Pivot to Digital 6: Restarting Leads in a Remote Environment

Digital Bootcamp: Week Six: Restarting Leads in a Remote Selling Environment

After you have fully reengaged with your existing clients and engaged prospects, you will most likely need to start to generate new business. At the time we’re writing this, states have announced dates for progressively reopening businesses. While we all hope to return as quickly as possible to “business as usual,” we offer a plan today that can serve as your contingency for a prolonged quarantine or a post-pandemic business environment that looks very different from the one we left in February.

Annuities and Life Insurance

Demand for fixed and fixed indexed annuities have grown substantially in 2020. Any client who purchased an FIA before February 2020 from you should give strong recommendations to their friends. That said, lower long-term interest rates will put pressure on carriers to maintain caps and guaranteed income benefits. To capitalize on the market’s current opportunities, we recommend the following:

  • Plan to put the vast majority of your business with carriers that can easily support remote sales.
  • Consider the strategies on which you will focus. A change may require you to reassess the carriers with whom you work.
  • Be prepared for rapidly changing pricing environments. Explain the market environment to your clients to avoid surprises if clients delay completing their applications.

Online Leads

We typically see our top individual agents pursue one of five business models for generating new leads: referrals, online leads, seminars, radio/television shows, or event sponsorship. In this section, we focus on online lead generation. We recognize that you may either continue to or start to purchase leads from vendors or from your Independent Marketing Organization.  For those who want to take personal control of their lead generation, we’ll cover some basics of online lead acquisition that you can run yourself. In any case, your lead strategy should be based on the clients you want to target, the marketing concepts that will work in this environment, and the products you want to sell in today’s market.

Location, location, location

Spending time researching where your prospects engage on social media will help you focus on a plan and be more effective in your lead acquisition. Be sure to consider not just audience size, but the extent of their engagement. For instance: you may find that your target audience is a sizeable one on Twitter, however their engagement is low – a telltale sign they will not be willing to accept your call to action. Conversely, you may find a highly engaged group of prospects on Facebook, sharing articles and willingly making trusted connections. This group may be an opportunity to pursue new leads.

TIP: Research regional groups on Facebook and even in your own neighborhood via platforms such as NextDoor or Patch.

TIP: Additionally, there are free social media listening tools that can help you better understand your target audience and better prepare your call to action.

Be Social, Helpful, and a Trusted Source

You wouldn’t stand in the corner and ignore the active chatter of a busy cocktail party, would you? If you’re not actively participating in the conversation via your preferred social media channel, you’re missing out on the opportunity to make new connections. Set a goal of joining the conversation and the best way to do is to offer help or advice. Saying, “How can I help?” is one of the most effective ways to encourage interaction and to listen to what your potential customer needs.

Being consistent on any social media platform with topical and accurate information will position you as the go-to resource when a prospect finds themselves in the market.

TIP: Salesforce: How to Generate Leads: Ten Strategies to Help You Generate New Leads

Partner Up

Speaking of being helpful, finding a partner who has equal or more influence via a social media platform may help introduce you to a new audience. While you wouldn’t want to partner with a direct competitor in your area, there might be other local influencers in, for instance, Real Estate or the local Chamber of Commerce who can partner with you on various topics, articles, and virtual events that could result in an increase in prospects.

TIP: Always consider being generous to your partner, they’re going to remember how you helped them and remember a good experience when the opportunity arises again.

Keep Them Warm

Bakers often use a warm oven drawer to nurture their breads, allowing them to grow. Consider the same sentiment when working with a lead list you already own. After welcoming them shortly after acquisition and offering to answer their questions or consider an appointment, take great care to consistently – and gently – keep in touch. Perhaps there’s a new article or rate information that’s interesting to share. Even once per month is enough to remind your audience that you’re here to help.

“Ad”ding to Your Strategy

Social media advertising can be very effective when you match engaging messaging with the right audience. By now, you’ve already researched your audience using social media listening tools or by engaging with them online. Take that information and create ads that inspire, inform, or entertain. Here’s a quick guide to getting started with Facebook ads, which are a great resource for generating quality leads at a low cost.

