We explore the key steps to follow when creating a competitive, well-informed marketing strategy for your business to help build a strong marketing plan
Building a strong marketing strategy lies at the foundation of any prospering, competitive business.
As terms can sometimes get mixed up, let’s firstly clarify what a marketing strategy is. It refers to an organization’s overall game plan for attracting customers by communicating the benefits of their business and key differentiators.
It’s the big picture of the company’s vision informing the marketing plan, which address the vital question: what tactics are you going to use to meet your goals and bring your strategy to life?
To help you build an excellent action plan, you firstly need to ensure you’ve ticked all boxes when devising the marketing strategy, so we’ve put together a list of seven handy action points to pay attention to when conducting your research.
Run a SWOT analysis
Start by running a SWOT analysis to identify your business’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
It’s actually a fun team exercise, vital to your planning process as it shall inform in one way or another all the following key steps outlined below. To avoid bias and cover different perspectives, get as many fellow colleagues to contribute as possible.
Having a clear view on what you’re best at, what areas you need to improve on, spotting the external factors that represent the motivation for your business to exist or, on the other hand, factors that have the potential to place your business at risk, will equip you with the right tools to build a well-informed marketing strategy.
Figure out the value proposition
A great marketing strategy derives from a company’s value proposition, which encapsulates its main strengths (identified in the SWOT analysis) and differentiators against competitors, as opposed to being created from scratch.
Determining your value proposition is probably the step you should invest most time and resources into, as it is one of the most important conversion factors and what could make the difference between closing a sale and losing it.
Get started by identifying the main customer benefits and what value your products/services bring to the customer, followed by outlining the key differentiators.
The best value propositions are clear, to the point, and they focus on solving customers’ problems.
Determine marketing strategy objectives
Organizations define and communicate their goals using objectives.
Objectives specify measurable outcomes that will be achieved within a particular time frame and they help individuals evaluate the success and effectiveness of a particular marketing strategy.
They aid marketers to align expectations and plans, coordinate efforts, and hold teams accountable for achieving results.
When putting together your key objectives (aim for 3-5), ensure they meet the following criteria: they’re specific, measurable, and have a time frame.
Re-evaluate them every six months, make changes if necessary, and use them to measure success.
Understand your customers
In order to embed your customers’ needs and seek to solve their problems through your marketing strategy, you firstly need to fully understand them.
In the marketing space, there’s been lots of buzz on customer centricity, a strategy to fundamentally align a company’s products and services with the wants and needs of its most valuable customers.
In their quest of getting to know them, marketers have started to rely less on traditional market research methods such as surveys or focus groups and pay more attention to smart online platforms and tools that tell them everything about their customers’ demographics, online behaviors, and conversations.
Define your buyer personas
Buyer personas are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. They help marketers better understand and get closer to customers, as real humans.
The process of creating buyer personas involves gathering insight from different platforms such as website analytics, social media channels, customer reviews as well as actual conversations with prospects and customers.
When researching and building personas, look into their background, preferences, demographics details, and based on that, determine what’s the most appropriate way to communicate with them, what channels they prefer, style and tone of voice, etc.
Analyze your market and competitors
We’ve established that a clever marketing strategy is a business’ game plan which helps them flourish and stand out from competition.
But to get to that level, you need to have expert knowledge into what’s happening in your market and how are you competitors doing: what are their struggles? What’s working for them? Which are their weak links?
Once again, information is power. Use intelligent platforms, like Brandwatch, to answer all questions above and learn about your competition.
Keeping your ears and eyes open for what’s happening in your industry is vital in helping you identify gaps in the market, needs that aren’t being fulfilled, common frustrations, or trends and innovative ideas.
Establish your marketing methods
Depending on your target audience, you will need to pick the best marketing methods to explain, teach, and communicate your brand messaging.
Find out where your audience lives (which social channels they prefer, blogs, sites, forums, etc.) and use that information to your advantage to reach them.
It’s equally important to determine at an early stage which marketing areas you’ll focus on attention on and how much time and budget you’ll be spending on advertising, PR, content marketing, SEO, community management, events, etc. depending on the nature of your business and what would appeal most to your future customers.
Effective marketing starts with a considered, well-informed marketing strategy. A good marketing strategy helps you define clear, realistic and measurable marketing objectives for your business.
