Ways to market your insurance agency when you are strapped for cash.
Every time I meet with an insurance agency owner I ask, “What do you do to market your business?” the most frequently answer I get – “referrals.”
This is the story from state-to-state and agency-to-agency.
Many of the larger agencies have sophisticated advertising and marketing initiatives, but most of the mid-sized and smaller agencies are doing little to market their business.
As a marketing professional, it’s hard for me to understand why a business would elect to forego marketing, it’s the fuel that drives your business.
How can you be successful without marketing or advertising?
Mark Twain once said:
“Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.”
I get it, though, marketing and advertising can be expensive. When revenues decline many small businesses begin to cut marketing from the budget because it can be viewed as “non-essential.” However, it’s during the tough times when you need to promote your business most.
We also know that many hard working families haven’t fully recovered from the downturn in the economy, they simply have less money to spend. You still need your brand or your company to be top-of-mind when they are ready to spend.
Obviously, inbound and content marketing strategies are becoming increasingly more important, and so is social media, but there are still many conventional marketing ideas that you can consider when your budget it tight.
If you’re in insurance sales you should always be marketing. There should never be a time when you’re not prepared to make a pitch – regardless of where you are. This means you need a compelling elevator pitch.
When I was a junior executive I was instructed to always be prepared to explain what I was working on in a quick, concise pitch in case I would ever be sharing the elevator with the Chief Executive. The last thing you want is to look unprepared in-front of the big kahuna.
This same technique is taught in business schools all over America.
Attention spans are short and people are busy, you don’t have a lot of time. But you only need a few seconds to grab someone’s attention.
You’ll likely have less than a minute, so if you successfully grab someone’s attention you want it to be good. Make sure to spend some time crafting a killer pitch. Highlight all the ways that you provide value and make their lives just a little better.
If you do a good job, this should provide dividends immediately.
Most insurance agents are thinking locally … that’s smart. Not all marketing needs to be done on a grand scale. What’s going on in your community? Are there opportunities to sponsor the local Little League teams, or charity walk/run? Are there places where your ideal customer spends their time, and how can you get involved?
Are there any community events, like chili cook-offs, or festivals, or markets where you can promote your business?
Search out all your local opportunities to get in front of your customer with your marketing message.
A great way to gain new clients is to leverage the customer base of a non-competitive business in your area. It’s a good idea to put together a group of like-minded business owners in your area and agree to cross-promote.
This can be done with flyers, coupons, bundles, or simple referrals.
When you collaborate with other businesses you expand your reach and potential customer base.
This isn’t for everyone, but when you’re good at it, there really isn’t any better way to build your business than getting out to some networking events. There is something special about shaking hands and getting to know new people.
You should sign up for www.meetup.com and search our networking opportunities in your area.
Be prepared, this will require a bit of a commitment of time, and the results will not be immediate, but a strong network can be a huge asset as you build your business.
I know what you’re going to say … I hate to speak in front of a crowd. I also know that it’s one of the biggest fear for all of us. However, there are organizations who are always looking for qualified subject-matter experts.
It will be challenging in the beginning, but you’ll get better at it the more you do it. So, swallow your fear and get out there. Don’t worry about your skills … as long as your material is good, you’ll do fine. You’ll thank yourself if you do this, nothing provides you greater credibility and authority than giving a speech.
This one may be a bit of a stretch, but I think you should give it a try. Public relations are huge, and there are many ways in today’s online space to get free buzz. I recommend you subscribe to www.helpareporter.com.
There are plenty of media outlets, both big and small, that need questions answered. Why should you not be a source? You’re an expert in insurance related issues, right?
Make sure that the reporter gives you a “follow” link back to your “about” page on your site if this is an online publication.
I know this is the #1 thing you’re all doing, but I felt it needed repeating in case there are any out there not asking for referrals.
Don’t be shy, ask your satisfied customers for referrals. Most people are more than happy to pass on your information if you ask … so do it.
In some cases you can create a bonus program, a small gift like movie tickets for referrals that become customers.
Don’t miss out on an opportunity to get referrals because you were afraid to ask.
New customer acquisition is costly. It’s always less expensive to retain a customer than to develop new ones. You need a program to deepen your relationships with existing customers.
Do you currently have an email newsletter or a blog? If you don’t then you need to consider starting one.
In your blog and email newsletter you need to share useful and valuable content with your customers in a consistent way. This is important, don’t share stuff about you or your products, people don’t care about that stuff… make this about your customers. Share content that make their lives just a little bit better.
As long as your State’s Department of Insurance regulations allow it, you should hold a sweepstakes. Each new customer who gets a quote is entered into a drawing to win something that has value, but is not terribly expensive ...iPads make great giveaways.
This is probably the most important, so I saved it for last. The reality is that there is a huge shift in the way consumers are being marketed. Today, conventional marketing no longer plays a significant role in consumer purchase decisions.
Today’s consumers DVR shows and bypass commercials, listen to ad-free Pandora or Spotify, and can navigate the web or read a magazine and not even recall a single advertisement.
Most phone numbers are on the national do-not-call registry, and it’s darn difficult to get expiration dates by text.
Savvy online marketers use content marketing and social media to connect with an increasingly empowered consumer class. Using content marketing you can market your business without actually marketing.
Since this is a huge component of the new realities of marketing, we will dedicate an entire post to it next time. But for now, you should review your current website with the mindset of turning it into a dynamic environment where you can actively share valuable, FREE, content with prospective and current customers.
Above we have provided these ten (10) easy to deploy and relatively cheap marketing tactics to help you engage you customers, and build relationships even when you budget is tight.
Remember, it is always important to keep your company and your brand top-of-mind with prospective customers. You’ll have to invest some time …but sometimes that comes more easily than money.