Sales & Marketing Discipline

  • Posted on September 20, 2010
  • by John Scranton

Every great company has a key defining concept.  Something that is woven into the fabric of people, products and culture.  For example, 3M strives to use innovative technology and imagination to improve the daily lives of people (www.3m.com).  This concept becomes obvious when reviewing their history and how the company operates each day.  The immense challenge for businesses who want to achieve tremendous success like 3M, is to define that key concept – and then to make all decisions in alignment with that concept.

Successful sales cultures are often built the same way.  A truly honest assessment of how your sales time is spent, and the associated results, can be a very enlightening exercise.  Who is your best client or customer?  How did you find them?  How much of your time are you spending trying to repeat that same process?  How much time are you wasting with less productive initiatives or people who are less likely to buy?

Here are a few steps to help you complete this exercise:

  1. Define your Idea Prospect – Use your best customer as an example.  Who are they?  How big are they?  What does their industry and client base look like?
  2. Determine your Most Effective Marketing Tools – What marketing initiatives provide the best results?  Where do your closes come from?  What is producing the right kind of prospects?
  3. Refine your Marketing Plan– Once the above two items are clearly and honestly defined, make sure your marketing plan is directed at repeating the process.  Refine the plan so that it is accurately aligned with your findings.
  4. Stop doing Everything Else – This is a hard one.  But to achieve the 3M type of success mentioned earlier, it is required.  Throw away everything else that does not fit, and only spend time pursuing your best prospects and executing your most effective marketing campaigns.

It sounds simple, but if it was easy everyone would already be doing it – maintain focus on your best prospects and best marketing channels.  As your discipline to this concept increases, your results will improve dramatically.

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Posted in: Insurance Agency Marketing, Insurance Agency Marketing Plan
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Don’t Waste your Friday!

  • Posted on September 17, 2010
  • by John Scranton

I have always found it a more difficult to reach people on Fridays.  They are more interested in finishing up work and starting their weekend than listening to me preach about our solutions.  But that does not mean Friday should be a wasted day.  Here are few things I typically do at the end of the week to avoid wasting the last 20% of the work week:

  • Schedule Meetings – Here is an obvious one, but the best way to make use of your Friday is to schedule appointments in advance.  This makes the day pass quickly while making the best possible use of your time.
  • Prepare or Review Weekly Reports – Many people spend Monday morning reviewing previous weekly results or preparing for the coming week.  Monday morning is always going to be busy, and you do not need to clutter your desk with spreadsheets.  Prep your reports on Friday afternoon and get it out of the way.
  • Invest Time in Social Media– People tell me constantly that they would like to improve their social media presence but cannot find time.  Friday at 3pm is a great time to write a Blog and network on LinkedIn.  This will not only keep you from wasting time leaving voice mails, but will also leave a presence that your prospects may see over the weekend.
  • Freshen up Your Value Proposition & Pitch – When is the last time you wrote out (by hand) your value proposition, elevator pitch and top 3 differentiators?  Are they stale?  Review, refine and possibly reposition yourself for the coming week.
  • Visit Customers – If you are really burned out but would feel guilty about hitting the links, go visit your customers/clients.  Stopping in to see a client at 4pm on a Friday shows you care, and you are still working.

Have a great weekend!

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Posted in: B2B Marketing, Insurance Agency Lead Generation, Insurance Agency Marketing, Social Media
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Complimentary Webinar for Trucking Executives: The Employee Misclassification Prevention Act and its Impact on the Transportation Industry

Legislation is pending that could change the transportation industry forever.  The Employee Misclassification Prevention Act (HR5107) has been introduced to Congress and would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.  The bill would require owner-operators and independent contractors to be treated as employees, and this could have significant costs to trucking organizations.  Guest speaker and trucking payroll expert Mike Ritzema will explain this act and how to prepare for the new regulation.  Topics include:

– New documentation requirements
– Tax ramifications
– Treatment of independent contractors
– Worker’s comp & benefits impact

Thursday September 16th at Noon ET:  https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/949805592

For More Information: www.truckingpayroll.com

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Posted in: Web Seminars
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Reblog: ePublishing – 3,350 views and counting (by Alan Blume)

  • Posted on September 15, 2010
  • by John Scranton

My CEO AlanBlume recently posted a Blog entry about ePublishing, as shown below.  He has authored and published over 50 articles – many related to Insurance Agency Marketing, Insurance Agency Leads, and Insurance Agency SEO.  We have found these articles to be a useful marketing tool for our company.  They convey expertise to prospects and show StartUpSelling as a thought leader in our space.  If your business has relevant content that your prospects would enjoy, consider ePublishing as a part of your social media marketing strategy.

