Filed Under:Agent Broker, Agency Management

A lesson from NPR for insurance agents and brokers

Tips on how to "find your voice" when communicating with clients

Engaging conversations, especially on a one-to-one level, are essential for every agency trying to reach out to their clients. (Photo: NUPC)
Engaging conversations, especially on a one-to-one level, are essential for every agency trying to reach out to their clients. (Photo: NUPC)

Often, ideas for a column come from the most unlikely places. The same can be said for insurance agencies struggling for ideas for blogs or social media. Being open to lessons from different sources can be a powerful way to bring unique perspectives to your audience.

I recently and started listening to National Public Radio (NPR). One of my favorite programs is called “The Moth Radio Hour.” It's a compilation of true stories told by the people that lived them on all sorts of topics, beautifully presented in a public setting with an audience.

Because of this recent fascination with NPR, for my birthday, my wife gave me two books: “This is NPR: The First Forty Years” and another called “The Moth.”

I started the one on the history of NPR and discovered some of the keys that attracted me to the station. It was then that I realized the applicability it had for agents and the technology I’ve been writing about for several months.

“We’re going to talk to our listeners just the way we talk to our friends, simply, naturally. We don't want to be the all-knowing voices from the top of the mountain,” explained Bill Siemering, NPR's first program director.

It's always one-to-one

I couldn't give better advice to every agency trying to find its “voice” for communicating with its clients, its prospects and the market in general. No matter what method you’re using to connect and engage with your audience, always envision that you’re speaking with one person.

The second most-taught trick (after the one where you’re supposed to see everyone in their underwear) is to find a few individuals and make eye contact with them during the presentation. The same idea works for video messaging.

If you’re recording a marketing video explaining your services, your agency and what makes you unique, think about how you would talk about it with a friend. If you’re putting together a blog post on protecting your home or mitigating risk for your small business, although you want to convey your experience and expertise, you don't want to come off as difficult to understand because of the jargon. As Siemering said, keep it “just the way we talk to our friends, simply, naturally.”

The other takeaway from NPR was the way they report the news down to the individual. As a result, everything becomes a first-hand experience perspective. It was revolutionary for radio. But we can still learn from this today. How often do you look to your field agents or claims adjusters to bring back the stories from the front when you’re looking for something to post about or communicate?

Better yet, what about using Facebook Live to stream something out in the field? Have you asked your customer service representatives to report some of the common questions, complaints or issues your customers have? You can then share them with your customer base, presenting the solution you’re taking to help stop your clients from experiencing it again.

Engaging conversation

I believe in engaging people in conversation. Therefore, successful blogging requires dialogue; that's why most incorporate a comment area. It's about leveraging the relationship and demonstrating that in everything you do.

Fortunately, technology supports that level of engagement, as does social media. Live-streaming video platforms generally have a way for your viewers to comment, ask questions and share their reactions. Even email marketing, when successful, does it by personalizing the message and making the message personal; one is accomplished by inserting merge fields to address the e-mail to “Rick”; the other is done by composing the message as if you’re speaking only with Rick.

There are several new platforms geared specifically to the insurance industry for e-mail marketing, video streaming and more. If you’re using a system that you like for communicating with your clients or positioning your agency brand — or maybe you’ve got a great tool that promotes internal agency collaboration — drop me an e-mail or text me. Maybe I’ll include it in that column.

Rick Gilman, APR, CMP, is president of APPsolute Marketing, a communications and public relations consulting business specializing in mobile marketing and APP development for small business. Contact him at Rick@APPsoluteMarketing.comOpinions expressed in this article are the author's own.


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