Even though you may be a producer in an insurance agency, you’re in charge of your own business and responsible for its core marketing functions — prospecting, sales, and client retention.
Years ago, producers could succeed by working in a well-known agency, joining local business groups, civic organizations, and charity boards, and get their name in the newspaper. But not so much today.
The big issue today for motivated producers is how to market themselves so they will be viewed by prospects as the insurance agent of choice. Here are some guidelines of what to do and not to do to reach that goal:
Never use insurance jargon.
Because insurance is highly technical, words have a precise meaning. Unfortunately, it’s easy for producers fall into the trap of turning off prospects and clients by using insurance jargon. They may think using jargon makes them look smart. It doesn’t; it turns off clients, making them feel ignorant and embarrassed, which doesn’t sit well when you are trying to influence them.
What helps an agent come across as knowledgeable and trustworthy is the ability to explain insurance terms and concepts simply and clearly in language they understand. That when someone says, “Thanks. Now I get it.”
Develop a following on Facebook and LinkedIn.
Post interesting and helpful information that appeals to those you want to reach. But don’t make them into an ad for yourself. Let others know you understand their concerns and what they care about. In other words, be yourself.
Most important of all, don’t worry about what your effort is getting you. Marketing takes patience and consistency. If you venture into advertising, consider targeting on Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn. It’s worth a test, but remember, advertising works best over time and the focus must be on your prospects, not you.
Find a niche and work it.
Even though you may view yourself as an insurance generalist, there’s merit in developing a niche or two where you have expertise. Review your book of business: Is there a particular industry that’s of interest to you, one where you may have several accounts? If so, you’re on your way. But, before you jump in, check them out to be sure there’s opportunity for growth. And touch base with relevant trade associations to see if they might welcome someone with your interest and expertise. If so, pitch in, and let the members find you!
Manage and grow your database.
It’s easy to turn the task of managing your database over to someone else — but it’s a huge mistake. It’s your pot of gold at the end of the rainbow so you must be involved, even if you have someone adding new files and making updates. To make it as useful as possible, be sure the information is complete, indicating clients and prospects, add helpful notes, and segment it so you can contact specific groups.
Keep prospects and customers informed.
Not just once a year (before renewal time), but regularly — about every six weeks via email. Cultivate with timely and helpful information — educate them on insurance coverages, use case histories, address seasonal issues, and answer questions that have come up in your work with customers and prospects (real life stuff). You want your readers to learn something helpful.
In other words, don’t make it an ad; the goal is cultivation. It’s not about you; it’s all about the customer: Kid going to college, second home, boat, flood, and umbrella. Don’t expect the agency to do this for you; it’s your job.
Work at shaping a compelling perception of yourself.
It’s here that most insurance agents fail; they allow others to see them as “just another insurance agent.” There’s nothing worse than having this label pinned on you.
If you want to establish your own identity, here’s how to do it:
1. Do what you say you’re going to do.
2. Get to know as much as possible about your clients, including their lifestyle, concerns, and aspirations.
3. If there’s a loss, be there. An 800 number is helpful, but your involvement is essential.
4. Have your account manager keep informed as to the status of your clients so you can be in touch with them. Otherwise, they will get the idea that making the sale is all you are concerned about.
When someone buys insurance from you, the relationship is not with an agency or a carrier, it’s with you. So, act as if your business depends on it. Because it does.
Conduct annual insurance reviews.
Many agents see annual reviews as a waste of time — time that could better be devoted sales. But they fail to recognize that annual reviews are a way to refresh client relationships, answer questions that would not come up otherwise, share your knowledge, and address lifestyle changes or other issues for which insurance can be an appropriate solution. In effect, reviews are occasions for clients to reaffirm why selecting you was a good decision.
Become a presenter.
Salespeople make their money with their mouth. First and foremost, they’re presenters. Yet, they often fail to take full advantage of their verbal skills by translating their insurance knowledge and experience for groups and organizations. “No one wants to listen to someone talk about insurance,” you say. Don’t be too sure. Perhaps, but consumers are very interested in protecting their assets, avoiding costly legal actions, and knowing why some things are covered and others aren’t. The possibility of loss is a concern, as is saving money.
Those in business are eager to hear about how to reduce workers’ comp costs, common insurance mistakes companies make, and what to do about possible cyber attacks. When you talk about what you know and how it applies to an audience, you can speak with confidence. When you do that, people listen.
Take charge of your time.
Most importantly, your primary job isn’t selling insurance (you read it correctly), it’s marketing yourself so prospects will want to do business with you and your clients will see value in staying with you. So, make sure you have the time to market yourself effectively as the go-to insurance agent.
Every producer has heard that insurance is sold, not bought. In the past perhaps, but not so today. Customers are now in charge and they buy their insurance — online or from a competent and caring agent.
John Graham of GrahamComm is a marketing and sales strategy consultant and business writer. He is the creator of “Magnet Marketing,” and publishes a free monthly eBulletin, “No Nonsense Marketing & Sales Ideas.” Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, (617) 774-9759 or johnrgraham.com.