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Marketing Strategies for Maximum Agency Visibility

Posted By Denny Jacob, Wednesday, February 13, 2019

from PropertyCasualty360.com

Many independent insurance agencies are small businesses. Their owners spend most of their time simply managing day-to-day operations. But even larger agencies with more resources can be so focused on making sales that they forget about marketing themselves. Although marketing and sales are linked, and both are used to increase an agency’s revenue, marketing is more about helping prospects find you. It also offers the opportunity to let your current clients know more about you and the products you offer generally.

When independent insurance agencies want to increase their brand awareness, they must adopt methods of communication that clients are engaging with today. This means embracing a digital presence and diving into the world of social media. Gone are the days when all you had to do was advertise in the Yellow Pages or local newspapers. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, among other social media sites, are where customers are currently getting most — if not all — of their information. On those platforms, independent insurance agencies can engage with more clients at a greater speed than ever before while also highlighting the work they do and why clients need to consider their business.

“The agent has to accept that the digital presence has to become their primary focus in terms of their marketing because that’s the way people are communicating. It’s all about what medium people are using to communicate,” says Doug Coombs, chief marketing officer at SIAA, the Strategic Insurance Agency Alliance, a national alliance consisting of approximately 13% of all independent insurance agencies in the U.S.

Creating a digital footprint

Even though a digital presence is a must, independent insurance agencies should understand that social media is only part of the equation. A complete digital footprint involves having an active website and using the power of search engine optimization, often called “SEO.”

Social media may seem like a bit of a hamster wheel as the energy and effort required to gain traction must be constant. Simply having an account on the platforms clients are using isn’t enough. Your clients expect to find up-to-date content that’s oriented around insurance and personal matters. “There’s always a danger of agents feeling that they have to do social media without thinking about whether it’s really going to help their business, doing it badly with generic posts, or not updating it regularly,” says James Dumelow, group head of marketing and communications for Ascot Group. He notes that maintaining social media is quite labor intensive, and if you’re trying to run a lean marketing team, then you have to be conscious of resources. He finds this is particularly important in specialist property & casualty insurance.

This may seem like a daunting task to agencies that aren’t experienced at working with social platforms, but it’s worth noting that the message hasn’t changed with social media — just the way it’s conveyed has changed. Clients are still looking for a connection with agents, so your posts on topics outside of insurance — for example, your family or hobbies or those of agency staff — can add a level of authenticity that may determine whether a client is swayed into your business or not.

“At the end of the day, it’s still one agent, one policy, one customer,” says Joey Giangola, a managing editor at Agency Nation, a digital marketing site. He also operates in a reduced role at Giangola Insurance, a small family agency his grandfather founded in 1955. “My marketing plan in any form is to provide the best information that’s relevant to people looking for it in the mediums and channels in which they’re searching for it,” he explains.

Giangola primarily focuses on reaching his potential clients through video. He uploaded his first YouTube video on July 1, 2011, and notes that YouTube is becoming more valuable each year. “People keep finding the videos. We’re in a face-to-face business, and there’s no better way to translate to digital than by putting yourself on video,” he adds.

Leveraging community events

“A lot of agents think that because they’re going digital, that means they aren’t local anymore. Nothing could be further from the truth than that,” Coombs explains. But they need to look at how their brand ties into the local community.

Social media doesn’t just provide independent insurance agencies a chance to sell. It’s a way to show how embedded they are in their local networks. The success that independent agencies attain is tied to the trust that clients have in them. When an unforeseen event occurs, clients trust that their agent will be by their side throughout the process. By maintaining a local focus, agents can showcase that they understand the needs and wants of business owners and households in their community while also marketing their professional expertise.

“We find that community events are a phenomenal way for agents to show up in an authentic way in their communities. They can also be a really rich source of content as they think about ways to highlight their agencies through social and digital,” says Denny Ehrmin, associate vice president, regional marketing for Nationwide. The company is in the midst of transitioning from “captive” agents to an entirely independent agency distribution model by July 2020 and is focused on providing marketing to support to its agents throughout the transition.

“We know that one of our agents’ biggest challenges is to stay relevant in a world that has a lot of distractions,” Ehrmin adds. Whether providing coverage for community events or simply being involved in the festivities, agents should talk about their role in their communities on social media. In fact, potential clients expect to see posts related to the matter when they look you up. This may result in a “like” or a “follow” — and ultimately a new client.

