Not long ago, I attended Dan Kennedy’s two-and-a-half-day Media Mastermind meeting in Cleveland, Ohio. In the room were 18 people from different industries, all with one goal in mind: to increase their presence in their market using media and marketing. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Dan, I would say that he is a marketing Jedi, and I would compare his mastery to that of Yoda. They call him the professor of harsh reality, and I would agree. He doesn’t pull many punches, and I’ve found myself on the receiving end of his brutal honesty (for my benefit) many times.
During the meeting, Dan drove home the importance of being famous in your own market. While it’s too expensive to be famous to everyone in America, if your target market is tens or hundreds of thousands, it’s much easier to reach fame if you target them with precision and communicate them with effectively. According to Dan, “Your customers want you to be famous, so their identifying with you lifts their [sense of] status.”
The challenge you face is that your clients are being bombarded by your competitors, and if you aren’t in front of them regularly reminding them of who you are and what you do, you will easily be forgotten. So the question is, how do you become (and stay) famous, when your clients are almost trying to forget about you every day?
Unfortunately, most people let the market decide what they are good at and what is being said about them rather than controlling it themselves. So how do you control what your agents and advisors say and think about you? Jedi mind tricks? Not really — you simply tell them. But before you tell the market who you are and what you do, you need to have a solid plan in place.
While I would love to share everything I learned from Dan at the event and from the 287-page manual, I will simply share with you four simple steps to become a legend (aka Jedi Master) — in the marketplace and in the eyes of your own producers.
Define your own “Five Core Competencies” and how you can leverage them. Too many companies don’t know what they are best at and try to be the best at too many things, which leads to confusion and poor decision making. What are you truly best at? Be specific. “We offer great service” is not a core competency. It’s a blanket statement that really doesn’t mean anything. A better core competency would be “We train IUL producers, using the latest techniques and strategies, to make more sales and become better professionals.” Once you nail down your five core competencies, you should use them to drive all your business decisions. If you are considering adding a product line or new service offering, it must be congruent with your core competencies or it will be destined to fail. And once you have your core competencies, it is your job to communicate them regularly (although preferably not all five at the same time) through your marketing and communication efforts.
Become a person with great influence and/or empower a person or several within your organization to do so. Remember that people do business with people, not faceless, heartless companies. If you want people to connect with your brand, you have to be more than just a brand. It’s why Pepsi cut a multiyear deal with Beyoncé for a whopping $55 million. One could easily argue that everyone knows who Pepsi is, but a human connection or an ambassador brings much more power to the brand than the company telling you to drink their sugar water. Since many of you reading this couldn’t afford to pay a celebrity, it’s your job to be it (if you own the company) or find someone within the organization to be your celebrity who connects with the people you are trying to recruit to your company.
The most important story you will ever tell is, “Who are you?” … Your ability to influence people is directly related to what those people know (or believe) about who you are — you personally and your organization. — Annette Simmons Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins: How to Use Your Own Stories to Communicate with Power and Impact
So how do you become a person of great influence? There was one slide that Dan Kennedy discussed that summed it up nicely. He graciously gave me permission to share.
Develop your communications and media plan. This step is basically identifying and selecting all the methods you have at your disposal to get the message out to the market and your current clients. Because while you might have the greatest story, product or service in the market, if no one else knows, it won’t do you any good. Diversity of media is key to ultimate success. As I have said in previous issues, you can’t reach everyone using one method of communication. Each of your targets is a Death Star — you need to fire on their precise point of weakness. But you can’t reach them all through the thermal exhaust port!
Not everyone will respond to an email blast, a newsletter, a video or direct mail. Sometimes it might take all these channels to reach your target audience. If you are relying on one method, you are limiting your true potential.
If you are like many companies in the industry, you may rely heavily on email to do much of your marketing. It’s inexpensive and quick. Why wouldn’t you? Well, that’s what your competition is doing and so are marketers from Home Depot, Amazon, Best Buy and millions of other companies. Your agents’ inboxes are flooded every day with offers, updates, notes and countless other types of information. It’s easy to get lost in people’s inboxes these days, and as effective as email once was, it has become a very unreliable method of communication. Spam filters, inbox rules and email gatekeepers make it easy to be forgotten or just plain old ignored. And if that doesn’t scare you, what happens when you get blacklisted for sending too many emails? Your website can be shut down and your emails blocked. This can take weeks, if not months, to rectify, resulting in lost business, lost credibility, lost opportunity and lost revenue.
If you want people’s attention, you have to work for it. That’s why you must have a multi-pronged media strategy, both internally and externally. As big and successful as Google, Microsoft and Amazon are in the world, they too follow this approach. Although all these companies have a massive database of clients and prospects, they frequently market and advertise outside of their own media. They use direct mail, print advertising, newsletters, TV, PR, social media and many other ways to find new customers. They aren’t one-trick ponies, and they don’t rely on any one single medium to tell their story and attract new business.
Decide how to best communicate your values and establish your thought leadership. Dan recommends taking an “Information First Marketing” approach (which we have recommended for years).
So rather than lead your promotions with a product or a service, promote something that your audience tru-ly wants and desires. Share a strategy, something that will help them make a sale, or something that you are an expert on.
By leading with valuable information, you will show your target audience that you offer value, far beyond just offering a slew of products. It also displays your expertise and positions you as the expert with whom they need to work. Any IMO, BGA or carrier can offer a product, but appealing to their real interests will get you in front of more prospects, with better sales tools and better information and solutions for their clients.
For most companies, creating content and information is a challenge (that we can help you solve). What most don’t realize is that you probably have a closet full of “informational assets” that are staring you in the face.
Use existing content, such as webinars, teleseminars, articles, reports, newsletter content, videos, presentations from training events, etc. Usually you won’t need to create content from scratch, but it may take a little effort to repurpose what you already have.
Whenever we create content at INN, we always look at how many ways we can repurpose one piece of content so we can get maximum reach and impact without reinventing the wheel. For instance, this article you are reading now will also end up on my personal blog (paulfeldman.com), on INN’s media kit blog, in an upcoming speaking presentation, on social media and eventually into a more detailed report.
You might take one of your educational webinars, transcribe it and create multiple articles, blog posts, a DVD, a mini book, multiple reports or break it down into a four-part video series. You can even repackage multiple pieces into a full-length book. The goal here is to leverage your content, maximize its exposure and not let it die an untimely death after a single use. Even old content and articles can be used with just a little updating.
Always look for ways to multiply your content.
Remember, don’t freely give information away. Always have some sort of “trap” that requires anyone who wants the information to share their contact information in exchange. Without a trap, you are in essence a free educator, and you will have little chance of converting them into a contracted producer.
There’s a tremendous level of success within your reach if you learn from the Jedi Masters of marketing, as I have. Seek your own Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi or Dan Kennedy. Meanwhile, simply implement these four steps and you’ll start to see the Marketing Force at work.