Benchmark Business Group

Is Compliance Your Barrier To Marketing?

June 20, 2023

“I would, but compliance…” In the financial services industry compliance is a very real set of rules that need to be followed. However, compliance is also used a scapegoat for not doing or only doing a bit of marketing, because of the hassle of going through compliance.

Compliance can feel like a real barrier when an agency is trying to get their message to the right markets, but it doesn’t need to be a dead end. In fact, it can be really telling of the culture of the agency. It’s a convenient “excuse” because it is very real. There are things you can’t do. And there are grey areas. Which makes it easy to throw your hands in the air and let it become a dead end, rather than becoming an obstacle.

The difference is that an obstacle is something that you acknowledge is there, but find a way forward to get the result you need. You move it. You go around it. You go over it. You go under it. But unlike a dead end, you keep going. When you start to see barriers as dead ends you end up stuck. Which is what we see and hear from many in the financial services industry, especially when it comes to marketing. And while our focus in this insight is marketing, it’s a good reminder that we all let barriers become dead ends. We all need to challenge ourselves to identify and work on said barriers.

So, when it comes to marketing, how can your agency start to see compliance as a barrier and not a dead end?

Learn the rules. Each company is going to have slightly different outlooks on what’s allowed and what’s not allowed. If you want to do more marketing, then you need to understand the rules of the game. Talk to your manager, your regional director, or even the compliance department to get a better understanding of the rules.

Submit something! Often, we hear from agents that they haven’t tried to submit anything to compliance for approval in years, if ever. Instead, they were told it’s difficult. They know someone who tried and didn’t get approval. The general reputation is that compliance approves nothing, yet agents are pleasantly surprised when they do submit an ad or email and it gets approved. Times change. Rules change. If you haven’t tried to submit something recently there’s a chance that you are letting urban myths stand in the way of your agency and success.

Don’t worry about getting told no. You can adjust. You can find another way. Try to see getting a no from compliance as a success. It means that you’re actively trying to move the barrier instead of letting it become a dead end. And if you get a no, find out why. Sometimes it’s a simple change that will allow you to use the marketing material that you want.

Challenge your mindset. Compliance is designed to protect the company, which in its own right protects your agency. And while it can be frustrating, changing the way you approach compliance is a big part of changing how you work with compliance. Pay attention to how you speak about compliance. Do you uphold the company? Or do you put it down? Do you blame them? Or do you see it as being on the same team?

Speak up. Change doesn’t happen by being quiet. If you think changes need to be made start speaking up (in a productive manner). Sure, things won’t change overnight, But, as you gain an understanding of the rules, and you try to get more of your marketing material approved, you’ll have more facts to challenge the status quo.

And remember, while we have used marketing and compliance as an example in this insight, allowing barriers to become dead ends is detrimental to your agency. And often the same insights apply to help you turn a dead end into a barrier that you’ve gotten around. The real question then becomes, “What are your dead ends?”

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