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Pivot to Digital 5: Raising Brand Awareness in Your Community While People Are Home

Digital Bootcamp: Week Five: Raising Brand Awareness in Your Community While People Are Home

What generally worked for building your insurance agency brand awareness in your community prior to COVID-19 probably still works today. However, the details and tactics most likely require a refresh and more focus on social media and digital marketing. Also, remember that any massive change will present opportunities for your agency to grow in unexpected ways.

Raising brand awareness in your community while people are at home offers fresh opportunities to demonstrate your authenticity, empathy and agility.

Stay active in your community: Associate your brand with doing good

People will remember brands for their acts of kindness in a time of crisis, especially if done with authenticity, generosity and compassion. Donating food, providing free products for medical personnel or continuing to pay employees while a company’s doors are closed are a few examples of doing good. Consumers will likely remember how Ford, GE, and 3M partnered to repurpose manufacturing capacity and put people back to work making respirators and ventilators to fight coronavirus. However, you need to show that your contributions are not solely for commercial benefit but for the good of your community.

Sponsor new events: Support some of the new normal celebrations

Who would ever have ever imagined drive-by birthdays or celebrations of other important milestones? Can you sponsor one of these gatherings and give away branded gifts from the side of the road with a lawn sign promoting your agency?

Remember signage: Show your community colors

Crises can unite communities. Frequently, each locale will show their support for a cause with physical, visible signs, such as yellow ribbons and flags. If you have an office in town, don’t let it look vacant with letters piling at the door. Follow marketing common sense. If everyone supports your local hospital, buy a sign that shows you contributed at the office, even if you really aren’t there.

Support your clients’ businesses: Demonstrate loyalty & empathy

Show your clients in the community you care by using their curbside food deliveries. Purchase gift cards from their businesses to help them keep their heads above water and make it through this difficult time.

Give something away for free: Your advice could help a lot of people in need

Businesses are showing empathy in many ways such as banks waiving overdraft fees, and SAP making its Qualtrics Remote Work Pulse platform free to companies who might be rapidly transitioning to new ways of working. Can you help people figure out their financial quandaries and avoid making simple mistakes? A favor today will build massive goodwill for future business.

Keep building your network: Even face-to-face forums have gone virtual

Don’t ignore your business networking organizations. If you haven’t joined any of their virtual events, make sure to try. You may be very surprised who you meet the next time they hold an online event.

Tell your new story: Amplify all your good acts on social media

Remember to document your time in quarantine. Take pictures of your team in masks. Show videos when you helped out at the foodbanks. Using social media channels to share information on nearly all topics from government safety guidelines to how to help our fellow neighbors and local charities is our new normal. Demonstrate your true personality and show you have adapted to the times.

Don’t stop advertising: Stay in front of the community in a tasteful manner

The need for advertising may be greater than ever in times like these. However, you will probably need to reevaluate the appropriateness of the images and messages. You may want to pull the stock pictures of seniors on cruises!

Will raising brand awareness in your community translate into long-term loyalty or sales? 

There’s no guarantee that raising brand awareness in your community will lead to long-term loyalty or sales. However, doing well by doing good can only strengthen your brand.

In summary, be mindful of 5 things:

  • Be empathetic to the impact of business interruption and adapt to the unexpected.
  • Adopt as many digital ways of working as possible.
  • Connect with your community and customers, understand this will likely have residual effects.
  • Minimize risks to customers. Reach out and ask how you can help them.
  • Embrace the digital transformation that customers and communities are currently adopting. This will ultimately improve how we do business and raise brand awareness today and tomorrow.
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Pivot to Digital 4: Turn Your Existing Clients into Fans Who Refer Their Friends

Digital Bootcamp: Week Four: Turn Your Existing Clients into Fans Who Refer Their Friends

Satisfied, existing clients who introduce you to their friends may prove to be the least expensive leads with the highest conversion rates. How do you generate these types of referrals during a pandemic? The same rule that applied before the crisis applies today: You have to ask.