For agents who feel they lack a strong marketing presence, there are a number of marketing automation platforms that can teach them the basics and lay a foundation for 2019 and beyond. Aside from overhauling the agent’s marketing approach, these platforms measure an agency’s marketing success with traffic reports that show metrics relating to total page visits, channel-specific traffic and more.

The end goal is for you to know which people are visiting your site, where they’re coming from and what else is factoring into your marketing success.

What makes the phone ring

Many agencies are evolving their marketing strategies with a digital mindset at the core, but the three areas in which an agency can create a marketing message hasn’t changed, says Keith Savino, managing partner at Broadfield Group LLC. Savino is an insurance veteran of 30 years with a background in technology and advertising: “I learned a lot about what makes people’s phones ring,” he says. “The decades can change and the media can change, but it still comes down to a couple of things.” A marketing message can be crafted through a call for an immediate response, ambiguous advertising and generic repetition — the strategy a majority of agencies have relied on in the past. Agencies that continue to rely on such methods in today’s digital marketplace will find it nearly impossible to stand out among their competitors, he observes.

“The challenge for independent agents is how do you embed yourself in a marketplace where you have brand awareness, where you’re the go-to people, but then add some sort of call to action and add a sense of urgency?” says Savino.

Robert Klinger, president of Klinger Insurance Group, got heavily into social media two years ago, starting with LinkedIn. Last year, his firm made close to $1 million profit with a presence on LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. “We run ads on Instagram related to collectibles like sports memorabilia, fine arts and jewelry,” he explains. This builds a following in a particular category, which builds your brand, which helps people to think about you when they want to insure that collectible.

Although social media offers a chance to be seen, not much else is guaranteed. The power that digital platforms provide can’t be understated, but they’re only a means to an end. In 2019 and beyond, independent agencies and agents will have to stand up, stand out and tell their stories. At the end of the day, Savino says, “Sales is about revenue, and marketing is about engagement.”

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Add More Personality to Your Marketing

Posted By Greg Rollett, Wednesday, December 5, 2018

from PropertyCasualty360.com

As an advisor, being better isn’t always better. Especially if your clients don’t understand what “better” is going to do for them in a complex financial world. New York Times bestselling author Sally Hogshead says that being different is actually better than being better.

In a world where every advisor is using the same marketing strategies and tactics, copying each other’s processes and many times selling the same products with different wrappers, how can you stand out and be seen as different in the eyes of your potential clients?

You use the one thing that is truly different and unique to you — your personality. You’ve probably heard this a million times by now. There’s the cliche sayings that “people buy people” and we do business with people we “know, like and trust.” These things sound great, but how do you actually showcase your personality in your marketing? How do you let your clients get to know you, without sharing too much, getting in hot water with compliance or just stating more facts, numbers and graphs in your content?

The first thing you need to do is to get out and in front of your marketplace. Show your face. Let them see you and not some stock photos your web designer found and threw together for your homepage.

Another way to get out and in front of your marketplace and showcase more of your personality is through video. When you are talking to a camera, in the same way you would talk to a client, they get to see you. They see the way you act, the passion in your eyes and you get to instantly bond with anyone who is watching.

Here are four simple ways you can add more personality into your marketing and your videos to stand above and apart from everyone else in your market.

1. Tell more real-life stories.

We know that facts tell and stories sell, but how do you come up with great stories to share in your marketing and in your videos? The easiest way is to go and dig out the stories that are occurring in your everyday life. Here’s how you do that. Pull out your calendar and look at the last 30 days. Look at all your client meetings, events you have attended, things you have done and people you have helped. Start listing out all the stories that came from these events. These are the stories you want to tell. Why? Because your prospects are likely going through similar situations. They have similar concerns. Telling these stories let’s them know that they are in the right place and that you are the right person to help them.

2. Have fun with costumes and props.

One of our clients came to us and said that in his seminars and events with clients he likes to act like a football referee and pull out penalty flags for all the things people are doing wrong. He does it in a way that is very funny and engaging and his clients love it. When we filmed a series of videos for him, I made him bring the referee costume with him and we had a lot of fun filming him as the referee, blowing his whistle and pulling out the penalty flags. (link to video if you want to link to one of them. Another client is a huge baseball fan and loves to wear his Cubs jersey while giving baseball references and analogies to explain complex financial issues. The idea here is to have fun and bring out your personality by dressing for the part.

