Employee Retirement Plans: Preferences of Employers — Study


Why 91% of Employers Don’t Trust Banks to Manage Employee Retirement Plans



Trust is the No. 1 reason employers choose retirement plan providers for their employees, according to a landmark study of 809 companies across a full spectrum of industries in 2014. You’re not surprised are you?

But for the first time we learn which are the top three providers that companies trust the most, and that only 9 percent of employers trust financial institutions to manage their employees’ retirement plans.

ID-10066412 AmbroThe study, “Plan Sponsor Trust and Confidence Study,” was conducted by the National Association of Retirement Plan Participants (NARPP) with Stanford University.

The research also lists the five factors that erode trust between employers and the retirement plan providers.

“We know that employers are relying on financial institutions as partners in helping secure a financially stable future for their employees,” says NARPP Founder Laurie Rowley.

“For the first time this study provides plan sponsors with sound data and metrics on trust, confidence and accountability among leading retirement plan provider and these measures are critical when evaluating plan providers to partner with,” she adds.

Priorities — why employers pick plan providers

— Trustworthiness

— Participant customer service

— Quality of the customer experience

— Technology

— Education

— Administrative service

— Pricing

The study reveals a great deal of pessimism in about the trustworthiness of financial institutions in general, according to an NARPP press release.

Only one out of 11 employers, or 9 percent, indicate they can “always trust financial institutions to do the right thing for plan sponsors and participants,” says Ms. Rowley.

Factors that build or lead to erosion in trust of providers

— Accountability

— Incidence of problems in service

— Understanding of the employer’s needs

— Values the employer’s business

Sixty-five percent of plan sponsors say they can always trust their providers.

The three most-trusted plan providers

1) T. Rowe Price

2) Vanguard

3) Principal Financial

The study of employers included companies with plan assets ranging from $5 million to $250 million.

NARPP, narpp.org, is a San Francisco-based 501c3 nonprofit organization. The nonprofit says its mission is to provide transparent financial information for the 145 million working Americans saving for retirement.

From the Coach’s Corner, more articles on financial institutions:

Banks Have Credibility Issue with Affluent Women, Study — More than half of wealthy women are frustrated with their banks, according to a study. Here’s why and what can be done about it.

Management — Big Banks Provide Lessons in Succession Planning — Many businesspeople are so focused on operating their businesses, they forget about human capital –their most important asset. Organizations from small to large should strategically make a succession plan.

How Credit Unions, Small Banks Can Compete with Big Banks — Eight strategies for the underdog financial institutions. Moreover, big banks have a major trust gap with the average consumer, according to a study, which has created a marketing opportunity for credit unions and small banks. Years later, 78 percent of Americans still blame the big banks for the financial crisis way back in the Great Recession.

Major Banks Are Too Big to Fail, But Not to Break Them Up — The time has come to break up the big banks. There are 5,000+ banks in the U.S. However, just a dozen of them dominate with 69 percent of the assets in the banking sector. America grew strong as the result of a free-market system.

Security Steps for Your Mobile Device in Online Banking, Purchases — Almost 90 percent of Americans use a cell phone and more than 50 percent have smartphones, according to published reports. They also indicate 28 percent of smartphone owners use their devices for online banking.

“Banks are an almost irresistible attraction for that element of our society which seeks unearned money.”

-J. Edgar Hoover

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy of Ambro at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Critical Essentials to Develop the Best Marketing Formula



There are critical essentials for marketing, which includes the right channels and developing the right message. That includes the right branding slogan and logo.

Unless your targeting upscale consumers, many consumers prefer value marketing — not cute, which doesn’t necessarily mean selling at a lower price than your competitors.

Hyper-consumerism is history. Humor is great, but more importantly, traditional values with a purpose are in vogue. Why? Consumer attitudes are changing.

ID-10061404 AscensionDigitalPlanning

Broadcast advertising is all about frequency, reach and cost per thousand. Internet advertising is concerned about cpm, pay-per-click, pay-per-lead, and cost-per-action.

Yes, despite what you’ve heard about social media, TV, especially TV news, remains the most powerful of mediums. Radio is still strong.

But marketing is not simply creating a radio, TV or Internet advertisement or harnessing social networking tools. Advertising is merely one component of marketing.

Marketing pertains to the big picture. Marketing is the understanding of your target audience for the cost-effective process of selling the right product or service at the right time and at the right price.

