There are so many marketing avenues to explore when it comes to reaching people with your brand; it has become quite a challenge to many agents to decide on the “Best Approach.” .
As you know, you can’t rely on your existing book to grow by itself. No matter how great our team, there’s always a certain “lapse-cancellation”percentage that every agent has to address and figure out a way to minimize. Of course, exceptional customer service is an excellent way to retain existing clientele.
Depending on your gross sales (Growth from multi-lining existing customers + new customers minus lapse-can rate) you can certainly outrun a seemingly high rate of defectors. The “Rock Star Agents” focus on each piece of the formula above, e.g., multi-line existing customers, bring in lots of new customers and offer incredible customer service to maximize retention rates.
One of the “stickiest” policies that you can write is life, so I took a close look at various sales strategies that are helping many agent clients of Agent Branding System.
I've put it all together so, whether you need to add onto your current book or you are new to the insurance game, you can still smash your sales goals by writing more life policies. .
In this blog post, we will tackle the following topics:
- The necessary tools that an agency needs to survive
- Tried and tested prospecting techniques that are still useful
- Cost-effective ways to use the internet to reach more people in your community
Do you have the tools to succeed?
Aside from knowing the nuts and bolts of every insurance policy you offer, having the tools to succeed and gain new customers is just as vital. In today’s world, it is important to embrace technology as well as the tried and tested techniques that have helped agents for more than 100+ years become wildly successful. But don't fret if you aren’t internet savvy! Because standard marketing techniques are easily translated in the internet age.
It’s all about getting yourself out there and being accessible to your current and potential customers--this may mean literally “in the community” and “in the online community.” These are the tools that you need to think about:
You must have a website
- This is an easy way for customers to discover you and your agency
- Make sure to display your contact information front and center
- List the products you offer
- Include your picture to personalize the site
It is not just millennials that are online - 90 percent of adults and 67 percent of senior citizens use the internet. There are numerous device types where consumers can easily find you via computer, smartphone and tablet. Throughout the course of the day, many consumers will use two or more devices types. Can you be found no matter the device type that consumers are using in your market? Seniors are adopting these devices, and the information in which they can access by learning how to use them, at an alarming rate (see research below).
Social media is your friend
- Think of it as another form of marketing and advertising
- Have a business page on different social media platforms, e.g, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+.
- Make sure to optimize these social networks, so your contact information can be found in search results
- Post things relevant to your audience (75%-80% should be non-product specific, according to Hubspot).
You can find most adults on Facebook and they are on the site daily. Think about how many hours you or your friends, their friends, coworkers and people around you spend on Facebook. I know I've killed some time in a waiting room somewhere pulling up this social network on my phone and browsing through my friends' updates and doing some posting myself. It’s all about “engagement” rates (interactions with your content, e.g., comments, likes, shares, clicks to your links. Did you hear that Mark Zuckerberg just announced he’s now surpassed the 2 billion user mark for Facebook? Don’t be left behind. As a marketer, I’ve never seen the likes of a business model which remotely comes close to Facebook’s. I say there are two types of businesses--there are those that have a business Facebook page and those that will have a business Facebook page.
Don’t be left behind.
Check out this resource:
It is definitely smart to go where the people are, and where they can easily find you.
Email is a great way to keep in touch
- You can update your clients with news and things they need to know
- Review your client roster and inform them on other products that they may need
- Your customer relationship management (CRM) software can easily track what works and what doesn’t
- It is another way for customers to keep you top of mind, and makes them feel you’re always thinking of ways to make their lives easier and more secure
Have you tried these prospecting techniques?
What worked before the internet still works to this day. You just have to think about who you should target and which medium(s) should be used to reach them most cost-effectively.
Direct mail may be one of the most expensive ways to reach out to customers, but if done properly, it has proven through the years to be effective.
Here are the things you will need to consider when using a direct mail campaign:
1) The mailing list
There are many ways to acquire a mailing list - you can buy one, tap your local
chamber of commerce, or use a list broker and information service to buy a prospect List.
2) Content and design
One of the first things you need to decide is whether you want to send a postcard or a letter. Both are effective tools and you will need to make sure that it looksprofessional. If you are graphic design challenged, you can hire a graphic designer online or go to your local print service shop and ask for some help.
Once you have the design figured out, it is time to send it to the printers. You could do it yourself, but it is usually better to have it done professionally. There are many online options that you can use, but it can get a little tricky if you are not familiar with online printing services. Again you can go to your local print shop, and they can help you figure out the most effective way to print your project.