3. It’s OK to be weird and talk about your hobbies.

Here’s a dirty little secret: We are all a little weird and have weird hobbies that we enjoy. For me that means reading comic books, training for American Ninja Warrior and practicing archery on the weekends. Now in my own videos I always reference these things, whether I conquered another obstacle or I share an adventure shooting at targets with a recurve bow. When you do this a funny thing happens: People start asking you about these things. They chime in with tips and advice. I even had a client invite me up to his ranch to go hunting and use his bows this winter. Don’t hide the things that make you unique, use them as strengths to bond with people that are just like you.

4. Find points of affinity.

My mentor Dan Kennedy always told me that marketing is meant to do one of two things: either attract people toward you or repel people away from you. I like to focus on attraction and I find that the more I share common points of affinity, the more I bring the right people around me. Affinity points could be things like:

  • Coming from a big family, or being an only child.
  • Being an alumni from a certain school or a common teacher (especially if you are in a small town).
  • Being a member of the military.
  • Being a dog lover (or a cat lover).
  • Eating a certain diet (vegans connect well with other vegans, so do people who like grilling out or the current trend of being on a Keto diet).
  • Being from a certain small town or a big city.

What you are looking for here are things that you, and your perfect prospect, will have in common and then talk about it in your videos and your marketing.

These are just four simple ways to add more personality into your marketing. Everything that you create and share — from an email or newsletter to a blog post to a video — should have an element of you in it. Otherwise you will look and sound just like everyone else. What are you going to do to stand apart?

Tags:  agency  insurance  marketing  PIAK 

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Become a Local Celeb

Posted By Chris Radford, Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Raise Your Profile in the Marketplace

from PropertyCasualty360.com

Independent insurance agents and financial advisors, like all entrepreneurs, can’t grow their businesses if no one knows about them.

In order to attract new clients, and reinforce the value they provide for existing clients, advisors need to take the time to brand themselves in their local communities, in order to capitalize on their knowledge, insight and experience. Establishing a personal brand requires an ongoing effort to remain a relevant local — and even regional — voice on insurance and other financial matters.

Some advisors may feel uncomfortable with the idea of “becoming a celebrity.” But raising your professional profile in your marketplace doesn’t involve being featured on TMZ or the front pages of supermarket tabloids. It only involves making yourself someone who community members associate with valuable, insightful insurance advice and guidance.
Below are several tips for establishing and building a brand as a respected financial professional:

1. Launch a regular financial program on TV, radio and/or social media.

When people see someone speaking confidently in the media, that person’s credibility generally receives an instant boost. To begin positioning themselves as the go-to local advisor on financial and money matters, advisors can host weekly or monthly shows on TV or radio stations within their markets.

Half-hour or hour-long programs discussing risk management and a variety of other topics related to finance and insurance are ideal platforms for advisors to present themselves as experienced financial authorities to a broad audience in their marketplaces. Furthermore, if you post these programs to social media, you can expand your audience and even attract attention from financial journalists at regional and national outlets.

Agents can also take the initiative to start and promote their own weekly or monthly podcast discussing financial and insurance issues.

2. Support local community initiatives and sports teams.

Independent advisors serve a vital role in helping individuals and families in their communities pursue their long-term financial and personal goals. To reinforce the value they provide, advisors need to demonstrate to existing and prospective clients that they have strong ties to their communities.

As local business owners, advisors can proactively contribute by serving on boards of local organizations. By sharing your expertise in this manner, you are opening yourself up to a wide variety of referral opportunities and showing your clients and prospects you are committed to the community you serve.

Another way to support your local community is by sponsoring Little League or other sports teams, as well as philanthropic community events such as charity galas and auctions. These sponsorships not only help others and reinforce your community ties, but also keep your practice name in the spotlight.

If people in your community have questions or concerns related to business risk management, auto insurance, cybersecurity and other areas, you ideally want them to think of you as someone to call. Seeing your name or your firm’s name around town, associated with organizations and events that bring the community together and improve quality of life, helps make people more likely to consider contacting you about financial matters.