It’s a systematic development, coordination and implementation of a myriad of initiatives – proactive events to establish a dialogue – not just a bunch of advertisements.

Orchestrate your message

Make certain to orchestrate and synergize your advertising with public relations, videos, word-of-mouth and social media. Thanks to the Digital Age, consumers are in charge. Set up a dialogue, not a monologue.

For example, if you’re targeting young adults or teenagers, it’s sad to say, but they are getting their “news” from their social media.

Your communication plan should contain timelines. Press kits are helpful, but in this green age, they are not necessary. Regarding relationships with journalists, here’s a hint: Reporters like to deal with experts. So portray yourself as one.

Choose wisely. Insert and distribute effective videos and provide the right motives for people to share. The right content has to be presented in right place.

Follow the trends to see how to get the most attention. For example, Digg.com can be helpful but remember it’s mostly a young audience – big on tech and off-the-wall stories.

Just like reporters, every generation likes experts and stories. Storytelling holds great power for you. So tell a good story, write a good headline, deliver on your promises, and cite outside participants for proof in your claims.

Marketing is the understanding of your target audience for the cost-effective process of selling the right product or service at the right time and at the right price.

Value perceptions

People base their buying-decisions on emotion. Following are strategies with business in-mind, but are applicable to political advertising, too.

Some 18 percent of people, whether blue-collar or white-collar in B2C or B2B situations, buy products and services solely at the cheapest cost they can find (according to my consulting firm’s research since 1992).

Avoid this target and using daily deal advertising, such as Groupon. Such consumers complain the most and they’re not loyal – they return only for cheap deals. Further, an HR concern: Many companies, such as restaurants, find it more difficult to retain their most-talented workers in such an environment. They tire from such customers. Plus, their tips from such customers are much less.

Companies that focus on selling at the lowest price either struggle unnecessarily or worse – they fade away. Companies are advised to target the other 82 percent.

The 82 percent is comprised of the most highly prized prospects – customers who are value conscious – value vis-à-vis cheap. Such customers have “five value-motivating perceptions” – emotionally, how they feel and what they think – that motivate them to buy.

The five value-motivating perceptions stem from emotions:

1. Employees, Spokespersons (52 percent)– What consumers think about a company’s spokesperson and company employees. Key characteristics are integrity, judgment, friendliness and knowledge. But listening skills and empathy are of paramount importance to customers.

About 70 percent of customers will buy elsewhere if they feel they’re being taken for granted – it only takes from one to five bad experiences before customers are gone forever. And customers normally will not volunteer why they switch to a competitor.

2. Image of the organization (15 percent) – Prospective customers prefer to do business with companies that have a good image. Running a green business, cleanliness and signs of good organization are important to them. In addition, cause-related marketing is a big plus in forging a positive image.

3. Quality of Product or Service Utility (13 percent) – The customer is subconsciously and sometimes verbally asking a question similar to this: “What will this do for me?”

4. Convenience (12 percent) – Customers like convenience and accessibility. That includes all experiences such as their ease in navigating the company’s Web site and making a shopping-cart purchase, a happy buying environment at a store, making a telephone inquiry, and convenient bricks-and-mortar locations, and the level of service after they buy.

5. Price (8 percent) – To value-minded customers, price is important, but note it’s the least concern among the five value-motivating perceptions.

Seven marketing elements

Once you understand what motivates the customer to buy, there are seven steps you must take for creating a happy buying environment. Fear is a great motivator. But Americans are tired of negativity and comparison ads. Yes, the marketing process goes a lot easier if you can make buying fun.

For marketing in a downturn or not, every PR or advertising message should – as much as possible – contain these seven elements:

1. FEE. This is an acronym for establishing a common ground for a foundation using the principles of event and empathy. Every purchase is an event in the life of a customer – no matter how big or small.  In a down economy, it also helps to empathize about the average consumer’s budget.

2. Research/focus groups on attitudes. Use tools to get the consumer to think about buying.

3. Agreement on Need. Get the consumer to agree on the need to buy a product or service.

4. Generic Value Proposition or Benefit Statement. Here’s where you explain your value proposition. Remember the difference between features vs. benefits to answer the basic marketing questions, such as the acronym, WIIFM , “What’s in it for me?” or the “So What?” question.

5. Fill Prospect’s Need. Depending on your marketing channel and audience, use more specific benefit statements.

6. Getting a commitment to shop. Ask for the consumer to give you a shot using a non-threatening, closed-ended question.

7. Seal the Deal. This final step has three components –

— When feasible, use the magic words:  “Thank you.”

