More than half a million new businesses are started every month, according to the 2015 Kauffman Index. Furthermore, it is predicted that 50% of all workers will be self-employed by 2020. It would seem that after a brief slump, business startup activity is once again on the rise.
That's great news for agents with interests in writing more business insurance. Every new, and existing business, has a need for insurance coverage. You just need to find those businesses, identify their needs and demonstrate your ability to provide the best solutions as compared to your competitors. Also, B2B marketing is vastly different than B2C marketing. Many consumers tend to make purchasing decisions based on emotions, while many business owners base their decisions on logic. Yes, there is plenty of fish in the sea, but catching them may not be so easy.
It is, however, worth pursuing a strategy to add more business clients to your books. From this pool of prospects, you are likely to find your most loyal and lasting customers. Strong customer retention means your lifetime value, for each customer, will be much greater. Your average customer worth will be more significant, as well.
In this post, we will cover some of the most important steps agents need to take to write more business insurance.
- Creating a marketing plan
- The importance of credibility development
- Optimizing your agency’s website
- The role of social media
- Paid advertising
Create a Marketing Plan
Similar to taking a cross-country road trip without a map, it is a bad idea to target new business customers if you don’t have a plan. A marketing plan is your roadmap for successfully targeting businesses. You may have already created a strategy for getting new business customers, but unless it was specifically designed for the type of businesses you desire, you need a fresh start.
A useful marketing plan is one that truly defines your business goals as well as your investment strategies for growing your book of business. It should incorporate everything from intimate details about the types of businesses you want to serve to the tools and resources you will use to achieve your goals. At the same time, your plan needs to remain adaptable to change. A static marketing plan, with no wiggle room, might quickly become outdated and ineffective as market landscapes shift.
So how do you go about creating the best marketing plan? First, determine your ideal customer. No, the answer can’t be, “anyone with enough revenue.” Although, part of the answer can include a specific revenue set. For example, you might target businesses that have between $500,000 and $10,000,000 in revenue. But that should not be the only criteria. You must be more detailed.
It can be tempting to mass market to all businesses, but history shows that defining a particular type of customer is far more effective. Some of the world's most successful brands, including Apple, Virgin, and Facebook started out marketing to one type of customer before expanding to broader audiences - there is every reason why you should do the same.
Your plan needs to include the specific industry where your ideal business customer operates, the amount of employees, number of years in business, company structure - right down to hours of operation. That information will help you create the all important business insurance buyer persona.
Source: Image retrieved from https://www.floship.com/buyer-personas-ecommerce/
Once you have clearly defined your ideal business customer, you can better develop a strategy that is tailored to their needs. The buyer persona will guide your strategic approach, and having a strategy is highly advantageous; more than 50% of businesses do not have a strategy, according to a study published on ana.net.
Here are a few key tips for strategy development:
Use a SWOT analysis - An effective strategy is one that is built around your agency’s strengths and weaknesses. A SWOT analysis is a useful way of focusing on your strengths, capitalizing on opportunities, and avoiding threats.
Map content to context - Content is a fundamental piece of the marketing puzzle, but it is only effective if it is directed to the correct audience at the right time. You can create valuable content when you fully understand your ideal customer and their needs.
Define conversion goals - Not every marketing action should be designed to lead to a sale. Sometimes, your effort should be geared towards nurturing the prospect and guiding them. Your conversion goals should be appropriate for each stage of the buying process your prospect has reached. The buying stages are Awareness, Consideration, and Decision. You will need to set and implement different conversion goals at each stage.
Whether you’re selling business property insurance or general liability insurance, prospects will be interested in your credentials. That doesn’t just mean having the correct licenses to sell insurance. Credibility is about your knowledge of the products you are selling, your online reputation and the image your brand portrays.