3. Hold informational seminars.

Partnering with a local restaurant to host informational seminars is a great way for an advisor to demonstrate their expertise for members of their community. Offering seminars where people can receive dinner/drinks while learning about financial topics which are important to them — such as “How to protect your business from cyber risks’ college tuition,” or “How flood insurance may protect you and your family” — enable residents throughout your community to hear directly from you in an informal, stress-free setting. They also have the opportunity to meet you and, crucially, hear the value-added responses you can provide using your experience.

If these seminars are held with some level of frequency and are advertised extensively, independent advisors can build their firms’ brand recognition in their communities. To ensure people who attend the seminars will continue to recall your firm, give out cards with information about where they can contact you, and follow you on social media and receive regular market insights and commentary.

Positioning yourself as a local celebrity is a branding and marketing strategy that is designed to reinforce your knowledge, experience and value proposition. Insurance and financial professionals are ultimately responsible for how these strategies are implemented — and that includes making sure the strategies align with the compliance requirements of any affiliated insurance carriers they represent, as well as federal regulations and state insurance regulations.

But one thing is for sure — independent advisors can’t afford to be “the best kept secret” if they want to grow and remain profitable. Taking steps to become insurance celebrities in their local communities can help advisors position themselves and their practices for ongoing growth and profitability.

Tags:  insurance agency  marketing  PR 

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The Top 5 Excuses for Not Getting the Whole Agency Involved in Marketing

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, August 29, 2018

from AgencyPerformancePartners.com

“Excuses excuses!” It’s not just a song by The Kingsmen or what my father used to say exasperatedly when I failed to do my chores. It’s also what rings in my head when I hear people giving me all of the reasons why they can’t do something!

One of the areas where people are quick to offer up excuses is assisting in marketing efforts. We often say that “everyone is in sales”. However, we should also be saying that “everyone is in marketing” as well! Most successful agencies have a strong marketing plan. Most successful marketing plans have a strong content development strategy. And most successful content development strategies involve contributions from everyone in the agency.

Excuse #1: Too Busy

For the Constant Reader (stolen from Stephen King) of our blogs, this one is the most predictable on this list. In fact, any list of excuses should just assume that this one is at the top. I’ll give the short argument to this to spare you the full sermon. At the end of the day, we should be focusing on the tasks that drive the desired results. If marketing is a priority, you need to figure out how to re-prioritize your day to include your marketing efforts.

Excuse #2: Content Creation is Too Hard

Bull! Somewhere in the last 10 years as blogging and digital marketing has become more prevalent, someone in our industry came up with the excuse that content creation is too hard and now it’s become an accepted excuse. The truth is content creation is as easy as answering every question received by your client facing staff. “I was in a car accident, what do I do?” “How do I determine the limit that I need on a condo policy?” “What is an Experience Modification Rate and how does it affect my workers’ comp premium?” Literally every question your team gets can be a blog. This means that your service and salespeople are also your best resources for content!

Excuse #3: Marketing in 2018 is Too Overwhelming or Confusing

I’m not going to lie, marketing in 2018 is not the same as it was 20 (or even 10) years ago. However, it is more important now than it has ever been and nothing worth doing is easy. You don’t have to start out at an advanced level, but you do have to start out. If you don’t start today, it is just going to get harder to start tomorrow.

Identify one thing (blogging) that you are going to do to get started. Create a content strategy and a plan and start it immediately. Once you are comfortable with that, identify another area. There are many sources (including our AppX Marketing training program!) that can be used to help kick start your marketing efforts.

Excuse #4: It’s Too Expensive

This one can also be titled, We Don’t Have Funds in the Budget. I’m not even going to go too cliche here (You have to spend money to make money – fine I did it!). There are definitely some areas where marketing can be expensive (GEICO spends well over $1 Billion a year!). But there are a lot of more reasonable spends that can easily be justified with an ROI calculator. Boosting posts, some light paid advertising on social media, custom website, and spending on email and sales systems are all lower cost efforts. And there are a ton of “free” (read: human capital only) ways to create content and market online including simple social media posts and blogging are amongst the most effective ways to improve your SEO and they don’t cost a dime!

