Agent Link - August 2019

AGENT LINK To empower those who change lives for the better


INSIDE 1. Agent Link’s First Top Producer Summit

H ow often do you see something happen in the insurance business that is both helpful to people in the industry and gets positive attention from the consumer press? That’s exactly what transpired with the first Top Producer Summit, a virtual producer- oriented insurance event produced and curated by Agent Link of Clearwater, Florida.This national virtual conference for independent insurance agents and financial services professionals was held in early June 2019 and was both well-attended and well-received.The final registration figures show that nearly 900 individuals registered for this unique event. Additionally, it garnered excellent coverage by major consumer media, including a compelling television interview by ABC Action News in Tampa. Other media outlets (for example, Fox34 News Now, the Boston Herald, and others) featured stories about the event online. 2. Greening Up Your Business 3. How the Industry Is Bracing for AEP 2020 Have a Laugh 4. Your Ego Is Holding You Back

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The astounding fact that this inaugural event had nearly 900 registrants after a relatively low-key soft launch consisting of 2–3 weeks of active industry promotion speaks to the intense level of interest among independent agents and financial services professionals for this kind of practical sales- and marketing-oriented content. Due to high demand coupled with increased promotional activity, the summit’s organizers are expecting to build significantly on those registration levels for the upcoming August event. Agent Link President Senia Gramajo spoke to her firm’s clear understanding of the reasons behind the strong registration levels. “Agent Link has done quite a bit of research on this, and we’ve determined that there’s something that insurance and financial professionals want to learn about more than anything else, and that is how to increase efficiencies with their marketing, prospecting, and sales efforts. Because of that demand, our first Top Producer Summit brought together more than a dozen sales and marketing coaches, as well as other industry experts who explored these very topics.This event was absolutely full of tremendously useful practical content for agents.” The reaction was so strong and positive that Agent Link has scheduled its next Top Producer Summit for Aug. 27–29, 2019. Many more top independent producers are expected, making this event the ideal opportunity for insurance carriers, broker-dealers, brokerage general agencies, independent marketing organizations, and other firms wanting to get their message in front of producers. These producers will be attending the virtual Top Producer Summit to learn how to do a better job at what they do. What better time is there — when your top prospects are in a “growth” and “improvement” state of mind — to share with them your firm’s brand, products, and value proposition? What better time to let them know why they should be doing business with you? For more details about available sponsorship opportunities to put your brand in front of these top independent producers, contact Senia Gramajo, president of Agent Link, at For more information on the Top Producer Summit, visit

Hear It From the Protagonist It’s that time of the year. As the summer sizzle begins, the senior market segment of the insurance industry and every layer of its independent distribution channels are getting hot and bracing for the annual election period (AEP) for 2020. Carriers will announce new expansion areas, as well as specific product features and coverage. Wholesalers like IMOs and BGAs involved in the senior market will relay this crucial news to existing producers and newcomers. Recruitment initiatives are already underway, and producers are responding to the call. When it comes to connecting agents to those organizations that will provide them with the support they need, AEP season is no exception for Agent Link. We’ve been busy talking to Medicare Advantage specialists along with newer producers to find out how they are preparing for AEP and which trends they’re noticing in the industry. One of those agents is Mike Burroughs, an independent producer of six years who started his career with Bankers Life and Casualty and focuses on senior market health. Mike shared that year after year, his biggest challenge is marketing and reaching people effectively. When How the Industry Is


GOING GREEN 3 Sustainable Moves Your Business Can Make Today

Invest in a Dishwasher After China announced in 2018 that it would no longer accept the majority of U.S. plastics for recycling, single-use plastics like cling wrap, water cooler cups, and plasticware became impossible to recycle in most cities. As a result, more than 6 million tons of those plastics end up in local landfills and the oceans each year. Buying a dishwasher for the office kitchen and providing reusable silverware, cups, and plates will cut down on that waste. Offer Alternatives to the Trash Can If your city provides recycling and composting services, this step can be as simple as making sure the bins in your office are visible and educating your employees on what should be tossed where. Barring a local compost program, you can start your own company compost pile for things like coffee grounds, lawn clippings, and lunch leftovers. If you don’t know what can be composted or recycled or are unsure if you are allowed to create your own compost pile, city officials and the internet are there to help.

