Over the past six months we’ve been discussing the essential secrets for business owners who want to market themselves effectively, derived from The 16 Monumental Secrets of Guerilla Marketing presented by Jay Conrad Levinson in his national bestseller Guerilla Marketing—and there are still many secrets to explore in 2015! The next principle is something that I consider to be crucial to maintaining a thriving business, yet commonly overlooked: Continue to market yourself to your clients subsequent to the sale.
Or in Levinson’s words, “It’s the marketing done subsequent to the sale that leads to the juicy profits.” (Consider this: Levinson follows this statement up with asserting that it costs six times more to sell a product or a service to a new customer than it does to an existing customer.)
It’s all about reaffirming the great choices they’ve made. While your clients have already made the decision to do business with you, they always have the option to change their minds. As consumers we have the power to choose who, what, when, where, why and how with respect to spending our money, it’s as simple as that. Your clients also continue to choose to keep their business with you—but it’s mission critical to remind them why they made that choice and to reinforce that it was, in fact, a decision well made. Along the same lines, there’s always the chance that they may choose to do more business with you in the future. You want to be the first option that comes to mind as often as you are relevant to the conversation, period. When your clients think of you as a valuable resource, your brand is elevated to one that is trusted among members of your community. It’s a win-win scenario.
Furthermore, loyalty is honorable but competitive advantage is undeniable. You can be sure that your competition is out there trying to turn your existing customers into their new customers. Your continued marketing builds a fence around your existing customers. Marketing is not only a way to educate your audience about your competitive advantage; to positively and proactively influence their choice between you and your competition, but also subsequently to keep them as your customers.
I touched on this a few months ago when I emphasized the importance of consistency in your marketing efforts: Visibility is POWERFUL; it’s the key to staying top-of-mind. Staying visible among your existing clients is just as important as staying visible in your marketplace to attract new clients whenever they need what you have to offer. One of the best ways to stay visible and market to existing clients, while showing potential clients evidence of how they’d be treated after the sale should they choose to do business with you, is anything that ties into customer appreciation. Over the years, time after time, I’ve seen the adverse effects of “marketing campaign standstill,” or when a desired amount of clients or sales are garnered, marketing is then considered to be no longer essential. It’s truly painful to see all of the progress wiped away when marketing efforts are abandoned once a perceived level of success has been achieved—once you’re no longer visible, you’ll be forgotten, no matter how much you’ve dedicated yourself to the marketing efforts that led to your success in the first place. It’s not your client’s fault that you don’t come to mind first, if at all–it’s yours.
You can count on the fact that what you do for your clients subsequent to the sale is what will continue to keep them. Efforts aimed at retention and simply delivering the promises you made when getting the initial sale speaks volumes about your business—and through marketing efforts focused on existing clients, you are also establishing and solidifying your credibility by staying the course and continuing to market yourself subsequent to the sale. While we should always be striving to attract new clients with our offerings—and in how we market ourselves, of course!—it is actually how we market to our existing clients that is of the utmost importance as it can prove to be far more rewarding and profitable.
by Paige Zutavern
Some observations about changes in health insurance products for individuals and families in 2015:
• Four insurance companies offer coverage for individuals and families – Assurant Health, BlueCross BlueShield, CoOportunity Health, and Coventry Health Care. Policies are available directly from the insurance company or through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
• BlueCross BlueShield and Golden Rule have extended their pre-ACA policies through 2015. Golden Rule is not selling new policies in Nebraska.
• At the beginning of 2014, some people actually saw their health insurance premiums go down because they were not being rated on pre-existing health conditions. There were rate increases for 2015. The second lowest cost silver plan is identified in each state as the “benchmark” plan. The southeast corner of Nebraska saw a 5% to 10% increase in the benchmark premium. The remainder of the state experienced an increase greater that 10%.
• Insurance carriers are developing options with provider networks that are designed to lower costs by using a limited group of doctors and/or hospitals.
• Coventry’s health insurance products for Lancaster County are an HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) that requires the policyholder to utilize a limited network with Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center
• Coventry has similar products in Douglas and Sarpy County, but offers traditional networks in the rest of the state
• BlueCross BlueShield offers the SelectBlue network in the Omaha metro that offers a higher level of benefits at a lower cost if you utilize the SelectBlue providers. This includes physicians and hospitals associated with the Methodist, Nebraska Medical Center, and Children’s Hospital systems.
• BlueCross BlueShield and CHI do not yet have a contract; meaning that the CHI hospitals are not an “in-network” provider for BCBS. Some agreements have been reached to provide “in-network” benefits in the absence of a contract.
