Agent Link - May 2020

MAY 2020

imagine if you’re trying to do phone sales with no online presence. When your prospects do a Google search and find nothing, how do they know you’re a trustworthy source? Within this challenge is your opportunity to share your knowledge with your producers and help them tap into the technology that’s going to help them see results in a more virtual world. Not only will it benefit them now, but they will also continue to call upon this technology. By empowering your agents, you will all see better results. Inside this edition, we are offering an in-depth look at SWOT analysis so you can use this powerful tool to strengthen your organization and find more opportunities that help you succeed. We also discuss key tools for online presence and take a look at the benefits of direct mail. Turn the page to read more on these strategies that will help you see results through challenging times. And when you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. INSIDE 1. A Letter From Our President 2. The Timeless Charm of the Drive-In Movie 2. The Importance of a Producer’s Online Presence 2. Stay in Front of Prospects With Direct Mail Marketing 3. How to Perform SWOT Analysis for Your Organization 6. How Crazy Ideas Become Innovations

also help you discover opportunities to assist people in your distribution line. Finding those opportunities is what makes SWOT so valuable. While many agents are already adapted to remote work, they may not be as familiar with all of the tools available to them. I spoke with a couple of producers last month who are doing extremely well in this situation. How? One, they are experienced producers. And two, they are really good with technology.They are tapping into all the tools at their disposal to connect with clients and continue to write business in a competitive environment. Though some producers are comfortable with technology, not all of them are in the same boat. For some, using tools like Zoom, maintaining a website, using software quoting platforms that allow them to show different plans to clients, and even using social media to promote themselves may be uncharted territory. Now more than ever, online presence matters, and if producers are not promoting themselves online, they are not going to see the same results. Just

I hope this finds you staying well and healthy.The past couple months have been unprecedented, causing shifts in all of our lives to greater or lesser extents. With that in mind, I want to share one of the tools you can call upon to make better decisions for your organization, even amidst so many variables. Developed in part by a Stanford researcher and then applied by Harvard Business School professors, the SWOT analysis helps you assess the s trengths, w eaknesses, o pportunities, and t hreats to your organization so you can make informed decisions based on your findings. A SWOT analysis can be done at various decision-making points, from starting a new initiative to deciding how you want to pivot. Given everything going on, this tool can help your organization shift and adapt in a quickly changing environment, as well as make important decisions about your future.The current state of the world and economy may be a threat to your business (and you do want to assess potential threats), but SWOT can

1 +800 535 4545 -Senia Gramajo

Help Producers in Y 4 Steps to Building an Onlin

The Timeless Charm of the Drive-In Movie

Plus, How to Create Your Own Outdoor Cinema

In a time of social distancing and remote work, producers can’t rely on the same interactions they once did to build trust with a prospect. As a result, online presence matters more than ever. What prospects find online is key to creating a certain image and inspiring trust. Here are four steps producers can follow to build their online presence.

Summertime is synonymous with many childhood experiences: hours splashing in the pool, sleepaway camp, and snow cones, to name a few. A quintessential summer destination that isn’t as common these days is the drive-in theater, yet many childhood memories are built on this little bit of nostalgia. The first drive-in theater opened in 1933 in Camden, New Jersey. At the time, films cost 25 cents per person, plus 25 cents per car, and drive-ins usually got movies in the second run, after they’d shown at indoor theaters.The trend started off slow, but by the ‘50s, Americans had fully embraced the outdoor theater experience.The ‘80s brought a charismatic Michael J. Fox to audiences in “Back to the Future,” and shortly after, “The Sandlot” hit the big screen and gave us lines that we’d quote for the next decade (“You’re killin’ me, Smalls!”). As of 2018, USA Today estimated that only about 330 drive-in theaters still exist in the United States. But if you don’t have one in your area, there’s a way you can enjoy the outdoor movie experience without having to leave your backyard. Your outdoor cinema starts with a projector. If you don’t have one, they are readily available to purchase at most big-box stores. For playing the movie, you’ll need a laptop and streaming service or a DVD or Blu-ray player. You’ll connect these devices to your projector through an HDMI port. As long as you’re not broadcasting to the whole neighborhood, stereo or computer speakers should be just fine, but you can also opt for a Bluetooth speaker that will give your audio a big boost. Next, you’ll need a flat surface to display the movie. A plain, white bedsheet makes a good screen, or you can make your own with white fabric from craft stores or online. Cushions, blankets, and outdoor hanging lights add a fun touch to your cinema. Just be sure to turn the lights off before the movie begins — and silence those cellphones! Once your setup is complete, select your movie, get the popcorn popping, and enjoy some movie magic right in your backyard. 2 www.agentlinkmarketing.com

