Employee benefit agencies that fully understand how potential clients consume information and use that knowledge when developing their marketing campaigns can get a leg up on the competition.

Granted, that’s easier said than done. In fact, when I ask audiences at benefit conferences how many advisers feel they are effective marketers few if any hands are raised. Yet understanding a few concepts can go a long way in developing campaigns that resonate with your target audiences.

First, our access to information has changed everything. Buyers spend significant time researching options before ever having a face-to-face meeting with a sales person. As a result, our sales people have lost significant influence over the selling process and buying decision.

Your marketing program — website and online marketing presence specifically — should be looked at as a “member” of your sales team who is working on your behalf all hours of the day and night. This team member should be talking to and connecting with buyers and providing a compelling reason to meet with your sales team.

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If buyers don’t like what they see, don’t see what they want, or just see another version of the agency they already have, they move on, never to return. However, if they are interested in what they see, they read on and perhaps come back several times looking for information and learning more about your ideas.

What’s the problem? Ineffective messages
The second problem we see hindering effective marketing is that most insurance advisers don’t understand their own businesses well enough to create an effective message that properly influences buyers when they come looking.

Through marketing activities, we need to make ourselves so interesting, thoughtful and compelling that readers want to take the next step and commit to having a conversation.

Bloomberg/file photo

To be attractive to your readers, random activity won’t get you the results you need. You need to be intentional in your approach. Start by writing out the descriptions and answers for each of these ideas:

  • Who are your ideal clients? And what do they value?
  • What are their biggest business challenges and frustrations?
  • How do you work and what services do you offer to help them address their challenges?

Then, begin creating content — articles, videos, FAQs, checklists — that acknowledge and answer their challenges and frustrations.

Create content regularly and post it to your website and share it on social media, directing readers back to your site. Make yourself and your website a valuable, educational resource and destination where buyers can come back repeatedly looking for ideas.

Marketing as a member of the sales team
Done right, this online, educational marketing effort could become the most productive prospecting and door-opening producer on your sales team.

And, just like a producer, you need to have a plan for the year, monitoring activity and results and tweaking and adjusting based on short-term performance. You also need to think long-term, expanding on it over time, much like professional development, adding new skills and capabilities to its repertoire.

Bottom line, if your buyers are not interested in what they see from you online, they have no reason to believe they’ll be interested in what you will say in person. Make your agency such a valuable source of information that it draws your readers in so they reach out to you to set up a meeting with your sales people.

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