The five keys to marathon marketing

By Joe Simonds

Advisor Internet Marketing

If you apply these to your practice, I have no doubt you will become the crème de la crème in your field. You will be less like the amateur at the weekend 5k and more like the marathon runner.

On Patriot’s Day this year, approximately 20,000 brave runners lined up to compete in the world’s oldest annual marathon, the Boston Marathon. However, this year something was a little bit off. In the past, the temperature was always in the mid 40s or 50s, providing a much needed cooling effect as the runners pushed their limits on the 26 mile trek. It was not uncommon to see clothes, hats and warm weather gear strewn all over the streets of Boston as runners peeled off their layers throughout the race.

However, this year the extra gear was nowhere to be found. In fact, the 85 degree temperatures would set a record for the warmest Boston Marathon to date.

Not to worry. You see, the runners in the Boston Marathon prepare all year long for the race, come rain, snow or sunshine. The most prepared runners can excel in any environment. These elite racers go through a vigorous training regime, which includes 15 to 20-mile runs, one-mile sprints and daunting weekly jogs, which would make the average American faint from exhaustion.

Not only do these runners have to be dedicated, but they must have clear goals in mind. Training is very strategic, and the best prepared marathoners are the ones who are persistent and able to follow their long-term goals.

It is surprising how many of these professionals don’t treat their marketing efforts like a marathon. Instead of creating clear goals and a long-term marketing plan, many of their marketing efforts resemble a bunch of short sprints. Advisors find themselves starting, stopping and changing directions every time, from one lead or one annuity appointment setting company to another.

In the long run, they find that they covered a lot of distance with their sprints, only to end up where they started — looking for the next big lead generation silver bullet.

Well, I have some news to bestow upon you. No matter what your peers, FMO, insurance carrier or insurance marketing company tell you, there is no silver bullet out there that will always work unless you treat your marketing like a marathon.

It is so easy to jump from marketing idea to marketing idea in hopes of getting some action on the next big marketing program, only later to realize it was just a marketing tactic which worked well for the one or two agents who were in the right place at the right time. (Of course, those are the only stories you hear about from the companies marketing these services).

Just as an exceptional marathon runner doesn’t rely solely on his or her legs to finish the race, the best salesmen and saleswomen can’t just rely on their charm and salesmanship. A marathon runner has custom fit shoes and running gear, whereas a top financial professional should have the top of the line tools and software at their fingertips at all times.

The top marathon runners begin the year with a clear goal in mind and follow their progress daily. Similarly, the top financial professionals should start every January with clear goals and constantly check to make sure they are on target. If not, you will most likely end up like the sprinter who covers a lot of distance, but ends up where they started.

And just like the professional runner who has all of the latest gadgets (like a GPS watch and monitoring devices), the financial professional must take advantage of the technology around him or her.

Many of you reading this are probably saying, “This is old news. Tell me something I don’t know.”

So the big question is, why are only 15 percent of you actually doing it? I am in a unique position, having consulted financial advisors for the past 10 years. I have had the luxury of working with a couple of $30 million annual annuity producers all the way down to the managed money advisor that just decided they wanted to bring annuities into their practice.

I have been a part of countless phone conversations, seminars, radio shows, and client presentations with some of the best in the industry. Although each of the elite advisors has a slightly different approach to a successful practice, I want to give you a brief outline of the top five traits and elements that each of them shared in common. If you apply these to your practice, I have no doubt you will become the crème de la crème in your field. You will be less like the amateur at the weekend 5K and more like the marathon runner.

So here are the five keys to being a marathon marketer:
    1) Put a minimum of 35 percent of your monthly commissions back into your practice. Every month. No exceptions.

    2) Have clear and defined weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual goals written down for you and your entire staff to see.

    3) Maintain a minimum of three different marketing channels going at any given time. For example, giving educational seminars, using a drip mail system through your website, having a Saturday radio show and hosting a quarterly client appreciation event would count as four.

    4) Have one core marketing technique that you would consider your bread and butter. In the example above, it might be that your bread and butter, where you invest the most money and time, is in your seminar program.

    5) Always educate yourself on the latest trends and marketing techniques. For example, every single $10 million+ annuity producer that I have had the pleasure of consulting is currently utilizing the Internet as a supplemental (or primary) lead generation and branding tool.
In conclusion, we all seem to agree that even the greatest salesman can’t survive without consistent and sound marketing. Just like you don’t hear the top marathon runners whining about the weather, you also don’t hear the elite financial advisors whining about the latest and greatest postcard or cheap lead source.

I am not bashing lead cards or lead sources. I have seen some work very well for certain advisors. The big difference is that those who used it successfully were using it as just one of their three or four marketing channels, which were all part of a master marathon marketing plan.

The most successful financial professionals in our industry all have a few things in common and one of them is not jumping from lead source to lead source every couple of months. Stay consistent and have a marathon mentality. It isn’t easy, but it pays huge dividends in the long run.