— Prevent buyer’s remorse – remind your audience of the benefits they’re receiving.

— Look for an opportunity to provide unexpected, perceived added value without hurting your bottom line.

From the Coach’s Corner, more marketing tips:

10 Strategies to Shine and Make Ad Designing a Breeze — Designing simple banner ads without strategic planning no longer suffices. The click rates have declined significantly, especially in B2B. To shine in the clutter of Internet advertising, there are at least 10 tips to keep in mind.

Insights – Why Marketers Should Show Moderation in Digital Communication — Businesses will decrease their chances for customer loyalty and repeat business if they don’t act with more self-control in digital marketing, according to a study. Consumers have become more and more discerning. 

Marketing – Insights for Attracting Millennial Customers — Marketers from fast food to cars are struggling to understand an important demographic – 59 million young adults, aged 23 to 36, according to a published report. Other observers believe there are 80 million Millennials, but in a slightly narrower age group. Either way, companies are obsessed with targeting Millennials for good reasons.

Insights for Exhibiting Success at Trade Shows — Attendees at trade shows would rather chat with marketing and sales staff as opposed to managers. A study released by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) says 56 percent of trade-show visitors prefers meeting with salespeople.

Winning in Branding, Sales – The 6 Key Characteristics of a Logo — One key element for a company’s branding and sales that often gets short shrift is a great logo. Whether you’re an entrepreneur entering a brave new world or an established company needing profits, a great logo helps ensure top-of-mind awareness. A great logo can make the difference between winning and losing in a competitive marketplace.

“Marketing is a contest for people’s attention.”

-Seth Godin

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry. 

Photo courtesy of AscensionDigital at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Google Details its Reasoning for Best Web Site Rankings



The world’s most popular search engine has released detailed information on how it evaluates and ranks Web sites. Released in November 2011, the information is still critical for domain success.

Ordinarily, for proprietary reasons, Google is a bit guarded when discussing its algorithm processes. But a blog post by engineer Matt Cutts was unusually informative. 

It contains 10 points.

It’s fair to say Google has been forthcoming about its search ranking methodology, such as reported previously on this portal in Google insights – 23 key questions about your Web site and Google’s continuing quest to increase page speeds. 

Research companies routinely peg the search engine’s market share at 66 percent or more in the U.S., and higher around the world. 

One wonders whether the new transparency is the result of the FTC probe of Google. My sense is that the FTC Probe isn’t warranted in Google’s business practices.

Google’s dominance has actually improved user experiences on other search engines. It forced Bing, for example, to make enlightened innovations.

From the Coach’s Corner, for Internet success, here are more resource links:

10 Tips to Optimize Your Web Site for Higher Sales — If you haven’t optimized your Web site for sales, you might want to reconsider. There are more and more indications that online shopping will continue to grow. In an article entitled, “Cyber Monday Prep: 10 Tips for Greater Sales,” Website Magazine offered some excellent strategies.

Startup Toolkit – How to Make a Hit on the Internet — First impressions are critical for entrepreneurs. People will buy depending on what they feel about you emotionally. Just like your bricks and mortar location, your Internet presence will be strong if you always remember why people will buy from you. It’s important to tap into the psyche of your prospective customers – there are five value perceptions that motivate customers to buy.

Best Practices to Manage Your Global Brand, Your Web Reputation — As you no doubt know, the digital age has brought new challenges and opportunities. Best practices are critical in order to maximize your Web presence and to manage your online reputation. The key to Internet dominance is to think integration – naturally, the first steps include a quality Web site and synching it with your social media, business listings, inbound links and other elements.

The Key to Internet Dominance: Think Integration — Whether you’re a new or established business, it wasn’t that long ago that a strong Internet presence meant having a great Web site with a top ranking. Partially, that’s still true but the competitive marketplace continues to rapidly change daily, which means the No. 1 objective should be a vibrant, integrated presence.

Checklist to Create Cyber Monday Sales Success — In order to celebrate your Cyber Monday sales, you must first create a happy buying environment. That means reviewing  your store and Web site to attract prospects and to create happy customers. If you’ve prepared your merchandise and cleaned your store, you’re half done in creating happy customers. Your Web site should be updated

“Obviously everyone wants to be successful, but I want to be looked back on as being very innovative, very trusted and ethical and ultimately making a big difference in the world.”

-Sergey Brin

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.