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Effective Insurance Marketing on a Limited Budget

MarketingDid you know that your target customers need to hear your marketing message at least seven times to influence a buying decision? The best marketing programs provide high volume exposure and repeat touches in the market.  This poses no problem for the big insurance giants who appear to have unlimited funds. For the independent insurance agent, however, it requires careful planning and creative thinking.

Unfortunately, many independent agencies, strapped for time and resources, focus on having prime office space, state-of-the-art computer equipment, and expensive office furnishings, but neglect to allocate the funds necessary to market their agency.  In fact, when push comes to shove, the marketing budget is often the one that gets cut.

It is important to note, however, that you don’t need to break the bank in order to effectively market your agency.  The fundamental secret to creating a high-impact marketing plan on a limited budget is to optimize what you have and focus on capturing the customers that will provide a return on your investment. Instead of hiring an expensive advertising agency that is incapable of cost-effective marketing tactics, use some of these low-budget marketing initiatives instead.

  • Website Strategies:
    • Have an easy to remember website address that relates to who your insurance company is or what you do. Also, make sure you list your website address in all of your agency materials.
    • Provide helpful insurance information to website visitors. Answer common coverage questions or offer helpful home/auto maintenance suggestions.
    • Don’t over-do it! There are ways to create an impressive site using less-complex template or open source approaches.
    • Don’t let your site stay stagnant. Refresh your content and add new material as often as you can.
  • Social Media Strategies:
    • Use social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to share relevant, educational, informational or entertaining content – not to self promote.
    • Join and actively participate in local online groups on LinkedIn
    • Locate a niche/ group where you can be an expert and offer helpful insurance hints and suggestions.

Here are a few quick links we stumbled upon with additional information on using LinkedIn for insurance:

  • Email Strategies:
    • Include a promotional message and your website address as part of your standard email signature. If you have social media accounts, invite people to “Like,” “Follow,” or “Join” you.
    • Run your email copy through a spam detection tool (i.e. EmailExam, Acxiom Digital, or Lyris Content Checker) to ensure your emails will not be caught in a spam filter.
    • Send email reminders when policy renewal dates are coming up.
    • Send monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly client newsletters.
    • If sending bulk mail, provide clients and potential clients with an easy opt-out email process. Sending email to people who want themselves to be removed from your list projects a poor business image.
  • Direct Marketing Strategies:
    • Create a more effective list by using demographics, psychographics, and some of the other list segment tools available.
    • Before committing large sums of money to full-blown programs, test your mailing and telemarketing in small quantities first. Also, use the information you learn on every program to make the next work better.
    • Postcard mailers have a low production cost, the first-class postage is more cost efficient, and work very well. Drive interested parties to a web form or a toll-free phone number.
    • Use two color printing instead of four-color printing. This will save money and pull as much response as would a four-color mailing.

We here at SIS understand the challenges of our clients and the importance of budgeting wisely when owning a small business. Through our experiences, we have noticed some additional cost saving marketing techniques include sending handwritten personal notes to prospects and customers, creating content that can be used in multiple marketing scenarios, and partnering with larger insurance businesses to increase credibility.  Also, build a successful co-op relationship with your insurance carriers enabling you to offer competitive products and pricing.

Aside from providing a solid software platform to help agencies run better, we aim to provide assistance to our agency partners in every way we can. For that reason, we have taken the time to research and write about areas such as this that we feel would be of benefit to independent agents.  In cases such as this we are able to draw from the knowledge of the marketing team at NuGrowth Solutions, our parent company, and Agency Marketing Partners, the insurance marketing arm of our business.

If you would like to find out more about our core competence – our Partner XE agency management system – and how it can help you as you strive to streamline workflow and build your books of business, please contact us at 800-747-9273 or [email protected].

Insurance Producer Retention

Despite current workforce trends, it is still possible to attract more talent than your agency needs. Hiring and retaining talented Insurance Producers is a huge factor in the overall business process. Hiring to retain and train a person for a long term working relationship is very time consuming and requires leadership and commitment. This article covers some helpful hints, as well as external links, to help you retain a success workforce and encourage success.

Retention Tips

Hiring successful Insurance Producers that will enable you to maintain and grow your insurance business is just the start, next you have to keep them. For businesses to avoid the costs of high turnover (i.e. time and productivity), here are a few tactics to retain employees:

  • Offer a competitive benefits package that fits the needs of your employees such as health and life insurance, a retirement-savings plan, flextime, and telecommuting. This shows the employees that you recognize and care about their lives outside of the work environment.
  • Provide some small perks such as free bagels on Wednesdays or company provided lunch during monthly meetings. It might seem insignificant to you, but employees will appreciate it and may be more likely to stay.
  • Use contests and incentives to help motivate employees and make them feel rewarded. These types of programs can keep employees focused on goals and excited about their jobs.
  • Promote from within whenever it is possible. This gives employees a clear path of advancement and conveys that hard work and dedication does not go unrecognized.
  • Encourage employee development through on the job training or tuition reimbursement to help further an employee’s education and value to the company.

We at SIS understand how important it is to retain employees. Through our shared experiences, we have learned that a dynamic way to retain employees is to spend time focusing and improving the company culture, training programs, and incentives.  Don’t underestimate the importance of effective managers. Effective managers communicate clear expectations to the employee, share the big picture of what constitutes success, and provide frequent feedback to ensure the employee feels valued. In essence, developing effective managers will in-turn lead to a well-developed staff.

Aside from providing a solid software to help agencies run better, we aim to provide assistance in key business initiatives such as those described in this blog. For more information, please feel free to contact us at 800-747-9273 or [email protected].