Excuse #5: We Don’t Know Who Should Be Responsible

In agencies that do not have a person or department responsible for marketing, there is often no one that owns it. When your job description and responsibilities have you focused in another area, it can be difficult to change gears into a marketing role that isn’t even your responsibility. To overcome this excuse, we really need to give someone ownership of the role. This includes identifying the person as well as updating their job description to include the responsibilities. Additionally, like all good job descriptions, the marketing goals should be clearly spelled out and there has to be a way to hold the person accountable if the job is not performed well. There should also be an incentive to perform well whether this is simply acknowledgement that they are hitting their goals in quarterly and annual reviews or an actual financial incentive based on hitting or surpassing goals.

As always, remember that an excuse is just describing the problem again and again. If you find yourself consistently describing the reasons why you aren’t involving everyone at the agency in your marketing efforts, start to think about solutions to turn your excuses into solvable problems.

Tags:  employees  insurance agency  marketing  team 

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The 4 Elements of "Brand Voice" in Insurance

Posted By Rick Fox, Wednesday, June 27, 2018

from PropertyCasualty360.com

Insurance agents and brokers are just like any other business when it comes to working with their brand. They need to define it, capture it and express it well in order to communicate the right message to prospects and clients. It is one of the most crucial things agents or brokers can do to grow their business.

The way that your brand is expressed through your marketing and advertising can be referred to as your “brand voice.” There are four important elements to consider when defining your agency’s voice.

No. 1: Character

The character of a brand’s voice is the way that its voice is represented. It’s the focal point of the brand’s relationship with its audience. A brand character can be more conceptual or it can be embodied in an individual or spokesperson.

For many insurance agents or brokers and other professional service providers, their brand character is just a representation of themselves. Because a service offering is so wrapped up in the individual who executes it, it makes sense for an audience to interact directly with the agent’s public persona.

Character is made up of two distinct elements: character appearance and character personality. The images and pictures agents and brokers use in their marketing serve as the visual representation of their brand. Professional headshots, appropriate attire, and even friendly facial expressions can go a long way to creating an inviting character.

Those who choose to let their company exist as an entity without using their own likeness as a representation face the same challenges as those who act as their own spokesperson. A logo can be imbued with as much personality as a picture of a human being. It is all about creating a clear set of attributes that can be expressed in the other elements of brand voice.

No. 2: Purpose

Once a character is defined, it becomes crucial that an audience understand the goals and aims of that character, and, in turn, the company it represents. This is where a brand purpose comes in. Often a company will take time to establish its purpose through a mission statement that encapsulates a brand’s values, unique value and primary benefits. This mission statement can then be used to inform the brand voice by providing editorial direction for topics that are important to the brand.

Communicating your purpose is the primary goal of your brand character. When a purpose is communicated clearly it will act as a magnet attracting the ideal clients whose goals align with that purpose. Thus, the goal of every new iteration of brand expression becomes expressing purpose in some way or another.

No. 3: Tone

Tone is the situational expression of a brand. It can change from situation to situation and from subject to subject but it is always some version of the overall voice. Tone is expressed through the positions you take on different matters as well as the volume and insistence of your communication.

When considering tone there are several situations in which an agency or brokerage can expect the need for communication to arise: the sales process, troubleshooting, apologies and financial transactions. By determining the tone that’s most appropriate for each situation a brand can begin to build out its voice from the collective sum of all the different tones used.

No. 4: Language

A big part of brand voice is the language that it uses to express itself. It defines the purpose, illustrates the character and sets the tone. There are many questions to answer when considering what type of language to use in your marketing. How these questions are answered is the process by which the rest of the brand voice elements are defined.

One aspect of a brand’s language is how formal it is. Insurance agents and brokers will often lean towards more formal language. This can be expressed with slightly longer and more complex sentences, the inclusion of more industry terms and buzzwords, as well as a longer, more complex vocabulary.

This can go a long way to establishing expertise, but the risk with overly formal language is alienating an audience. It’s more difficult to feel a personal connection with language meant to demonstrate knowledge. As with the other elements of brand voice, there is a tightrope act between presenting a polished persona and allowing the audience to connect with the more human side of the company.

Define parameters

When considering the voice of your brand you should focus on each of the different elements and define the parameters in which your brand will operate. One powerful technique is to phrase things in a “we are, we are not” paradigm. By establishing the type of character, purpose, tone and language with which their brand will and will not be associated insurance agents and brokers can begin to put finite edges on their brand voice, which can be an elusive and difficult to communicate concept. It’s worth spending time with this exercise as a cohesive voice will not only attract an agent or broker’s ideal clients, but will also act as a catalyst to continued engagement from existing clients.

