Five relevant checkpoints independent insurance agencies can use right now to build a results-driven marketing plan for 2017
1. Differentiate yourself
With the number of direct writers, captive agents and other sources of insurance, if your agency brand does not promise something unique, you are going to have a hard time standing out as a strong option, and could find your current customers easily swayed elsewhere. If you don’t have a handle on what makes your agency different, and that is not conveyed in every customer touch point, you have work to do.
Formulate a value statement. Say it out loud. Share it with your friends, neighbors and staff. Does it make sense? Does it set your agency apart from alternatives? Is it something you could say out loud or does it sound like someone else wrote it for you?
2. Turn your staff into brand ambassadors
Everyone on your team: CSRs, producers, agents, sales specialists, receptionist, by whatever name you call them, everyone in the agency should understand your agency brand and completely embrace the culture, values and promise behind it. If you think of your agency brand in terms of an amalgamation of your staff’s social and personal networks, then it makes sense to leverage your employees in brand building – from videos that feature your employees to behind the scenes sneak peeks that introduce your team to the world, there are no limits to the ways you can shine the spotlight on your staff and turn them into your agency’s brand ambassadors.
Don’t think they will do this for you? You are either underestimating them or not doing enough to keep your employees healthy and happy. Hold a staff event to get a read on how on board your team is and take it from there.
3. Go Long! Activate your customers and clients as brand ambassadors too
Once you have things squared away internally, it’s time to focus on your clients and prospects. The enthusiasm of a loyal customer is pretty compelling stuff. If only it were that simple, right? Brand evangelism will never be achieved by merely meeting expectations, your agency will have to go above and beyond that. It requires a relationship. Get to know your customers, let them know you care and listen to what they say. Ask them how your service was and how you could improve it. And then make those improvements.
And don’t forget the ask. Many of your loyal customers may be ready to promote your brand to friends, family, and followers, yet don’t realize your agency relies on referrals and word of mouth. You don’t have to be annoying about it, just a simple post about referrals on social media once a month is a good place to start.
4. Entertain and connect with storytelling
Storytelling is not a new concept to marketers, and points to the heart of how we assess personalities and connect with each other. Practice sharing your stories on social media and in ad campaigns. Instead of a hard sell approach, tell (real) stories about your agency, yourselves, your staff, your community and your customers– and let the personality of your agency shine through.
5. Raise the bar on how your agency looks – everywhere
Like it or not, you are judged on your appearance at every point of contact: your office location and interior, your brochure, advertisements, direct mail, email and social media. If your office is looking a little run down and tired, or your signage is chipped, or your Facebook page is abandoned, it’s time to step it up. Style, tone, and service all matter. Everything matters.
Begin conducting an informal audit of your agency appearance from the lens of how your customers and prospects see you. Look for small improvements and quick wins to improve your customer experience. From there, you can start to look for ways to invest in larger, long-term improvements to your physical and digital assets.
There you have it: your 2017 Marketing Checklist. Use this to highlight strategies and opportunities you may have overlooked, or could have done better with, in 2016. When done right, and with the right persistence and commitment, you’ll be well on your way to growing a successful independent insurance agency.