Agent Link July 2019

AGENT LINK To empower those who change lives for the better


with producers prior to the event, a rare but highly effective best practice recommended by Agent Link to boost show rates. THE RESULTS Agent Link’s highly targeted, multichannel approach with producer liaisons’ prequalification process generated nearly 300 RSVPs and a high show rate.The national marketing organization’s proactive outreach prior to the event likely played a key role in elevating the show rate, which reached as high as 40% at the Tampa event. Not only did the number of RSVPs and show rates exceed expectations, but some of the agents who attended also headed teams of their own. “Overall, I’d tell you this was very successful,” Kevin said about the entire series of recruitment events. More contracts are expected as follow- up recruitment actions continue. We couldn’t be more excited for Kevin and his team.These are the types of results organizations see when they work with Agent Link, and there’s also more to discover in this edition. Inside, we share the excitement that circulated around the launch of Agent Link’s first Top Producer Summit.Then, we help you identify the seven reasons most producer lists fail. It’s everything you need to know to take your recruitment to the next level.

Tampa, Kansas City, Salt Lake, and Chicago in the spring of 2019.The goal was to target prequalified, independent agents actively writing business.With the events just around the corner, there was no time to lose. Having observed Agent Link’s past performance with event promotion, Kevin O. reached out to the team for help.

F   rom the first event kick-off, it was clear to Kevin O., the national sales director for a national insurance marketing organization, that the campaign was off to a strong start.Then the results came, and they confirmed it — the recruitment events yielded hundreds of RSVPs, a high show rate, and the recruitment of new, qualified agents. “I think we should land around 40 agents in Tampa and about 30–35 in Chicago,” Kevin reported to the Agent Link team. Using prequalified, hypertargeted RSVPs, Kevin and his IMO saw incredible results. Here’s a closer look at how they kicked their recruitment into high gear. THE COMPANY Situated in the western United States, this national insurance marketing organization has been in business for nearly 40 years and services independent agents active in the senior market in all 50 states. THE CHALLENGE The organization was planning to hold five major recruitment events across the U.S. in Phoenix,

THE SOLUTION Working with Agent Link’s creative team, the first step was to handcraft event promotion messages and creative content that would stand out from the sea of sameness and generate interest in the event. Using precise segmentation in combination with the industry’s most comprehensive insurance agent database, found exclusively through Agent Link, senior market producers were targeted across multiple channels. Altogether, 150,000 promotional impressions were made via email, telephone, and social media. Agents who responded were prequalified by Agent Link’s producer liaisons, who ensured all leads met the organization’s precise agent specifications. Producer liaisons are known for their honed sales instinct and knack for relationship-building. Prior to each event, email and text reminders were sent, and liaisons made reminder calls. The national marketing organization’s client managers and marketers worked alongside the Agent Link team, reconfirming and engaging

-Senia and Stu Gramajo

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The value of a strong brand cannot be overstated when it comes to growing your business. We call adhesive bandages Band-Aids and cotton swabs Q-Tips because those companies excel at creating memorable, trusted brands that consumers can rely on.There’s no recipe for creating a brand so strong that the name of your product becomes common vernacular, but developing a strong, consistent brand is within the reach of every business owner. This is why it’s frustrating to see companies hurt their branding through easily avoidable mistakes. Business owners often deprioritize branding in the early stages of their company, but that’s a dangerous mistake. If a potential customer interacts with your brand and it doesn’t resonate with them, it’s going to be hard to win them back. By avoiding these common errors, you can create a brand that people will support and interact with. Bland Branding “Branding is deliberate differentiation,” says author and consultant Debbie Millman. In other words, don’t create your brand by copying somebody else’s. The best brands stand out.Think about the iconic Nike swoosh, one of the greatest logos in business history.There was nothing like it at the time, and there’s little like it today. Sloppy Copy Branding is far more than just a cool logo and a flashy website.The words you use to convey your values — and the value you offer customers — are crucial. Bad grammar, weird word choice, and other linguistic faux pas can make you look silly. Make sure you have professional editors look over your copy to ensure it relays the message you want it to. Platform Inconsistency Have you ever logged onto a mobile version of a website and wondered if you were in the wrong place? When that happens, it’s because a company hasn’t made the effort to mirror their branding across all platforms. It’s one thing to have an irreverent online presence — look to MoonPie’s Twitter feed for an example — it’s another to have such disparate branding that you leave customers confused. A great brand synergizes all aspects to create one indelible image for consumers. Share your values, convey clear messages, and provide a professional image. Once you’ve done that, you’re on the road to building a brand that people want to support. COMMON BRANDING MISTAKES That Can Torpedo Your Company’s Image