Your marketing strategy affects the way you run your business, so it should be planned and developed in consultation with your team. It is a wide-reaching and comprehensive strategic planning tool that:
- describes your business and its products and services
- explains the position and role of your products and services in the market
- profiles your customers and your competition
- identifies the marketing tactics you will use
- allows you to build a marketing plan (the tactics to deliver) and measure its effectiveness.
A marketing strategy sets the overall direction and goals for your marketing, and is therefore different from a marketing plan, which outlines the specific actions you will take to implement your marketing strategy. Your marketing strategy could be developed for the next few years, while your marketing plan usually describes tactics to be achieved in the current year.
Write a successful marketing strategy
Your well-developed marketing strategy will help you realize your business’s goals and focus on the actions required to reach the right customers.
Developing a marketing strategy that includes the components listed below will help you make the most of your marketing investment, keep your marketing focused, and measure and improve your sales results.
Identify your business goals
Align your marketing strategy to the business goals outlined in your business plan; you can then define a set of marketing goals to support them. Your business goals might include:
- increasing awareness of your products and services
- selling more products from a certain supplier
- reaching a new customer segment.
When setting goals it’s critical to be as targeted as possible so you can effectively measure the outcomes against what you set out to achieve. A simple criteria for goal-setting is the SMART method:
- Specific – state clearly what you want to achieve
- Measurable – set tangible measures so you can measure your results
- Achievable – set objectives that are within your capacity and budget
- Relevant – set objectives that will help you improve particular aspects of your business
- Time-bound – set objectives you can achieve within the time you need them.
State your marketing goals
Define a set of specific marketing goals based on the business goals. These goals will motivate you and your team and enable you to track your success.
Examples of marketing goals include increased market penetration (selling more existing products to existing customers) or market development (selling existing products to new target markets). These marketing goals could be long-term and might take a few years to successfully achieve. However, they should be clear and measurable and have time frames for achievement.
Make sure your overall strategies are also practical and measurable. A good marketing strategy will not be changed every year, but revised when your strategies have been achieved or your marketing goals have been met. You may need to amend your strategy if your external market changes due to a new competitor or new technology, or if your products substantially change.
Research your market
Research is an essential part of your marketing strategy. You need to gather information about your market, such as its size, growth, social trends and demographics (population statistics such as age, gender and family type). It is important to keep an eye on your market so you are aware of any changes over time, so your strategy remains relevant and targeted.
Profile your potential customers
Use your market research to develop a profile of the customers you are targeting and identify their needs.
The profile will reveal their buying patterns, including how they buy, where they buy and what they buy. Again, regularly review trends so you don’t miss out on new opportunities or become irrelevant with your marketing message.
While you try to find new customers, make sure your marketing strategy also allows you to maintain relationships with your existing customers.
Profile your competitors
Similarly, as part of your marketing strategy you should develop a profile of your competitors by identifying their products, supply chains, pricing and marketing tactics.
Use this to identify your competitive advantage – what sets your business apart from your competitors. You may also want to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your own internal processes to help improve your performance compared with your competition.
Develop strategies to support your marketing goals
List your target markets and devise a set of strategies to attract and retain them. An example goal could be to increase young people’s awareness of your products. Your corresponding strategies could be to increase your online social media presence by posting regular updates about your product on Instagram or Facebook; advertising in local magazines targeted to young people; or offering discounts for students.
Use the ‘7 Ps of marketing’
Reach your selected market by utilizing the 7 Ps of marketing mix. If you can choose the right combination of marketing across product, price, promotion, place, people, process and physical evidence, your marketing strategy is more likely to be a success. You can choose any combination of these to achieve your marketing strategy.
Test your ideas
In deciding your tactics, do some online research, test some ideas and approaches on your customers and your staff, and review what works. You will need to choose a number of tactics in order to meet your customers’ needs, reach the customers within your target market and improve your sales results.
The term ‘marketing management refers to the organizational discipline that focuses on the real-world application of:
- Marketing orientation,
- Techniques and methods used inside enterprises and organizations, and
- The management of a firm’s marketing resources and activities.
The concept of marketing management reviews the process which is made use of in order to determine which products or services may pique the interest of customers as well as the strategy to use in a particular business in order to carry out the marketing mix. Marketing management also explores the process of interpreting, creating, and delivering value to targeted business markets and customers.
Marketing Management and the Marketing Mix
The ‘marketing mix is a strategy that a business uses in order to put together a product/service offering for its target market.
