Agent Link - February 2020

FEB 2020

Data,” predictive analytics (PA), and artificial intelligence (AI) — all very close cousins. With such incredible new resources, you’d think the days when marketing was a big numbers game, as Henry Ford describes, would be over. You’d think we’d now be targeting only the right prospects at the precisely right time and generating incredible return on investment from our marketing spend every single time. The reality is that so much progress has taken place in terms of potential, but there’s a big difference between having the technology and executing an application that gets the kind of results that work for you. That’s why we are so excited to share three game-changing strategies that can dramatically increase efficiencies if your market is higher- echelon life and annuity producers and advisors. Look to our insert article inside this newsletter for the first of the three strategies. -Senia and Stu Gramajo INSIDE 1. 3 Game-Changing Strategies 2. All About Chocolate Marketing Lessons From an 8-Year-Old 4. Evan Williams’ Entrepreneurial Journey

For organizations servicing a select audience, as is the case with top-level life and annuity producers, I feel that no matter how many advancements marketing methodologies have enjoyed, Ford’s sentiments still strike a chord. Even if you’re enjoying good numbers and profitability and your executives are high-fiving in the board room, your numbers could very well be smothering the sales and marketing inefficiencies that are causing pain at all levels of the distribution channel.

When someone’s original ideas manifest in products that are seen nearly everywhere around the world, you can’t help but marvel at that person’s incredible influence. One such person died well before I was even born, but he left behind such an impact that I almost feel like I know him.That person is Henry Ford. Henry had a few things to say about business and marketing in his day. For example: “Half of the money I spend on advertising is waste, and the problem is, I do not know which half.”

We recently spoke with top execs at a number of successful organizations in the industry, and we continue to hear from individual recruiters charged with contracting top advisors and getting them to write business.The desire for improvement in efficiencies is as strong as ever. One person we spoke with recently made us laugh as he described his situation to us: “I’ve got to kiss a lot of frogs for each producer I really need to talk to.” All joking aside, we’ve all been hearing about the advent of “Big

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Fun Facts About Chocolate

What My 8-Yea

Know Your Audience

Wow Your Loved Ones This Valentine’s Day

Chocolate is a treat savored by people all over the world. What we know as the sweet, creamy decadence that sustains Valentine’s Day actually has much greater historical and cultural significance. Fermented chocolate drinks date back to as early as 350 B.C.The Aztecs believed it was the beverage of wisdom, and the Mayans saw it as something to be worshipped. While the history of chocolate is as rich as its flavor, there are some common misconceptions about the treat. Dutch chocolate doesn’t necessarily refer to chocolate made in the Netherlands; the name actually refers to a specific chocolate-making process that uses the cocoa press. Before Dutch chemist and chocolate-maker C.J. van Houten invented the machine in 1828, chocolate was only used in beverages. Dutch chocolate is chocolate that has been modified with an alkalizing agent to produce a milder flavor, making it a fantastic option for use in baked goods, candy, and ice cream. German chocolate actually has nothing to do with the country of Germany, either. It used to be called “German’s chocolate,” named after its inventor, Sam German, an American who made sweet chocolate for baking. Adding sugar to the chocolate made it a go-to option for bakers around the world, and the base for German chocolate cake was born. For chocolate to be classified as Swiss, it has to be made in Switzerland, as chocolate-making is considered an art form in the country. Known for its “melt in your mouth” quality, Swiss chocolate uses condensed milk to add a velvety texture. Many chocolate makers outside of Switzerland will refer to their interpretations of Swiss chocolate as milk chocolate instead.

I’m an unbelievably lucky father of three boys. I remember making a wish as a kid that one day, I’d have three sons, and what do you know! My wish actually came true, thanks to my lovely wife and business partner, Senia. I feel very blessed. To be a dad has been an amazing journey and my most sacred reward, and today, I’d like to share a story with you about it. I remember when my first son, Adrian, was about to turn 8. He has an amazing wit and sense of humor. As a result of one of his genius


-Old Taught Me About Marketing

action, my message had to be adapted and changed depending on which son I wanted to motivate. I had to take a different approach based on who I was talking to. In the end, Julian not only made me a better parent but also taught me an amazing lesson in my career as a marketing professional. Before Julian, I thought I could take the same parenting approach I used for Adrian with each of our kids. But the same approach wasn’t effective for Julian. It’s no different when it comes to recruiting and motivating agents. You can’t decide you know everything about an audience and churn out the same copy, the same call, and the same presentation to each person. You have to understand your audience in depth. How someone motivates and inspires people into action is a function of who they are and what they’re all about. Thank you, Julian, for teaching me this powerful lesson and for being an amazing kid.