How you say it

When it comes to defining the elements of a brand, discovering the brand’s voice is one of the most difficult hurdles to overcome — and tone is one of the most important attributes.

In Mailchimp’s brand guide, the company has this to say about tone:

“What’s the difference between voice and tone? Think of it this way: You have the same voice all the time, but your tone changes. You might use one tone when you’re out to dinner with your closest friends and a different tone when you’re in a meeting with your boss. The same is true for MailChimp. Our voice doesn’t change much from day to day, but our tone changes all the time.”

Tags:  agency  brand  branding  insurance  marketing 

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Insurance Marketing

Posted By Jeremy Nason, Tuesday, May 29, 2018

It's Not About Piling Up Strangers' Email Addresses

from PropertyCasualty360.com

Your success in business is ultimately determined by your ability and willingness to market yourself and your services to your ideal prospects.

Not just any prospects, but the ideal ones.

So, who are your ideal prospects?

Your ideal prospects are the people with whom you have the best chance of setting appointments and closing sales. You must know exactly who your ideal prospects are. You need to know more than just the demographics, such as age and income level. You need to know why they’re struggling, what they most want in the world, what their values are, etc.

You need to be able to connect with them on a deep emotional level. To do that, you need to get the right message to the right people at the right time.

  1. The right message: Having the right message is really about you deciding what specific problem you are going to specialize in solving for people, to attract them to you. If your prospects don’t see that they have a problem, and understand how you can help them, is there any reason for them to take their precious time to meet with you, let alone to buy from you? (And the reason will not be about your hot new products, the lowest premiums, the highest investment returns, a slick new sales idea, the companies you represent, or your credentials.)
  2. The right people: Getting the right message to “the right people” is about sending your special message to your ideal prospects. These are the people who need and will benefit the most from your services, can be seen on a favorable basis, and have the ability to pay for your services?
  3. The right time: Getting the right message to the right people “at the right time” is about making sure your ideal prospects see your message when they are ready and able to take action. People buy when they are ready to buy, not when you are ready to sell. So, if you want to sell to them you must be constantly in touch with your best prospects, so you are there when they are ready to buy.

Next, you have to avoid two common mistakes: inconsistency and volume worship.

  1. Inconsistency: Most trainers want to believe that marketing is something you can do every once in a while, when you decide you need more prospects. They believe it’s like a water faucet that you can just turn on whenever you need water. Consider this: The only reason you can get water immediately from your faucet is all the behind-the-scenes hard work the water department does, every day, to keep the water running fresh and clear. Your marketing, attracting the right prospects to you, requires the same daily attention, if you want to keep a steady flow of the ideal prospects.
  2. Volume worship: Contrary to what most agents are being taught today, effective prospecting is not a numbers game. The old-fashioned shotgun prospecting approach most agents learn is that, if you contact enough people — buy enough leads, cold call enough people, run enough ads, or send out enough sales letters — you’ll eventually find enough prospects, to set enough appointments, to close enough sales, to make the income you want.

This numbers game approach to prospecting can work to some extent, if you work with large numbers of people, and you do it consistently. However, it is very time-consuming and expensive. And, even when you do work with large numbers, and do it consistently, the results can be very sporadic.

You never know who will read your ad or sales letter and then respond. The main problem is that you are generally following up on the responses to try to set appointments with people who have never heard of you before.

The simple truth is that people always prefer to work with someone they already know and can trust. The more good things people hear about you and the work that you do, the easier it’s going to be to get them to respond to your offers, set appointments, and buy from you.

So, what does all this mean?

What it all means is that, if you want to be in front of more of your ideal prospects in one month than most agents will see in an entire year, you must have a complete marketing plan that you work on every day, and focus on pursuing a relatively small, carefully selected universe of people with great energy.

The more time you spend on developing a well-rounded marketing plan, tailored for your unique situation, the easier and more profitable your financial services career will become.

Tags:  insurance  insurance agency  insurance agent  sales 

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Want to Know the Secrets?

Posted By Sally Davisson, Tuesday, November 28, 2017

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.

Tags:  Agency  Insurance  Marketing  Tips 

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