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How to Keep Your Head Above Water

When I was young I played baseball. I remember one game when we had the bases  loaded and I had just come up to bat. It was a hot, sunny day in Houston and the  pitcher had his back to the sun so I was squinting just to see him. Just before  he pitched, my coach shouted something that became a life lesson for me, “Keep  Your Eye on the Ball!”

Now for my own pride, I’m not going to tell you how that game played out, but  I will tell you what brought that memory to mind. In a consultation the other  day with a long-time client, I stumbled across an interesting discovery that  jogged my memory. As he and I were working through a few of the issues in his  agency, we inevitably got into a conversation about the economy.

We talked quite a bit about all of the recent moves in the financial industry  and about how it would effect things at Allstate, Farmers and “good neighbor”  agents. We talked about the companies of course, but much more important for  the agent on the street.

The hard working who isn’t afraid to get out there and put his head down and  work his tail off for a living, but that doesn’t want to spin his wheels forever  or try to push a rock uphill – How is that agent effected by the current  economy?

As my client and I talked we came up with a few answers, but one in  particular kept coming up: in a slowdown, it’s incredibly easy for all of us as  entrepreneurs to fall into the same old business-as-usual, survival mentality.  There are even more things than usual to take our focus off of growing a hugely  successful agency.

Now, this might not seem like a huge discovery, but it was amazing to learn  that this opportunity to “take your eye off the ball” happens in every field and  industry, not just insurance. But the response I’ve seen from my most successful  clients has been the same: they implement better processes to get and keep  clients and they stop wasting money and what doesn’t work.

Here are the top marketing tips these agents have used:

1. If you have a few small ads you use, print them on postcards and mail  them out. Put a good headline at the top to demand their attention. A good  postcard can generate a flood of sales leads for a small cost, and as a bonus  you can mail the same number of different postcards to determine which ad is  best, so you get new leads and also can spend your print ad dollars more  effectively.

2. Send a second offer to new clients right after they become clients.  One classy way this can be done is with a thank you call or handwritten thank  you note giving them the opportunity to meet with you to discuss financial  products, and offering them a small Starbucks gift card in exchange for the  appointment.

3. Newsletters. It costs up to six times more to make a sale to a new  client than to an existing one. If you use newsletters to build relationship  with existing clients and occasionally include a sales letter to up sell them to  multiple policies or financial products you can hugely increase your profit for  client as well as the length of time they’ll stay with your agency. Print  newsletters are the best but at a minimum e-newsletters are a must.

4. Seminars and Open Houses have long been a staple of the traditional  financial services industry. Nearly all financial planners grow their practices  this way. An event is a great way to gain face time with clients to keep  retention high as well as a great opportunity to bring in prospects either that  you have brought with your marketing or referrals from existing clients. (If  there is enough reason for your clients to want to come, you can even make them  bring a friend in order to come). Limit seating and make people RSVP to give the  impression of value. “Come and Go as You Please” doesn’t position you well and  often limits turnout.