The Networking Web Works

As you go about your daily tasks of running your agency, is reaching out to clients who don’t have an immediate need on your list? It should be. Insurance Journal recently published its 101 Sales and Marketing Ideas for Agencies*, and our president and CMO offered the following tips:

  1. Don’t Pitch, Connect. If people don’t like you, they aren’t going to do business with you. Build relationships, be present and available, and follow through on commitments and promises. Show your value by being knowledgeable in your field and maintain your connection with clients well after the deal is closed. — Andrew Caldwell, President, Smart Choice
  2. W.O.M. Marketing Works. Customers buy based on recommendations from trusted sources. Ask your clients to recommend you to their friends and family or post a review online or on social media. The added bonus is that not only is Word of Mouth Marketing proven to be effective, but also it is free. — Jef Morgan, Chief Marketing Officer, Smart Choice

There is a common theme in these gentlemen’s advice about networking. Because you build great rapport with your clients, they then tell their friends about you. It’s no secret that the key to success in this business (in most businesses, really) is relationships. When you become a trusted partner for your clients, they become your best advertisements. It’s so easy to get stuck behind a computer screen or to be so busy that time gets away from you; however, make it a priority to make a client connection each day. You’ll be amazed at how the networking web works its magic on your behalf if you just put in a little effort. Reach out to one of your clients right now!

 

*https://www.insurancejournal.com/magazines/mag-coverstory/2019/08/19/536545.htm

Agency Marketing Best Practices

Agency Marketing Best Practices
[From the 2019 Smart Choice Magazine, Issue IV]

By: Roger Gill, Virginia State Director

 

1 – Partner with an experienced insurance agency marketing firm.

Although larger insurance agencies may have the resources to hire a marketing director and to assign some marketing activities to staff members, the cost is usually much more and the results much less than engaging the services of a professional marketing agency with a team of experts and automated marketing software. The professional insurance agency marketing firm should also be able to utilize the marketing functions of the Agency’s Management System. EZLynx AMS has many built-in marketing functions that automates cross sells and prospecting with multiple auto-response communication channels–emails, SMS, phone messages, and hard mail.

To hire a quality marketing director with the education and experience to accomplish this feat would cost between $50,000 and $75,000 in salary. Additional staff marketing activities may add another $20,000 per year. This in-house route equates to $4,000-$6,000 per month and will not give you access to the multiple marketing professionals with specialized education and training in the many different marketing areas nor the high-tech marketing automation software that outsourcing does.

Therefore, the more technical and time-consuming Marketing Services should be out-sourced to the MARKETING PROs. Doing so will save lots of money and provide a more effective marketing plan and greater sales and profit results–with a higher ROI (return on investment).

2 – Create an Insurance Agency Marketing Plan

By definition, a marketing plan is a written document that spells out the company’s goals, objectives, strategies and tactics to grow revenue. A marketing plan is a dynamic document that defines the actions a business needs to take in order to achieve certain goals.

Proper planning is critical to the future of any business. The marketing plan is a road map that helps to ensure agency resources are used efficiently for the services needed to meet revenue goals and other objectives.

Once a custom, viable plan has been developed and implemented, it is imperative to track and collect data to measure an accurate Return On Investment (ROI); without the data, the effectiveness of each activity is nothing more than a guess. Using the data, the marketing activities can be tweaked for enhanced effectiveness.

Revisiting the marketing plan each quarter will also provide an opportunity to refine and adjust the activities. As the insurance industry evolves, so should your marketing components, tools, and processes. (See  http://www.mplans.com/)

3 – Develop Local Online Marketing Infrastructure
Building a solid online marketing infrastructure is imperative to the success of your online presence. Here we must take the time to strategically plan each level of the foundation so that the next level will be supported by the previous.

KEY COMPONENTS:

1. Marketing Website–Provides credibility, authority, trust, and for marketing content
2. Online Citation Accounts–Provides agency information on numerous websites
3. Social Media Accounts–Provides more credibility, authority, trust and for marketing content
4. Reviews/Testimonials Accounts–Most prospects read reviews and testimonials before buying.
5. Video Accounts–Provides credibility, authority, trust, and for Marketing Content
6. Facebook & LinkedIn Advertising Accounts–Provides lower cost leads
7. Marketing Data Monitoring–Provides the data to measure ROI

Online Insurance Agency Marketing

1. Create & Optimize Online Marketing Infrastructure
Ensure your website, online accounts for citations, content, and reviews are optimized and linked properly for building brand, authority, lead generation (search engine and social media marketing), top-of-mind awareness, and client centered relationships.
Resource: https://moz.com/local-search-ranking-factors

2. Design & Implement Content Marketing Campaigns
These are focused campaigns to market a specific product or service. The content is the most important component of all marketing plans and comes in several flavors: (1) Authority Insurance Product and Services Content — for Search & Social Media Marketing (2) Local Social, Non-Sales Content — to be part of and to engage with the community (3) Appropriate Personal Content to build a personal relationship with clients and community.