A marketing mix strategy is designed using the 4Ps of marketing:
- Price, and
In the case of marketing service, there is 3 more Ps:
- Physical Evidence,
- People, and
The marketing mix concept was originally developed by Neil Bordon. It is called a ‘marketing mix’ to suggest how a marketer mixes several elements (Product, Price, Place, Promotion, etc) in order to give the customer an offering that is relevant to them. The main objective of the marketing mix strategy is to make the right product at the correct price at the right place with the right promotion.
Marketing management and the brand audit
Another tool that is vitally important that marketing managers use, on a regular basis, is the brand audit.
A ‘brand audit’ is a comprehensive analysis that shows the current performance of your brand in comparison to its stated goals. The next step is to look at the wider landscape to see how that performance positions your company in the market.
The way in which companies carry out brand audits will differ depending on industries and individual organizations. Regardless of the exact criteria, you elect to measure, a brand audit should give you the opportunity to:
- Establish how your brand is performing
- Discover what the strengths and weaknesses of your brand are
- Align your brand strategy more closely with your customers’ expectations
- Understand your place in the market as opposed to the competition
Why is marketing management important to business?
The core of any business’s success lies in its marketing methodologies. Marketing management streamlines the activities and functions which are involved in distributing goods and services. Marketing management is important in business as with this skill business can face thriving competition and the requirement for developed distribution strategies to reduce cost and to increase profits. Today, marketing management is the most important function in a commercial and business enterprise.
Here are a couple of reasons why marketing management is so important for business in the current environment:
Introduce new products
For an organization to succeed, the product or service that it offers must be known to potential buyers. If your business is not known to potential customers, and you don’t have any kind of relationship with your customers, then marketing management techniques can assist you with creating brand awareness for your service or product.
Put another way, marketing management is vital for any business because it helps you to:
- Understand what your customers need
- Improve your product and/or service to satisfy customers’ requirements
- Expand to reach new potential customers
- Provide the correct tools at the correct time
- Save company time and money by focusing your resources
Boost your Sales
Marketing management sets the economy in motion. The job of marketing is to match a company’s capabilities with what a customer wants. Once your product, service, or company gets to the place that you expected it to, this increases your chances that consumers purchase from you.
Increase Company Reputation
The major marketing management activities are buying, selling, financing, transport, warehousing, risk-bearing as well as building company reputation. A company’s success rests on a solid reputation. The image of the company is very important because it is the soul of the business. Only marketing strategies can assist any company in order to build a strong reputation by identifying the best opportunities that are worth pursuing in addition to the threats to be avoided.
Source of New Ideas
Marketing management is a dynamic concept. It is responsible for differentiating a company from its competition by recognizing the distinctive benefits and the supporting elements. Marketing management also nourishes an environment for healthy completion in the marketplace. It gives scope for understanding this new demand pattern and improves the effectiveness of the marketing message to customers and partners.
Study Marketing Management with the Digital School of Marketing
Importance of marketing can be studied as follows:
(1) Marketing Helps in Transfer, Exchange and Movement of Goods:
Marketing is very helpful in the transfer, exchange and movement of goods. Goods and services are made available to customers through various intermediaries’ viz., wholesalers and retailers etc. Marketing is helpful to both producers and consumers.
To the former, it tells about the specific needs and preferences of consumers and to the latter about the products that manufacturers can offer. According to Prof. Haney Hansen “Marketing involves the design of the products acceptable to the consumers and the conduct of those activities which facilitate the transfer of ownership between seller and buyer.”
(2) Marketing Is Helpful In Raising And Maintaining The Standard Of Living Of The Community:
Marketing is above all the giving of a standard of living to the community. Paul Mazur states, “Marketing is the delivery of standard of living”. Professor Malcolm McNair has further added that “Marketing is the creation and delivery of standard of living to the society”.
By making available the uninterrupted supply of goods and services to consumers at a reasonable price, marketing has played an important role in raising and maintaining the living standards of the community. The community comprises three classes of people i.e., rich, middle and poor. Everything which is used by these different classes of people is supplied by marketing.
In modern times, with the emergence of the latest marketing techniques, even the poorer sections of society have attained a reasonable level of living standard. This is basically due to large-scale production and lesser prices of commodities and services. Marketing has, in fact, revolutionized and modernized the living standard of people in modern times.
(3) Marketing Creates Employment:
Marketing is a complex mechanism involving many people in one form or the other. The major marketing functions are buying, selling, financing, transport, warehousing, risk-bearing and standardization, etc. In each such function different activities are performed by a large number of individuals and bodies.