On May 15, 2019, more than 1 million students around the world skipped school to call attention to climate change.The effort included over 2,000 protests aimed at legislators in 25 countries, which is no small feat for a bunch of middle and high school students. For businesses, movements like these should be red flags because today’s students are tomorrow’s consumers and employees. Luckily, there are plenty of simple moves you can make to lower your business’s environmental impact. Just be sure to avoid “greenwashing”— a term for marketing initiatives that make companies look environmentally friendly, even when they’re making no effort. Here are some tips to better our planet and help your business attract today’s climate-conscious youth. Go Paperless According to the EPA, the average office worker uses 10,000 pieces of paper per year. Multiply that by everyone in your company, and you have a whole forest in your building waiting to be saved. With advances in technology that provide replacements for products like punch cards and spreadsheets, why not ditch internal paper altogether?

Bracing for AEP 2020


it comes to AEP, he knows he’s dealing with restrictions and regulations. His focus is customer feedback. He’s seen what happens when somebody ends up with the wrong plan. He keeps an open mind about options and knows it’s vital that he stays well informed of Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans so he can help his clients find the best option. Then there’s Mike Manley, a top Medicare Advantage producer who wrote hundreds of cases last year. We asked Mike which trends he sees developing in the industry.The way Mike sees it, products are getting better, yet he still finds it challenging to ensure his clients get help as far as ancillary services, like finding a dentist. Mike is very strategic in his marketing approach and has his direct mail, phone outreach, and face-to-face meetings with health providers all planned and lined up. He takes pride in his plan and in executing it. “The difference is I do it,” Mike says of his marketing strategy. “Other people just talk about it.” One thing that’s clear from these conversations? What producers care the most about is their clients. We are here to provide them with those connections and information so they can empower their clients and make a difference. Ultimately, this is what motivates our staff and company in general at Agent Link.

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‘EGO IS THE ENEMY’ Get Over Yourself and Find Success

Once in a while, a book comes along with a truly transcendent message. “Ego Is the Enemy” by Ryan Holiday is one such work.This book is not just for business owners, athletes, or those trying to lose weight; it’s a guide for everyone . By digging into the root of the human condition, this instant bestseller examines the single greatest threat to our own success: ourselves. This ambitious premise shouldn’t come as a surprise if you’re familiar with the author. Dropping out of college at 19 to be mentored by business strategist Robert Greene, Holiday has become one of the most trusted advisors of our time, working with brands like Google, Taser, and Complex. His other bestseller, “The Obstacle Is the Way,” tackles the difficulties of the creative process and our natural tendency to avoid necessary steps toward our success. “Ego Is the Enemy” dives deeper into the latter concept, highlighting ways we sabotage or deceive ourselves. For Holiday, ego is defined loosely as our perception of self. Some may have a poorer outlook on themselves than others, but, as the book’s title suggests, ego hurts us regardless of which end of the spectrum we fall on. Holiday argues our self-perception can act as both a roadblock and a pitfall: Those with low self-esteem get stopped by doubt, while those with inflated egos often trip over their own arrogance.Those who unshackle themselves from their own personal narratives, however, can find lasting success. “Ego Is the Enemy” is rich with examples of this concept in action as it explores the lives and contributions of often overlooked historical figures like Katharine Graham and Howard Hughes.These powerful individuals remain relatively obscure thanks to their tendency to put their work before self-promotion, yet their impact on global events is undeniable. Pulling from history, literature, and the latest psychological findings, Holiday weaves an argument as engaging as it is thought-provoking. At times contemplative and other times combative, “Ego Is the Enemy” holds up a mirror to readers and asks them to challenge what they see. For those willing to attempt conquering themselves, this book is a worthy companion.


