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Marketing That Works

Ads, banners, brochures—you've dished out money for each, but is that really the best use of your marketing dollars?

By Ray Vendetti, CLU, ChFCL

Time and money. Seems like we?re always running short on both. But we really feel the heat when it comes time to implementing a marketing campaign. One agent I know spent the better part of three days hunkered down in his cubicle?in a deep state of meditation?trying to produce a direct mail piece that would generate 10 times the response of any home-office flyer. Another agent spent hours agonizing over which word should come first in his ad.

Here?s a little reality check: As a general rule, creativity is to selling what kryptonite was to Superman. Yes, we?ll always need to spend a portion of our dollars on marketing pieces that promote name recognition. Just don?t expect your phone to be ringing off the hook once people see them.

What people really respond to are personal connections. So, save yourself the time and effort of trying to create something that at best would yield only marginal increases over any home-office ad. And, instead, focus your marketing dollars on ways to build relationships. Here are a few examples:

Case No. 1:
One agent asked me if he should spend $240 a month for closed-circuit TV advertising at the gym where he worked out. The gym offered to run his 30-second ad twice an hour, 24 hours a day?that?s over 1,400 times a month! On the face of it, sounds like a great idea, right? Except I also work out regularly and have yet to see anyone on a stair climber pull out a Sharpie from his spandex and write a number on his palm a la Tony Soprano.

So, the agent and I brainstormed for a better approach. We knew that the gym had a meeting room, available free of charge. The ad he ultimately came up with invited people to a free financial literacy workshop to be held at the gym each month. The ad also directed people to a sign-up sheet on the gym?s main bulletin board. The workshops are now so well attended that the agent has stopped the TV ads altogether and simply has the sign-up sheet.

Case No. 2:
Many agents find sponsoring a youth athletic event a good way of promoting their name. Some even take on a coaching role in the hopes it can lead to an entrée with the parents. But coaching in and of itself isn?t going to do it. Case in point: An agent I know once decided to coach his 5-year-old son?s soccer team. A few games into the season, he called the parents, assuming they?d welcome his invitation to review their insurance programs. Wrong! More often than not, when he called, they simply complained about the dumb strategy of the coach!

So, the agent rethought his approach. After one game, he set up a barbecue stand for both teams and invited the parents to join in for hot dogs and sodas. After a couple more events, in which people learned who he was, not what he did, he found parents open to sitting down and talking about their insurance.

Case No. 3:
Last year, two agents did a Kid-Care ID event at a street fair. Dozens of people lined up to get IDs for their children, and when they got to the table, one agent passed out product brochures and business cards. You can guess where most of this material went?into the trash! I called the agents several days later and asked how the event went. ?Terrific,? they said, ?we did over 250 IDs for parents.? (At a cost of over $600.) I asked if they got any business from it, and they said, ?Not yet.?

What happened? It was a terrific idea, but the agents had no way of capturing the names of the people they were providing the Kid-Care ID service for. If they had offered a prize drawing with an entry form?compliance-approved, of course?that listed their services and products, they most likely would have had a great many people indicate interest in things like college funding and life insurance.

Ray Vendetti, CLU, ChFC, has been in the multiline industry for 19 years, and regularly coaches groups and individual producers in the financial-services industry. Contact him at rvendetti49@comcast.net or at 925-634-1397, ext. 418.


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