Good marketing alone won’t save a bad business, but I’ve never yet see a business truly succeed without it. As someone who’s spent their career in marketing, I’ve dealt with a wide range of business; from large to small, wildly successful, to “now closed”. Every industry has unique challenges, but sound marketing practices apply equally across the spectrum.
In working with independent agencies I’ve observed some of the best and worst examples of the application of those marketing practices. On the plus side, most agencies (and agents) understand the power of personal. While a lot of large businesses, some well-known, are just now giving lip-service to the concept of developing personal relationships with their customers, it is second nature to those in the insurance industry. You do know your customers, you really know your customers. Unlike your mega-online competitors, not only do you know them, you allow them to know you as well.
No matter what the gurus point to as the “next big thing” in marketing, that one-on-one foundation is what has been, is, and will continue to be your strongest marketing advantage. So all tips to follow are based on helping you leverage what you already do so well.
But in order to maximize your already-existing advantage, it will benefit you to take a hard look at some of the accepted “wisdom” that exists in the collective insurance agent psyche:
ONE: My carriers’ marketing resources will do the job for me.
That’s fine if you think that your only value is to be the front-line for your carrier. However, if you believe that you bring value to your client, then it’s time to break free of the shackles, and learn to position yourself as more than the conduit between the carrier and the contract with the insured.
As an agency, that means building a brand that communicates who you are to them. It’s not your logo and tag line, although those should reflect your brand. It’s the essence of what you are about, and how you want to be perceived. At its heart, how you would like someone to describe your agency to someone else?
And if you can verbalize that description, you can then verbalize to everyone at your agency, so that they understand how you collectively want to be perceived in your market. A good exercise is to develop a description of your agency that wouldn’t work if you just inserted a competitor’s name in its place.
Caveat: Take advantage of your carrier’s resources. Does this seem a contradiction? It’s not meant to be. Your relationships with your carriers are important on all sides. I’m just saying that you don’t want to just rely on the carriers to develop your brand, but when you have identified what that brand should be, take full advantage of the many tools and resources that your carriers provide to help you communicate and promote that brand. Customize, customize, customize.
TWO: I don’t need to know digital.
In spite of their significant assets, unfortunately not even the smaller to medium-size carriers have progressed too far down the digital path yet. They tend to focus on print pieces, which are unwieldy, and expensive to print and mail.
The entire industry is woefully behind the curve in this area, and it is up to you, at the agency level, to fend for yourself. I know you’re looking right, and then left, then maybe under your desk to see who in your agency might be that digital guru I speak of, and where they might be hiding. Sorry, but it’s got to be you. Agency owners need to harness the power of digital to directly (and inexpensively) communicate with your market.
You need to have great digital content, and that content needs to have a good home: your website. Many agency websites are hopelessly out-of-date, or in many cases, built on industry cookie-cutter platforms that continue the perception that you’re all the same.
And while it’s OK to use some carrier, or vendor-supplied content, it needs to be blended with your personal content to put your own spin on things. Just like people have personalities, your agency needs one too.
THREE: I don’t have time or the ability.
Listen, you sell insurance. If you’ve figured out how to do that successfully you absolutely can figure this stuff out. And yes, you’re already busy, but putting time on your calendar to craft your brand, then to develop a plan for implementation is in your power, and will ultimately lead to more efficient use of your time. With a good plan in place, you will need to spend less time chasing down every prospect individually so that you can put your valuable personal communication skills to work with more prospects who already want to do business with you.