A New Slant on Marketing A Radical Approach to Better Results and Higher Returns in Producer Acquisition

“If the circus is coming to town, if you put [a] sign on the back of an elephant and walk it into town, that’s promotion . If the elephant walks through the mayor’s flower bed and the local newspaper writes a story about it, that’s publicity . And if you get the mayor to laugh about it, that’s public relations . “If the town’s citizens go to the circus, you show them the many entertainment booths, explain how much fun they’ll have spending money at the booths, answer their questions, and ultimately, they spend a lot at the circus, that’s sales . “And if you planned the whole thing, that’s marketing .” What emerges is a definition of marketing as not a single tactic but the overall strategy for “getting your ideal target market to know you, like you, and trust you enough to become a client.”

Over the two decades I’ve worked in the field of marketing, I’ve come to observe that most people think of marketing as individual tactical activities to promote brands or services. Examples include an email blast, a webinar, a postcard, a radio segment, and even so-called “lead magnets” driving traffic into well-planned “funnels.” While it’s true that these would fall under the umbrella of marketing, there’s a key element missing. Paraphrasing one of my favorite marketing authors, Allan Dib, from his book, “The 1-Page Marketing Plan,” marketing doesn’t consist only of advertising; it embraces far broader elements — such as selling and closing, creating a client experience, and even getting press — when done on purpose. In his book, Dib brilliantly and comically explains this in layman’s terms:

In the context of client acquisition, producer recruiting, and distribution growth, understanding this one concept alone can make all the difference. Tactics vs. Strategy While we’ve come to use these words interchangeably, they’re very different concepts. While strategy is the big picture and long-term plan that will achieve the overall vision and purpose, tactics are the more detailed steps that will carry out parts of the strategy. Without good tactics and execution, a strategy is little more than a dream, no matter how well conceived. Likewise, tactics without a cohesive, sound, and effective strategy can bring about immediate gains but no final result. It is the latter that I often see in agent recruitment and distribution growth. Sometimes there’s an immediate gain, but when we approach promotional activities very tactically without enough strategy, the final purpose remains unfulfilled. What Does the VietnamWar Teach Us About Agent Recruitmen t? To paint the picture more clearly, allow me to cite a case example from another author, Harry G. Summers Jr., in his book “On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War.” “In terms of tactics and logistics,” writes Summers, “the United States Army was successful in Vietnam. Over a million soldiers a year were transported to and from Vietnam, and they were sustained in the field better than any army in history. In tactical engagements, the army had an extraordinary success rate, with enemy forces thrown back with terrible losses in engagement after engagement. Even so, it was North Vietnam that emerged victorious. How could the United States have succeeded so well and yet failed so miserably?” Summers later resolves, “A wide range of authors on the subject all came to a startlingly simple conclusion: The United States didn’t know precisely what it was trying to achieve, and it was therefore impossible to have an effective strategy.” To back his assertion, Summers references a 1974 survey of Army generals who commanded in Vietnam. It was found that 70% of them were uncertain of the United States’ objectives. Unparalleled as it was, the tactical excellence of the U.S. Army was hindered by a murky strategy and vision, which contributed in greater or lesser degree to the final outcome — one we can all agree was less than successful. Strategy and Producer Recruitment With the advent of the information age, it’s easier than ever to access the latest “tricks” and “hacks” for promotional actions, and we sometimes become distracted as marketers and even paralyzed with what some refer to as shiny object syndrome or SOS.

In our efforts to gain a competitive advantage as we target from the same pool of active producers out there, acquiring new ideas is not a bad thing, to be sure. However, the lack of alignment between tactics and strategy can lead to a lack of focus that ultimately detracts from the final results and wastes time and resources. A sound strategy finds its roots in real data and an accurate situation assessment. Luckily, there’s a blueprint for building a sound producer acquisition strategy that leverages your strengths and competencies and helps you accomplish more with less.That’s what our approach at Agent Link is all about. It’s new and radical in our industry. In our next issue, we’ll take a more in-depth look at strategy vs. tactics as we address the following questions.

What percentage of producers are ready to act on an offer based on research? Could you be missing out on more prospects by targeting low-hanging fruit and only capturing a small percentage of perfectly qualified advisors who are a great fit for your organization? What do most insurance wholesalers and groups that are growing distribution find challenging in client acquisition? Is there a secret weapon hiding in your list of clients that can help you get more ideal clients?

-Stu Gramajo

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