_________________________________________________________________________________

ePublishing – 3,350 views and counting

Posted on September 13th, 2010 by Alan Blume

ePublishing or electronic publishing is one of the many new manifestations of the increasingly pervasive reach of the internet. Though mnay traditional publsihers may not like this new trend, another threat to established publishers, I for one am very impressed with the model. I’ve now published 50 articles on Ezine, one of the leading ePublishing sites on the net and have seen 3,350 viewers read these articles. Ezine does not allow self promotional articles, nor do they accept rants or raves. Articles must meet a long list of criteria to be published, from beneficial content to grammar and formatting.  Articles are published for free, Ezine earns their fees from PPC ads.

Sometimes the view results of my articles are surprising, for example my top three articles are:

Article Title/Views/Clicks/Click %/Votes/Date Posted

  Should You Hire an Insurance Agency Producer Without an Insurance Agency Marketing Program? 352 27 7.7%         Rating: Rating: Rating: Rating: Rating: 05/26/2010
  Are the Days of Direct Mail Marketing Dead For Insurance Agencies? 301 39 13.0%         Rating: Rating: Rating: Rating: Rating: 06/02/2010
  How to “Insure” the Success of New Salespeople 242 19 7.9%         Rating: Rating: Rating: Rating: rating: 4.5000 03/19/2010

Actually I thought my article on the Prospect Scorecard would be one of my most valuable and popular, however it is currently running in the middle of the pack for views to date. Note that the author interface shown above tracks click through rate (13% was the highest click through rate for these articles) and the number of stars people allocate for voting. I’ve found vertically oriented articles to offer the greatest pull for both me and my clients. StartUpSelling provides marketing services for any B2B company but we’ve found a vertical approach to be most effective for both our own marketing and ePublishing. We now post many articles on behalf of our clients in areas including: legal practices, insurance agents, consultants, training firms, software and technology companies. If you would like to read some of these articles click on the following link:  http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Alan_Blume

To read more about virtual sales and marketing, read Your Virtual Success: www.yourvirtualsuccess.net or go to startupselling.com

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Posted in: Insurance Agency Lead Generation, Insurance Agency Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media
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Webinar: How to create your Insurance Agency Marketing Plan for 2011

  • Posted on September 14, 2010
  • by John Scranton

Webinar: How to create your Insurance Agency Marketing Plan for 2011

   
 
Insurance Agency Marketing  
   
 

StartUpSelling, Inc.

 
Join us for this 30 minute, complimentary marketing web seminar. Our team of agency marketing experts will discuss how to build an effective Insurance Agency Marketing Plan for 2011, incorporating both traditional elements and new web centric investments of increasing importance. As agencies face the increasingly difficult challenge of building a marketing strategy within their limited budgets, they must now incorporate a Web 2.0 initiative to ensure maximum exposure and an effective marketing ROI. We will discuss the the most efficent ways to invest your resources for maximum results, using a simple approach to these seemingly daunting challenges. Topics include:* Your unique marketing value proposition
* Effective Website Design and SEO
* Branding and Collateral for a Web Centric Era
* Traditional Marketing, Advertising and Marketing Tools
* Social Media Marketing
* Blogging & ePublishing
* eMarketing, Newsletters & Press Releases
* Web Seminars or Onsite Seminars
Title:   Webinar: Building your Insurance Agency Marketing Plan for 2011
Date:   Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Time:   12:00 PM – 12:30 PM EDT
After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.
Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:
https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/278100432
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Posted in: B2B Marketing, eMarketing, Insurance Agency Lead Generation, Insurance Agency Marketing, Insurance Agency Marketing Plan, Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media, Telemarketing, Virtual Business, Web Seminars
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Back to School

  • Posted on September 13, 2010
  • by John Scranton

Kids are headed back to school.  Vacations are over.  All your prospects should be back at their desks.  So lets hit the phones and make it happen!

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Posted in: Uncategorized
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The NFL: Marketing Geniuses

  • Posted on September 10, 2010
  • by John Scranton

NFL Logo link to home pageHave you ever noticed how the world seems to stop on Sunday at 1pm?  Once summer ends and falls begins, my Sunday routine has been breakfast, church and football.  I believe this began at birth and has not changed.  Nearly everyone I know follows a similar pattern.  My wife, who could care less about football, even builds her routine around the event.  Completing her preparations for the week at school (she is a teacher) during the games at the other end of the couch where I set up camp.  For avid sports fans like myself, its very simple why we love football.  Its awesome.  But the intriguing part for us sales and marketing folks, is how has it become so pervasive and successful?  When I has 5 years old, I knew everything about Joe Montana and very little about Ronald Reagen – why?  My contention is that this is because the NFL is a group of marketing geniuses.

