The Universal Strategy For Finding Gold: How To Find Greater Opportunities


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by Michael Lovas

Note: As a hypnotherapist and coach, I know many Universal Laws, but only one Universal Strategy. I use it to help my clients get past problems. I also teach it to them so they can find opportunities on their own. Ironically, most professionals employ the exact opposite of this strategy. This creates a great opportunity for you — if you apply the Universal Strategy. Here it is, in its basic form:

Step one. Look for patterns.
Step two. Look for holes in the patterns.
Step three. Adjust and adapt to take advantage of them.

To help you apply the universal strategy, let me start with a rhetorical question: “When you tell people what you believe, do they believe you?” I suggest that they don’t. Not because you’re morally deficient, but because they’ve already heard it all so many times. Merely announcing your beliefs is like saying you’re number one. Who (outside of Avis) is going to admit to being number two?

Consider this example. American corporations spend millions of dollars to implant their names, logos, and messages into your mind. Their strategy is clear: when you’re in the specific situation that includes their product, you should remember it –if they spent their millions effectively.

How does this relate to you? You’re similar to monolithic corporations in that you want to get your message in front of your target market. What’s the message? Since Enron, the most common message is the company’s values and beliefs.

Isn’t this logical? If you had a $1 million marketing budget, the first thing you’d probably do what those huge corporations do; hire a public relations firm to develop three things for you: your Mission, Vision, and Values Statements.

Those statements serve as the guiding lights for everyone in your organization to follow. When in doubt about why you’re doing something, or how to move forward, just look back at the Mission Vision and Values to point the way to the future. Those statements also say to your target market, “Look at us. We’re different and better. We’re ethics-driven. So, you can trust us.” By the way, this is the essence of Credibility Marketing.

Back to real life, you probably won’t assign $1 million to your next marketing budget. Because both the insurance and financial sides of this industry are rooted in the traditional “captive agent” philosophy, advisors tend to spend very little on marketing. They assume that the broker-dealer or “home office” will pay for this.

Hint — look back at step one. When everyone spends the minimum on marketing, you can score by spending more, or by spending your minimum in a smarter way. This article is about spending it in a smarter way.

Here’s an easier question’ “Do you ever tell people what you believe in?” The answer is “Yes”, whether you like it or not.

From a psychological perspective, whether you intend to or not, you always transmit what you believe through your words and actions. What do you think Richard Nixon’s core beliefs were? He told you through his actions. How do they compare to those of the Dalai Lama? Closer to home, what do your clients think your beliefs are? Do they see you as a “transaction jockey,” always looking for more sales opportunities? Alternatively, do they see you as client-centric – a caring professional who is looking for ways to help them?

Applying the universal strategy to Credibility Marketing creates an opportunity called “Magnetic Marketing”. When I teach Magnetic Marketing, I ask each person in the room to stand and say who they are. “My name is __________ and I __________.” This is when 95% of the audience feels the sting, as they realize that the best they can do is sound like a clone of the person in the next chair. These form the “bottom tier.” The people with defined “elevator pitches” separate themselves easily from the pack and establish the “middle tier.” However, their faces turn south when they hear the other elevator pitches — they all make one of two mistakes. Either they parrot each other with, “I help my client make smart decisions about money,” or they bore each other with long-winded prosaic expostulations of good intentions.

In my experience, it’s rare than anyone answers the “what do you do?” question with a unique statement that can hold anyone’s attention. The point is that it’s better to have anything than to have nothing. However, having something unique to you is a heck of a lot more involved than just following a formula.

That brings us back to the corporations. Let’s look at eight high-profile American corporations and focus on what they say they believe in. This is a game I call: “Name that Corporation!” You’re the contestant. I’ll give you the language these corporations use to tell people what they stand for, what they believe in, their ethics and values. Your job is to naaaame that corporation! Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Here we go:

Disclaimer: I chose these corporations because of their success in creating a high profile. The information cited here is readily available on the Internet, mostly on each company’s Web site. I did NOT intend to poke fun at or ridicule any of these companies. My firm has worked for five of the eight.

Corporation Number One:

“The company’s overarching objective is to create long-term, sustainable shareholder value. We remain committed to the business strategies that have delivered results for decades: investment discipline, operational excellence, development and application of state-of-the-art technology, and maintenance of the highest standards of ethics and business integrity.

“The policy of Company Number One is one of strict observance of all laws applicable to its business. The Corporation’s policy does not stop there. Even where the law is permissive, the Corporation chooses the course of the highest integrity. Local customs, traditions, and mores differ from place to place, and this must be recognized. However, honesty is not subject to criticism in any culture. Shades of dishonesty simply invite demoralizing and reprehensible judgments. A well-founded reputation for scrupulous dealing is itself a priceless company asset.