Thus, marketing gives employment to many people. It is estimated that about 40% of the total population is directly or indirectly dependent upon marketing. In the modern era of large-scale production and industrialization, the role of marketing has widened.
This enlarged role of marketing has created many employment opportunities for people. Converse, Huegy and Mitchell have rightly pointed out that “In order to have continuous production, there must be continuous marketing, only then employment can be sustained and high level of business activity can be continued”.
(4) Marketing as a Source of Income and Revenue:
The performance of the marketing function is all-important because it is the only way through which the concern could generate revenue or income and bring in profits. Buskirk has pointed out that, “Any activity connected with obtaining income is a marketing action. It is all too easy for the accountant, engineer, etc., to operate under the broad assumption that the Company will realize many dollars in total sales volume.
However, someone must actually go into the marketplace and obtain dollars from society in order to sustain the activities of the company, because without these funds the organization will perish.”
Marketing does provide many opportunities to earn profits in the process of buying and selling the goods, by creating time, place and possession utilities. This income and profit are reinvested in the concern, thereby earning more profits in the future. Marketing should be given the greatest importance since the very survival of the firm depends on the effectiveness of the marketing function.
(5) Marketing Acts as a Basis for Making Decisions:
A businessman is confronted with many problems in the form of what, how, when, how much and for whom to produce? In the past problems were less on account of local markets. There was a direct link between producer and consumer.
In modern times marketing has become a very complex and tedious task. Marketing has emerged as new specialized activity along with production.
As a result, producers are depending largely on the mechanism of marketing, to decide what to produce and sell. With the help of marketing techniques, a producer can regulate his production accordingly.
(6) Marketing Acts as a Source of New Ideas:
The concept of marketing is a dynamic concept. It has changed altogether with the passage of time. Such changes have far-reaching effects on production and distribution. With the rapid change in tastes and preferences of people, marketing has to come up with the same.
Marketing as an instrument of measurement gives scope for understanding this new demand pattern and thereby produce and make available the goods accordingly.
(7) Marketing Is Helpful In Development Of An Economy:
Adam Smith has remarked that “nothing happens in our country until somebody sells something”. Marketing is the kingpin that sets the economy revolving. The marketing organization, more scientifically organized, makes the economy strong and stable, the lesser the stress on the marketing function, the weaker will be the economy.
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When risk mitigation processes are put in place, inclusive business deals are no more risky than other investments – it’s is just a different kind of risk.
Earlier this year, inclusive business pioneers and thought leaders from across Asia came together to share ideas, experience, and knowledge at ADB’s 2nd Inclusive Business Forum for Asia in Manila. The result was four days of lively discussion, collaboration, and questions on the state of inclusive business in the region and where it is heading.
A new report, entitled A Gathering of Pioneers, takes an in-depth look at the key themes discussed and the implications for Asia.
The risk associated with investing in inclusive business as opposed to mainstream business is a common topic amongst those engaged in inclusive business and is often cited as being a major deterrent for investors. The risk was a key topic of discussion at the Forum as well and while investors expressed the need for caution, they agreed that by putting risk mitigation processes in place, inclusive business deals are no more risky than other investments, it is just a different kind of risk.
Jorim Schraven from FMO, the Dutch development bank) admitted that formerly as Chair of the FMO Investment Committee he had ‘looked unfavorably’ at inclusive business deals. Risk, particularly operational risk, tends to cascade through the inclusive business deal. Uncertainty about the base of the pyramid (BoP) consumer behavior underpins operational risk. But the complex structures that create layers of risk in inclusive business deals also help to share and thus mitigate risk.
In the opening session, Lito Camacho from Credit Suisse explained that inclusive business investments can generate as good a return as other deals and it is an advantage that inclusive business deals have risks that are unrelated to other risks that Credit Suisse takes as an institution.
More or less risky?
Why inclusive business may be riskier:
- The business model is unproven. Scalability is unproven.
- BoP market is unfamiliar and information is lacking.
- Multiple players add to the complexity.
- Inclusive business models such as Lifespring Hospitals are asset-light, lack collateral.
Why inclusive business may be less risky:
- It involves multiple stakeholders and disperses risk.
- Understanding the poor reduces risk.
- Takes a long-term view
- Doesn’t just look at quarterly profits.
- Risks are weakly correlated to other investment risks (so maybe counter-cyclical).
