I’ve heard many different definitions of what marketing is, as I’m sure you have too. For most people, it calls to mind ‘advertisement’, whether by means of TV, radio or, these days, the internet. But there’s a lot more to marketing than placing ads. In fact, marketing is a process more than anything else. It is the process by which you get your target customer to be interested in the services or products you offer. A process, by definition, involves several components and steps that need to be taken, and the same is true for marketing. I will be discussing what this process entails in the sections below, but first, let’s see why you as ain insurance agent need to concern yourself with marketing at all and what it does for you.
Why Do I Need Marketing?
Unless you are a monopoly (highly unlikely) or you have the clout of mega companies like Apple or Google (also unlikely), chances are that you have competitors with whom you vie for a specific market. Which means the customers you want have a wide variety of insurance agencies to choose from, so why should they come to you? This is where marketing comes in. It helps catch the attention of potential customers, draws them to your agency and narrows in their minds, the agency to which they will give their business.
Marketing keeps you top of mind for customers. So, when you think of marketing, think of it as a critical component of staying in business, because it is. Now, how do you go about it?
How to Create a Marketing Plan
Marketing involves researching, promoting and selling your products or services, and to do this well, you need to consider all the factors that will help your marketing efforts be successful. First of all, as an insurance agent, you need to know your agency’s vision, how much time and money are at its disposal and the kind of clientele you want to attract.
So, for your marketing plan to be successful, you must, among other things, do a thorough evaluation of your agency, clearly identify your target market and then, based on these, develop strategies and relevant marketing tools. A well-designed market research analysis can help you address these factors.
How To Do Market Research
The reason you should do market research is to enable you to know the reason why consumers will choose your product in the first place. You will need to study consumer behavior and what influences that behavior. To succeed in your market research, you will need to:
- First, be clear as to what you need to know about your market and reasons for desiring that knowledge. Research with clear focus is of great value.
- Focus only on important information whose rewards are quick and useful, since it is not possible to research everything.
- Identify cheap sources of information and materials for your research. Use the internet as much as possible.
Once you have established that you are indeed offering products and services that customers do want, you can proceed to the other elements mentioned above.
Evaluating Your Agency
First analyze the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing your agency today. This is called a SWOT analysis. Be candid. You might discover that your agency has very good products to sell but there is a failure to reach consumers. This SWOT analysis can help you to identify opportunities to uplift the business, which may include offering new products or altering your commission. Finally, evaluate the threats to your business. Threats normally are external, such as competitors, clients losing their jobs or economic downturns.
Identifying Your Target Market
After analyzing your agency, find out who your potential clients are, and strategize how to reach them. I make it a point of duty to be where my potential are likely to be. As an insurance agency, I know that I need to understand my clients in order to serve them well, so I make an effort to get to know them even before they become clients.
Options open to you in this area include social media (which I will talk about below), participating in events which help you to build networks, use of faith-based organizations, local community gatherings, children’s sports activities and a whole market blitz.
Perhaps most relevant to us today is the power of technology. Never forget that technology can catapult your agency to success. For me, meeting my clients where they are means I should be able to reach them through their mobiles. Research shows that people spend over five hours per day on their mobile devices. You can use your mobile phone to achieve astounding marketing results by taking advantage of this massive audience. One way I did this is by creating a website which is responsive to visitors who visit my site using mobile phones, and also by offering the option to communicate by text messages.
Something else I have found most useful in my marketing plan was to have data on each market segment which I was targeting, and I set goals for each. I would recommend that you do the same. However, make sure that your goals (which should go into your marketing plan) are reasonable and measurable. You might, for example, set a goal to increase customers by 30% and retention of existing clients by 10%.
Develop the Right Marketing Tools
In marketing, one size doesn’t fit all. What one person may find interesting may put another off. So, use the right marketing tools for your client demographic. In particular pay attention to:
- Messaging. Ensure that the message you pass across about your products reaches the relevant audience in the right manner and through appropriate channels. The bottom line is your message must be descriptive of your agency and informative to people about your products.
- Creativity. Invent and try new methods in your marketing plan. In this digital age exploit the use of the web, social media and e-mail and you might also include a strategy where existing clients are motivated to refer potential customers.
- Budget vs. Results. From the very beginning, your marketing plan should have a budget so that at the end of a predetermined period you can compare the actuals with what you planned. Use information like the goals you set regarding number of inquiries, policies sold, retention percentage, etc. and measure these against actual performance so as to enable you to gauge the extent of success or failure.
Revising Your Marketing Plan
You will need to revise your marketing plan after comparing the results of the plan and what actually transpired. Revision comes as a result of examining results to determine what worked and what did not in your strategy.
Start your revision by taking a look at what worked well as per your plan and strategize to repeat the same feat or do more next time.
What Did Not Work
It is painful for you to look at disappointing sales reports showing plummeting figures. Discouraging as they are, negative results will help you when revising or planning another marketing campaign. There are factors which make marketing fail, and these include a change in people’s needs, wrong timing or non-anticipated competition and more importantly, your lack of proper understanding of your target market. For you to rectify the failures, you will need to revise your marketing strategy after:
- Talking directly to your prospective customers to know them better and understand their needs.
- Investigating if the channels you used to transmit your message were appropriate. It is possible you used television to run your marketing campaign but people in your target area only listen to radio. Speaking of which, what really are the best marketing channels for insurance agents?
Marketing Tools for Insurance Agents
I cannot overemphasize the value that social media marketing offers to you as an insurance agent. It has been the backbone of my own marketing efforts and certainly worthwhile. I have used social media marketing to grow my following. On LinkedIn alone, I have over 15,000 followers. But I don’t restrict myself to one platform alone. I use a wide variety, and due to the influence of my online presence, on social media alone I generate three to five solid leads a week.
Why is this such a successful strategy? Because using social media makes reaching people easier. With a click of a button you can reach hundreds of people instantly. Depending on your budget, boosting a Facebook post can generate thousands of impressions. If you prefer to use ads, you could use Facebook ads, which will expose your agency to a large segment of the population. The number of active Facebook users is astoundingly high at over 1 billion.
In my opinion however, there is no need to rely on Facebook ads. The key to growing your following on social media, as I have found out, is to create content that is interesting and like-able. In other words, the information you post should be focused but not dull and non-engaging. By creating hard to resist content, you make it easy for people to automatically like and share your content.
Instead of waiting for people to promote your materials online, get engaged in your audience’s posts and comments. If your audience sees that you take time to review, comment and like their posts, having your audience return the favor becomes easier and more willing. The key to successful social media marketing is to stay engaged in conversation online and continue to upload amazing content. Then consumers online see you as the expert and automatically come to you with questions relating to insurance and providing insurance quotes becomes extremely easy. Be aware though that building your audience takes time, so take some time to build a rapport.
Written Content Marketing
Although your focus as an insurance agent is on clients who need a policy at this very moment, do not lose sight of clients who will require the policy in months or years to come. Such potential clients are best served by written content. The point above about relevant content applies here as well, but here you mostly focus on your own website, ensuring it has content that keeps people coming back.
Whether online or offline, ensure that your agency branding is the same in all channels. There must be consistency in the information and even the pictures which customers and prospective clients come across. There should also be uniformity in tone and the manner in which you communicate with all prospective customers and clients.
Never underestimate the power of a good marketing strategy for growing your agency. As I’ve found in my own experience, in the long run, it yields exponential results that outweigh the efforts that go into it.
Article By: Frank Medina
Source: PIA Agency Marketing Guide