• The Affordable Care Act requires us to have health insurance that complies with the law or pay a penalty. The penalty in 2015 is the greater of 2% of your household income or $325 per person / $975 per family.
• Those who received an Advance Premium Tax Credit in 2014 will be issued a form 1099-H to report the amount of APTC benefit received. This will be reconciled on your personal tax return. http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1099h.pdf
• Open Enrollment continues through February 15, 2015. After that date, health insurance may only be purchased when a Qualifying Event has occurred that creates a Special Enrollment Period.
by Chris McPike, Vice President
In continuing to expand on what I consider to be the essential rules for business owners who want to market themselves effectively, based upon The 16 Monumental Secrets of Guerilla Marketing presented by Jay Conrad Levinson in his national bestseller Guerilla Marketing, the next principle is assortment.
This quote from Conrad says it all: “The wider the assortment of weapons in your marketing arsenal, the wider the grin on your face when you review your financial statements.”
If your marketing strategy includes employing a variety of tactics to garner attention from your target audience, you are likely making an impression on them that will consistently keep you in the “Top of Mind Awareness” zone. In order to remain constantly driving in customers, the cycle is never broken so there is no downtime when it comes to effectively marketing your business. Even within one advertising medium, there should be a wealth of avenues to pursue depending on your strategy and goals with your marketing efforts.
Take our publication for example. We offer our advertisers a wealth of assortment in value-added tools all across the board with our editorial features, including monthly Press Releases, Client Spotlights, Ask The Expert columns, Star Six columns, Special Stories, and the Cover feature with a supporting article. These are all specifically designed to be geared towards promoting our clients in different ways that are best suited for them, as well as consistent promotion through a variety of avenues in person, in print and online. Providing this assortment allows for consistency while continuing to attract attention with a fresh approach.
When you factor in all of the other marketing avenues available today, there is no reason why all businesses aren’t utilizing more than one. I always encourage business owners not to put all of their eggs in one basket; to exhibit patience in their commitment to their current marketing efforts while peppering that with some new pieces every once in a while.
Conrad ends with the exact statement I think I’ve said thousands of times over the years: “…Marketing doesn’t end with the sale.” Remember to keep this in mind with your marketing efforts–and to incorporate an assortment of ways in which you are connecting with your current and prospective clients.
by Paige Zutavern, President
Ask The Experts December 1, 2014
Here is some timely information that will help you sort through your options!!
You should have received a letter from your insurance company notifying you that
You can keep your policy in 2015 and what the rate will be in 2015; or
You cannot keep your policy in 2015, but you can be automatically enrolled in a new ACA compliant plan in 2015 at a premium of $XX.
If you enrolled through the Health Insurance Marketplace in 2014, you should also have received a notification regarding financial assistance for 2015.
Do not assume that the health insurance plan that you selected for 2014 or the plan your insurance company is offering to enroll you in for 2015 will be your best choice next year. There have been several changes in benefits, in provider networks, and rates. We even have an HMO available in 2015.
There are 4 insurance companies offering new individual health insurance products in Nebraska: Assurant Health • BlueCross BlueShield • CoOportunity Health • Coventry Health Care
There are older plans that remain in-force from Golden Rule and others, but these companies are not selling new products.
Here’s a quick comparison of the Silver plans that are available in Lancaster County, NE for a 40 year old non-smoker in 2015:
CoOportunity Health: Deductible/Out-of-Pocket Maximum – $4000/$6600; Premium – $261
Coventry Health Care HMO: Deductible/Out-of-Pocket Maximum – $3750/$6600; Premium – $267
Assurant Health: Deductible/Out-of-Pocket Maximum – $3500/$3500; Premium – $356
BlueCross BlueShield: Deductible/Out-of-Pocket Maximum – $1900/$6350; Premium – $360
All of these examples fit the definition of a Silver plan, but the benefits and premiums vary substantially.
Contact your health insurance agent to find out what ALL of your options are for next year. Update your information at healthcare.gov to be certain that any financial assistance you receive in 2015 is based on accurate information.
December 15th is the deadline for making selections that will be effective on January 1st. An enrollment that is completed in the last half of December will be effective on February 1st. The Open Enrollment continues through February 15th.
Merry Christmas from ComPro. May you unwrap lots of joy, love, peace and laughter!
by Chris McPike, Vice President
Ask The Experts November 1, 2014
Open Enrollment for 2015 begins on November 15th. Millions of Americans & others who qualify will be accessing the healthcare.gov website to find out if they are eligible for financial assistance and to select a health insurance plan for next year.