A wide range of suggestions for how to clarify and mitigate risk emerged, falling into 3 broad categories:
1. Sharing financial risk
- Financing arrangements that include first loss guarantees and other forms of risk-sharing amongst investors.
- Deal structures such as milestone-based investments, convertible notes, put options, syndications; inclusion of performance payments in the model as incentives.
- Integrating output-based payments and subsidies, tapping into government programs and grants.
2. Tightening the business model to reduce operational risk
- Invest where there is strong demand growth at the BoP.
- Understand the consumer and affordability, and invest in consumer capacity or community development.
- Pay huge attention to cost structures, use technology for scale at low cost.
- Coordinate value chain players to blend skills and build buy-in.
3. Good risk management processes include:
- Due diligence – deploy usual high standards of social, environmental, and ESG risk screening to inclusive business deals.
- Reality check – visit on-site to understand things on the ground and the credibility of the partners.
IFC’s approach combining risk mitigation tools
Since 2005, IFC has invested $12.5 billion in more than 450 companies in 90 countries, reaching more than 250 million beneficiaries to date. A variety of risk mitigation tools are used, including first loss guarantees and incorporation of subsidies, attention to cost structures in the business model, and investing in the BoP consumer base.
For example, in the Manila Water investment, output-based aid was integrated, along with subsidized connection fees for poorer households, reducing the risk for investors. Investment in community development ensured that communities would decide on cost-sharing and police against non-metered water use.
Beneficiaries of the water meters grew successfully from 300,000 to 1.8 million in 2002-2014. First loss guarantees were seen as better than subsidies because they reduce the price of capital but market principles still apply to the business. The costs of structuring deals are high, particularly the first time, due to the discovery process.
Mitigating risk through financing structures and engagement with BoP clients
In an ADB investment in Pakistani dairy supply, it was more important to focus negotiations on how to mitigate risk than on rates of return. DFID agreed to provide a first loss cover of up to 20%. The dairy company agreed to take 10% second loss, ADB and the local bank agreed to cover 70% as a third loss. Due to this structure, it was possible to offer credit to farmers at lower rates (15-20% below MFI rates for a 5-year loan) thus enhancing the social impact and scalability of the business. Arrangements with the dairy farmers further reduce default risk: as they get paid by the dairy weekly, so repayments were arranged weekly. Good repayment performance leads to eligibility for further loans, acting as a further incentive. Finally, support from a veterinary team further reduces non-payment risk.
Another example of careful engagement with consumers to reduce risks came from 8890. In the Philippines, 8890 sells low-cost housing ($9,000 – 20,000). A proactive collection platform focuses on educating consumers, providing financial literacy training, and modifying their behavior. This has led to 96% collection efficiency and exponential growth.
Malik Rashid, a Risk Management Specialist with ADB, emphasized the importance of the risk culture of the investor: “Being able to structure a transaction properly is important. But the willingness to be able to close on a highly structured innovative or unprecedented transaction is determined by the risk culture in your organization.”
This blog is the third in a series by ADB and the Practitioner Hub for Inclusive Business that explores key topics from the forum. Visit the new Inclusive Business in Asia site here, and view all the speaker presentations on the forum pages.
A proper sales and marketing strategy involves more than just running some ads and cold-calling a list of prospects. Developing the right strategy is a process that requires research to discover who your prime sales prospects are, what motivates their purchasing, and how your firm fits in the marketplace. The data your research provides is what will drive your sales and marketing strategy. With the right plan, growth and profitability are predictable and controllable.
Effective sales and marketing requires talent, expertise, effort, and consistency. If that doesn’t exist inside your organization, then it’s important that you find an outside resource that can help you develop and implement your strategy.
Whether your sales and marketing strategy is developed internally or externally, these 5 tips will help ensure that it is both effective and efficient.
5 Tips for Developing Your Sales and Marketing Strategy
1. See your marketplace and prospects as they really are—not how you’d like them to be.
The best strategies take into account the marketplace as it really is, not the way we think it is or wish it were. The same holds true for potential clients—we may think we know what they want, but reality may be quite different. In the absence of objective information, it is too easy to fall into a pattern of wishful thinking.
Your strategy should start by taking an objective look at your target client and the marketplace in which you operate. Don’t make the mistake of focusing at first on the services you offer or what you think your target audience might want. Do the research necessary to understand what your ideal client really wants or needs and tailor your offerings accordingly. Hinge’s own research has revealed firms that do regular research on their target client groups grow faster and are more profitable than those that don’t.