How prospects perceive you and your brand play a critical role in your ability to market successfully. Positive brand perception can take several years to accomplish. But even if your agency is in its fledgling years, there are some things you can do to enhance credibility such as:
- Displaying third-party awards related to your industry
- Acquiring favorable reviews on your social networks
- Listing your agency in multiple online business directories
- Produce high quality content, that’s not product specific, on your social networks.
These days a brand’s credibility is judged heavily by the content it produces. That is to say, prospects look to things like your social media posts, whether or not your online business profiles are optimized, what consumers in your area are saying about you via rating and review sites, e.g., Yelp, Google My Business, Facebook and Bing Places to determine your brand’s level of expertise and credibility. The more consistently you can demonstrate industry knowledge and expertise through content, the more credibility you will have in the eyes of those prized business customers.
“On average, B2B marketers use 13 different content marketing tactics, e.g. social media, blogs, in-person events, etc.” Content Marketing Institute, 2015.
Optimize Your Website for Effectiveness (Both On-Page & Off-Page)
Everything you do in business pivots around your website. While practically useless on its own, combined with social media marketing, online directory marketing, event marketing, voice search marketing and other SEO strategies, your website becomes a highly effective selling machine. A fully optimized website can take you from outbound to inbound in a relatively short period of time. A good website is not just about fancy design and bold colors, though. It’s about the site’s ability to attract, convince, and convert.
Source: Image retrieved from https://thrivehive.com/infographic-6-elements-of-a-great-website
To achieve a website that performs optimally, you must focus on matching your site’s content to your marketing goal. In this case, the goal is to attract and convert business insurance clients. Thus, the content on your website should be optimized to speak to business owners rather than just general consumers. The type of language you use is determined by the industry you are targeting, but in general, you should avoid using jargon, slang, or generalizations.
Use words that are synonymous with the target industry. If you're targeting the construction industry, for example, words like commercial, infrastructure, and architecture would help to give your content added credibility. Many captive agents will need prior approval to have these “compliant keywords” added, where appropriate, to your microsite through their online marketing department.
You must also ensure that the content is optimized in such a way that people searching for that particular information can easily find it. That means using keywords that your target market might use to search. Keywords are very important, and your ability to select the right ones comes from having a thorough knowledge of your target market. Understanding their pain points and the solutions they search for will help you optimize your website and content.
Let’s say you want more beauty salons and barber shops in your book of business. A few of the primary keywords you would optimize for are “beauty salons and barber shop insurance.” Any beauty salon, or barber shop, owner looking for insurance coverage is sure to type in some variation of those keywords. You need to go beyond those keywords, though. The type of content a person is looking for varies depending on the stage of the buyer's journey they are in, and so too does the keyword variation that’s used.
A person using the search query, “Why is beauty salon insurance important,” is at a very different stage of the buyer's journey than someone typing in “best beauty salon insurance providers.” One is simply looking for information, so she is no doubt at the awareness stage. However the other is interested in assessing her options, so she is probably at the consideration/decision stage of the buyer’s journey. Your website’s content should be optimized for variations of your primary keyword and the various stages of the buyer's journey.
Source: Image retrieved from http://www.webconfs.com/seo-tutorial/seo-and-keywords.php
Search engine optimization goes beyond keyword choice and content. It incorporates site architecture, speed, and a host of other elements. Your keyword choices will play a central role in your site's ability to rank high in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) and attract the clients you want. To learn more about SEO, download our FREE e-book - Master SEO for Your Business with This Essential Guide
Utilize Social Media
Social media is now a fundamental tool for insurance marketers of all stripes. What was once thought of as a fad is now a central aspect of modern culture and, as such, highly beneficial for marketing and branding. Thoughtfully employing a social media strategy can have a huge impact on your insurance agency. It opens up vast opportunities to share content, build relationships and generate leads.
All the elements described above, such as credibility, website optimization, and your marketing strategy can be enhanced using social media.
Most marketers think of social media as a tool for targeting consumers, but it is also a must for business to business marketing. Social platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus and Twitter, facilitate interaction between brands in ways not possible before. That should, in theory, make your job as a business insurance agent a little less complicated. Now, you may not have to face the telephone gatekeepers that bar the way to a company’s decision makers. You can most likely get more of a response via social media.