remarks, I was left looking at him in awe and feeling as if the love I felt for him could not be contained. I walked over to my wife, feeling joyful and emotional, and told her “Senia, I want to have another boy. I want another one just like him.” Well, fast forward, and it was time to meet Julian, my second son. As it so often turns out in these situations, Julian is practically Adrian’s exact opposite. Julian could easily be defined in terms of what Adrian isn’t and vice versa. Whereas Adrian is mellow, soft-spoken, and eager to reason things out, Julian is tenacious, loud, and ready to enter any debate. Like a little lawyer, he welcomed arguments and tested us constantly. Before Julian, I felt that I was an amazing dad. I looked at parents whose kids were misbehaving with something bordering on disbelief. I felt I could handle any situation as a parent. I knew how to motivate Adrian, how to talk to him, and how to direct him into action. In hindsight, I was arrogant. Julian humbled me. He put all my “expertise” as a dad to the test. Suddenly, I wasn’t getting the results I expected. My knowledge and skills as a parent needed tremendous improvement. It was a lesson in personal growth and in understanding who your audience is. The things that mattered to each of my sons were different: what they needed help with, what drove them, and what they perceived as personal barriers. I learned that in order to inspire them to take

-Stu Gramajo


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Twitter Me This

The Storied History of Evan Williams’ Journey to Success

After Blogger’s acquisition, Williams' new startup, Odeo, was poised to be a premiere platform for podcasts and podcasting software. However, due to a laundry list of problems, including a lack of vision and the rise of Apple, Odeo experienced a less-than-stellar launch and simply could not compete with iTunes, a platform already holding a major foothold in the podcasting community. At that point, Williams turned his attention to another side project under Odeo’s umbrella: Twitter. Learning from their abysmal launch, the team focused on making a social networking service. With this singular focus, Twitter’s popularity exploded and garnered attention from entrepreneurs and consumers everywhere. Today, Twitter is the sixth most visited website in the world and boasts 330 million active users. In the third quarter of 2019, Twitter’s revenue amounted to $823.7 million. Evan Williams’ journey to success is one for the ages, and it’s a lesson every entrepreneur can learn from while trying to find the one opportunity that will launch them into the big leagues. If you’re interested in learning more about Williams’ path to entrepreneurial glory, check out the bestselling biography “Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal” by Nick Bilton.

The journey of entrepreneurship is akin to finding your way through a jungle with a poorly drawn map. Navigating all the obstacles can be terrifying, but thankfully, the many entrepreneurial odysseys that came before us offer great opportunities to learn. Evan Williams, co-founder of Blogger and Twitter, went on a wild journey himself while finding his way out of the metaphorical jungle and into success. Williams began his career running irrigation for his family farm in Nebraska. After only a year and a half of working for tech startups in Florida and Texas, he found his way back to the farm but didn’t give up. He persevered, moving to California and eventually working with Meg Hourihan, pioneer of online blogging and fellow internet entrepreneur, to co-found Pyra Labs in 1999. Together at Pyra, they developed Blogger, a journaling platform that became the launch pad for Williams’ entrepreneurial prosperity. Unfortunately, after venture capital and company resources were depleted, Pyra Labs’ employees, including Hourihan, quit en masse, and Williams forged on alone to keep Blogger afloat. In 2003, Google acquired Blogger, which is successful to this day and credited as one of the first blogging sites. Fun fact: Williams also coined the term “blogger”!


Our Game-Changing Marketing Strategy No. 1

Data and Predictive Targeting

But I never took it that seriously — until the day I sat down and analyzed all my income sources. In that process, I discovered that a fifth of my clients bring me approximately 80% of my revenue. Not only that, but also, this trend had been consistent for several years. Different clients, same proportions. Even if only for your own curiosity, you should take a look at your actively producing agents and advisors and discover whether this principle holds true for your company. Is your sales and marketing team spending too much time on the wrong targets? I still run into organizations that are perfectly willing to cast an unbelievably large net and invest their staff ’s time in talking to the wrong prospects. Not enough time is left to create a higher number of positive interactions and follow up with qualified prospects. Not enough time is spent on the 20% that will produce 80%. What if instead of casting a wide net and catching a little, you could focus your resources on bringing in more of the upper 20%? What if you could isolate the 20% of actions that result in most of your client acquisition? Most crucially, what if you could determine which 20% of your promotional messages are most persuasive and effective at motivating the right audience to take action? In this issue, we’re tackling the first building block of our game- changing strategy: Who are we targeting? Do we even know who we are targeting? Not long ago, I spoke with the owner of an IMO with a terrific value proposition for top-level life producers. His client acquisition strategy was typical: He had access to a national database of agents, copious email marketing, and a phone follow- up process by recruiters charged with contracting and getting producers to write business. While they were generating many responses they called “leads,” they discarded the large majority as ineligible or not qualified. They were looking for needles in the haystack. Sound familiar? Then, there’s the case of the national sales director of a carrier, a well-recognized brand. He shared with me his desire to increase the percentage of agents writing business. Like other carriers, a staggering number of their appointed agents were not producing. On top of that, one of his leading IMOs was bringing in scores of newly appointed agents. But the question remained: How do we increase production?