Done correctly, this research will give you a clear idea of client needs and priorities, their buying process, the competitive landscape, how your firm’s brand is perceived, and the real benefits clients receive from working with you. This knowledge can dramatically reduce your risk and lead to a much better strategy.
2. Take a hard look at your own firm: what are your goals and what do you offer of value?
Once you know how your firm measures up in the marketplace, it’s time to take a look at your organization’s internal situation. For example:
- What does your firm want to accomplish?
- What valuable product or service do you have that your target client wants?
- Do you want to add new or different products or services or expand into new markets?
- Are you interested in growth? If so, what kind, and how much?
Answers to questions like these provide the business context for your sales and marketing strategy. They reveal what your strategy will need to accomplish and how it should be evaluated as you implement it. Internal and external research will help ground your plan in reality and make success more likely.
3. Assess your current resources.
The best sales and marketing strategy in the world is useless if you don’t have the resources to successfully execute it. What sort of talent is already on board? What level of training do they have? Do your sellers have the skills and knowledge they need? Does the marketing staff understand the services you offer?
How about tools? Do you have the marketing infrastructure you need to pull off an inbound strategy? How about sales tools such as marketing collateral or case study videos?
We’ve found that answering questions like these will give you real insight into what is both possible and practical. Without this information, strategies are often under-resourced or simply not feasible because they are not based in reality.
4. Settle on a strategy that aligns with your abilities.
After researching your target client and marketplace, determining what you want your strategy to accomplish, and assessing your resources, it’s time to settle on how you’re going to implement your strategy:
- Are you a sole proprietor? If you are, then you’ll most likely employ the “seller-doer” model in which you are the brand—selling your hands-on expertise and its value, while building a personal rapport and trust with the client.
- Does your firm have a dedicated sales staff selling services performed by others who are the experts? If so, the “seller-expert” model aligns better with your business to make your doers visible experts and thought leaders in the marketplace.
- How will you position your firm in the marketplace?
- What are your key messages?
- Will you use inbound or outbound marketing or both?
5. Develop an implementation plan to ensure strategy execution and follow-up.
An effective sales and marketing strategy is a major element of your overall business strategy. It requires a major commitment, which is why, in larger firms, it’s important that senior management fully buy into the strategy. No strategy will be successful without full management support. But with a proper investment of time, money, and effort, your carefully developed and implemented sales and marketing strategy will yield big results.
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Our integrated approach ensures sustainability is at the heart of our operations and aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals. Here are the steps we follow to ensure that we create value on an individual project level.
Sourcing of opportunities
Within our key sectors we identify potential opportunities through a deep-rooted network in developing countries. Our initial assessment focuses on country, investment plan, development impact and our role as financier. Increasingly, we steer our investments towards projects that foster the transition to a more inclusive and greener economy.
Screening of opportunities
If the financing opportunity meets our investment criteria, we continue to analyze potential risks and challenges. To ensure the client complies with anti-money laundering, anti-corruption and anti-terrorist financing regulations, we conduct a Know-Your-Customer assessment. Furthermore, we categorize the project based on its potential effects on environmental, social and human rights conditions, as well as governance structures.
To fully understand the risks and opportunities, we conduct a thorough due-diligence including on-the-ground research through local visits. We visit the client and local stakeholders to discuss the impact of FMO’s financing, their business, and environmental, social and human rights risks. We also analyse the client’s tax practices and policies. Our tax department provides expert advice where needed. If we identify gaps in meeting international standards or policies, we develop an action plan to mitigate and manage any of the identified risks and promote positive development in these areas.
Besides regular meetings and dialogue sessions with our main stakeholders, we also offer the opportunity to provide input to our decisions on new transactions with a high environmental or social risk profile. We disclose the potential investment online to ensure that we have not overlooked any important concerns. From identification to implementation, we consult key stakeholders to properly assess, monitor and manage the impacts of all projects.
For each investment, we have assessed the environmental, social and governance risks, identified where improvements can be made, and established action plans for further development. After internal approval, we sign an agreement with our clients ensuring that our requirements and conditions are legally binding. We disclose our investments on our website after contracting.
