Putting your eggs in one basket: Why many annuity producers fail to reach their goals

By Luke Britt

The Insurance Group

In my business as an annuity marketing consultant, I am consistently engaging producers in conversation. These conversations take place in one-on-one meetings and brainstorming sessions, as well during quick chats on the phone. I estimate that at least 80 percent of the advisors and insurance agents who I speak with are looking for a way to get in front of people, or asking, "How do I market myself?"

The talks then usually progress into a venting session where producers air out their frustrations with their latest FMO's marketing concept as well as the money they've wasted on direct mail, seminars, appointment-setting programs and the rest.

Why are so many agents missing the mark when it comes to marketing?

The question is an honest one and frankly, the most important question of today's independent annuity agent. In my opinion, the answer is most marketing campaigns are treated as the producer's sole marketing campaign.

The hypothetical scenario goes like this, "I'm going to start doing seminars. I've booked the Italian Bistro in my area, I've ordered 15,000 mail pieces and I've got my assistant to help me set appointments." Out of the 15,000 mail cards, 25 buying units have RSVPd, while 20 attended and eight set appointments. Of those eight appointments, the agent closes three, for an average of $75,000 in annuity premium.

The $225,000 in premium grosses the agent $15,750 (at 7 percent) while the total costs of the seminar are around $6,000, netting the producer $9,750 to put into his pocket. Ten of these seminars would allow the agent to bring home $97,500 in commissions for the year. Not too shabby, my dear.

And this is usually the end of the one and only marketing campaign. This is also where the elite producers separate themselves from the pack.

What are elite producers (writing $10 million or more annually) doing differently?

Drip marketing

What happens to the 17 buying units who didn't set an appointment? These are prospects who have heard your message and know what you offer. It's time for a drip marketing program.

How much would it cost you to send a letter to 17 households twice a week for six months? A whopping $360, plus some sweat and tears. Of those 17, you could, on average, close two more $75,000 annuity sales, turning your $6,400 of marketing expenses in the seminar and mail costs into $26,250 gross commissions. That's an ROI of 410 percent, ladies and gents.


Every elite producer that I work with has a network of other licensed professionals that generate referrals for his business (the referral process is typically reciprocated). The typical members of this network are CPAs, estate or elder law attorneys, property and casualty agents (even captive shops can generate referrals), real estate agents, mortgage brokers, etc. These leads are the best to receive and are usually totally free of any hard marketing expenses.
Maintaining the current client base

What I mean by this is that elite producers are typically very active among their own book of business. This activity generates more referrals as well as creating sales opportunities with future generations.

A simple birthday card can go a long way. Did your client recently welcome a new grandchild into the family? Send flowers to the hospital, send a congratulatory card ... you get the point. Stay active with your clients. You are building a business, not just churning out apps.

Other marketing strategies

Some other strategies for marketing include radio programs and advertisements, TV spots on the local news; hosting informational seminars on Social Security, turning 65 and other topics at local churches, libraries or clubs; being on the local Chamber of Commerce, and many more.

Be creative. You know your personality and skills better than anyone. Find somewhere where you can get plugged in and generate business for yourself.

One thing most elite producers never do is limit themselves to one seminar, direct mail or other type of marketing campaign. Their marketing systems are "guns-blazing;" generating more and more clients and more and more referrals.

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