2015 was a year when a search engine put a robot car on the road, a much-maligned corporate big-wig tweeted his way through a presidential campaign, and the Oxford English Dictionary chose an emoji as their word of the year. If you’re wondering, ‘what the heck is an emoji?’, you’re not alone…and if you’re confused because an ‘emoji’ is not a word, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re not alone in entering 2016 wondering where our technologically obsessed culture is headed, especially in an age when consumer culture becomes increasingly transfixed by gadgets, icons, and new trends in digital media. When it comes to making a new year’s resolution, what’s important is what’s “trending”, so it’s time to adapt to change.

Instead of making multiple resolutions that likely will go unfulfilled, make only one. Submit all other goals to that one. What is the “one” for brokers in 2016? Become a better marketer.

Why? I promise that within a year of pursuing this goal, you will have developed healthy habits leading to success. You will be a better broker, one who is armed to excel in the increasingly-expanding digital marketplace: a place where people are still people, and people need insurance.

How? Let’s break it down. Having a singular resolution doesn’t make it simple to achieve. In other words, becoming a better marketer isn’t a one-step model. In the day-to-day practical pursuit of the one goal, it helps to have sub-resolutions that serve the grander resolution. I’ve listed 10 sub-resolutions below (position doesn’t indicate ranking). While it would be advantageous to follow each step, the likelihood of fulfilment decreases by simultaneously taking on more resolutions than you can handle. To borrow a phrase from Han Solo, don’t get cocky. Pick and choose which resolutions fit within the scope of your 2016 strategic marketing plan (and yes, you should have a strategic marketing plan).

  • 1. Connect on social media: If you haven’t already, set up twitter and LinkedIn profiles to make yourself accessible. Upload a nice smiling picture of yourself to your profile. It’s easy and free to use. These tools can help you become a trusted source for articles and content on the web. Provide a laugh or two every now and then. It will go a long way. Be wary of making sales pitches and learn to subtly sell by being a human being, first.
  • 2. Be personal: Those who can be reached, can be trusted, and the best way to ensure long-term relationship success with your existing clients is to become their most trusted advisor. Be ready to respond instantaneously. Show them you care.
  • 3. Stay up-to-date on technological advancement: If you hear of a new application or device that can aid your business, then it suits you to be among the first to take advantage. There’s no shortage of news about technology, so find three or four trusted sources for consistent content about the latest innovations. Alternatively, find a content curator to follow as well as social media feeds that consistently deliver valuable information so you don’t have to spend the time searching the web.
  • 4. Build something: Accomplishment—whether it’s crafting a wooden rocking chair, cooking a gourmet meal, or reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy—leads to a boost in self-esteem. Self-esteem leads to confident decision making, which ultimately can lead to success in other endeavors.
  • 5. Mine for gold: We live in an age where you cannot walk out of your front door without being exposed to hundreds of messages, whether from advertisements or the never-ending stream of notifications buzzing or chiming out from the phones in our pockets. Needless to say, but there’s little room left in the mind of the average consumer for insurance brokers. See this as an untapped opportunity to command more attention. What is the one message they absolutely need to hear in 2016?
  • 6. Take risks by becoming more outspoken: The average attention span of Canadians is similar to that of a goldfish. Those who sell insurance need to do a better job of gaining and holding Canadian’s attention. Speak loud and proud. Make your authoritative voice heard, but be sensitive to current events, avoid arguments, and avoid being overly opinionated.
  • 7. Simplify: Social media is not a replacement for other forms of interaction, but some customers can be serviced faster and better through digital communication rather than attempting to juggle schedules to set up meetings.
  • 8. Compete: Nine of ten US companies are active on social networks, and more than 90 % of those businesses have seen increased exposure. Half of that exposure has resulted in sales increase.
  • 9. Use Video: 57% of marketers use video in their strategy. Refrain from self-deprecation; don’t resign yourself to, “nobody wants to see my ugly mug” or “I’m camera shy”. It may arguably be a prerequisite in some Hollywood circles, but not in the insurance business. This isn’t about putting on a good performance, it’s about gaining the trust of the viewer by projecting the same calm, confident demeanor that makes everyday business deals successful.
  • 10. Understand: There are learning resources out there that you can use at your disposal. Tap into the resources offered by trusted insurers and insurance media outlets who integrate broker empowerment into their business model.

In 2016, focus on one primary goal, whether for self-improvement or better success in business. Cater all other goals around it. It’s inevitable and part of human nature to fall short of our own standards every now and then, but if there is a focus, a finish line to the race, then it can and will be reached. It’s up to you to decide which road to take.