And What You Can Learn From Them A great advertising campaign transcends the company that creates it. The Budweiser Clydesdales are nearly as iconic as the beer itself. People still say, “Dude, you’re getting a Dell,” in 2019, despite the fact that PCs aren’t even a major part of Dell’s business model anymore. When it comes to creating an ad campaign that Don Draper would be proud of, it’s best to look at massively successful examples from recent history. Here are a few of our favorites, as well as commentary on why they work and how you can use similar tactics. Brand Differentiation: Apple This mega-popular ad campaign consisting of 66 spots personified the difference between PCs and Apple computers. Playing the role of “PC” was a buttoned-up, nebbish character you’d expect to find in the most morose workplace on earth.The “Mac” character, by contrast, was laid-back, youthful, and effortlessly cool. After launching the campaign in 2006, Macs became the default laptop for nearly every incoming college student. Clearly, the lighthearted jabbing at the competition worked. Off-the-Wall Irreverence: Old Spice Most deodorant and shampoo commercials are bare-bones basic.They describe the “odor protection,” “moisturizing effects,” and the like. Old The Best Contemp


2019 Top Producer Summit Empowers Insurance Producers Across the Country

their secrets and know-how with insurance and financial service professionals from around the country, so they could in turn better serve their clients. After speaking with close to 150,000 producers and advisors since the company’s inception, the Agent Link team has gained unprecedented insight.The result was an agenda packed with powerful content tailored toward attendees’ most pressing needs and challenges. After the tremendous success and positive feedback they received, Senia and Stu have announced they will be holding another Top Producer Summit on Aug. 27–29, 2019. Agents and advisors can attend the live event for free, or they can purchase an All Access Pass, which includes lifetime access to the materials, as well as tools to help them implement what they learn in their business. Visit to learn more or register for the event. Thank you to everyone who joined Agent Link for the June Summit. It was a pleasure to host, and we look forward to more events in the future!

Last month, Agent Link achieved an important milestone — not only for the company but for the insurance and financial services industry as a whole — with the launch of the first Top Producer Summit, a free digital conference for insurance producers and financial planners. Over the course of three days, world-class marketers, top producers, and industry experts shared powerful insights and strategies with the goal of empowering attendees to grow their business. Leading up the event, Stu and Senia were invited to talk about the Summit on ABC Action News and made a live television appearance on "Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend" with Natalie Taylor. On the show, they shared their purpose for the event and for their company: to empower those who can change people’s lives for the better. As they shared with Natalie, after a family tragedy demonstrated the power of proper planning and having life insurance, they founded Agent Link in 2009.Their mission was to connect those who provide these life-changing services with organizations that will support them and help them grow. The Top Producer Summit was a realization of this purpose, as Agent Link brought together 18 powerhouse speakers to share

rary Ad Campaigns


Spice takes the opposite approach.Their ads often feature absurd imagery, insane special effects, and Terry Crews literally yelling at you that you smell bad. Would this tone work for a life insurance company? Probably not, but it’s a great way to make simple consumer goods feel fun and exciting. Social Awareness: Dove Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty,” which launched in 2004, was a long overdue change of pace for the beauty industry. Since time immemorial, fashion and beauty campaigns featured only impossibly beautiful women who had body types that the average person could never attain. Dove threw this aspirational, and potentially toxic, messaging in the garbage and decided to celebrate women of all shapes and sizes. If you can create a campaign that includes those who aren’t used to widespread representation, you’ll increase your reach in a hurry. Curated Cool: Dos Equis Here’s a dirty little secret the beverage industry won’t tell you: Most industrially produced beers are made by one of two companies, and the vast majority of them taste remarkably similar.The difference, for the most part, comes down to the way they are marketed. Dos Equis, with their “Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign, carved out a name for themselves as the beer for urbane, thrill-seeking drinkers, despite the fact that their product is about as exotic as a Coors Light. Sometimes, perception really is reality.