Football is a fun and exciting game, but it was not always America’s passion.  The NFL has cultivated the product, consistently making refinements and adjustments to make it more enjoyable and user friendly.  Simple ideas like maintaining a regular schedule makes the product easy to find and plan around.  More complex changes, like the challenge rule, could have impeded progress – but the league and networks have made challenges exciting and entertaining.  Its hard to make a Universal Life policy or a Garage BOP exciting, but you can always continually improve and refine your product to make it more easily embraced by your user.  Does your client know his business income coverage is ALS?  Or that his life policy has an LTC rider?  Because those are definetly concepts you can make exciting and use to deepen your relationship.

Not to pick on my wife, but she has no idea how many Super Bowls Tom Brady has won.  However, she knows who he is romantically involved with and that he was in a minor car accident last week.  This is  because the NFL leveraged his early achievements(how many times have you seen this photo?) to turn him into a like-able guy who overcame challenges to reach the pinnacle of success.  He was not dating supermodels and actresses prior to winning Super Bowls.  Most of us do not have a Tom Brady on our team, but we all have people with significant achievements that we can build into heroic attributes.  My CEO has been on the Inc 500 list.  I share this with all my prospects to show them that we understand how to help businesses grow.  Was your agency featured in Rough Notes?  Did your star producer lead your target market in Worker’s Comp sales last year?  Whatever the positives are, parlay them into useful stories – like the NFL did by showing us how a late round pick becameSuper Bowl hero.  (Disclaimer: I am not a Patriots fan, I am actually a Steelers fan.)

The NFL has used effective sales and marketing to build a multi-billion dollar business.  I believe that taking a few concepts from their strategy and applying them to our businesses will help us become more successful and effective.

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Posted in: Insurance Agency Marketing
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Social Media Marketing is a Waste of Time

  • Posted on September 8, 2010
  • by John Scranton

Insurance Agency MarketingOr is it a great use of your time?  As salespeople and marketers, this is the challenge we currently face.  The prevalence and relevance of social media is increasing every day, and building momentum as it moves forward.  Like the cartoon snowball rolling downhill, its coming faster and faster and growing exponentially as it progresses.

An experienced and successful social media expert once told me that a good rule of thumb is to invest 1 hour per day in each social media or social networking venue that you would like to cultivate as an effective marketing channel.  After I finished laughing, I responded that since I only wanted to focus on LinkedIn, Facebook and my Blog – this would add a mere 15 hours to my work week.  No problem if I was looking to sacrifice my weekends for the foreseeable future.

In truth, I spend far less that 15 hours per week on social media / social networking sites.  But the time investment I do make – approximately 4-6 hours per week – has worked.  Social media marketing has firmly become the 3rd leg of our marketing stool.  So how am I able to meet prospects and win business in less time than the aformentioned marketing expert?  I would like to say it is becuase I am smarter and more effective, but the answer is that the time needed to successfully use social media is different for everyone.

It depends on your industry, your posistion, your product/solution – and most importanly the goal that you are trying to achieve.  My goal is to meet in-profile prospects using LinkedIn, share my ideas and expertise in this Blog, and to interact with friends and family on Facebook.  This takes much more time to execute well than it takes a B2B exec who sells a high dollar enterprise solution to meet a few prospects, and it takes much less time than it takes Adidas or Nike to spin the social media web surrounding a new shoe.

My suggestion for each of you is to experiment.  The number of social media sites is becoming infinite.  Choose 1 or 2 and make a splash.  Measure the results and refine your process.  If it helps you move toward your goal, increase your time investment.  If not, move on to one of the many, many alternatives.  Also seek guidance from your competitors.  If the industry thought leader you would like to be is all over Twitter and has a great Blog, maybe you should try to do the same.  If they are nowhere, maybe you break ground first and stake your claim. 

My personal philosophy is that if you open and honest, provide some level of value and expertise, and remain dilligent in your efforts – people will see you are genuine and hopefully learn that you are someone they should be doing business with.

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Posted in: B2B Marketing, Insurance Agency Marketing Plan, Social Media
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Almost 50% of our Web Seminar Attendes Come from Social Media Outlets

  • Posted on September 7, 2010
  • by John Scranton

Today I began posting invitations to our next monthly Insurance Agency Marketing web seminar.  As I completed this task, I realized how much our web seminar registration and attendance has shifted toward social media over the last 12 months.  Traditionally, most of our attendance comes from the highly targeted email invites we send out.  In 2010, with no decrease in the real number of registrants from that source, social media has now begun to produce 40 to 50% of our web seminar attendees.

We all know the importance social media as a marketing tool.  But this statistic to too significant to be overlooked.  Blog entries, LinkedIn and other social media tools have DOUBLED our web seminar attendance this year with $0 invested.

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Posted in: eMarketing, Insurance Agency Lead Generation, Insurance Agency Marketing, Social Media, Web Seminars
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