4) Assembling and Postage
Depending on the amount of mail you will be sending out you may have to automate part of the process. Companies like Pitney Bowes will rent out postage meters or folding machines. You could also use a service that will print out the address and postage stamp on envelopes. Handwriting the address on the envelope or postcard always gives a personal touch. It also gives the impression that you will go the extra mile.
Try putting your agency out there in the following ways:
- Newspaper and Niche classifieds
Talk to your local newspaper rep and do your own “A/B Testing,” by experimenting in various sections of the newspaper. Many newspapers don’t advertise this particular feature, but ask your rep about “remnant space pricing.” Daily newspapers always have “last minute cancellations.” To fill this unproductive space, they will offer you significant discounts to drop in one of your pre-designed, display ads in R.O.P. (Run-of-Paper)--it means your ad can run anywhere there’s “remnant display” space left over. As a former newspaper executive, this strategy has produced a handsome R.O.I. for many local business owners who are willing to execute on this concept.
In case there are two or more local papers in your area, invite each in for a “market presentation” to determine which one will offer you the highest R.O.A.S. (Return On Ad Spend). You’re looking for circulation penetration rates (% of households in your retail trading zone that actually pay to have the newspaper delivered), recommendations on which sections in which to advertise, multi-day discounts (Wed & Sun versus a Mon, Wed, Fri), frequency versus size of ad discounts (# of times your ad runs in a year versus the bulk amount of column inches you purchase) and lots more!. You can also try trade journals or niche classifieds to target a particular community. . Always negotiate for a lower price!
- TV and Radio advertising
If you have a little more money in your budget, consider TV and radio ads. It would be best to place your ads when you can get the lowest CPM (Cost Per Thousand) adults reached. . For radio, that would generally be the morning and afternoon rush hour. While for television, it would generally be during prime viewing time (8pm-11pm Monday-Friday). However according to Nielson, more people tune in to their TV between 9:15pm-9:30pm PST as compared to any other time during prime time. Ask your local account executives how much is a “local spot” during prime time. In fact, cable TV has very strong targeting capabilities, so that you don’t have to buy the entire DMA (Designated Market Area) which could be several counties wide.
Don’t worry too much about producing an actual ad. You can “sponsor” a segment on both TV and radio. The advantage of TV sponsorships is that viewers actually hear and see your brand (agency name, logo, etc) and immediately associate it with the product or service been promoted. PSAs (Public Service Announcements) can also be quite effective on both TV and radio; they also help to demonstrate your brand’s affinity with your local community.
- Yellow Pages
Yes some people still use the print yellow pages. Consumers also jump on the online version of the yellow pages at: YP.com or SuperPages.com. Yellow pages is still a good way to reach many seniors.
- Specialty Advertising
Using promotional products such as pens and notepads are a way to keep you top of mind with existing customers. You can give it to them as a form of “Customer Appreciation.”
Flyers can be a printed advertisement, door hanger or bundled with a promotional product. An apartment building would be ideal, because you could cast a wider net. You could promote renter’s insurance and cross sell other types of insurance depending on their needs. Otherwise the suburbs are another option since they would need homeowner’s, life, car and other kinds of insurance coverage.
A great way to reach locals is by sponsoring community events. Being active in the community can be achieved through sponsoring sports (uniforms and games) or fundraising activities (fun runs, marathons, or bake sales). It shows good will and it will allow you to reach even more people.
- Free Information Seminars and Consultations
Find out which local events are happening and ask the organizers if you can speak for a couple of minutes to talk about insurance or put up a table with informational booklets and promotional materials. Make sure to stick around to talk to people and answer any questions.
Are you using the internet in the right way?
Pushing out a website and having a social media presence are not enough. Here are a couple of things to think about.
In case you haven’t done this yet, invest in Facebook ads
As the previous graphic indicated, Facebook now has more than 2 billion monthly users and although you may not want to reach all of its it’s audience, you can target specific communities to build your brand awareness. Make sure to figure out who you want to reach based on location, demographics, interests, behaviors and connections.
For as little as $5 a day you can boost your Facebook presence and increase your reach pretty dramatically. The folks at Buffer tested it and here’s what they got:
- Page Likes – 9 likes per day
- Clicks to the Buffer homepage – 1 per day
- Boosted post – 787 new people reached
Facebook is also offering outstanding targeting capabilities, e.g., target their users down to as little as a 10-mile radius around your physical office. You can start to see where the Facebook “Play-to-Pay” model can be one of the most cost-effective forms of advertising in any given market throughout the U.S.