Traditional ways still work…with some virtual twists

  • First, and foremost, become comfortable asking for referrals while communicating with clients in the day-to-day, such as when exchanging text messages, phone calls, or during digital or in-person meetings. If you haven’t done this, write it down and/or practice it with a friend or loved one. You must feel comfortable asking for referrals and believe in the value you can provide. Be able to easily describe your target customer and the problems you can solve. For instance, ask, “Do you know someone between 60 and 65 who may be retiring in the next year or two and wants to lock in some guaranteed income now?”
  • Turn every email you send into an opportunity for a referral. Change your email signature to include a message that asks that people forward your email to friends who may need similar help. Better yet, include a link to a short, personal video message that introduces people to you and talks about the services you provide.
  • Thank clients who have provided referrals in the past.
  • Schedule virtual check-ins with your clients. No one may be calling them during this time. Imagine how much peace of mind you could provide if you proactively reminded them about the great decision that they made to protect either their retirement or their families before the pandemic hit. Do they understand the value of any riders they may have purchased? Can you help any of their friends during the crazy time?
  • Get your clients to like your page on Facebook. The average user on Facebook in 2020 has 155 friends.* For those of you targeting the senior market, 62% of seniors who use the web have a Facebook profile*. Imagine what could happen to your business if each positive statement by a satisfied client reached 155 of their close contacts.

*Source: Facebook by the Numbers: Stats, Demographics & Fun Facts. Omnicore (April 22, 2020).

Client appreciation events may be your secret sauce

Successful agencies have historically relied on strong client appreciation events for lead generation activities. You can simply wait until the crisis passes before you return to the format that works for you. Or, you can use a little imagination and create events that cost less than traditional formats but achieve results not possible in a physical venue.

How can virtual events really top physical events?

  • You’re not facing much competition. Everyone, for now, is basically stuck at home. Even a mediocre experience may attract more attendees than you expect, at least for now.
  • Geographic limits don’t exist. As long as you have licenses in the resident states of your guests, you can pull people from across the country to attend.
  • You may capture better speakers, musicians, or celebrities to attend at a much lower cost.
  • Breakout rooms available in Zoom (and some other platforms) allow you to create more intimate and controlled experiences to maximize engagement with a larger group of attendees.
  • Use of polls and chat features allow you to create more engagement with more people than ever before possible.

What will remain the same when you host a virtual rather than a physical client appreciation event?

  • These event ideas are all about deepening client connections.
  • Customize your approach to your client’s interests.
  • Keep the selling to a minimum.
  • If possible, enlist the involvement of your spouse or partner for couple events.
  • Whenever possible encourage clients to “invite a friend”. However, include any prospects you know as well.

We have listed some of the common (and uncommon) events available for you today in our strange world. Beneath each we offer suggestions on how to modify to make the event even more potent in a virtual environment.

Cooking classes

Chefs and local restaurants actively encourage take outs. Find a really good restaurant that will prepare preps for meals. Hire the chef to join your event virtually and help people make the meal in their homes.

Tastings (wine, beer, tequila, etc.)

See if there’s a retailer in the area who can ship a nice bottle or bottles well in advance of the event for all to share. Depending on the type and packaging of alcohol you serve, you may need to hold the event as a series. Use the virtual nature of the event to find an expert from a vineyard or brewery not easily accessed by your guests. See if the expert could include a virtual tour of the facilities as part of the event. Really take your guests to another part of the world from their living room.

Golf clinics

Some courses remain closed. However, the pros have often taken their coaching to virtual programs. Find a top pro somewhere in the country who will host a chipping or putting clinic via webinar. Send your participants tripods for their phones and a six-pack of golf balls in advance of the event.

Milestone celebrations (retirement, birthdays, graduations).

For those clients with whom you have many mutual contacts, consider hosting an event to celebrate an important moment. Yes, you could do this through Zoom. You could also organize a drive by parade. Offer branded cowbells or other paraphernalia at a pick-up point to connect your firm with the event.

Game nights

Many classic board games are now available online for you to play virtually with others. “The Game of Life” – which could make for some fun marketing tag lines, Scrabble, Clue, Monopoly, Boggle and more. These old-fashioned board games have become a welcome way to connect with other’s and create a few laughs. Imagine if your guests could play with a celebrity or well-known person.

Sporting events

At least until this fall, all major sporting events have been canceled. Use the opportunity to get a pro player to join your event virtually, talk about their career, last season and what lies ahead. You will get terrific engagement from your clients who love sports.


Collaborate with your clients to raise money for their cause. Working together to raise charitable funds shows you care about matters outside of business.

