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The Cato Conclusion
May 24, 2011                                                          Volume 701

“These depressed economic days mean you must now market more effectively using far more innovative efforts.”

Be the Subject Of A
With You
By Forrest Wallace Cato

For over thirty years I have interviewed various insurance, financial planning, Wall Street, and federal monetary VIP types.  Like most journalist I always used the same key questions as the answers were always different.  Over the years I “polished” the questions as I learned what would cause the most interesting and most useful editorial material to result.

You can get large space print media publicity exposure simply by asking yourself some of the same questions.  Here is an up-to-date list of those questions.  These interviews ran for years in various major financial magazines (Trusts & Estates, Financial Planning, Life Insurance Selling, Wall Street Journal, Financial Services Advisor, Advisor, Registered Rep, Broker World, World Executive Digest, and other publications).  

Subjects of these interviews included Warren Buffett, Alan Greenspan, Peter Lynch, Sir John Templeton, George Soros, David Rockefeller, Charles Swabb, Mehdi Fakharzadeh, Lew Nason, Norman G. Levine, John Bogle and many other financial professionals. 

You can create a very interesting article – one or many worthy of publication – simply by answering a selection of questions that you choose from the following list.              

Please read all questions before you begin.  Please note that you are not “locked into” these questions You can delete, add, or change any questions you likeYou can create some of your own questions if you desire to do so.  These questions are only a guide.  I used them as my guide.  You can do the same.

Before you have your answers typed, please remember to type the questions as you desire them to be worded before each replyWe repeat, please type the exact questions – not question numbers --  then type your answersWithout complete questions included in your final copy editors will  not know what you are answering.

Convey What Is Unique and Special About You

Starch-Simmons Studies show that year-after-year, this type of interview is among the “best read” and “most remembered” features in most magazines.  The goal is to present that which is original and exclusive about youCapture the real you, i.e., your personality, your philosophy, etc., not present a dry presentation of cliches or generalities but reveal your feelings, your  passions, your concerns, and your beliefs. 

Make it clear how you help peopleWhy should consumers do business with youWhat are the benefits for prospects that retain your services Do not try to create a free advertisementDo not fill-up the copy with puffery, plugs, or boasting

Do not think in ways that limit your future.  Never say, I’ll reject that question because I am not a great leader, I never influenced the industry, I am not a massive success, etc.  The reader of the resulting article or articles knows only what you tell him or her.  The person who can not visualize himself or herself as a top producer will never become a top producer.  This is not exaggerating or embellishing – you simply remain honest and accurate. 

You must position yourself as a role model, an industry leader, an inspiration, and your comments (if you do not hold them back) are of both immediate interest and lasting practical value for your readers. You must start at some point in your career to position yourself in this desired image.  If you think you are not a star or star material then forget this exercise and dismiss any hope of ever becoming a star in your specialty discipline

This is not the time for you to find excuses or alibis – especially since you have a complete guide here.

Needed are (1) Questions as well as your Answers!  Also required are (2) your lengthy biographical sketch, and at least (3) three photos of you in action, i.e., you reading a report, you signing a document, you pointing to a chart, you talking on the phone, you interacting with your dog, etc.

Select your answers, write your answers, go back and edit or “polish” your answers.  Try not to talk in clichés Aim for original phrasesTry not to bore the reader.  Be too boring and you will never be published.  Offer the reader ideas they can use.  Share what is most interesting for you. 

Then go to the Internet and find the name and address of the publication to which you would like to submit your article, bio-sketch, and photos.  Most sales leaders do this from time-to-time. 

If you are rejected you can polish your piece some more and submit it again elsewhere.  You will not obtain large space feature article of benefit to you if you fail to try this.  If you get published then you can merchandise your published article to reassure clients and cultivate prospects for years.

Cato’s VIP Interview®  

1. Our research shows that clients of insurance agents and financial planners are more concerned and angry about high federal taxes than any other subject.  Do you have any comments on the IRS, the federal tax code, taxation today, etc.?

2. What should our readers do to take advantage of the unique opportunities you offer?

3. Could you please elaborate on your work and what you do? 

4. Under your dynamic leadership, you or your organization has reached record accomplishments!  How have you achieved this? 

5. What were your formative years (childhood) like? 

6. What sales methods work for you?  Do you advocate these methods? 

7. Would you please comment on the use and value of motivators or financial radio or TV programs for you and your staff? 

8. Who are the people who have played key roles in your success? 

9. Please tell us about the lowest points and the highest points in the history of your career, or the insurance industry, or the financial planning industry? 

