Agents Must Find Younger Customers Where They Live: On Social Media

WASHINGTON—In a time when communication happens more often through a mobile device than face-to-face, agents must move beyond their old word-of-mouth marketing strategies and embrace social-media outlets to connect with a new generation of insurance customers, a business professor contends.

Speaking today at the annual Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of American Legislative Conference and Convention here, Richard Honack, professor of business at Northwestern University, says recent changes in technology are breathtaking: computers are becoming dinosaurs, replaced by smartphones and other devices; a television can display 16 different channels on one screen; and in the future, while driving in a car, information will appear on the windshield simply by speaking.

“Change is happening so fast that you can’t keep track,” says Honack, However, customers are adapting more quickly than the insurance industry, which means agents need to adjust in order to remain relevant.

Social-media networking emerged as a new component of communication just a few years ago, he notes. Today, it is a major form of communication and a brand builder among the younger generation and future insurance buyers.

“That is the way they communicate,” says Honack. “You have to be there.”

However, it is not enough to appear on a social-networking site. Agents have to say something important and deliver it quickly because their younger customers “just don’t have time” for details.

“You have to change and think differently in a nanosecond,” says Honack. “The younger generation is wired differently from the older generation.”

Agents, he suggests, should go back to school to take a technology course to understand the changing landscape.

“You have to look at your business differently and start at base zero,” says Honack. “Start thinking outside of the box.” 

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