Encourage your friends to participate to tell their story via Facebook or Instagram. Follow up personally with each attendee afterwards. And always ask them to introduce you to their friends who could benefit from your services.

5 Helpful Things to Talk to Clients About During COVID-19

Revisit The “Am I On Track?” Conversation

No one enjoys seeing their hard-earned savings drop. But as painful as it may be to see declining balances, the bigger pain point is that plans and goals may need to be put on hold or shift completely.

One of the most impactful things that agents can do right now is to reevaluate clients’ plans to be able to give them the answer to the all-important question, “Am I on track?”

Help Clients Adjust Their Budget (Effectively) As Necessary

For those clients whose plans are impacted by the current economic crisis and market downturns, perhaps one of the most valuable services an agent can provide is to help the client to review their monthly/annual spending to make adjustments, as necessary, to make the plan work again.

Agents can serve as a sounding board to help clients talk through and make potentially difficult decisions. Whether a client is 85 or 35, making cuts to spending can be difficult. In some cases, the expense(s) to go may be obvious, but other times, it may be more challenging, particularly in situations where spouses disagree on what should be cut. Agents can help clients to remain focused on the things which are most important to them and to serve as impartial arbiters when/if desired.

Talk through Making 2020 Roth Conversions While The Markets Are Low

While your gains may not be as large, the decision to make a Roth conversion is influenced in part by tax considerations.

With the new Secure Act legislation, there are now no income limits imposed by the IRS upon Roth IRA conversions. Anyone with a Traditional IRA, 401k, 403b or other similar retirement plan can convert it into a Roth IRA no matter how much they earn in a year. In past years, individuals making more than a defined income limit could not fully convert a Traditional IRA or other account into a Roth IRA. This limit has not applied since the 2010 tax year.

Create A Game Plan for What Happens If The Emergency Reserve Runs Dry

Several analysts have projected the unemployment rate to rise to 30% or higher in the near future*. If that happens, there’s no telling how long it will take, particularly in hard-hit areas, for some people to get back to work and avoid living off of their savings. For those approaching retirement age, this could drastically change their retirement vision.

Given this dynamic, agents should consider helping clients to establish the next-in-line source of cash to use after their emergency reserve runs dry. Notably, although clients may still be months away from running low on emergency funds, it’s important to identify the next source predictable income or cash flow, as it can provide peace of mind. Logistically, some options such as selling assets or looking at immediate income options can take time to secure.

*Source: Steve Matthews, U.S. Jobless Rate May Soar to 30%, Fed’s Bullard Says. Bloomberg (Mar 22, 2020)

Consider Reducing And/Or Temporarily Eliminating Payments That Don’t Have to Be Made

Many individuals’ cashflows are impacted by the current COVID-19 crisis. Agents can help clients understand the types of payments that can (or should) currently be considered for reduction. These may include:

  • Federal Student Loan Payments.  The Department of Education announced that the interest rate on all Federally-provided student loans will automatically drop*. This is worth looking into. Borrowers can call 1-800-4-FED-AID, or visit their loan servicers website to make the change.
  • Mortgage Payments. In some states a mortgage ‘holiday’ may be available to clients who have seen disruptions to their income due to the COVID-19 crisis. The general idea of such a provision is to automatically allow impacted borrowers to defer payments without incurring additional costs and/or impacting their credit scores. Mortgages often represent the largest monthly expense. Any relief could help ease the impact of decreased cashflows.
  • Credit Card Payments. Many credit card companies are offering relief during the COVID-19 crisis. This may include reduced or delayed monthly payments, reduced interest rates, and abated late and other fees. Reaching out to credit card companies could provide some temporary help.

*Source: Delivering on President Trump’s Promise, Secretary DeVos Suspends Federal Student Loan Payments, Waives Interest During National Emergency. U.S. Department of Education (Mar. 20, 2020).

In short… help your clients control what they can today and reassure them you are here to continue the conversation tomorrow.

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Pivot to Digital 2: Refreshing Your Online Profile in Our New Era

It’s a worthwhile investment

Creating a strong online profile is no longer an option; it’s a necessity. These challenging times have not only changed our life and business priorities but how we interact with others.

