Marketing has taken on a critical new role for insurance agencies, and understanding what that role is, how it impacts your business, and what you need to do about it is simply table-stakes for successful businesses. It’s not a nice-to-have anymore, and it’s time to decide that you’re either going to commit to it, or you’re going to become increasingly irrelevant to potential buyers. Your choice.
Insurance agencies have tremendous opportunity to create an effective message and develop marketing activities that work for you rather against you, which we see happening way too often. In fact, when I ask audiences at insurance industry conferences how many feel they are effectively marketing themselves, at most, I’ve seen five hands raised – and two of those were from carriers and tech providers (who are usually really good at marketing, btw).
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM? #1: ACCESS TO INFORMATION
First, our access to information has changed everything. Buyers spend substantial time researching options before ever having a face-to-face meeting with a sales person.
As a result, our sales people have lost significant influence over the selling process and buying decision.
John Jantz of Duct Tape Marketing describes a scenario where he asked for, and received, a referral to a tax planner:
“…like anyone who receives a glowing referral…I grabbed my phone and started to dial, right?
Well, no, not exactly. I did what everyone actually does today. I turned to Google and asked the almighty one to provide me with some background on this referral.
I typed her name into the search bar and this is what I found.
Her website, of course, her writings for the local chapter of a major trade association, her LinkedIn profile, the fact that she had chaired an area fundraiser, her profile on Yelp, her Twitter page, a recent post she had authored for a small business news site, her profile on the local Chamber site, and an article from the local Business Journal quoting her.”
This tax planner didn’t get the chance to talk with John, on the phone or otherwise, and convince him she would be a great fit. Even with a referral, he still counts on The Google to read the tea leaves and decide if she’s worthy of a conversation or not.
Now, I don’t know if he chose to meet with her, but he was using her as a positive example of how she grabbed all the (online) real estate in her name to create a complete brand picture.
REALITY: This has just become typical behavior now and you can either continue ignoring it, thinking that people don’t look up insurance brokers, or you can embrace it and make your marketing program a “member” of your sales team who is working on your behalf all hours of the day and night.
Because it doesn’t matter if you’re an insurance broker or a tax planner, or something more “exciting", WE.ARE.GOING.TO.LOOK.YOU.UP.
If buyers don’t like what they see, don’t see what they want, or just see another version of the agency they already have, they move on, never to return.
But you have options. Treat your lookers to an experience like the one John described, and you can grab their attention and literally pull them in, providing a compelling reason to meet with your sales team.
This “team member” should be talking to and connecting with buyers, providing them with relevant information that they can read/watch, and interact with. It’s this type of experience that brings them back multiple times looking for information and learning more about your ideas.
- Your website should be offering thought-provoking information, asking readers questions, and offering to help them assess their operations.
- And your other marketing tools should follow up with suggestions on next steps to further evaluate and make changes to improve their businesses.
- Your LinkedIn pages (and other social profiles) should be giving them insight into your thoughts – your thoughts about the challenges your readers are facing.
- Readers should see your personality and get a feel for what they can expect when they do choose to reach out to you. There should be no surprises when they finally make that connection.
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM? #2: INEFFECTIVE MESSAGES
The second problem we see hindering effective marketing is that most insurance advisers don’t understand their own businesses well enough to create an effective message that properly influences buyers when they come looking.
Through marketing activities, we need to make ourselves so interesting, thoughtful, and compelling that readers want to take the next step and commit to having a conversation.
To be attractive to your readers, random activity won’t get you the results you need. You need to be intentional in your approach. Start by writing out the descriptions and answers for each of these ideas:
- Who are your ideal clients? And what do they value?
- What are their biggest business challenges and frustrations?
- How do you work and what services do you offer to help them address their challenges?
Then, begin creating that compelling content I described above that pulls them in for more and acknowledges and answers their challenges and frustrations.
Think articles, videos, FAQs, check-lists.
Create this content regularly and post it to your website and share it on social media, directing readers back to your site. Make yourself and your website a valuable, educational resource and destination where your targeted buyers want to come back repeatedly looking for ideas.
MARKETING AS A MEMBER OF THE SALES TEAM
Done right, this online, educational marketing effort could become the most productive prospecting and door-opening producer on your sales team.
And, just like a producer, you need to have a plan for the year, monitoring activity and results and tweaking and adjusting based on short-term performance. You also need to think long-term, expanding on it over time, much like professional development, adding new skills and capabilities to its repertoire.
Bottom line, if your buyers are not interested in what they see from you online, they have no reason to believe they’ll be interested in what you will say in person. Make your agency such a valuable source of information that it draws your readers in so they reach out to you to set up a meeting with your sales people.
If you’re wondering how to do this, or if already know you need help doing this, give us a call, an email, or a LinkedIn message. We not only do this for ourselves, but we develop and manage online marketing programs just like this for our clients as well.