Connect with Millennials
There are 92 million millennials (those born between 1980 - 2000), and they’re already an even bigger group than the baby boomers. Aside from asking friends and family for recommendations they look online to do more research.
For this generation, it is not enough to reach them through a website and social media accounts. You have to engage with them. Posts are alright, but interacting through asking questions and giving advice is better. Think of yourself as a friend who happens to be an insurance expert. You want your clients to come to you whenever they have a question on insurance.
Here are a couple of things that you can do to engage your followers:
- Keep up with current events, and let them know when they need to be aware of certain news that’s relevant to their particular situation. I know when I was a State Farm Agent, educating my book on the importance of insuring their home against possible losses, sustained during an earthquake, was very important. Many homeowners aren’t aware that their homeowners policy doesn’t cover damages sustained during an earthquake.
The CEA (California Earthquake Authority) is now running TV commercials to help better educate homeowners about this often misunderstood coverage. How about educating consumers in your market who may be in a fire zone.? The list goes on in terms of relevant information that you can share which consumers will appreciate. You then become the “Go-To-Agent” in your community when it comes to helping consumers mitigate potential risks. You’ll be better prepared when you see stories in the local news that will allow you to segway this educational information into your various communication channels, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Google+.
- Ask questions about all things insurance - what are they worried about, what confuses them, or what do they want to know?
Online reviews are important
There are reviews for just about anything - products, movies, restaurants and of course businesses. An online review is like word of mouth on steroids. Instead of reaching just one person it can reach hundreds, even thousands.
You’ve probably used online reviews to make your last major purchase or when you were trying to find a good place for dinner. For example, my wife and I use Yelp frequently. The reality is that I’m the beneficiary of her loyalty to Yelp. If the business doesn’t have a strong Yelp R&R (Rating and Review), we aren’t going to use them. My wife, Tonya, is a die hard Yelp, “Power User.” She hasn’t made it to “Yelp Elite” status quite yet, but she’s probably going to get there soon. Of course, now there’s “FoodInsector.com” that’s sure to give Yelp a run for their money in the restaurant R&R area over time. Of course, Yelp now has North of 145 million users and more than 120 million reviews. Check it out: http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/yelp-statistics/
So, Let’s say that you helped Kate secure a long term care plan for her mother. You walked her through the process, answered all her questions, and she is happy enough to recommend you to her friends. Some may immediately take her word for it, while others will go online to check out reviews on you and your agency. Those that do look at reviews will form an opinion on your agency, and company you represent, that may impact their decision.
Here’s why online reviews matter:
- If it’s on the internet, people believe it is true
It may be laughable, but there are hundreds of review sites and billions of comments spread throughout the internet. What people are saying about you and your agency can affect your bottom line
- 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as a personal review.
Detailed and thoughtful reviews are valued and deemed more trustworthy, like a friend telling you about their experience rather than anonymous and short descriptions
- It’s more likely that people will leave a bad review.
How many times have you ranted about a bad experience? Telling others about it makes you feel like you’re helping them out by making sure they avoid the same problem that happened to you.
- Turn negative reviews into a positive.
It may be impossible to remove negative reviews, but you can remedy that by replying to the comment and apologizing. Just that little act shows that you are aware of the situation and that you value your customers. My wife, mentioned earlier, receive poor customer service from a salon recently. Immediately, upon leaving the salon, she wrote negative review on Yelp (before she even started her car….from her mobile phone). Within two hours of writing the review on Yelp, she received a telephone call from the owner. The owner had been having problems with that particular employee.
My wife received a genuine apology and a $35 gift card the next time she visited the owner’s salon. Guess what happened next? My wife went back into her Yelp account and added a “favorable”comment, and mentioned the fact that the owner had personally called her. What prompted my wife’s additional Yelp comment wasn’t the $35 gift card. Let your customers know you, as the agency owner, really care.
- 74 percent of consumers trust businesses that have positive reviews. This is not news but it must be said to bring home the point that we all should pay attention to online reviews!
Hopefully there are more positive, than negative, reviews about your agency out there! It will just take a couple of minutes, a Google search, and some reading to check if you have a stellar online reputation. In today’s fast-paced world of the internet, your online reputation means everything.
Great ideas can be simple but effective - use these true blue prospecting tips to reach more people. The most important thing is to get the ball rolling by putting your business out there so potential clients can discover your agency in as many ways as possible.