If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Though true, the saying is often ignored. But why? In my experience, it starts at the top, with the man in the mirror. Many agents start out purely as salesmen— they completely focus on perfecting pitches, planning the best way to overcome objections, and working so hard that 80-hour weeks are standard. Success and sustainable growth only come when the salesman becomes a business owner. Running a successful business in the new year begins with a solid marketing plan.
Step 1: Look back to move forward.
Take a hard look at your successes and failures in past years. A lot of great information will come from repeating successes and eliminating errors. Calculate your ROI across the different lines of marketing and know your cost per appointment and cost per close for seminars, TV, radio, referral development, and digital. How much premium did you do last year? Do you want to maintain or grow? Answer those questions to set your production goals for the next year.
Step 2: Budget
Top producers reinvest between 20-25% of their income back into marketing their practice. Use your goals, estimate your projects income, and take 25% of that to set your overall marketing budget; then, apply those costs to your marketing avenues. Spend more money the programs that achieve the greatest ROI and spread the rest out.
Be sure to save some money for trying new programs. Setting aside money for testing will allow you to maintain your pipeline of prospects without borrowing money from other programs that may cause a gap in the flow of prospects.
Step 3: Staff
Delegate, delegate, then delegate some more. Having an A+ marketing manager executing your marketing plan is a must. For more information on the importance of having a marketing manager, check out this blog.
Step 4: Put your plan on paper.
Trust me when I say the work is worth it. Having the plan on paper will clearly set your plan in front of your employees; clear communication is fundamental. There’s an old saying, “It’s hard to be aggressive when you’re confused.” This will allow you to be the manager, not the marketer. You’ll know who’s doing what and when it needs to happen.
Step 5: Share your plan.
Get an outside opinion. This is too important to guess or just cross your fingers. Show your plan to a mentor, your strategic partners, and your Client Advisory Board. A second set of eyes will often find opportunities for improvement or just confirm you’re on the right track.
Step 6: Evaluate monthly and adjust as needed.
Flexibility is the key to success. I suggest you reassess big picture goals each month. Are you on track with production? Are you hitting your goals of new first appointments per month? Can you handle more? Is your staff performing up to your expectations? Do you need to move money from one program to another to take advantage of lessons learned?
Plan for success, because success is not an accident.