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Creating the Perfect Webinar

Posted by Richard Ybarra on Fri, Jan 29, 2010 @ 11:57 AM

As we mentioned before, one of the sales methods you’ll want to take advantage of this year is the webinar. And if you are already doing a webinar, then perhaps you’ll find some useful nuggets of knowledge that will help you refine your presentation.

1. What you need. In order to conduct the most effective webinars you will need the right tools. Here is a list:

• Presentation software such as Microsoft PowerPoint

• Web conferencing software such as http://www.megameeting.com or http://www.gotomeeting.com

• Stock media from sites such as http://www.gettyimages.com or http://www.shutterstock.com

• Video editing software (free) such as Windows Movie Maker or iMovie

• Video camera and tripod

2. Planning. Your webinar is a project that will require a few hours of planning to ensure a smooth execution, low cost, and as little rework as possible. First, you will want to think about your audience. Do you sell direct to seniors? Do you solely recruit agents? Are your clients more affluent? Are they mostly minorities?

Once you’ve identified your audience, you’ll want to identify the key issues that are important to them when considering the product or services you are trying to sell. Your webinar subject matter will vary greatly depending on if you are selling Medicare supplements, annuities, or even both. Regardless, you’ll want to remember to focus your subject matter on only 3-5 major points.

After identifying the 3-5 major points you want to convey to your audience, the next step is to create an outline of the information you will convey about those 3-5 major points. The key here is to get the right arrangement for your information so you can then start thinking about the detailed content you will present. The more visuals the better, so consider how you can visualize as much information as possible.

The last part of planning your webinar requires that you finalize all the content you want to put in your webinar and think about the logistics of creating that content. You’ll need to write the script for your oral presentation, and if you plan on showing a video clip of a customer explaining her financial devastation from not having a Medicare supplement, you will of course want to identify the customer, pick the time and place to interview, and so forth.

3. Creating the content. With your plan in place, now comes the execution. You will want to contain your entire Webinar within the presentation file. This is easy to do as you can easily drag and drop other types of files into the presentation file. If you are unfamiliar with how to use presentation software, I recommend buying a presentation software tutorial or book to enable you with maximum creative ability.

The first thing you will want to do is choose your theme. The color and structure of your theme are both important in addressing your audience and presentation style. If you are going for a more upbeat style, then brighter colors will compliment and enhance your presentation. If your subject matter requires respect and a more serious tone, then you’ll want to use darker shades of colors. Stay away from blacks as a primary color as it comes across as too serious and it can be hard to read text from. If you aren’t happy with the included templates, you can find many impressive templates for purchase with a simple search for “PowerPoint (or other software) templates.”

Next, comes adding your content. A good rule of thumb to follow is to use as little text as possible. This means keeping your bullet points to 3-5 on each slide and never writing paragraphs of text. Use charts, tables, photographs, videos, and so forth to convey your message when possible.

When it comes to charts and tables, make sure the data and source is correct and that you have permission to use them. Also, always use professional stock photos. Nothing loses respect more than low-quality, amateur material. Stock photo sites allow you to buy at different sizes so you shouldn’t have to worry about resizing photos. If you have to resize photos to conform to your design, know that you can safely scale down, but never up. When scaling down hold down the shift key when resizing the photo. This will prevent distortion and pixilation.

With the popularity of YouTube and reality TV, less than professional quality video is accepted if done right. If you are doing a client interview video or if it’s a video of yourself, make sure you record it with at least a tripod. You don’t want any shaking in your video. Also try to record in as well lit a room as possible. Dark video isn’t appealing. Once you recorded your video, you can then edit it with one of the free programs mentioned above. Music always helps, so buy some stock audio to make your video that much more attractive and effective. Again, cheap and short tutorials are readily available to show you how to use the video editing programs.

4. Edit and Test. Once you’ve created your presentation make sure to edit it for mistakes. You’ll also want to test your webinar to a sample audience to make sure it’s perfectly executed. The software should give you the ability to record your webinar, so make sure to watch yourself and see if there are any improvements to be made.

5. Marketing. With your webinar all ready to go, you’ll want to consider how to get the most eyeballs to watch it. Before you do though, consider the costs. Typically, each “seat” in a seminar costs money. The more “seats” you need the more it is going to cost you. So as you can see, it will pay off to ensure your audience is as targeted as possible for maximum effectiveness.

