Are you just getting started in Insurance Digital Marketing? Do you secretly worry you may be doing it wrong and it might come back to bite you? This series is for you.
Enlisting a Digital Mentor can go a long way in helping you learn the ropes — which is why I am posting 7 Interviews with "Insurance Leaders in the Digital Space" each Monday (Jun 16 - July 28).
Our Next Insurance Thought Leader has:
- Years of experience in Insurance
- Formal Marketing Education
- and Alter Ego
What else do you want? Introducing...
Carrie Reynolds, Insurance Thought Leader
In this conversation with Carrie Reynolds I got to ask 7 Questions that I knew would surface here unique perspective and expertise. We talked about her background, her belief in the agency model, and off-broadway acting aspirations.
It was a lot of fun.
Insurance and the Emerging Digital Space
I have looked forward to picking the brain of Carrie Reynolds for quite some time. When I saw her Agency (Alan Galvez Insurance, was launching a new blog, I knew I’d found my opportunity.
The recent content Carrie has been publishing further confirms what I have known for a long time….that The Insurance Goddess is an invaluable guide in the sometimes maddening digital landscape of Insurance marketing.
Carrie Reynolds is on a Mission urging Insurance Agents to; dive into the digital space, make great online content, and to create connections that matter.
In my interview with Carrie, mentions her dad, who started an insurance agency in the 80's, her a-ha moment generated on Amazon.com and her insatiable need to write. Each is an example of innovation, creativity, and how digital marketing can thrive in the insurance space.
I also took this opportunity to ask The Insurance Goddess some things I’ve really been wanting to ask (Carrie has also graciously agreed to answer any of your question in the comments below). I hope you enjoy our conversation and that it gives you a solid start or a shot in the arm as you continue to maximize the digital space with your Insurance Agency.
We talk about:
- Her moniker “The Insurance Goddess” (the risk/reward of working in character)
- Why honesty wins (and where it comes from)
- Her belief in the Agency Model
- Connecting with others online and why it matters
- “I don't take myself seriously, but I take the work very seriously.”
- “My moment of clarity came when a guy called me and said, "I was searching for a book on homeowners insurance on Amazon and yours popped up.”
- “I believe that insurance is one of the most noble professions out there”
- “I don't subscribe to the buttoned-up image of an insurance agent”
- “Everything I talk or write about is field-tested”
Duke Revard: Some of our readers aren’t as familiar with your background. So perhaps you could share some shaping experiences that have contributed to you unique perspective in the Insurance Space?
Carrie Reynolds: I'm an insurance brat. What I mean by that is I grew up in the business. My dad started in life insurance sales in 1971, eventually moving into property & casualty and then opening his own agency several years later. I worked at the office on school breaks, never intending to ever end up there permanently. The joke was on me I guess, because when I graduated from college, guess where I ended up? That was in 1996. I didn't get my license until 1997, so the first year was really more understanding how an agency worked. Since I was fresh out of my marketing courses, I also decided to focus on marketing the agency for that year. I conducted a customer survey and reported on the results. I talked to as many people as I could. I wrote print & radio ads. So I've always been fascinated with the marketing side and with people in general. And I always did better with words than math. So I think that's why I really latched onto social media- it was a natural fit for my personality.
Duke Revard: Are you ever scared that your Insurance Goddess character will potentially turn away clients or reduce you to just another gimmick?
Carrie Reynolds: There's always that chance. Any time you break away from the usual, you open yourself up to ridicule. I'm sure there are "dream" prospects who can't take me seriously because I occasionally dress up in an Egyptian Goddess costume. So be it. I don't subscribe to the buttoned-up image of an insurance agent. The industry is boring enough without me adding to that. If someone can't "get" the fun and lighthearted humor that goes with the costume, then perhaps we're not a good fit. Plus, the costume is meant to make a lasting impression- I bet they don't forget me and given some time to get to know me, might even change their mind about doing business together. And for those that think it's all a gimmick, give me 5 minutes with them and they'll quickly learn that there's a real person under the costume that has the true power to help them. The costume is just another layer. I've long said "I don't take myself seriously, but I take the work very seriously."
Duke Revard: When and how did you find your stride in the digital insurance space?
Carrie Reynolds: My moment of clarity came when a guy called me and said, "I was searching for a book on homeowners insurance on Amazon and yours popped up. It was exactly what I was looking for, so I bought it. I then visited your blog and agency website and after discovering that you were in the same state and less than an hour away, I immediately knew I wanted you to handle the insurance." Talk about a watershed moment. He had made up his mind before we had even spoke. I never had to "sell" anything. All that writing and connecting online truly paid off. I even wrote a post about the experience titled "My story: When content marketing moved from theory to (revenue-generating) reality."
