

Why aren’t people buying the life insurance they feel they need?

Competing financial priorities and overestimating the cost are two factors. But according to LIMRA the primary reason people do not buy life insurance is simple—indecision.1 People don’t know how much life insurance they need or what kind to buy—so they procrastinate.

Fortunately, LIMRA has identified five tips to help move your client or prospect from procrastinator to buyer.1

  1. Conduct a needs analysis. “Consumers who get one are considerably ‘more likely to buy’ than consumers who don’t.”
  2. Make a recommendation. “…producers who recommend an amount of insurance to buy ultimately sell more policies, at a 60 percent higher coverage level.”
  3. Meet directly with clients and prospects.“More than 7 in 10 life insurance shoppers who met with a producer face-to-face bought a policy.”
  4. Raise the issue. Among households who say that they are likely to buy life insurance in the next year, “…35 percent say they have not yet bought…because no one has approached them about it.”2 And, “One-quarter of life insurance shoppers consider life insurance only after a producer initiated the discussion.”1
  5. Be persistent with follow up. “More than one-third of (life insurance) shoppers said the producer should have followed up with them while they were still deciding whether to buy.”

To learn more about selling life insurance and sales strategies offered through Brokers Life, call us today at 866.528.7933 or visit www.BrokersLifeGroup.com.

1 “Insure Your Love.” LIMRA. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Jan 2014. <http://www.limra.com/uploadedFiles/limracom/About/Insure-Your-Love -2013.pdf>.

2 “Facts About Life 2013.” LIMRA. LIMRA. Web. 24 Jan 2014. <http://www.limra.com/uploadedFiles/limracom/Posts/PR/LIAM/PDF/Facts-Life-2013.pdf>.

©2014 Brokers Life Marketing Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Pat Lanigan

Pat Lanigan, CLU & President, Brokers Life, has been with the company since 2001. He is constantly working to provide easy-to-follow life concepts and offer support and education to insurance and financial professionals that include life insurance in their practice.

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What works for Dean Listle

March 17, 2014 by

Listle-Dean_0138-4x5-(2) (1)Name: Dean Listle

Firm name: partner, Secure Retirement Solutions, Green Bay, WI

Licenses: life, health, property, casualty

College: University of Wisconsin, bachelor’s degree in business administration

 

Dean Listle had built a solid career in sales and consulting when he decided that he’d had enough of working around the clock, and flying around the country.

Having had a long career that involved finance and corporate budgeting, he didn’t think it was too much of a leap to switch gears and move from helping companies with their money to helping people with their finances.

Two years later, Dean is settled comfortably. He’s a people person with a penchant for numbers, so helping people navigate important financial decisions has been a good career choice.

What have you learned since switching professions?
My background was mainly dealing with sports leagues, putting together products and services for them; or representing their companies. Talking to a board of directors is one thing. However, when you sit down and talk to someone who is ready to retire, and has a finite amount of money that means the world to them, you have to look at things differently.

What’s a good way to approach a conversation with a client?
I approach them one way all of the time. I lean back in my chair and fold my hands in front of me and let them know there is no right or wrong answers, because we’re swapping ideas and just talking. Then you can see them go from clenching their hands on the arms of the chair to relaxing.

What’s one thing you’ve learned from a mentor that’s been important to you?
What was brought up to me—and it’s not always an easy thing to abide by because we’re human—is to treat others like you want to be treated. When I am speaking with someone, I try to put myself in their shoes: “What would I think if I were on the other side of the table?” If you abide by that premise, you’ll be successful whether it’s in this industry or any other.

What do you like most about the work you do?
People. I’m definitely a people person. I always have been, and always will be. You can enjoy things with people. You can mourn with people. You can connect with people. It always comes down to people. I’m always amazed at how many people in a sales position need to talk more than the client or prospect. We have a saying in our office, “You have two ears and one mouth. You should always listen more than you talk.”

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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Make philanthropy a brand priority

March 13, 2014 by

One of the quickest ways to build brand recognition is to give back to—and make an investment in—your community.

But before you open your wallet for a charitable donation, or roll up your sleeves for some community service work, take stock of what it is you have to offer your community.

There’s a phrase called strategic philanthropy, and its definition is self explanatory: Choose your philanthropic ventures based on your business goals.

Doug Conent, the former president and CEO of the Campbell Soup Company, likens philanthropy to a method of conducting research and development for your business.

“I encourage companies to view philanthropic investments as incubators for promising ideas and a mechanism for understanding both community and corporate needs,”1 he wrote in an article for McKinsey & Company.

For financial professionals, it might be a great way to generate leads or help build credibility in your community. As a volunteer, you become a resource and partner in the community.

Here are some ways to practice strategic philanthropy:

  • If you’re a professional whose strategy is to educate customers, offer to provide free financial counseling to lower-income families or single parents.
  • If you’re looking for mass appeal, consider a larger donation to a group in your community that has a high profile. This increases the amount of promotion you’ll receive.
  • If your goal is to cultivate customers in their early retirement years, offer to give a presentation on the basics of using a 401(k) to a local young professional’s organization through the Chamber of Commerce or Jaycees.
  • Try not to turn away the school carnivals and after-prom committees. The amount they request is usually small, so try and support as many as you can. The parents asking for these donations need financial professionals.

For more ideas, read this article on the value of small business philanthropy.

Take a minute to think about how you can give back in your community. Because it does more than help you feel good on inside. It’s good for business.

 


Conent, Doug. “Why philanthropy is R&D for business.” McKinsey on Society Voices Expertise Our Practices Economic Development Social Innovation Education Sustainability Global Public Health Tools – See more at: http://voices.mckinseyonsociety.com/doug-conant-corporate-philanthropy/

Rebecca Prescott

Rebecca Prescott joined Brokers International in March 2013 as a Marketing Project Manager. Before joining Brokers, she worked extensively on branding and product marketing. She also has a strong writing and graphic design background. Rebecca loves branding, grammar, swatchbooks, live music and her family and friends.

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