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1212 Court Street Ste. D Clearwater, FL 33756 INSIDE

1. The Results Are In: Recruitment Case Study

2. Are You Ruining Your Brand? Agent Link in the News 3. The Absolute Best in Advertising

Have a Laugh

4. Make Yourself Heard With 'Fierce Conversations'

'FIERCE CONVERSATIONS' Learn How to Get Your Message Across

with “aggressive.” However, as a master of meaningful communication, Scott has found that it’s important not to force emotions one way or the other. As she observes, “If your behavior contradicts your values, your body knows.” Instead of relying on fake bravado or false modesty, the author argues it’s better that the bravery be genuine. Breaking down those social barriers to be authentic in our conversations takes true ferocity. Scott does more than simply explain why frank and honest communication is important; she gives readers the tools to get there. Having spent years as a business coach, and now as the head of a firm that trains CEOs around the globe, Scott is well-versed in the art of teaching exercises. “Fierce Conversations” is brimming with action items, tactics, and tailor-made examples of how to communicate in every situation, from board meetings to parenting. If you’re someone who likes concrete guides over vague concepts, this book will pleasantly surprise you.

So often, we talk to our friends, coworkers, and loved ones without actually saying anything. We’ll beat around the bush on important subjects or hesitate to bring up sensitive matters. Global business coach and best-selling author Susan Scott has set out to change that. In her book “Fierce Conversations,” Scott argues that the key to get more out of our personal and professional relationships is to learn to lower our barriers and convey our message honestly. “Fierce Conversations” is one of those works born out of a simple idea with big implications. As the author explains it, “While no single conversation is guaranteed to change the trajectory of a career, a company, a relationship, or a life, any single conversation can.” By having the communication skills necessary to create lasting bonds, handle strong emotions, and overcome barriers, you’ll be prepared when crucial conversations present themselves. Those who tend to judge a book by its cover may make the mistake of associating the word “fierce”


7 Reasons Your Producer List Is Failing to Turn Into Active Producers

Many carriers target producers via direct response mail. Some of the lists we’ve inspected and run against CASS (Code Accuracy Support System) and NCOA (National Change of Address) revealed that as many as 30% of the addresses were undeliverable. You should ask the list provider, “Are the addresses on your producer list valid and up to deliverability standards?” Even if you’re only using a producer list for emailing or calling, address accuracy affects you. How do you know you’re actually calling agents in a particular geographical target if the addresses are incorrect? Nothing can replace an opted-in email list. If you don’t have one, clean up and validate the emails you have before targeting them on a large scale.This will increase your chances of getting your messages out to the right people and up your chances of advisor recruitment success. R eason N o . 2: Y our producer list has demographic limitations . Chances are, you’re not the type of brokerage agency or carrier that contracts with just any licensed agent. Over time, most IMOs, BGAs, and carriers find that they’re a better fit for a specific type of producer. Demographics vs. Psychographics When you analyze the differences between ideal producers and those who don’t write much business, you find something revealing:

You subscribe to or purchase the big producer list, you invest in outgoing promotion, and you even hire employees to make targeted calls. Responses pour in, and the air is buzzing with conversation. As busy as your staff is, though, your producer list isn’t yielding the active producers or premium returns you imagined. You’re concerned that your pipeline is filling with the wrong type of producer. From a survey we conducted with hundreds of brokerage agencies, carriers, and BDs, we found that while the majority of organizations don’t have a hard time getting in front of agents, as many as half of them do find it challenging to contract new producers at a desirable rate. More importantly, the majority of organizations are experiencing ongoing challenges with onboarding producers and getting them to actively write business. What gives? To start, poor list quality. It’s one of the seven reasons many lists fail to bring in active producers. Identify which of these reasons you’re struggling with, and you can set your advisor recruitment efforts up for success. R eason N o . 1: Y ou have poor producer list quality . Let’s get the most obvious reason out of the way first: the quality of your producer list. Most lists from vendors or companies that offer data subscriptions come from aggregated sources. Anyone who’s licensed or was once licensed gets dumped on the list. It’s valid to ask a provider, “Is everyone on here still licensed?”