Here’s how to get the most of social media marketing:
Brand awareness - Invest time, money, and resources building your brand awareness before directly approaching a potential business customer. A solid social media reputation will increase the likelihood of business prospects entering into discussions with you. Ask yourself, “Do the majority of SMBs (Small-Medium Businesses) in my community know my agency is local to our city?” In addition, you should also ask, “What type of online reputation have I built in my market area?”
Showcase your expertise - Provide free consultation, share valuable content, and take advantage of any opportunity to demonstrate your expertise. The effort can help position your brand as a valued contributor of information and bolster your brand's social media visibility and identity within your community.
Choose the right platforms - Executing on a social media marketing strategy takes time, know-how, money and effort. So, it makes good business sense to ensure your efforts are as targeted as possible. There are multiple social channels to choose from, but not all are ideally suited to your business objectives. The platforms your prospect use should dictate where your efforts are directed.
Pivot on content - Content is the backbone of social media. Everything you do will pivot on the content you produce and share. Use compliant, non-product specific, professional posts and infographics to boost your brand and get recognition from your target audience. If you don’t, other agents in your community will.
Utilize Paid Advertising Opportunities
Although a lot can be achieved through “free” digital marketing methods, it is becoming increasingly necessary to utilize paid advertising opportunities. Many of the major platforms, including Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter allow marketers to gain greater exposure by paying hard cash. Many have already moved to a “Pay-to-play” model. However it’s very cost-effective in comparison to traditional advertising mediums, e.g., TV, billboards, newspapers, direct mail and yellow pages.
Similar to traditional advertising channels like television and radio, paid digital advertising allows you set a budget and get your ad in front of tens of thousands. With their modern geographic targeting options, several social networks allow you to reach those tens of thousands, within a 10-25 mile radius, around your physical office. One of the main differences with digital advertising, though, is the potential to buy ads that are targeted specifically to the type of prospects you want. Meaning, the ability to have your ads seen only by the people who are in your specific target market is now possible. That kind of specificity is the reason Internet ad spend is now the highest of all mediums:
Source: Image retrieved from http://www.marketingcharts.com/traditional/us-online-and-traditional-media-advertising-outlook-2016-2020-68214/
Facebook, for example, allows you to target things like demographics, location and interest of the people whom you wish to target your ads. Targeting your ads in this way reduces ad spend waste; only your ideal prospect sees your ad, so they are more likely to buy. Imagine the power of targeting an ad at business owners only within a 10-25 mile radius around your physical office.
That would be incredible, right? That’s the power of Facebook’s geo targeting options that are available now. Linkedin (acquired by Microsoft in the summer of 2016) and Twitter still have a ways to go in that regard. Of course, Google PPC (Pay-Per-Click) offers marketers very sophisticated geo targeting options, also. However all, major social networks, and search engines, are working hard to improve their clients ROAS (Return On Advertising Spend).
One of the great benefits of digital advertising is that everything is trackable. You have the ability to see instant feedback on your entire advertising campaign. You can then test, monitor and tweak your campaigns until you find a strategy that works.
Here are some quick tips for getting the most bang for your advertising budget:
- Understand your target audience and use appropriate keywords.
- Use analytic tools such as Google Analytics, to monitor your ad campaigns.
- Utilize targeted ad features to focus on your primary targets.
- Create ad copy that stands out and entices readers to click
Attracting business insurance customers is not wholly different to that of general consumers. In both cases, your brand will benefit by having strong credibility and a strong social media presence. The main differences are in your approach and the types of posts you publish.
To write more business insurance, you must align your SEO, social media marketing, event marketing and online directory management, so that business owners feel confident that you have the ability to properly service their account. It takes a lot more effort, but the prize of landing highly valuable business customers makes it all worthwhile.