3. Design & Implement Direct Mail Campaigns via EDDM to complement the Online Content Campaigns.
Marketing flyers are created and distributed via bulk mail to residential mailboxes that compliment and support the online content marketing campaigns.

4. Design & Implement Social Media Marketing Campaigns
The various flavors of content are optimized and distributed to important social media channels–includes articles, videos, and audio files. The content is mostly Local Social, Non-Sales and Personal Content as mentioned in number 2 above.

5. Design and Implement Key Word Focused Communications Campaigns
Often defined as only email marketing campaigns, communications of all types may be used to cross sell and inform current clients and to sell to prospects who have opted in to a communication channel.

6. Design and Distribute Videos
Videos are a major component of the Content Marketing Campaigns–they too follow the flavors of content mentioned in number 2 above and for the same reasons.

7. Design and Implement continuous Referral Campaigns
Agency growth is heavily dependent on continuous referrals and lead generation. Referrals have a higher conversion rate than leads from non-referral sources.

8. Design and Implement Organic Search Marketing Campaigns
Organic Search Lead Generation is vitally important. Agency growth is heavily dependent on a continuous source of new leads.

9. Design and Implement Paid Ad Campaigns
Optimized Paid Ad campaigns are an important component of the Focused Key Word Campaigns. Facebook and LinkedIn ads are working now.

10. Design and Implement a monthly Agency Newsletter
A monthly newsletter is one of the best ways to communicate all of the content flavors. A main component to build relationships.

11. Join and participate in local associations (Home Builders, Realtors, etc…) and the local Chamber of Commerce.
Bring value by offering insurance and risk education.

12. Design and Implement Data Reports for Marketing Analysis
The collection and analysis of marketing services data is necessary to know what is working, what needs refining, and to determine the Return on Investment of each component.
Offline Insurance Agency Marketing Infrastructure
1. Media Ads
2. Flyers
3. Network Groups
4. Community Involvement
5. Clubs and Organizations
6. Event Marketing
7. Direct Mail via EDDM

 

For more information, contact Roger at rgill@smartchoiceagents.com or follow his blog.

Marketing At Its Core…

Marketing At Its Core…
By: Katie Wilmoth, Director, Marketing and Communications

This past summer, my husband and I took our kids to the beach – our kids (at the time) were 6 years old, 4 years old, and 9 months old, so we had our hands full! I find that at their current ages, they’re like a mini case study in the ways of the world. I never cease to marvel at how perceptive and astute they are for their ages.

At home, we don’t keep cable or satellite and instead, stream or download things we’d like to watch. So our kids have no concept of what television was like in the old days, and therefore, they aren’t familiar with commercials.

Throughout the course of the week, our oldest daughter would run up to one of us and say something about one of the commercials, or “previews” as she called them. IN fact, our kids were more interested in the commercials than in the shows they watched. As someone who’s made a career in marketing, I marveled at just what an impact direct marketing had on my kids in that short amount of time. I even caught them singing “Nationwide is on your side!” repeatedly as they played in the waves one day – “Mom, did you know Nationwide is on our side?” my six year old asked me – proving that, whether or not they knew exactly what the product did or was, the message the marketers had intended for them to remember had indeed been successful.

One night, my daughter said “Hey Dad, we need to get some of this lotion because it will make our skin super soft and shiny.” And I listened as my husband said “Okay listen Lila…these are called commercials, and the people who make them are trying to sell you their product by making it sound like the greatest thing in the world. So they’re lying to you to make it sound better than it is…that’s what your mommy does for a living…”

I looked up at him shocked and amused that he would say such a thing to our daughter, and he was looking back at me laughing. My reply to him was “You’re a LAWYER! Why don’t you tell her what YOU do?!”

The story is funny, but it got me thinking about the definition of marketing at its core. Sure, there are plenty of infomercials that use over-exaggeration and half-truths to peddle cheap wares (though I’d say that’s closer to the definition of sales, not marketing) – but at its heart, that’s NOT what marketing is. Marketing is about highlighting what sets your product or service apart from the competition. And if you’re doing it RIGHT, it’s also about highlighting the things that you do well and at which your product or service excels. You pick out your best assets and tell people about them. Think of it as socially acceptable bragging!

If you would like to read more Marketing tips, check out Issue IV of the Smart Choice Magazine!