Marketing is a critical issue for any business and your insurance agency is no different. The hardpart is that marketing can be expensive and time consuming whether you have a large or small agency. Here are some tips to get the most out of your marketing resources:
Find Your Niche
Insurance is a very competitive industry. There are tons of companies offering very similar products, so the question is: how do you stand out? Before you start creating marketing campaigns, you need to determine what you want your agency to be known for and who are the “dream customers” that you want to reach.
- Start with what you know. Think about your personal background, your previous work experience, who you can relate to, and your personal interests. What skills and knowledge do you possess that the agency down the street does not have? Maybe it is just your experience that sets you apart from the crowd.
- Example: Corban Enns, the president of Surety Solutions, was working at a law firm where he specialized in helping mortgage companies become licensed when he had the idea to create Surety Solutions. Since then, Surety Solutions has specialized in offering mortgage bonds because of the experience Corban Enns brought to the company.
- Look for the gaps. What products do other insurance agencies miss? What opportunities for cross-selling do they not offer? Look for the gaps in what your competitors are offering. If you can come up with a creative way to fill the gap, then you can avoid the competition and gain customers.
- Example: More recently at Surety Solutions, we have been putting a focus onto our certificate of title bonds. Since they typically offer a low profit margin and the customers often require more assistance through the process, other surety agencies have not put as many resources into marketing that bond type. We were able to adjust our pricing structure in a way that made certificate of title bonds more profitable. We also created step-by-step tutorials on how to get a bonded title in every state to help walk customers through the process of getting their bond and bonded title. Without other agencies aggressively going after that market, we were able to quickly become industry leaders.
- Determine your optimal client: Once you come up with some ideas for what products to focus on it is key to determine what your optimal client would look like. The more you understand what your “perfect client” needs, wants, and knows about your product, you can start creating marketing campaigns that have a laser focus on them.
Build up to the Sale
- Don’t propose on the first date: Most people do not like being sold to, especially right out of the gate. You want to build a relationship with a potential customer and show them that you have something to offer. There are many ways that you can go about doing this, find what works best for you and plays to your strengths. You could try hosting a free seminar for first time home buyers or a classic car show. Be creative!
- Example: At Surety Solutions we learned quickly that a lot of our customers do not fully understand what a surety bond is, so an easy way we started building relationships was to offer content that explained what a surety bond is. We created hundreds of blog posts about surety bonds in a language our customers could understand. Those blog posts have been a major influence on our company’s growth.
Perfect Your Website
- Have a quality website: This is no longer just a convenient option for businesses to have, but a necessity. More and more people are researching businesses online and you want to make sure that you are providing the information they are looking for before someone else does. A good website should help potential customers to become familiar with your agency, understand how you are different from you competitors, and realize the value you offer.
- Blog: To take it to the next level, your website should have a blog section. On a blog, you can provide your clients with the latest news in your agency, the industry, and just help them better understand your products and related topics. Take note: A blog is only useful when it’s updated; if you don’t have time to post something at least once a week you might consider hiring someone part time to help create content.
- Make the future easy: When you are setting up your website you should make sure to work with a company that will make it simple for you to update the site yourself. You do not want to have to reach out to a web developer every time you need to change something on your website. Your website should always be accurate and a living, active resource for your clients.
- Make your site responsive: More and more internet users are accessing the web from a mobile device. According to smartinsights.com, as of 2016 51% of time spent online in the US is on a mobile device. This means that you have to make sure your website displays properly on these smaller screens. Not only do you have to worry about the way your site works, but you have to remember that anything that you would click on the computer you have to touch on a mobile device. This means that if clickable objects are too close together it may be difficult for your website visitors to select the right one.
Connect on Social Media
- Create social profiles: Your customers are on social media, are you? If you aren’t on social media you are missing out on free opportunities to connect with your clients. This is a great way to make sure everyone is kept up on your latest promotions and other company happenings. However, social media is made to be… well, social. Don’t be too "salesy", try to be conversational. This is a great way to build stronger relationships with your clients and hopefully start new relationships.
- Be where your clients are: Many agencies are willing to join familiar social media sites like Facebook but are unsure about sites they don’t have as much experience with like Twitter or Google+, but it is important for you to be wherever your clients are. Being on one network just is not enough anymore, the more people you can connect with the better. Just like with blogging, you need to stay active on your social media to be effective; try to post something daily even if it’s something simple.
- It’s okay to ask: Don’t be afraid to ask your clients for referrals. Most importantly, don’t just ask, reward! Make sure to check out your state’s laws on referral gifts first, but if you can you should make it worth it for your clients. Have fun with it. You could do simple coffee gift cards or a drawing for something more significant. Just make sure that you find something that fits for your “ideal customer”.
- Collect reviews: When people research businesses online one of the first thing they look at are reviews. If your company doesn’t have reviews it makes it hard for potential customers to trust you. Not only are reviews helpful for potential customers but they help you understand from your clients’ perspective what you are doing well and what you can improve on.
- Encourage and reward: Writing a review can be a hassle, so you are going to need to encourage people. Just like with referrals, you should create a fun way to make people want to leave you a review.
- Example: At Surety Solutions, we have done a few different promotions to seek out reviews, but one of the most successful took place in November of 2015. We asked for our customers to write Google review. Those who did were entered in a drawing to win one of three Amazon Kindle Fires. We ended up receiving 32 new reviews, 31 of which were 4 or 5 stars.
Make it Easy on Yourself
- Get help from a tool: Adding new marketing activities to your already busy schedule might sound overwhelming. Luckily, there are tools to help make your life easier. One of the most important tools that you can have is a software that will allow you to manage all of your social networks in one place. There are several programs out there to choose from, just make sure the one you choose includes key features like allowing you to schedule posts and manage conversations.
- Example: Can you give examples of tools, list a few, explain pros and cons maybe?
There are all sorts of marketing tools out there for you to explore. Here is a list of 26 marketing tools we use here at Surety Solutions.
Don't Stop There
Effective marketing is really about finding what works best for you and your customers. Keep trying new things and try to keep accurate measurements on how they affect your business. Try to have fun with it and show your customers your personality through your marketing efforts.