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!

5 Reasons Why You Should Resolve to Market Your Agency Online in 2016

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5 Reasons Why You Should Resolve to Market Your Agency Online in 2016
By: Michael Miller, Smart Choice® State Director

Many independent insurance agents are apprehensive about online marketing. It seems like a lot of work to set up a website and make updates to social media accounts. But in 2016, the simple fact is that independent agents need to market online to stay relevant and competitive. Here are 5 reasons why you should market your agency online in 2016.

  1. It’s where your clients and prospects are.

It’s just a fact. Your clients are shopping online, reading reviews online, and participating in online communities. Online marketing allows you to connect with your clients where they’re already at.

  1. The big guys are already doing it.

You’re no stranger to competing with big carriers. But nowhere are the large direct-to-consumer insurance companies out-marketing independent agents than online. Invest in a comprehensive website and commit to a strong social media presence to compete with the big names.

  1. It helps you compete on value, not just price.

The big direct-to-consumer carriers have made insurance a commodity and convinced customers to shop on price. But you know that insurance isn’t just about the premium, it’s about the quality of coverage. Use your website and social media accounts to educate your clients and prospects about why shopping on value is a better deal than shopping on price.

  1. Online marketing separates you from the rest of the pack.

Investing in online marketing is a leap many independent agents are unwilling to take. But if you do, it will set you apart from the competition of your fellow independent agents.

  1. The Internet can be a referral gold mine.

Most consumers have asked for a referral from their connections on social media. Many have also written reviews of products and services online. If you’re not connecting with your clients consistently online, you’re leaving these referrals on the table. Make it simple for your clients to refer you by being easy to contact and connect with online.

Online marketing is an essential part of selling insurance, but you don’t have to go it alone. Smart Choice® offers agents free web page design and access to an entire social media network to drive prospects to your agency.

Click here to visit the Smart Choice® LinkedIn Page

Click here to visit the Smart Choice® Facebook Page

Source:
RyanHanley.com

5 Ways to Grow Your Insurance Agency in 2016

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5 Ways to Grow Your Insurance Agency in 2016
By: Michael Miller, Smart Choice® State Director

‘Tis the season for resolutions, and many insurance agents are setting goals for how much they’d like to grow their agencies in 2016. Nationally, independent agents generate an average of $5 to 6 million in annual premiums, but earn less than $1 million in commission.

What’s your goal for growth in 2016? Here are five steps you can take to grow your independent insurance agency next year.

  1. Hire the Right Staff

Not only the right number of staff members, but the right people for the job. The duties of a CSR are very different than those of a producer—make sure you hire people with the appropriate strengths and skillsets.

If you’re a one-person agency and hoping to hire your first staff member in 2016, consider hiring someone whose skills complement yours. If you’re excellent at underwriting but struggle with sales, hire someone with excellent sales skills.

  1. Start Selling Commercial

Selling commercial lines takes more investment on your part—both financially and in time—but there’s a greater pay-off in the long run. Research your commercial carrier options and create a plan for how you would recruit and maintain commercial lines clients. Commercial insurance clients are often more hands-on than personal lines clients. If you’re able to meet their needs, selling commercial could be a big money-maker for you.

  1. Upgrade Your Agency Technology

There are many back-office tools that make running your agency more efficient and profitable. If you haven’t updated or upgraded your technology recently, consider doing so. Same goes for any marketing tech you haven’t adopted, such as a mobile-responsive website or email marketing tool.

  1. Take the Leap into Social Media

It’s just a fact: Your clients and prospects are online. Personal lines clients hang out on Facebook and Twitter and commercial clients are on LinkedIn. Commit to creating social media accounts for you and your agency and to being active on those accounts at least a few times a week. Social media marketing takes a little time, but it’s a powerful way to stay top-of-mind with your clients and prospects.

  1. Join a Cluster Group

Adding more carriers is difficult, especially when you’re adding a new line. Joining an insurance cluster group allows you to work with carriers and lines that you could never access otherwise. However, many cluster groups make you roll your current book to them when you sign up. They want to take control of your new policies as well as the ones you have already worked hard to build, so do your research.

Sources:
Property Casualty 360
Insurance Journal

Three Marketing Tips for Independent Insurance Agents

Are you looking for new marketing ideas for your insurance agency in 2016? Here are three ideas you can implement TODAY to gain new business as you plan for 2016!

Be an information resource: Use a blog on your website, email newsletters, social media sites, etc. to be a resource for your customers. This is called “content marketing” and you’re essentially gaining website traffic from search engines by using keywords that consumers are already searching for. Consider that scores of customers are searching for specific insurance information every day – if they are searching for something you have posted yourself or re-posted from another site, you will gain more traffic and visibility in the community as a resource.

Run a referral contest: Run a referral contest through your social media sites! Many agents already rely heavily on referral business, but a contest that provides compensation to the customer is a great motivator to consumers. The prize you offer should be substantial enough to entice customers to make an effort. Cash gift cards are more versatile and work better than rewards like televisions or iPads because they’re more likely to entice. Post several times a week about the details of your contest, and make sure you include contingencies that will ensure the contest brings your agency more commission money than the money you’ll be spending on the prize!

Pick a niche market: What if you chose a niche market to be an expert in each quarter? This idea has the potential to earn you additional business from existing customers in ADDITION to new business throughout the year. One quarter you can advertise being an expert in writing policies for teen drivers and their parents. The next, you can advertise being an expert in small business or whichever niche with which you’re comfortable. And you don’t have to break the bank to advertise these capabilities. If you have a good online presence established, you can advertise in multiple ways for free:

  • Promote the market with a new fact about it each day on your agency’s Facebook page, Twitter account, and LinkedIn profile. Write an “announcement” – an informal press release – to post on your agency’s LinkedIn page.
  • Include a blog post on your website where you write about various options and policy types available to customers. Talk about the pros and cons of different coverages. Include stories and testimonials from customers who were saved from disaster by their insurance policies – this is especially good for coverages people don’t consider necessities, like umbrellas or life policies.

Like what you learned here? The October issue of Smart Choice Magazine will have even more tips! We’ve devoted an entire issue to marketing!