The LIMRA 2015 Social Media Conference for Financial Services has come to a close, and we are now able to reflect on some of the many discussions we had with fellow attendees. As an exhibitor in the show for another year in a row, we had the opportunity to better understand the challenges that continue to trouble the industry today. After some serious consideration, we have identified the top five challenges brought to light during the conference, and the solutions that we were able to uncover together.
1. Financial literacy: lack of consumer education
Just because an agent knows everything there is to know about financial programs doesn’t mean that his or her audience does too. One of the primary struggles for an agent is uniquely tailoring an educational message (pre-approved by the corporate office, of course!) without it sounding like a corporate sales pitch. Any sales and/or marketing message worth its’ salt should hyper-target an audience in a simple, personalized manner, encouraging customers to discover, learn and engage. Once this conversation has begun, agents can evolve as thought leaders – explaining and educating what will be advantageous to a prospect or client.
A trusted dialogue between brand agent and audience cannot be reached by spraying generic corporate “sell-sell-sell” content all day. To truly become a thought leader and a respected voice for the industry (as an individual agent OR an organization), try the 70/30 approach. This approach divides content into 70% educational messaging and only 30% company-based messaging.
2. Consumer demand for financial personalization
No two people are the same in life and so too is the case in finance. In fact, a growing debate rages: should financial programs be as unique as the individual using them? If you haven’t seen Flo, Progressive’s spokesperson talking about it on TV, they now offer a Snapshot tool that records safe driving habits and adjusts a user’s monthly rate based on their individual behavior.
Could financial agencies be trending toward a program similar to Progressive’s Snapshot Driving Tool? Perhaps, but customers would first have to be educated by their providers to which habits are important to live a lifestyle that is both healthy and fiscally conscious. There is a huge opportunity here for growth within the industry – if a brand can tackle this issue with a cohesive message from top to bottom of the corporate ladder, they could capture the attention of the consumer.
3. As Bob Dylan would say, the times they are a changin’
Although the song may be over 50 years old, the lyrics still ring true today. There is a definite need to train agents who struggle with adopting the latest technology. A noticeable absence in engagement across social media outlets can and will mean missing out on huge opportunities.
Building a social media presence and understanding how to leverage it as a sales and marketing tool is now vital for building a brand and an individual agent’s identity; social media is a virtual hotbed of opportunity for encountering new prospects and engaging with current customers. The key here is agent training and adoption within brand compliance. Because technology advances at the speed of light, the most successful agents will be aware of new opportunities to interact and sell online. They will be motivated to be present wherever their audience to develop a better understanding of their customers’ needs and direct effective messaging toward them.
4. Attracting new sales agents
According to Ericson Insurance Advisors, an estimated 50,000 to 70,000 people are retiring from finance and insurance positions each year. Now you see why recruiting, training and supporting new hires through marketing efforts is crucial to the success of each financial institution. First, candidates are no longer looking for just “a job;” attracting new hires comes down to aligning company standards with the goals of potential candidates.
Candidates are seeking positions at companies that are going to enable them to grow their career and make a difference within and outside the corporation. Some corporations whose standards and core values involve community or cause engagement are now offering paid leave for community service work. Other corporations promote their strong sense of culture – did someone say team building softball leagues or weekly happy hour?
What’s important to your company’s culture, and how can you make that resonate with your future employees during the recruiting process and beyond?
5. Retaining sales agents
Agent turnover due to dissatisfaction is an enormous challenge and could cost your corporation more than an empty cubicle. Gallup quantified the link between employee feelings and corporate outcomes, reporting that lost productivity due to employee disengagement costs more than $300 billion in the U.S. annually. How do corporations keep their agents happy and productive?
Learn from the best. Allow new agents to shadow successful ones through job-shadow programs early and continue support through one-on-one mentorships.
Start an agent forum where agents can ask each other questions and find real-life answers, while collaborating on industry challenges.
Provide top-notch, easy to use marketing technology that spans and aggregates multiple channels to ensure agents can gain and maintain the attention of their audience where they are when they want to be reached.
And the 2015 LLSMC Silver Bowl winner for Best Integrated Social Media Campaign goes to…Voya, one of our favorite clients!
Congratulations to Voya Financial. A complete list of winners should be available soon on LIMRA.com
About Alex Navarro
Alex is a California-native who currently lives in Dallas, Texas with his fantastic wife. In the past, he’s been responsible for creating, developing and executing national brand awareness campaigns and has enjoyed developing personalized marketing and promotional plans. Alex studied advertising and marketing at Pepperdine University and has enjoyed working in the field ever since. He also loves meeting new people – connect with him on LinkedIn orTwitter.