Marketing has undergone a colossal shift in just a few short years. If you haven’t actively been paying attention, it’s quite likely that you’ve not even noticed. When you’re working as a reseller of someone else’s products (e.g. insurance carriers) and when you have a direct sales force that makes one-on-one contact with prospects and clients, actively marketing your agency is something that probably doesn’t hit very high on your radar.
Someone said Marketing?
It’s quite common to find insurance and benefits agencies without any formal marketing plan, defined marketing activities, or anyone who knows much about marketing at all.
In fact, it’s pretty common that marketing in an agency is not referred to as the discipline of marketing your company and your value offering to prospective clients. But rather marketing is referred to as the process of promoting client businesses to insurance carriers. It means promoting or showing a client risk in the most attractive light to the carrier to get the best possible rate for the client.
These concepts definitely share similarities and both are technically marketing.
It’s time to get serious
However, the idea of externally marketing an agency’s value offering to prospective clients is something that needs to begin taking on a new level of focus and importance in any agency that is serious about the long-term sustainability of its business.
Marketing days gone-by were focused on telling people what you did and how great you were at it. Communication pieces would promote your great service, low prices, length of time in business, name and/or number of carrier relationships.
Now it’s a different story. A different approach altogether is required to capture the attention of prospective clients.
With the Internet, consumers have access to literally hundreds of options to consider for their insurance needs. Which means that if everything you say online says the same thing that every other insurance agency says, why should the prospective client bother calling you?
You have to find a way to make yourself attractive to the client – not just make your client attractive to the carriers.
How do you do this? Well, all those online tools you know come into play in a big way. It really doesn’t matter so much which ones you use, it matters how you use them.
You need to clearly identify who your target client is
Talking to everyone will actually gain you less business than if you narrow your focus to that very specific type of client who needs and values what you have to offer.
You need to identify what their needs are
This includes knowing what they currently need help with, in addition to helping them see what they might not even yet be aware is a need.
You need to educate them
Instead of telling clients how great your service is and how knowledgeable you are, show them. Share your knowledge, share your advice, and help them see firsthand that you know what they need and that you can bring them answers. Take a stand, challenge their current thinking, and make them say, “I never thought about that before.”
You need to share your personality
The days of the corporate façade are gone. People expect to see the individuals (pictures, profiles) of key people (CEO, managers, producers) in the company. They expect to learn about these people and find out what they do, what they think, and what they can expect when you finally get to meet face-to-face.
You need to make it an ongoing activity.
Marketing should be a defined role, or a part of a role, within your agency and it should be a daily activity to get your message out there and make connections with clients and prospects. Your marketing person should be in charge of making sure the agency message is being communicated properly throughout the company and in all the company activities.
Marketing your agency value offering is an incredible opportunity for supporting your sales-driven company. It’s not been a focus for many agencies, and it’s not been done well by many who do participate. If you put a plan together and execute well, you can find yourself light years ahead of your competition in a very short time.
Keneipp, of St. Louis-based Benefits Growth Network, coaches, trains, and develops strategies and curriculum for agency growth. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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