Future Forward: 2016 LIMRA Annual Conference firm to agent agent to customer header image

As the 2016 centennial LIMRA Annual conference comes to a close and legendary newsman Tom Brokaw bids us farewell, I can’t help but think what the next 100 years will look like.

One thing that is certain, and a common theme expressed throughout the conference, is the monumental shift needed for brands to position themselves in the digital world. Technology is changing faster than ever before, and if brands fail to discover new ways to support their local agents while making a sizable emphasis toward customer needs, they will be left in the dust.

Internal support

It can be challenging to prove to advisors the opportunity costs, outcomes and benefits of adopting new technology, but what I heard in just about every session is that it’s time to invest in our workforce.

If your advisors are not willing to adopt new technology because they are unsure if the risk of using it incorrectly is worth the reward of cultivating new customers, then it’s time to educate them. Interpretations from the broker and internal exposure, education and proper development of corporate guidelines and standards are crucial. Only after the local agent is educated on proper standards can they accurately create objectives and deliverables and track their success.

Procuring that set of current regulatory guidance and compliance protocols from the start allows local agents to cast as wide of a net as needed to reach the right audience while avoiding conflict. As a corporate marketer, distributing a crystal-clear and compliant message from firm to agent, agent to customer is the only way to consistently position the brand and advise your audience correctly.

Similar to financial investments, your portfolio of marketing practices should be diverse. To truly support sales teams, brands must integrate digital and non-digital marketing efforts with the tools that can distribute and analyze them. Perhaps that is why eMarketer recently reported that 40% of marketing professionals in the United States use a marketing automation platform and 75% use web and marketing analytics tools to manage their marketing content and evaluate their results.

40% of marketing professionals in the United States use a marketing automation platform and 75% using web and marketing analytics tools

Mobilizing marketing support by delivering important information and training throughout the enterprise can help a firm interact more smoothly with their customers. Is your brand positioned in a way that will benefit and empower your local agents with new developments in technology? Is your brand able to successfully deliver a consistent message from top level C-suite executives down to the agents pounding the pavement? If not, maybe it’s time to invest in your workforce.

Customer centric

How can brands engage with customers digitally while avoiding the anxiety of a corporate control breakdown? How can corporations and local agents be on-brand with a compliant message but still be relatable to customers with different demographics? And most importantly, how can a brand build consumer engagement and increase revenue? Simple – focus on the customer.

Developing a customer-centric marketing strategy that meets the Department of Labor fiduciary standards can be a daunting task, but one that is attainable. Instead of thinking solely on your brand, think about what makes your customer tick. What does your customer look like and enjoy doing? What are their plans for the future? Place your customer first. Become an expert on your customer and then engineer a message that is relevant.

Start by building and executing a comprehensive buyer journey that breaks down how your audience interacts with your brand from the time of first contact or discovery, to the time of purchase and then referral. Meet customers along their buyer journey to uncover their needs and expectations at every stage. If you haven’t taken a deep dive into your customer’s purchase journey already, don’t fret, you are not alone. In fact, over half of US senior marketers are not confident in their company’s understanding of the customer journey, so developing a strategy around the customer could set you apart from your competition.

over half of US senior marketers are not confident in their company’s understanding of the customer journey

After an exhaustive evaluation, create marketing initiatives that are detailed and unique to your audience, yet malleable in a way that the program can change and evolve based on how the customer interacts with your brand at various intersections or touch points.

For local agents, developing this journey map can mean a better understanding of how the customer has interacted or will interact with your brand, how to identify the signs when it happens and then how to advise the correct exemptions or offers when the time is right. Build a marketing story around topics your customers can relate to based on the touch points they encounter with your brand. Whoever can do that best will not only win new customers but will also solve the needs of current clients, strengthening their relationships and developing programs that can help more customers live better lives after retirement.

Double down

It’s time we double down on relevance. It’s a new day and a new shift in the digital landscape. Learn from data and then predict what the customer needs and then create marketing collateral they would find valuable. Financial service enterprises need to rethink, reform and disrupt current marketing strategies to position themselves for a more profitable future. Recognize where the customer experience model is struggling, where opportunities lie and how to formulate a more efficient customer experience for a brighter future.

After all, it’s not where we are coming from, it’s where we are going. Is your brand going in the right direction – future forward?

Author_Alex Navarro

About the Author

Alex Navarro comes to Distribion with a background in developing and executing national brand awareness campaigns. His passion is creating personalized marketing strategies and watching them come to life. 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 or Twitter.