We may be in the 21st century, but most insurance agents are still trying to generate new business using 20th century methods. Most agents are still relying on the old-fashioned cold call. They are asking for an opportunity to quote on group medical insurance, and then in the absence of an appointment they secure the renewal date. Other than an occasional referral, that is the sum total of their marketing efforts. But in today's world, there are multiple channels for communication.

Twenty years ago, I knew an agent who took out a full-page ad in the Yellow Pages. The result was that he wrote 300-plus individual health insurance policies per year. Today, I do not even have a Yellow Pages phone book in my home or office. I wonder if this agent is still using that technique.


New media, new sales

In today's world, the smart agent is utilizing multiple new technologies to generate new sales activity. Let's define what is meant by "new media." New media includes: idea or product mini websites, email newsletters, Facebook marketing, LinkedIn marketing, mobile text message marketing, Google pay-per-click advertising and YouTube marketing. Each of these tools can be a complete article in itself, but I will try to hit the highlights.

Idea/product specific mini websites. The days of the brochure, one-size-fits-all website are gone. Everyone is in a rush, and what they want when they visit your website is the specific information that matters to them right now. Mini sites are a variation on the Internet marketer's squeeze page. These websites are designed to provide immediate information on a specific subject in exchange for the prospect's sharing their email and/or phone number. It is an amazing tool for increasing your call activity.

Email newsletters. I have covered these in other articles so I will not belabor their value here other than to say that what most people use as a newsletter has very little value as a sales tool.

Facebook marketing. Right now this is all the rage, but few companies, let alone individual salespeople, are using this correctly. You need to set up a company fan page to begin to use this amazing tool. Despite what everyone is talking about, getting "likes" means absolutely nothing. There are tools available today that can take the fan page a step further and help generate referrals - and additional "likes" for your page, if you so desire.

LinkedIn. This is the most underutilized tool on the Internet. It is one thing to have hundreds of connections, but unless you can capitalize on those connections it is all meaningless. For the employee benefit professional, LinkedIn can be a source of an amazing amount of referral business.

Mobile text message marketing. Everyone has a smart phone, yet no one in the insurance industry is trying to use this technology in their marketing. There are several ways that mobile text message marketing can be utilized, but the most obvious is to send an appointment reminder the day of the meeting. This limits the no-shows, as well as helps capture the best contact information.

This is about communicating with prospects in the way they want to be communicated with. Younger people utilize text messaging almost exclusively. A majority of business people are using LinkedIn and, despite what you may think, Facebook can help build relationships.

Schlesinger is an independent consultant focused on helping benefit professionals double their income. Reach him at (336) 777- 3938 or through getmoregroupclients.com.

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