Tackle Your Marketing Strategy From Most of us, at some point, have found our inbox overrun with emails that go directly into the trash. While they don’t appear with a subject line reading “This Is Spam” (wouldn’t that be nice?!), they’re unrelated to any pressing matter and are burying important communication from clients and employees. The inbox is no longer the conversion key it once was. A study done by Baylor over the last 10 years highlights this trend. Across many industries and companies, although much more communication goes out through emails than ever before, click rates are actually decreasing. What does this mean for you? It means your recruiting strategy can’t be solely based on Listserv and email blasts. Just like everyone else, agents are getting inundated with emails. Not only are they not seeing the communication because it’s getting buried, but also your emails are not connecting with the agents you want to target. When we see clients using email as the main driver and they’re not getting results, we shift to a comprehensive marketing strategy. We also see it as our opportunity to change their mindset about direct mail. Direct mail is not just a relevant tool but also a viable and crucial component of a recruiting strategy. Direct mail can help you stay in front of advisors and create a direct link to your ideal agents. Why Your Emails Aren

Your Channel Build Trust With Prospects

ne Presence

Step 3: Ask the right questions. Think of the review process as a conversation rather than a favor. Open- ended questions are great. Before even requesting a review, agents can ask clients questions like, “How was your recent experience with us?” or, “How are you liking your product?”That way, they can gauge satisfaction before the client leaves any feedback. Step 4: Respond, respond, respond. The last thing you want to see is a scathing 1-star review. But no matter how hard anyone works, they’re bound to happen. When an agent receives one, they should take the time to respond thoughtfully — without being defensive — and try to come up with a possible solution to the complaint. Be sure to respond to positive reviews as well. When agents show that they engage with all of their customers, prospective ones will be more likely to give them a shot. Share these tools to empower agents as they build their online presence. Helping producers get up to speed and providing support around their online presence is an opportunity for you to gain competitive advantage in a time of market threat.

Step 1: Create an online presence. Advisors and agents need to make sure they exist online, starting with a LinkedIn profile.They can also create a Google account for free, and Google provides a platform and resource called Google My Business. (Get started at Google.com/business.) Next, agents and advisors should get to work on their website. A website should have, at minimum, basic information about their expertise and the solutions they provide to clients. A phone number and contact information should be easily found, along with a key headline that shows prospects what problems they solve. A website should be mobile-friendly, as most searches Agents and advisors should have a process they repeat after every sale, and it should go something like this: Create an email or letter and ask clients for feedback. Ask them on a scale of 1–10 how they rate their experience, what you’re doing right, and what you can do better. If they rate their experience as a 9 or a 10, ask them for a review and provide them with a link to your Google listing and website. today are done with mobile devices. Step 2: Ask clients for feedback. m a New Angle With Direct Mail Here are a few ways you can make the most of direct mail marketing. • Start with a clean list. Your list is crucial to the success of your campaign. It’s worth the time to go through it and make sure addresses and contacts are up to date. Keep it focused too. A massive list of cold leads won’t be as effective as a smaller list of interested prospects. • Make your call to action clear. Once you’ve created your first direct mail piece, take a three- second scan. Can you identify the ask in that time? If not, revise it to make it clearer. • Prepare for how you’ll handle responses. Have a plan for fulfillment if you get inundated. Also, pat yourself on the back — your direct mail campaign is working! Start here to get your direct mail campaign off on the right footing. And when you’re looking for support on the marketing end of recruitment, call Agent Link. We’ll help you develop and deploy a winning recruitment strategy so you can connect with your ideal agent. n’t Getting Opened

HAVE A LAUGH!

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Achieve Innovational Success

With ‘Loonshots’