Monitoring and value creation
Throughout the lifetime of the investment we monitor our client’s financial performance as well as progress on the environmental, social and governance requirements. We receive annual or more frequent financial reports, conduct (ESG) audits with the help of local consultants and visit them, depending on the nature of the project, every other year. If needed, we support our clients with capacity development and technical assistance to improve their business and identify new opportunities.
What is an Insurance FMO?
Most FMO’s will normally offer services above and beyond insurance products, but the services offered will vary by company.
We will review some of the products and services you should look for, as well as important questions to ask before you start working with an FMO.
Like with any business, having the right support can help supercharge your success.
Do I Need an Insurance FMO to Get Contracted Through a Carrier?
While there are a small handful of carriers that will contract agents directly, the vast majority of name-brand, competitive insurance carriers will require you to work through an FMO to obtain their products.
In general the ability to work directly with the carrier, if available at all, will be challenging as they prefer to contract with agents or agencies that can meet certain profitability objectives.
An FMO can offer contracts to agents that they might not be able to acquire individually. They can do this because of the volume and relationship the FMO has developed with the carriers. This puts an FMO in a unique position to have a quality selection of products to offer agents.
A good FMO will work consistently to get the best contracts with top companies and offer them to agents and agencies of all sizes. They should be a pillar of support, helping you maximize your efforts, and allow you to focus on supercharging your business.
Benefits of Working With An Insurance FMO / IMO:
Earn Top Commissions with Additional Support
Some FMO’s will offer full, vested commissions on your sales. You would not get paid anymore if you were contracted directly through the carrier, even if it were available. In addition to vested commissions, you may find additional benefits with an FMO versus going direct.
What’s the difference between an Independent Agent & Captive Agent
An Independent Agent is not an employee of another agency. They are free to contract with any company they feel is a good fit for their business. They are their own boss, they set their own hours, and choose the products they want to go to market with.
An Independent Agent has more freedom to choose how they do business and will enjoy a higher commission on his contracts.
A Captive Agent works for a company or agency. They are required to take on the products chosen by the company they are employed with. Typically, Captive Agents earn lower commissions than Independent Agents, but receive more support.
Nevertheless, the added support and training they receive will come at the cost of lower commissions.
Regardless of whether you end up contracting as a Captive or Independent Agent, make sure to fully understand the Release Policy of the FMO you choose.
Open Release Policy
Some FMO’s offer an Open Release Policy, meaning:
If at any time you want to part ways with the FMO, you simply ask for a release, stop working with the company, and still retain your book of business.
There are some good FMO’s out there that will offer a straight up release policy with no strings attached. This type of relationship will allow the most flexibility with your business.
This relationship allows agents to operate like a business and not get locked into something that may not be in their best interest.
Other FMO’s offer limited release options, which may not allow an agent to be released easily, or won’t allow an agent to retain their book of business. This means that the business the agent generates while working with a company, should they decide to leave, may belong to the FMO and NOT the agent.
Note! It is essential to be clear on this point before selecting an FMO! Some FMO’s will have strings attached to a release policy that may not be in favor of the agent.
Make sure to ask about their release policy and understand it completely before contracting with any FMO.
Quoting Tools for Insurance Agents
FMOs generally provide agents and brokers access to a CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) approved quoting tool.
This will enable you to quote Medicare Advantage Insurance Plans (Medicare Part C), Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans (Medigap Policies), and Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans.
Ask the FMO if their quoting tool offers full disclosure and is not filtered or hiding carriers from your view. This is important if you want to get a complete view of the market.
CRM Tools for Insurance Agents
FMOs that want to help you compete more effectively will usually offer customer relationship management (CRM) tools.
This software will help you keep track of your client from first contact through enrollment, and offer a calendar and reminder system to ensure you know what you need to do – daily, weekly, and monthly – to help you build your business.
Sell Top Tier Insurance Products
FMOs offer a range of products to help you build the perfect portfolio, ensuring you remain competitive in your market space.
A strong FMO will generally offer agents and brokers with a wide range of product options, including regional and national health plan options from brand name carriers with highly ranked plans.
Insurance Product and Marketplace Certification
Two of the most valuable benefits offered by an FMO are:
Help getting your required annual sales certification (or re-certification) from AHIP (America’s Health Insurance Plans) and Product training for your contracted carriers.
While certification for specific products will be required no matter which FMO you work with, some will offer reduced rates for required AHIP training.
Dedicated Support for Insurance Agents
Experienced support is a must for an insurance agent. A good FMO will have an experienced team with deep industry and product knowledge along with the understanding of being an agent in today’s marketplace.