Duke Revard: Talk to me a little bit about Perseverance in Digital Marketing? How have you overcome the desire to quit when your efforts haven’t materialized like you had hoped?
Carrie Reynolds: I've been actively blogging for 5 years- averaging one post a week on my site. There were many times I wanted to give up, especially when I felt I was writing and no one was reading. Because, let's face it, all writers write to be read. Otherwise it's just a diary. But I decided long ago writing was like therapy for me. When I did it, I felt great. When I didn't, I felt like part of me was missing. So I knew I had to keep writing and connecting with people because if I didn't, I would be neglecting a deep seated need within me and wouldn't feel whole. Plus, I've always believed in the power of words. I always have and always will. And I knew my words had power too. So all of that is what kept me going. Of course, when the comments and social sharing started happening, that was the icing on the cake. It told me I was finally connecting with others- others who believed in and wanted to hear my message. I wasn't alone after all.
Duke Revard: What disciplines do you have in place to ensure you are customer-centric; that you have the pulse on what your potential clients and clients really believe and care about?
Carrie Reynolds: When customers ask me questions, I write them down and use them as blog posts or articles for our agency newsletter. I also ask lots of questions of our customers. I encourage my staff to share their stories with me as well. My front-line staff does the majority of the service work, so I want them to tell me the feedback they receive. They're the "pulse" of the organization, quite frankly, and know more about the customers than anyone else. My agency also has account reviews that include agency grade cards. You can score us and offer feedback about our services, products and overall experience. You bet I read those. I do make sales calls- mainly on larger accounts. So I talk to a lot of people. I pay attention to what others in my industry are saying- that's really the big one right there. There's a lot of smart people in the insurance industry and I'm honored to call many friends. We discuss the finer points of what customers need & want within the industry. I'm also a big reader- I read a lot of business books, personal development, marketing/sales, you name it. I also read a lot of fiction for the sheer joy of reading. To be a good writer, you must be a good reader. And since writing is my passion, that pretty much determines I read a lot.
Duke Revard: I know you have a life outside of Insurance, what are some other interests that you enjoy? Did I hear a rumor that your eyes are set on the Theatre?
Carrie Reynolds: From the time I was little, I always wanted to be a dancer/singer on Broadway. I am a musician (play clarinet), but have never taken a dance or singing lesson in my life. I may lack the skill set, but I bet I would practice harder than anyone just for the opportunity. I'm a HUGE musical junkie and think it would be ridiculously amazing to be on stage, under those lights and taking people through an entire range of emotions with song & dance. A beautiful thing really.
Duke Revard: Who knows, maybe we'll see you on or off-broadway one of these days. As we wrap up here, perhaps you will share your operating digital marketing philosophy?
Carrie Reynolds: That who you "see" online is the same person you'll see in real life. One of my biggest pet peeves is meeting someone in real life who is NOTHING like who you've seen online. That disconnect is jarring and quite disappointing. I'm sure I'm not the only one to experience this. I've had many people say to me "I felt like I knew you already and we hadn't even met. Then when we did, I knew exactly what to expect." That's a HUGE compliment to me. I'm honest. If I can't do something right, I just don't do it. My dad taught me that and I practice it every day. And insurance offers ample opportunity to not do something right. If I can help you, I will. If I can't, I'll tell you that too. And probably send you to someone who can. I write like I talk- I don't believe in writing a bunch of garbage that doesn't make sense to anyone but me. Where's the value in that? My writing is tremendously important to me- it allows me to be a teacher, a friend, a cheerleader, a human being and reach so many people. It's truly amazing. And something I love deeply. I don't know it all- and when I don't, I'm not afraid to ask others for help. Everything I talk or write about is field-tested- meaning I've done it, experienced it or had contact with a colleague who has done or experienced it. I'm not big on pie-in-the-sky theory- I want real, practical, helpful information and I know others do too. I believe that insurance is one of the most noble professions out there- and you won't find a more passionate advocate about the insurance agency system than me. Most of us aren't in this for the money, trust me. We do it because we truly enjoy helping people, in whatever capacity that is.
Check out other Great Content from Carrie Reynolds, The Insurance Goddess
- How NOT to Make Your (Boring) Business even MORE Boring Online
- Insurance Agents and Digital Marketing - Why Carriers Can't Help
- 4 Reasons Insurance Agents Are Scared of Walmart Selling Insurance