Many entrepreneurs dream of catching lightning in a bottle — of harnessing new, powerful ideas that will propel their business to the cutting edge. Whether they call it disruption, innovation, or genius, many business books focus on the “lightning” side of the equation. But those flashes of brilliance mean nothing without a bottle to capture them in. According to author and physicist Safi Bahcall, if you want to turn momentary inspiration into tangible success, you need structure. Bahcall explores this idea in his book, “Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries.” He examines many successful innovations that were originally deemed “crazy” or “doomed to fail,” including the breakout success of the James Bond movies and how Lipitor became a pharmaceutical blockbuster. What these phenomena have in common is that they were supported and made possible by a positive work environment structured to nurture ideas that were “just crazy enough to work.” However, success stories aren’t the only focus of “Loonshots.”The book also examines companies that paved the way as innovators, only to stifle change and lose momentum. Bahcall puts Pan American World Airways (Pan Am), Polaroid, and other titans that let the lightning out of the bottle under the microscope to show readers where the companies’ organizational structures went wrong. To Bahcall, the way business owners organize their team is the same as how temperature shapes water. You can be cold toward new ideas, which freezes progress and makes your company too brittle in the face of change, or you can be warm and let your team’s ideas flow in exciting new directions. Drawing on his experience as both a physicist and the co-founder of a biotechnology company, Bahcall is able to make his case in entertaining, down-to-earth prose. Beyond being a good read, “Loonshots” addresses an often overlooked factor in the ways innovative companies succeed at redefining their industry, making it a great addition to any entrepreneur's library.

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A Practical Guide to SWOT

How to Assess Threats and Find Opportunities for Your Organization

Commit enough time to this process that you can truly dive in and assess each component of SWOT.This isn’t something you want to rush through, so give yourself the space and opportunity to commit to it. Making the SWOT Analysis SWOT analysis typically uses a simple matrix to help you assess each area. You can find many free templates online. You may also consider creating your own table on a bigger sheet of paper or in word processing software to allow for more open brainstorming during the initial assessment.

Have you ever felt ill-informed about an upcoming decision you must make for your organization? I know I have. It’s not easy to make big decisions when everything is going smoothly, much less in the midst of a crisis. That’s why I’ve found SWOT to be extremely helpful in times like these. As Senia shared on the cover, SWOT, which stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, is an extremely effective tool for helping organizations make decisions with all the information at hand. It helps you determine where you’re doing well, where there is room for improvement, opportunities that may exist in the current environment, and threats posed to your organization. From this information, you can confidently make strategic decisions that will maximize opportunities and minimize threats. As we navigate the shifts in our industry caused by COVID-19, now is the time for you to assess the immediate threats and how they will impact you. In the midst of all this, there are also opportunities. SWOT allows you to identify both sides of the coin so you can make the best decisions for your organization. Business School Professors PutTheory to Practice In the 1950s, Stanford researcher and consultant Albert Humphrey led a study on the Fortune 500. His findings led him to develop a method by which executives could navigate and manage change. Meanwhile, at Harvard Business School, professors were developing a similar idea for how businesses can make important decisions in the midst of change. For the next 10 years, specialists in organizational strategy continued to apply and perfect the method until it evolved into the current form of SWOT that is used today. So, are you ready to tap into SWOT to help you make decisions with all the information at hand? Here’s how to do it. Setting Yourself Up for SWOT Success It’s important to note early on that SWOT is a collaborative process. Involve team members from different functions and levels as you conduct your analysis to get the best results. You can treat the process as more of an informal session just to get ideas onto paper and formulate strategy, or you can make it more formalized.That part is up to you. Either way, call on brainstorming techniques to help you get creative answers that go beyond the obvious. Especially in the beginning, encourage all ideas — you will pare them down later on in the process.

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Here are some potential questions you might ask in regard to your organization for each area:

Finally, pare down your list to only the most specific, actionable responses. These will be the points most aligned with your goals and the ones you’ll implement with a strategy or decision you are currently considering. Hang on to your list, too. While you may not prioritize every opportunity right now, you might find some of them beneficial at a later date. You can revisit SWOT again and again whenever you’re faced with a change and could use some orientation. It can serve as an informative guide as you navigate new territory. Opportunities in Disguise In our industry, many of the areas that initially look like threats are also opportunities to leverage yourself above the competition. It often comes back to looking for the unique value proposition you can offer to agents. What do you bring to the table that helps producers write more business? What tools and resources at your disposal can you share with agents to empower them to get better results? Identify these, and you will gain a competitive advantage in a time of market threat.

Start by going through each area, one at a time, and listing responses that are true for your organization. Encourage everyone’s participation to get a range of ideas. As you do this, it may be helpful to think of strengths and weaknesses as internal factors that exist in your organization and of opportunities and threats as external factors that exist in the industry or overall environment. Applying Your Analysis to Inform Strategy So, now you have a long list of responses underneath each category — what’s next? Begin by looking for connections between each area. What strengths does your organization have that create opportunities? What weaknesses can be overcome that will lead to more opportunities? What threats might be opportunities in disguise? For example, a negative review might be a chance to engage with the reviewer and build a relationship with your audience. Identify these types of connections and add them to your list.

-Stu Gramajo

4 +800 535 4545

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