This is a guest post by Cindy Donaldson, Director of Marketing & Personal Lines Sales, Founders Insurance Group, Inc. Cindy Posted this several weeks ago at the Founders Insurance Group, Inc. blog. I thought is was so appropriate I requested permission to post at Insurance Ecosystem. A big thanks to Cindy and The Founders Forum.
I surely don’t consider myself an expert on insurance (yet) – but I do consider myself an expert when it comes to marketing and that includes marketing an independent insurance agency. What I have discovered in my “rookie insurance year” is that the majority of independent insurance agencies don’t understand the true concept of marketing. A good marketing team learns to think outside the box, and then think outside that box. They also need to have a plan, and be flexible with that plan.
Historically, independent insurance agencies such as Founders Insurance Group have relied upon the community to support them. They had a brick and mortar spot and surrounding businesses and individuals bought insurance from them. They grew their business through referrals and the competition across town was ok. Everyone had their place, the industry was respected and people made money…a lot of money.
Throw in a couple yellow page advertisements, maybe a radio spot, support the local charities and all was peachy keen.
Then came the invention of the internet – oh boy, stop the presses, what’s happening to our “June and Ward Cleaver kinda world” said independent agents across the country.
What happened June and Ward is that your world changed and you didn’t opt to change with it. Sales dropped, agencies that didn’t attempt to keep up were bought. Survival of the fittest.
If you are one of those agencies still in the “it worked in 1951 it will work now” mode – you better get on the hip train and embrace the following:
- Social Media. Email, although still great, is becoming passé with the younger generation. You better learn how to Tweet, have a Facebook Fan Page, Instant Message, Text, Blog and show your true colors on LinkedIn. This is the short list.
- Become transparent. If you want to have a step up on the 1-800 people, the internet insurance machines you better become transparent to your prospects and your clients. Let them know who you really are, who your staff is, and why they need to do business with you. Know your value!
- Keep in touch. If you don’t keep in touch with your clients and let them know they are loved – they will leave you. They might say they leave for price – but they leave because they aren’t feelin’ the love.
- Sales culture. Your team needs to understand sales process, learn to overcome objection, and know how to ask for the sale. From principal to receptionist , and everyone in between. It’s a different world out there now. No sitting back and waiting for the phone to ring.
- Don’t sell on price. If you sell on price – you lose on price. Every time. It takes more to get a new client than to keep an existent one. Sell on value and consistently reinforce that value.
- Have a plan. You need a plan and a goal if you are going to move forward. Have a marketing plan and sales goals. Monitor them monthly – make adjustments when you need to. You need to know your sales numbers – daily. No exceptions.
- Be well rounded. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Marketing is very cumulative and people get their information from a myriad of sources 24/7. Use print, radio, internet, social media, traditional networking, outbound and inbound marketing, viral marketing….the list goes on. Have a game plan, track what is working and what is not. Monitor and adjust when needed.
Just my two cents!
Now put away your June and Ward Cleaver mindsets and get hip! The new way of doing business is here to stay.
Director of Marketing & Personal Lines Sales
Founders Insurance Group, Inc.