Corporation Number Two:

“Our priorities are that we want to dominate North America first, then South America, and then Asia and then Europe,” (This is a recent quote by the Company’s President and CEO to USA Today business reporter Lorrie Grant)

Company Number Three:

“In all of our businesses, our aim is to build lasting relationships with our customers in the U.S. and around the world. To meet this goal, we must be worthy of their trust in our ability to help them achieve financial security, and we must remain ethical in all aspects of our business relationships-both internal and external. (A statement by the Company’s Chairman and CEO.

“Doing the right thing for the right reasons should be the hallmark of how we conduct business with the public, our customers, and our associates.” (A quote from the company’s Enterprise Ethics Office.)

Company Number Four:

“We believe it’s in the interest of our shareholders, our customers, and our employees that we maintain a highly acceptable public image supporting a progressively profitable company. Honesty, integrity, and fairness in dealings must and will be absolute and an integral basis of our total philosophy.”

Company Number Five:

“Our Vision is to be the preeminent financial management and advisory company in the world. It is a drive firmly rooted in the things we value most: our intelligence, our principles and our optimism.

“No one’s personal bottom line is more important than the reputation of our company. At Company Five, our goal is to:

  • exemplify the highest standards of personal and professional ethics in all aspects of our business;
  • be honest and open at all times;
  • stand up for one’s convictions, as well as accepting responsibility for one’s own mistakes;
  • comply full with the letter and spirit of the laws, rules, and practices that govern Company Five around the world; and
  • demonstrate consistency between one’s words and actions.”

Company Number Six:

“We strive to be known as a company with the highest standards of moral and ethical conduct-working to earn client trust, day in and day out. Our word is our bond. We’re an organization people can trust - doing what we say and reporting results with accuracy and objectivity.”

Company Number Seven:

“Our mission is to enable people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential. The tenets central to accomplishing our mission stem from our core company values:

  • connecting with customers, understanding their needs, and providing value through information and support to help them realize their potential;
  • excellence in everything we do to deepen customer trust through the quality of our products and services, our responsiveness and accountability, and our predictability in everything we do.
  • great people with great values. Delivering on our mission requires great people who are bright, creative, energetic and share these values:
    • integrity and honesty;
    • passion for customers, partners, and technology;
    • open and respectful with others – and dedicated to making them better;
    • willingness to take on big challenges and seeing them through;
    • self-critical, questioning, and committed to personal excellence and self-improvement; and
    • accountable for commitments, results, and quality to customers, shareholders, partners, and employees.

Company Number Eight:

“The following are the eight principles define Company Eight, as articulated by the CEO in an article published by the Center for Ethical Business Cultures

1. strong consumer and customer focus;
2. strong results orientation and personal accountability;
3. restless innovative style;
4. empowered teams;
5. value-added financial excellence;
6. avoidance of bureaucracy;
7. value diversity; and
8. community involvement.

(You’ll find the answers at the end of this article)*

What do you notice about these statements? With the exception of number Two, didn’t they all sound similar? You have to wonder if the companies developed their language and statements without seeing if other firms said pretty much the same thing. Or perhaps they did investigate other companies, but decided to take the conservative path and sound similar. More than likely, they simply expressed the values and principles they either have or aspire to have. We can’t fault them for that, can we?

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter why they published similar values. What does matter (to you) is this: with unlimited budgets, most of the largest corporations say the same things. My research shows that these firms are not isolated. After the Enron scandal, corporations are broadcasting their values and beliefs more than ever. So are financial and insurance advisors.

Check out the pattern Look around you at the economic environment of your community. Listen to what other advisors and agents say in public. Do you say the same things they say? Even if your values and beliefs match those of everyone else in the community, why would you announce them? By doing so, you’re announcing that you’re a clone of everyone else. Don’t go there!

A universal strategy helps you find something different and better — a new opportunity that few (if any) people are using: Magnetic Marketing. The goal of Magnetic Marketing is to present yourself to your “A-level” target market as being honestly, actually and truly different and better than everyone else to. If you’re not doing this, you’re doing the opposite — showing that you’re similar to and no better than anyone else. This is a Universal Law.

Your next step? If the vast majority of insurance and financial services advisors – like giant corporations – are describing themselves in the same way, take advantage of this opportunity by adjusting and adapting. Think of yourself as a roving linebacker facing a quarterback who’s telegraphing where he’s throwing the next pass.

How can you take advantage of the situation? Ask yourself what your “A-level” clients want to see from you/ I’ll tell you how to do this in future articles.

In the meantime, watch what you do and listen to what you say. You might find that you look and sound like someone else.


1. ExxonMobil
2. Wal-Mart
3. Prudential Financial
4. Avis Europe
5. Merrill Lynch
6. Citigroup
7. Microsoft
8. Pillsbury

Michael Lovas is president of AboutPeople (Colbert, WA), a firm that uses Psychological Language Patterns to develop marketing programs. A Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, he teaches financial advisors how to use common-sense psychology to help build trust with A-level target markets. Michael has written twelve books, mainly on professional communication in the financial industry He also holds the distinction of creating “Credibility Marketing” in 1991. For more information, call (509) 465-5599, e-mail [email protected], or visit

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