Tip #1. Open Enrollment means that anyone can choose an Individual health insurance plan for 2015. It can be purchased directly from an insurance company or through the Marketplace (Healthcare.gov). Those who want financial assistance must go through the Marketplace.
Tip #2. All ACA compliant Individual health insurance policies will renew on January 1st. It doesn’t matter when you purchased the policy. If you kept a pre-ACA plan, this may not apply.
Tip #3. Pay attention to the dates. A selection must be made by the 15th of the month to be effective on the following 1st of the month. Example: A plan selection completed on December 15th will be effective on January 1st; a selection made on December 17th will be effective on February 1st.
Tip #4. If you enrolled through Healthcare.gov for 2014, it may be possible for your coverage and financial assistance to automatically renew on January 1st. However, this works only for those individuals who gave the Marketplace permission to do this and who do not expect any significant changes from 2014 to 2015. You may not remember exactly what you did a year ago. The wisest choice is to update your information on the Marketplace, determine what financial assistance is available, and select a benefit plan for 2015. *https://www.healthcare.gov/keep-or-change-plan/
Tip #5. There will be changes in the health insurance plans that are available in 2015. 4 insurance companies are offering individual health insurance plans in Nebraska – Assurant Health/Time Insurance Company, BlueCross BlueShield, CoOportunity Health, and CoventryOne. Some benefit plans and provider networks will be modified.
Tip #6. Verify your healthcare.gov account. You may need to update your password. All passwords were changed in April, 2014 to protect the security of the accounts.
Tip #7. Estimate your family’s adjusted gross income for 2015 and compare it to the 2014 Federal Poverty Level (FPL) guidelines. *http://familiesusa.org/product/federal-poverty-guidelines
• You may be eligible for the Advanced Premium Tax Credit if your income is between 100% and 400% of the FPL
• The Cost Share Reduction Subsidy is for those whose income is less than 250% of the FPL
Tip #8. Contact your health insurance agent for additional guidance in reviewing the Marketplace eligibility rules and to set an appointment to complete your 2015 health insurance enrollment.
by Chris McPike, Vice President
I’ve recently been exploring what I consider to be the essential rules for business owners who want to market themselves effectively, based upon The 16 Monumental Secrets of Guerilla Marketing presented by Jay Conrad Levinson in his national bestseller GUERILLA MARKETING.
So now you are committed to your marketing plan. You see it as an investment, are dedicated to maintaining consistency in your efforts, and are confident in promoting your business. Now what?
Secret #5: “You must be patient in order to keep a commitment.”
This is the part that is less exciting–maybe even dreaded–for most of us. We live in a time where instant gratification is commonplace and instant results are expected. The trouble with marketing is that the results aren’t often traced back to your campaign in a concrete way. The messages that you send out are received by your audience and stored; you never know when or how they will surface but the point is that you’ve reached the right people, made an impression, and continue to remind your target audience about your presence in the marketplace. It is important to keep in mind that marketing is powerful in ways that can’t always be measured. Reality suggests that often in life things don’t always move as fast as one would hope, which is why I strongly encourage my clients to set their patience meter all the way up to 10 and keep forging ahead.
I will be the first to admit that patience is not my forte. I want things to happen now, not later—whether it’s a phone call, a sale…anything really! But a healthy dose of patience goes a long way, especially for your sanity as well as the continued success of your marketing efforts over the long haul. Branding yourself takes time, and once you’ve done that, it takes more time and patience to keep that top-of-mind recognition. Exercising patience will allow people searching for solutions you provide to discover you and moreover, to ascertain why your brand is the right choice for them. It’s not on your schedule, it’s on theirs and when they just so happen to be looking for what you have to offer. It is at this point that they discover you are the RIGHT choice based on the consistent and credible message you have put around your brand and yourself as an expert in your industry. Furthermore, you never know when the opportunity for referral will strike and you want to be the first name that comes out of someone’s mouth.
Finding ways to sow the seeds and then watching them grow all takes patience. It comes down to a willingness to dedicate yourself to developing your brand along with circulating the heck out of your consistent message to your targeted audience. It takes relentless discipline, fortitude, and vigilance in addition to patience, but the marketing marathon is rewarding beyond measure for those who are patient and stay the course. Think for just a moment about the times when you were patient and when you were not. In each case, didn’t the time you demonstrated patience bring forth the greatest positive benefits? You bet it did, so your commitment should include being patient with your branding efforts.
by Paige Zutavern, President