Call Joe in Florida
As you might imagine, I get the opportunity to talk to a lot of agents about the things they feel are holding them back from achieving the success they hoped for when they got into this business. No two stories are exactly the same, but one of the most common issues facing agents is how to get in front of more people.
That’s no surprise for any kind of business. In fact, most first-time entrepreneurs will tell you they had no idea how much time and effort they would have to dedicate to finding customers. It’s a huge challenge, but one you can overcome and actually turn into a competitive advantage if you’re not afraid to invest the time, energy, and resources to create your own unique recipe for success.
One key is to understand that marketing and prospecting are not the same. Both are critical for the long term growth of your practice, but it’s important to understand the differences because the same tools are not used for each. If you’re using marketing tactics to achieve prospecting goals, you’re probably pretty frustrated right now. Conversely, if you’re using prospecting tactics to achieve marketing goals, you’re probably driving a lot of people away before you even get a chance to establish any kind of relationship.
Let me give you a quick example. I have been asked by more than one agent for hard data on the average number of calls from prospective clients as the direct result of local placemat or menu advertising. As far as I know, we have never received a call from someone interested in life insurance or retirement income planning because they saw our ad at breakfast. However, I have had many, many people say, “You guys must be doing something right… I see your name everywhere in town!”
Marketing is a long term proposition. It’s the science (some may say art) of attracting people to you and your practice. It’s about raising awareness and building your brand over time. I have heard a few experts refer to marketing as a “passive” activity, but I don’t like that term. That implies a “set it and forget it” mentality that I believe is just flat wrong. Good marketing is far from passive. It consistently cultivates trust and builds a relationship with your market at large.
Prospecting, on the other hand, is about finding qualified prospects right now. It’s the process of sifting through potential customers and looking for buyers. I like that word sifting, because it conjures up visions of a gold prospector sifting through dirt, stones, and water to find precious nuggets of gold. That’s essentially what you’re doing as well. Like panning for gold, prospecting for clients can be difficult and often tedious, but done properly it’s well worth the effort.
To give you a little better idea of what I’m talking about, here are a few examples of marketing tools:
Common prospecting tools include:
Now, just to be clear and settle a few arguments before they start, yes there are occasionally gray lines between the two. Some marketing activities could arguably serve as prospecting tools at times and vice versa. However, it’s important to consider the differences and ensure you are using the right tool at the right time to achieve your specific goals.
In fact, a good place to start is to simply ask that very question: “What is my goal right now?”
Focus more energy on marketing activities if:
Lean more heavily on prospecting activities if:
A good business plan includes elements of both marketing and prospecting. Both are needed for long term success. The key is to understand the differences and employ the right tools at the right time. Master that and you’ll see much more promising results, leverage your resources more efficiently, and start building the kind of practice you had hoped for when you took the plunge.
P.S. If your immediate need is prospecting, click here to download our popular How to Generate Quality Prospects with 17 Proven Strategies.
Postema Marketing Group is a full-service Independent Marketing Organization (IMO) dedicated to providing world-class products and services to our clients. We have partnered with some of the strongest names in the insurance industry and proudly serve independent agents from coast to coast.
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