Whether you are looking to expand your network or build your business, social media enables you to:

  • Discover new ideas and trends
  • Connect with existing and new audiences in deeper ways
  • Bring attention and traffic to your work
  • Build and enhance your professional and personal brand
  • Demonstrate your “thought leadership” skills
  • Create strong personal connections at scale

If done right, your refreshed online presence gives you an opportunity to attract more people who not only support you but will enlighten your thinking about ways to grow your brand and your business in this environment.

Some of you use social media explicitly for driving business. The vast majority of you use social media to create a personal connection with your friends, clients and prospects. The elements required to create engagement remain the same:

  • Create an online presence that truly reflects your personality
  • Post good content that tells compelling stories
  • Actively engage with your friends and acquaintances

That said, themes and images that created engagement and excitement before February 2020 may have the very reverse effect today. Early surveys already demonstrate dramatic shifts in purchasing behavior, aspirations, and long-term economic perspectives of most consumers. In short, think twice before posting a picture of your visit to the beach, a ride on a posh boat, or a new car.

For the remainder of 2020, we believe that consumers will respond to content that demonstrates:

  • You work hard to serve your community
  • Your advice and products offer safety for families and retirees, and
  • People can trust you to steer them through this economic storm

We suggest you begin with your profile. First, ask yourself three questions:

  1. Are there ways to improve what you already have online? Will a prospect immediately grasp your commitment to providing financial guidance?
  2. Is the profile picture you uploaded last year still relevant? Will a consumer want to trust the picture of the person they see?
  3. Does your bio need to be updated? Have you fully documented your community activities?

Since it’ll be the first impression many people see, improving your online presence includes social media channels. Does that initial impression convey community connection, safety and trust?

We’ll focus on four social media channels: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Since we are concentrating on business, LinkedIn should be the platform you refresh first.

Four things you’ll need to get started:

Your Photo

Use a high-quality headshot that reflects what you look like today, not 10 years ago. Do not choose a photo of someone else, a group shot, an arm draped over your shoulder or a selfie. It should a professional photo of your face.

Your Background Header Image

It’s time to replace the generic “sky” photo behind your head shot. This is your “billboard.” Put it to good use! There are many free quality LinkedIn backgrounds available online. You may want to choose one that resonates with your personal style or represents your interests.

Your Professional Headline

Your headline is what appears directly below your photo on LinkedIn. The default is your current job title. Rather than using your title, you should include information that attracts visitors to want to learn more about you. Be explicit about how you can help people – but do it in a professional manner. Remember, you get up to 120 characters in your headline.


Add a Summary to better represent the depth of your professional expertise. Most people use first-person voice in their About section, rather than writing about themselves in the third person. First-person sounds more personable. Select one and stick with it.

The Summary is also great for search engine optimization (SEO). Use keywords that are relevant to your industry expertise. The keywords and phrases in your profile—including your Summary and other information—will impact how likely you are to show up in Google searches for:

  • Your name
  • Skills relevant to your expertise
  • Companies where you work

LinkedIn offers a variety of ways to expand your network by connecting with professionals in your industry. You should also post your own content, showing off your thought leadership and expertise on a regular basis.

While you may use your LinkedIn photo for Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, consider using photos of a more casual nature. Try using photos that showcase your hobbies or interests.

Twitter offers you 280 characters to express your ideas and thoughts. You can use photos and videos that support your message to help you stand out. Smart, relevant, timely posts can help you raise your profile, especially when you use #hashtags.

Facebook can connect you with influencers in your industry and you can share articles, stories and images. Show the world what matters most to you.

Instagram is more than photos and images, it’s a place for doing business. Instagram’s audience loves cool and interesting visuals. You can combine awesome content with visuals such as infographics or images to build followers.

It’s an art and a science

Be authentic. Think before you post. Experiment and see what’s working and what isn’t. Constantly re-evaluate.

Start slow, select the platforms that align with what you are trying to accomplish. Look to others in the market that are doing this well. Use your common sense.

This new era has given us the gift of time. Investing some time to enhance your online presence today will pay dividends in the future.

Keep Compliance Top of Mind

If you’re using social media for prospecting or to advertise insurance products, keep in mind that all states have specific rules and regulations you need to comply with. And be sure to get approval from insurance or annuity carriers when mentioning their name or products, whether online or in other types of media.

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