them. Over time, it affects recruiters’ interactions with any prospects who aren’t ready to act right away on what your company has to offer. R eason N o . 6: Y ou have insufficient follow - up . I’ll bet you can’t guess the average number of times a recruiter follows

These differences aren’t always demographic; more often than not, they’re psychographic. By demographics, we’re talking about the quantifiable statistics that describe a group of people. Psychographics, in contrast, are all about behavior, attitude, and mindset. This is where most organizations run into data limitations: Producer lists only allow for very general demographic segmentation, when, all too often, psychographics play a much bigger role in separating the And now, here’s the most vital reason why your producer list isn’t effective: your message. If your copy is off, you’ll struggle to generate quality lead traffic and convert prospects into contracts and active producers. An important part of planning for marketing success is understanding the value your organization brings to the marketplace from the viewpoint of the insurance producers you’re targeting. Sales copy promoting your “great service,” “back-office support,” and “underwriting support” won’t cut it.The average independent producer has 20 years of experience in the market, so they’ve seen all the clichés. Add the fact that 60% of independent insurance producers already have two or three active relationships with BGAs or IMOs, and you’ve got stiff competition. You must stand out with your copy. To evaluate the effectiveness of your copy, you have to put your own organization and services aside and think like the producers you’re trying to attract.The best way to gain this insight is to survey your ideal producer. Use these insights in your copy, and you’ll end up with an irresistible message. R eason N o . 4: Y ou ’ re trying to be everything to everyone . We touched on this in No. 3, but it’s worth revisiting. Most insurance agents and producers cross-sell to a variety of markets, and they often help clients with a variety of products. While it can be beneficial for your business to diversify, it’s vital that each promotional campaign is targeted to one audience at a time. Even if you have services or products that appeal to very different types of insurance producers, if your campaign is geared toward all of them all at once, your message gets diluted. Trying to be everything for everyone results in attracting no one. R eason N o . 5: Y our lead quality expectations are too high . Have you ever noticed how easy it is to contract and work with referrals? Referred producers already trust you to some degree from day one. Referral prospects are altogether a different type, and you should expect much higher closing percentages from them. Because of this, the positive interactions your recruiters have with referrals should be measured separately from those they have with prospects brought in from marketing campaigns. Why? It’s discouraging for recruiters to deal with unqualified prospects day in and day out. When your list segmentation isn’t effective and your marketing tactics aren’t putting recruiters in front of qualified prospects, recruiters develop a negative attitude toward ideal producer from the rest of the pack. R eason N o . 3: Y our message is off .

up with a prospect. Go ahead, just guess. Five? 10? Nope. If you guessed one or two, you’re spot on.

During a recent two-year secret shopper study, we evaluated the behavior of over 130 BGAs and their follow-up procedures. (For more information on this study, contact us, and we’ll be happy to tell you more about it.) We found that less than 15% of recruiters have a systematic or thorough approach to follow-up. When it comes to recruiting producers, the money is in the follow-up. Remember: It can take 12 positive interactions with a prospect before they know you, like you, and trust you enough to do business. R eason N o . 7: I nsurance recruitment isn ’ t just about tactics ; it ’ s about strategy . Without the tactics to support it, a strategic plan is but a dream. Tactics without a strategic plan can be equally ineffective, and this occurs in insurance recruitment more often than you think. One strategy we’ve found to be lacking is online reputation management.This is a mistake. Imagine being curious about a restaurant, but upon Googling it, you find they have few or no reviews. You’d hesitate to go there.That’s the same way producers feel if they search for your organization and find no reviews or only negative ones. Over the years, we’ve mapped out the entire agent recruiting process for our clients, including carriers, BDs, and IMOs.Through our work, producers have revealed that their decision-making process always includes searching online for what other producers say about an organization.There’s nothing that sabotages your insurance recruitment activities faster than having no online reputation or having a poorly managed one. Find the missing link. Did any of the points on this list hit you in the gut? You knew something was off, but it wasn’t until you read it that you felt it in your core. You realized, with a sense of dread, exactly what your recruitment process is missing. The good news is that now that you have this information, you can put it into practice. You have the tools to pinpoint where your recruitment process is failing and now know how to fix it. When you need professional backup, the team at Agent Link is here for you. Contact us to access our logistic and strategic methods that will connect you with the quality producers — and the premium returns — you deserve.

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