Many may be or have been agents themselves. The company should assign you to a marketer that will treat you like a business owner and a partner and have your success in mind.
A good FMO knows that they are successful only when the agents they work with are successful.
Room for Your Insurance Business to Grow
Make sure to align yourself with an FMO that will give credit where credit is due. Ensure the company will provide a commission level that will increase as your production increases.
You work hard to grow your business, and an FMO should recognize your efforts with “upper level” contracts for you to grow into.
Important Questions to Ask Before Choosing an Insurance FMO:
- How long has the FMO or IMO been in the insurance business?
- Are you interested in being an Independent Agent or a Captive Agent?
- Will the FMO assign you a specific representative or marketer to deal with?
- Will the FMO pick up the phone or respond promptly to email when you ask for assistance?
- Does the FMO have expedited contracting?
- Does the FMO offer an open release policy?
- Does the FMO offer online tools to help you operate more efficiently?
- Does the FMO provide a variety of product lines (i.e., Medicare, Life Insurance, Supplemental, Dental & Vision, etc.)?
- Does the FMO help to provide reminders for licensing and appointments?
- Does the FMO help with commission and production audits?
- Does the FMO offer any form of lead assistance?
- Is there room for growth in your contracts and commissions?
- Will you be vested from day 1 in your business and commission?
If your potential FMO offers most, or all of the above, ask if any of your associates are already doing business with them. The best reviews come from people currently working with an FMO, who can share their experience and quickly help you determine if it’s a proper fit.
It’s also a good idea to speak with a rep from the FMO to get an idea what kind of support you will receive, and to get a feel for the attitude of the employee.
Try to get an idea of the turnover rate at the company. A good FMO will usually have a core of experienced marketers that have been there for years.
Choosing an Insurance FMO is like choosing a business partner, and having support outside of the insurance carrier is important while building a block of business. It’s important to ensure the FMO will be providing the best products and services for your business.
Even a superhero needs support from time to time. A good FMO can provide that kind of support. Just make sure you do your homework and ensure they have your best interest in mind.
We hope you find the right partner that will help you supercharge your business!
FMO, the Netherlands’ development finance company, is planning to invest $45 million (Rs 322 crore) in Fairfax-backed agri-warehousing firm National Collateral Management Services Pvt. Ltd.
The proposed funding will be used to finance the construction of new steel silos for the storage and preservation of staple food products such as wheat and rice, FMO said in a statement.
The said capital will also improve access to finance for the farmer community, thereby promoting agriculture development as a means of alleviating poverty, the statement added.
Fairfax India Holdings Corporation, which had acquired a 73.56 percent stake in National Collateral for Rs 800 crore ($125 million then) in August 2015, shelled out about Rs 160 crore ($24 million then) to increase its stake to a little over 88% in November that year.
Incorporated in 2004, National Collateral operates in the mid-stream agriculture value chain by offering solutions in grain procurement, testing, storage, and collateral management. It operates a pan-India network of warehouses with more than 1.7 million tonne storage capacity.
The company’s consolidated net sales during 2017-18 stood at Rs 1,220 crore as against Rs 777 crore a year before. Its net profit increased to Rs 35 crore from Rs 30 crore during the period under review, according to VCCEdge, the financial data platform of Mosaic Digital.
The Dutch development bank finances projects through equity and debt instruments in sectors such as agri-business, food and water, energy, and financial institutions in underserved regions. It has been an active investor in India.
Last week, it proposed to invest $5.2 million in fresh-produce distributor Way cool Foods & Products Pvt. Ltd. Late last month, FMO said it would invest $40 million in debt in non-banking finance company Ess Kay Fincorp Ltd. In September, it proposed a 7.50 million euros ($8.29 million) investment in Sahyadri Farmers Producer Co. Ltd.
In August, FMO proposed a $42 million (around Rs 290 crore) investment in social impact investor and asset manager Aavishkaar Venture Management Services Pvt. Ltd; and a $15 million (about Rs 107 crore) investment in the third fund of mid-market private equity firm BanyanTree.
Also in August, it proposed to invest $15 million (Rs 107.4 crore) in the fourth fund of Indian impact investor Lok Capital.
Its other bets include a debt investment of $30 million (Rs 209 crore) in Kolkata-based Srei Equipment Finance Ltd and an investment in Nomisma Mobile Solutions Pvt. Ltd, which owns digital payments and loans platform cash.