How to target employees of companies going out of business or offering early pension buyouts.

At least a dozen times a year I’m approached with a question like: “There’s a large company in my area going out of business, or downsizing, or offering its employees some sort of buyout package … how can I market to them?”

When this type of news breaks, financial advisors are usually the first to salivate. Very few are savvy enough, however, to take advantage of the opportunity.

The “how do I get in front of these people” question was asked of me again last week, and I just finished my strategy call with the financial advisor client who posed the question. I’ll set the stage for you by defining the opportunity, and then discuss a few of the marketing ideas we’ll be looking to implement in order to capitalize on the opportunity.

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The Opportunity:

The state of Missouri announced that it would offer a lump sum buyout to former employees that had not yet started drawing on their pension. Letters went out to roughly 17,000 people informing them of their options. In fact, in the letter itself, it encouraged the former employees to speak with a financial advisor. The question is … How can YOU be that financial advisor when an opportunity like this presents itself? For the sake of time, I won’t go into all of the financial details of the buyout. Let’s just say that it might make sense for some to take the lump sum and it might make sense for some to keep the pension. This particular blog post is NOT about the financial planning aspect of the opportunity. I just want to discuss the marketing opportunity.

The Game Plan:

This particular situation was a little trickier because it involved only FORMER employees. More often than not when these types of opportunities arise, it includes current employees, which is a little bit easier to get at. Many of the ideas discussed below could be used in a similar fashion.

The holy grail for this type of opportunity is to obtain an actual list of the employees being affected. The vast majority of the time (99.9%) you won’t be able to get your hands on this list. There are a few exceptions, but in general, you’re not able to dial up a company and get a list of employees. Unless you know somebody in the HR department and that would be willing to share that with you (very questionable from an ethics/legality perspective), you should plan to get a little more creative to reach out to these folks.

Step 1: Find out everything you can about what is being offered. This will be critical so you can speak intelligently about the opportunity. You should know the opportunity inside and out.

Step 2: With the knowledge obtained from step 1, write a simple whitepaper report. It could be something like “The 7 Steps to Evaluate the XYZ Company Pension Buyout: A Guide for Employees to Help Them Avoid Making Financial Mistakes.” Don’t get too hung up on the title I just shared; your title should be a little catchier than that. This is now used as a call-to-action piece.

Step 3: Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising via Google. Focus on keywords within the opportunity, things like the company name, buyout, etc. Drive them to a landing page on your website and offer a consult and/or the whitepaper.

Step 4: Email ALL clients and prospective clients informing them of what is happening. It does NOT matter whether they work for the employer or will be impacted in any way. Simply let them know that you’ve helped a few people in the area who have been affected by it and would be happy to help anybody that they may know that could be affected by it. Reference the whitepaper.

Step 5: If you happen to have a client affected by the situation, explore hosting a happy hour with them and any other co-workers of theirs that might be affected.

Step 6: Linkedin. Use the search tool to identify employees of the company in question. You could tackle this group two ways: direct advertising via their platform and/or reach out directly via the message feature. Offer them the whitepaper and let them know you’ve helped others in their position.

Step 7: Facebook. You could use the same verbiage from the email to existing clients/prospects and create a Facebook post about it. Encourage your “fans” to share the post to help people in the community who might be affected by it. Drive them to the landing page with the whitepaper. In addition, you could advertise on Facebook directly to individuals that currently work or have worked at the employer in question.

Step 8: Reach out to every media outlet possible introducing the story to them and explaining the significant reach that it could have on the local community. Position yourself as a thought leader on the subject and make them aware that you have identified the “7” things that the affected employees must know. The goal is to gain an interview and offer the call to action. Of course, once you’ve landed any sort of press, leverage that across all of your other mediums (email, social media, etc.).

There are certainly more ways to tackle this opportunity, but we’ll just have to cover that in another blog post.

All the best,

Mark

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