I may not have had the pleasure of meeting Vilfredo Pareto. But based solely on the ideas he’s shared, I can’t help thinking of him as one of my best buddies and biggest influencers. Pareto was an Italian engineer and economist who discovered that 80% of the producing land in Italy was owned and managed by only 20% of the population.This led to the Pareto principle of efficiency, and the 80/20 rule was born.

The cream rises to the top. As it turns out, the Pareto principle holds true for many things in business and distribution.The principle predicts that: • 80% of our sales and marketing results come from 20% of actions • 80% of a company’s profits come from 20% of its clients • 80% of a group’s production comes from 20% of its producers In other words, 80% of effects come from 20% of actions. I must admit that I was intrigued by the Pareto principle, and I’d heard it brought up by many people in casual conversation.

How our data and services are different — and deliver results. At Agent Link, we do things differently. Instead of dealing with the data dump of the 1.8 million licensed people out there, we’ve leveraged our years of experience in the industry, as well as over 200,000 conversations our team has had with producers.This experience and insight give us unparalleled market intelligence that creates the foundation for our proprietary targeting methods. That’s how we helped one of the largest national IMOs target only high-level annuity producers who have been in the industry for two decades. It isn’t that they couldn’t get leads prior to working with us — we just brought them closer to their target.

How we find top-level producers with predictive targeting. Our own need to develop a better approach started many years ago while helping a national FMO target top-tier producers writing fixed indexed annuities. Like others, we had to sift through the “many who are called” to get to the “few who are chosen.” Over time, and in helping many other clients, we began identifying the key variables that predicted a higher likelihood that producers would be of a higher caliber and be a good fit for our clients. That marked the beginning of our proprietary scoring algorithms. A scoring algorithm is a structured set of rules that results in higher or lower numeric values (scores) to a homogenous list of prospects.The score turns a one-dimensional file into data with depth. You no longer have faceless names in a table. Instead, there’s a system to predict the likelihood that an individual will behave a certain way. A credit score operates in a similar way, as does a lot of the actuary work that takes place at life insurance companies when analyzing scores of data to predict risk. Could a similar process be possible in marketing? Speaking in round numbers, could one go from a list of one million licensed people to a file a fifth of that size? Yes, it’s possible. It’s the system we use at Agent Link when helping clients get to the people they really want.The ones who will bring you results. This is where it all comes back to my good buddy I mentioned in the beginning. We’re bringing the Pareto principle to life in a workable application. Our use of predictive analytics allows our team to focus our efforts on a smaller target while yielding better, more focused results: 20% of the effort for 80% of the results.

As they put it, “It wasn’t just the quantity but also the quality of agents that was different [with Agent Link]. This resulted in a massive increase in annuity premium.” Agent Link supplied hundreds of appointments with active annuity producers at different levels with an overall average of close to $2 million in yearly annuity premium per producer referred. That’s also how we helped a large brokerage general agency that specializes in turning high-level life producers into IUL experts. Not all life producers are created equal, and with a tremendous value proposition that attracts the higher end of the spectrum and our advanced targeting methods, Agent Link kept this client supplied with the cream of the crop. In talking about how Agent Link compares to other companies in terms of results, here’s what they had to say: “There’s no comparison. I’ve been using Agent Link for over five years and have never been disappointed, not in one single campaign. Your entire team is top-notch.” If you’ve never worked with Agent Link or haven’t worked with us recently, we hope you’ll take a closer look at what we’re doing in the industry. Reach out to us when you’re ready for an innovative approach that leads to game-changing results. Coming up in the next editions, we have hard-hitting case studies to illustrate our two other game-changing strategies. Stay tuned!

-Stu Gramajo

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