One of the great advantages of being in the insurance industry is just about every person you run into is a potential customer. In most states, automobile coverage is required by law. The Affordable Care Act mandates every individual to have health insurance or pay a penalty to the IRS. Mortgage companies require borrowers to purchase homeowner’s policies. The fact is, everyone needs insurance. However, the flip-side to that statement is almost everyone already has insurance. Finding and enrolling new clients is a substantial, time-consuming challenge regardless of the insurance product being sold.
Is Selling as Simple as ABC?
Screenwriter David Mamet wrote what many consider to be the ultimate movie about sales, Glengarry Glenn Ross. In the film, Alec Baldwin delivers a high-powered pep talk to a roomful of skeptical salesmen. As he pounds the chalkboard in his impassioned presentation, he snarls, “ABC gentlemen – Always Be Closing,” It’s a memorable scene full of bravado, but like many Hollywood movies, it turns out, reality is not quite as dramatic, nor as clear-cut as ABC. In fact, as a marketing strategy, ABG might be more useful for insurance providers. Instead of a continuous effort on hard sales, strategic marketing efforts can be far more effective. The following are eight strategies to add to your insurance marketing arsenal.
1. ABG – Always Be Generating Leads
Given the pervasive radio, TV and internet ad campaigns imploring people to switch insurance companies, the inconvenient truth is customers are more likely than ever to shift from one insurance provider to another, often for no apparent reason and with little notice or warning. In the insurance industry, it has become crucial to always be generating (ABG) new leads. Sure, making a sale is exciting and extremely satisfying. Yet, seasoned veterans of the insurance industry know, before you can close the sale, you need to have a solid, qualified prospect sitting in front of you. For every pitch that results in enrolling a new policyholder, extensive customer outreach and multiple contacts were needed well in advance to set up the meeting. It all starts with lead generation – the ongoing process of reaching out and cultivating potential clients for your agency. Great leads = great sales.
There was a time when running ads in local newspapers and school programs and sponsoring kids’ sports teams generated enough goodwill to sustain a thriving insurance agency. But those days are long gone. Successful insurance firms understand and embrace the notion that generating new leads is the foundation upon which their business is built. Utilizing multiple mediums to reach out to new customers, as well as creating networking and upselling opportunities, is the lifeblood of sales and will keep insurance agents successful and busy. Employing numerous methods across multiple channels increases the likelihood of your message penetrating the crowded marketplace. Lead generation and marketing tools include:
• Internet advertising
• Direct mail
• Print advertising
• Email campaigns
• Social media/blog outreach
• Events and networking
• Loyalty programs and branded promotional product rewards
2. Take Control of Your Brand
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was once quoted as saying, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” In other words, people are going to formulate an opinion of your company, whether you like it or not – that’s just the way it is. It’s best if you are in control of your message, communicating your specific insurance offering.
Insurance companies often employ thousands of individuals each with their own take on just about everything. When it comes to corporate communication, maintaining a consistent message is vital for breaking through and gaining access to new target markets. Slogans and taglines should remain the same on all promotional materials and throughout all marketing channels. It’s important to stay on message. From your website and internet advertising to email and direct mail campaigns, from social media outlets to printed materials and sales brochures – all should deliver the same message that sets you apart from your competitors.
Always communicate with the highest quality materials. From business cards and letterhead to signage and brochures, if something is cheaply made or done incorrectly, it reflects poorly on your company and detracts from your overall message. Always put your best foot forward.
Paul Rand was a famous American graphic designer who worked for corporations like IBM, Westinghouse and Steve Jobs’ NeXT. One of his most famous quotes states, “Design is the silent ambassador of your brand.” In other words, your message matters and so does the design. How you present your brand will make an all-important impression on your potential customers. Having a direct mail piece produced? Writing copy for new brochures? Don’t try to scrimp on your creative. A professional look is worth every penny because it strengthens your brand and set your image apart from your competitors.
3. Increase Your Online Presence
These days, customers and potential clients are likely to use the internet to research insurance providers and do comparison shopping on coverage options. It’s imperative to have a strong online presence. How long has it been since you’ve redesigned or updated your website? Nothing is more deflating than going to a site and seeing outdated news or clicking on links that don’t work. If you list promotions or offerings on your website, make sure they are current and correct. Every insurance agency in America should have an outstanding website with clear, up to date information and multiple ways to communicate directly with an insurance professional. Your website might just be your number one point of contact with potential customers.
4. Updated Website Design and Search Engine Optimization
Your website should be clean and uncluttered, look highly professional and optimized for mobile devices. If you have been putting off redesigning your website, you could be hurting your image immeasurably. People make snap judgments based on design, ease of navigation and general usefulness. Frustration with unintuitive or broken navigation are among the main reasons people move on to another site. Websites have been around long enough that many companies have old pages containing outdated information that is confusing to customers. It may be time for a complete website review.
Search engine optimization is also critical to enable potential customers to find your site on the web. Consumers spend hours researching insurance companies online, but you’ll be left out of the mix if they can’t find your content online. With so many insurance companies competing for attention on the web, it’s a must to have your website optimized for search engines.
5. Direct Mail Campaigns – Printed Materials
One of the more reliable marketing tools is an old favorite for many insurance companies. Direct mail offers many advantages. When you have a well-designed, printed piece that goes out in the mail, you can be almost certain your intended recipient will see and read it. Many firms do monthly targeted mailings and large blanket mailings during yearly sign-ups. Direct mail campaigns generate responses, which is why they’ve been used by the industry for decades. A professional direct mail provider can help in every aspect of producing your direct mail campaign. Printed sales materials, brochures, flyers and reports can also make a strong impression during sales presentations. Custom printed pieces can convey complex and complicated concepts that would otherwise be difficult for clients to understand. Printed brochures can act as brand ambassadors as your customers share them with friends and other family members.
6. Email Campaigns
Email campaigns are another great way to inform clients about news, updates, and sales opportunities. The challenge is getting noticed through the blizzard of emails we receive each day. The more interesting and interactive your email is, the more likely you are to generate a higher click-through rate.
7. Social Media
The internet has created direct lines of communication with customers which never existed before. Social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter allow you to post photos, tell stories, and speak directly to your followers. This is a powerful communication tool, but it’s important to remember customers are judging your company based on the content you put up. It’s crucial to stay up-to-date on all social media channels and to make your posts entertaining and informative. Advertising on Facebook is extremely nuanced and requires a fair amount of experience knowing how to get the most out of it.
8. Do What You Do Best and Hire Professionals for Everything Else
How long will it take to learn all the ins and outs of direct mail, social media, internet advertising, and running effective email campaigns? There is a significant learning curve involved in every aspect of marketing. This is why it’s important to ask yourself, is this job best left to those who do this all day, every day? The best marketers are those who can decipher what they do best and what is best outsourced to a quality provider. With the right marketing mix and team on your side, you’ll be in the best position for long-term success.