If you have a large budget and want as many eyeballs as possible, then you’ll want to communicate your webinar information through an E-blast, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. You can also use more traditional methods like radio and print, but they cost a lot more.

Once you’ve executed your perfect webinar and have it recorded, you can then use it as a very effective promotional/educational piece. Set up a webpage to show the recorded webinar and drive traffic to it. You can also put it on a disc or thumb drive and send it out to those less Internet savvy. You spent the time, money, and effort to make the perfect webinar, so make sure you leverage it as much as possible.

Tags: Sales Tips, Senior Market Success, senior market blog, senior market news, Web Marketing Advice, Web Tips, technology, Customer Retention, Leads

Nation Slams Breaks on Health Care Reform

Posted by Richard Ybarra on Fri, Jan 22, 2010 @ 11:35 AM

It’s been awhile since we reported on health care reform and much has transpired since then. Democrats are suffering losses from both elections and retirement. In December, Rep Bart Gordon (Tenn.) decided not to seek a 14th term, and joins Reps. Dennis Moor (Kan.), John Tanner (Tenn.), and Brian Baird (Wash.) as Democratic members in swing districts who have announced their retirements. Democrats lost gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia, and most recently lost the special Massachusetts senate race when Republican Scott Brown defeated Democrat Martha Coakley. The latter is significant as it breaks the Democrats' 60-vote, filibuster-proof majority in Washington.

Democrats have been trying to pass health care reform before the swearing in of Scott Brown, but yesterday Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced that she lacks the votes to quickly move the Senate’s version of health care reform through the House. According to Alan Fram at the Associated Press, Julie Rovner at NPR, and several other analysts, this is a devastating blow to one of President Obama’s most important issues. They also believe the recent elections are the American public’s way of saying it wants more balance in government where legislation isn’t forced through by one party.

The recent setbacks for the Democrats have re-energized Republicans who are now more steadfast in their opposition to the current health care reform bills and other legislative issues promoted by Democrats. Now Democrats are discussing splitting up the health care reform bill into separate pieces and passing each issue one-by-one with the most popular issues coming up for a vote first. Several experts quoted by NPR don’t see this strategy working, as many of the reforms are dependent on others, so even if one gets voted on and passed, it may not be able to be implemented until other reforms are passed too. Splitting up the reforms also makes it easier for opponents to fight them.

Democrats were hoping to wrap up the health care reform issue next month, but with all the recent developments, that isn’t going to happen.

Tags: senior market news, Health Insurance, Medicare Supplement, Senior Market, Medicare News, health insurance news, health care reform

5 Best Ways To Generate Leads

Posted by Richard Ybarra on Fri, Jan 15, 2010 @ 12:30 PM

The most successful producers know that one of the keys to success is to make generating leads a strategic objective of the organization. Lead goals should be S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely). It is a principle that we stress during our recruitment process. The reason we bring up this subject is because this month’s issue of Senior Market Advisor has a decent article titled 50 Best Ways to Generate Leads. The tips were selected from numerous submissions sent in by readers and industry leaders.

The tips are redundant and don’t really tell you anything revolutionary, but they serve as an excellent reminder and reinforcement of best practices we should continue to follow in order to generate quality leads. To save you time, we’ve condensed the 50 tips into five and added our own spin on them. Feel free to contribute your own tips in our comments section below.

Focus on Referrals – If you’ve done a great job with your clients, then never be afraid to directly ask for referrals. Your loyal customers are extremely valuable because of this so customer retention is important. Additionally, look to establish referral partners. If your clients have a good experience with the professionals you recommend to them, they will further trust your advice and see you as a solution provider for a range of services.

Leverage Technology Smartly – Not all technology is right for your business. If you know 90% of your market doesn’t use computers, then don’t waste your time creating a Facebook page, a Twitter page, or an E-blast campaign. For example if your goal is to keep your clients continuously updated on the latest news, it may be better to send out text messages to their cell phones rather than through twitter or through an e-blast. Also be aware of how much time you spend tinkering with technology – it may be better spent generating leads the old-fashion way.

Quantify Your Networking – You already know the importance of networking, but are you measuring the effectiveness of your networking? It’s good to set predetermined goals and continually try to improve your numbers. If you are going to a one or two hour event, keep reminding yourself that you need to make an X number of new contacts within that time. How many of these contacts turned into leads? How many of those led to real business? Look back each year and see if the events you attended were the right ones and are worthwhile to attend again.