10. What are your outside activities? 

11. What are you the most proud of? 

12. Could you please give us a quick biographical sketch of your work and/or life experiences that helped lead you to where you are today? 

13. What industry development are you the most displeased with?

14. Did you ever think you would “end-up” having such an influence on the entire financial planning or insurance industry? 

15. If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three books would you take with you, and why? 

16. What do you consider a great hoax? 

17. When were you the most embarrassed? 

18. Who are your three favorite writers and why? 

19. What was your greatest failure? 

20. What is your idea of enjoyment? 

21. What is your greatest fear? 

22. Do you have a ghost which bothers you, and if so, what ghost? 

23. Is there a word which you overuse? 

24. What do you like most and least about yourself? 

25. What person, living or dead, do you most admire? 

26. How do you cope with the tremendous stress which goes with your position? 

27. What person, living or dead, do you identify with, if any? 

28. Do you have a lead generation program and if so, how does it work? 

29. Who do you think are the greatest talents in the insurance or financial planning fields today?  (You may elect to skip this question.  Or reply with an answer that will “make everyone happy.”) 

30. What do you regret most about your career or life? 

31. What do you think is your best characteristic? 

32. What would you advise Financial Services Advisors readers who desire to excel in insurance and financial planning? 

33. Do you have any management or time control secrets? 

34. Who are people that you consider to be heroes? 

35. What irritates you? 

36. How do you invest your own money? 

37. Have any inspirational motivators or sales trainers influenced you?  (You may elect to skip this question.  Or, you may choose to mention Dr. Napoleon Hill, W. Clement Stone, Lew Nason, Dale Carnegie, Rev. Robert H. Schuller, etc., etc.)   

38. Do you have a technique to help you keep focused? 

39. When are you the most satisfied? 

40. What do you like most about your work? 

41. What do you like best about sales?   

42. How important is it for insurance agents and financial planners to work with other financial disciplines, i.e., broker dealers, tax accountants, bank trust officers, tax lawyers, tangible investment advisors, estate administrators, appropriate bankers, etc.?  (Think of the various members of your estate planning team.)

43. How do you close? 

44. Would you please create a question that enables you to praise any of your staff members that you would like to recognize.   

45. Do you see opportunities or problems for insurance agents and financial planners by the repeal of the Glass-Stegall Act?      

46. What do you think the future will bring for financial planners and insurance agents? 

47. Do you see opportunities for insurance agents and financial planners as a result of evolving technology? 

48. Do you think independent insurance agents and financial planners should consider partnering with large institutions? 

49. Do you see any special opportunities for financial services advisors in the coming economy? 

50. Are there new options today for financial planners and insurance agents to make changes in their practice that will prove lucrative?

51. Are there new options today for financial planners and insurance agents to make changes in their practices that will result in more sales? 

52. What gives you the drive and momentum to continue to produce at such an outstanding sales level? 

53. What would you say to people who feel you are too dynamic to approach?  To people who feel they could never be in your league? 

54. What methods do you use to et an interview with a prospect? 

55. How do you handle the initial interview?  What do you do when you get there, show samples of something, use visual aids, etc.? 

56. Do you look for problems to solve for the prospect? 

57. How do you keep up with your clients over the years? 

58. Do you make any sales at night?  Do you do any night work? 

59. From what markets do you get the greatest percent of your work? 

60. What is the most important advice you can give about how to improve sales? 

61. How many days a week to you work?  Hours? 

62. Are there two, four, six, ten, valuable sales tips you would like to share with our readers? 

63. Does the typical or average or general sales improvement type speaker actually help you? 

64. Why are agents and planners not attending conventions and other industry events like they once did? 

65. Are there sales methods that you avoid? 

66. Do you have a personal motto?

67. Has the Internet been helpful for you in marketing your services? 

68. Have computers become important for your office operation? 

69. What are your plans? 

70. What do you consider a great hoax in the insurance or financial planning industry? 

71. Do you have a ghost that “haunts” you and if so, what ghost? 

72. Is there a word you overuse? 

73. During your career, has sustaining the same sales level become more difficult each year? 

74. What is the biggest change you have experienced in your specialty discipline during the last twenty years?  

75. If you could make just one change in our industry what would that be? 

76. What problem do you solve most for your clients? 

77. What trends have you detected among your clients during the current recession? 

(Please remember, when creating your manuscript, type your complete
questions before you type your answers
.  Do not use numbers


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