Target and Customize – In all your marketing efforts take the time to plan and really make your efforts as lean as possible. By lean, I mean as targeted and customized as possible. Some of the ideas proposed in the article were to send out handwritten notes, personal pictures, using names in communications whenever possible, and meeting clients at special times such as their birthday months. Additionally, standing out from your competition is important too. Is anyone else using video testimonials? According to one industry leader, video boosts retention by 50% over live presentations.

The Don’ts – For every thing we should do, there are many actions that we need to avoid. Here is a list of don’ts that you should keep in mind:

* Don’t use mailing labels that lack personalization
* Don’t always copy your competitors – they may be on the wrong path
* Don’t “freestyle” your presentations
* Don’t promote products – promote solutions to problems
* Don’t just rely on one method to acquire leads
* Don’t sell yourself as an expert in more than one or two knowledge areas

Tags: Success Tips, Senior Market Success, senior market blog, Medicare Supplement, Customer Retention, Creating Value, Customer Service, Building Client Relationships, Professional Networking, Exciters

5 Resolutions You Need to Make for 2010

Posted by Richard Ybarra on Fri, Jan 08, 2010 @ 11:55 AM

Happy 2010 everyone! As an independent agent, not only do you have personal resolutions to make, but business resolutions as well. To help you come up with some great ideas, we surveyed our top producers and asked them what their resolutions are for 2010. Here are the top five resolutions you need to make for 2010:

Get More Education – We are all constantly bombarded with new government regulations, technology, products, and so forth. In the Information Age, what you don’t know is a significant threat to maximizing your income. Many of our respondents made resolutions to take weekly evening classes. Classes ranged from minimizing tax liabilities to online marketing. Many local community colleges offer affordable classes. Online classes/tutorials are also a good, convenient alternative. One agent suggested the site http://www.lynda.com. This site offers online video tutorials for an array of software and technologies at an affordable price.

Optimize Your Processes - Do you have certain processes that perform well for you? Then squeeze everything you can out of those processes by optimizing them. Many of our respondents said they wanted to improve various business processes that would result in reduced printer usage, less travelling, and fewer rework and mistakes. One agency reported that it will utilize checklists more to reduce mistakes and rework in the contracting process. Recently, NPR reported on the effectiveness of checklists in hospitals. Check out the article here.

Consult More Experts - As much as we would like to think we can do everything ourselves or that we already know everything we need to know about our business, we know that the most successful people and individuals are those that can leverage the knowledge and abilities of a team. Many of our respondents said they would consult with more experts this year rather than try and do it themselves. Accountants, lawyers, bankers, technology experts, and other dedicated professionals can offer very valuable services in a short amount of time. For example, you agency owners will want to find out how much your unemployment insurance expense will increase due to changes in state laws and plan accordingly. Small businesses are projected to face anywhere between a 2.5% – 600% increase in payments (yes, that is six hundred) according to entrepreneur.com.

Measure, Measure, Measure – When you are so busy doing your daily work, it really is difficult to find the time to look back and quantitatively see if what you did really benefited the business. Did you spend thousands of dollars on building a Web site? Have you recouped your investment yet? The same applies when looking forward as well. Conducting a survey of your target market can help you determine if you really need to take on a new product. Many of our respondents vowed to really look at measuring ROI before making significant investments. Want to learn more about measuring ROI? One agent recommended the book How to Measure Anything by Douglas W. Hubbard. It has a 5-star rating on Amazon with 55 total customer reviews.

Improve Sales Presentations - One big issue among our respondents was sales presentations. Many feel they can improve their presentations to close more sales. Many promise to incorporate more imagery into their presentations. Showing too much documentation or talking too much can quickly lose the interest of potential clients. This is especially true when selling products over the phone. As you well know, not having a physical presence makes the sales process that much more difficult. To compensate many agents are integrating their Web sites into their phone sales process to present images and information while making their pitch over the phone. Some agents said they are going to look into video conferencing technologies for those seniors who are more computer savvy. Even if a senior doesn’t have a camera of their own, they can still see your face and get more of that personal feel without having you there in their homes. One good place to start is http://www.megameeting.com.

So what resolutions have you made for your business? We encourage you to share your resolutions and ideas in our comments section.

Tags: Sales Tips, Success Tips, Senior Market Advice, Senior Market Success, senior market blog, senior market news

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