Strategic Insurance Software Announces the Release of Partner XE Version 2.0, a Leading Agency Management System for Independent Insurance Agencies

Strategic Insurance Software (SIS), creators of Partner XE, a leading agency management system for independent agents, today announced the release of Partner XE version 2.0. The new release will be rolled out to all users over the course of the next six weeks.

This release brings SIS customers an improved web based architecture and over one hundred enhancements aimed at streamlining business operations, putting critical information at their fingertips, and allowing agencies to grow and scale without replacing their systems.

Alex Deak, CEO of SIS, stated “This comprehensive and significant release represents the next generation of Partner XE, and is a great advancement for our customers. The SIS team and NASPA workgroups collaborated to prioritize and include the enhancements that matter most to our customers. The feedback from customers who have previewed Partner XE 2.0 has been tremendous and we’re looking forward to getting this update into the hands of all our users.”

Some of the major enhancements in the release include branch management capabilities, an enhanced agency accounting module, a new web-based dashboard page, increased Outlook integration, more mobile options, and a new download assignment process for better policy management. Improvements to the SaaS based architecture and database structure were made, allowing for stronger interoperability with other best of breed systems, and increased speed and reliability of the system.

“Partner XE Version 2.0 is a milestone for us,” stated Paul Fuller, EVP of Product Management for SIS. “It brings a new level of usability to our agencies. It also allows us to better leverage Partner XE as the hub of agency operations, and tie in other critical technologies that an agent needs to operate their business.”

Michael Sweere, President of the National Association of SIS Partner Agents (NASPA), includes “SIS continually takes NASPA feedback and advice on the direction of Partner XE. We’ve previewed the advancements in version 2.0, and are looking forward to implementing them across our agencies.”

This release will be put in place for all Partner XE customers in the coming weeks. For more information about SIS and Partner XE, visit https://sispartnerplatform.com, or call SIS at 1.800.747.7005.

About Strategic Insurance Software:

Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Strategic Insurance Software (SIS) is the team behind Partner XE– an innovative web-based insurance agency management system that helps independent agencies streamline workflow and grow their business. Built on a foundation of strong technology and exceptional service, we’re moving forward with a constant eye on innovation that will make independent agents’ lives easier. Supporting downloads from nearly 300 carriers, real time interaction, integrated agency accounting, and much more, Partner XE is a full featured system at an affordable cost for the independent insurance agency. https://sispartnerplatform.com

About NASPA:

NASPA, the National Association of SIS Partner Agents, exists to support and serve independent insurance agents who use the Partner XE agency management system. Created by and for agents, we are a national organization that advocates and supports the direction of Partner XE on behalf of our members to SIS, our agent members, and to the insurance industry. http://www.partneragents.com.

How to Attract Young Agents

Insurance agencies around the globe are faced with the opportunity of attracting young agents to the field of insurance as a career. Due to the rising cost of a college education, most students are choosing fields that yield a big paycheck, such a medicine, engineering, or computer science.

A recent article published in Cover and written by Jaco de Jager titled “Attracting new insurance talent-can we learn from the land down under?” stated, “The field of insurance ranked a lowly 20th out of 21 industries that students are interested in.” Also, research performed by the company Accenture indicated that 50 percent of today’s insurance agents will retire in the next 10 years and for every two agents that retire, there is only one college graduate ready to replace them.

The insurance industry as a whole struggles to attract young talented agents. Failing to fall into one of the high-earning career categories and lack of glamour are only a few of the reasons why. With the use of social media as a major form of advertising and robust Agency Management Systems on the rise, attracting young agents with skills in technology to the insurance field becomes vastly important.

So how can you attract young insurance agents that will not only replace the leaving workforce, but bring new ideas and skills to the industry? Here is a list of suggestions for attracting young agents to the field.

  • Participate in career campaign to highlight the scope of the insurance industry and the immense extent of opportunities in the field. You can accomplish this by attending career fairs and providing information booklets to high schools, universities, and tech schools outlining the benefits of working in the insurance industry.
  • Offer internship opportunities to college students that have not claimed a major.
  • Recognize young insurance professionals with awards and scholarships.
  • Offer learning opportunities which will in turn provide the ability for upward mobility and career advancement.
  • Increasing your technology, such as:
    • Replace legacy core processing systems with modern systems and architectures.
    • Embrace trends such as mobile devices, social media, and cloud computing.

We at SIS understand how challenging it can be to attract and retain young and talented employees. Through our collective wisdom and/or scraped knees we’ve gained along the way, we have learned that a fundamental way to attract and retain young talent is to understand them. Owner and managers should recognize that these employees are used to being able to obtain information instantaneously due to their access to data through electronic sources (i.e. Google and YouTube). This means that feedback must be frequent, transparent, and show value to the employee. This will not only assist in building strong work relationships, but instilling company values as well.

Aside from providing a solid software to help agencies run better, we aim to provide assistance in key business initiatives such as those described in this blog. For more information, please feel free to contact us at 800-747-9273 or [email protected]

Hiring Insurance Producers

The hiring process of Insurance Producers can be a challenging road to travel. From reviewing applications and resumes to interviewing and screening, a lot of work goes into hiring the best person for the position. Hiring and retention are huge factors in the overall business process and hiring to retain and train a person for a long term working relationship is very time consuming. This article covers some helpful hints, as well as external links, to help you make a successful hire.

Hiring Tips

Managers and business owners need to see in terms of direct skills and the potential in people, such as their attitude and ability to work with a team. Not every applicant will match the skills you need entirely, but focusing on hiring top performers who are willing to develop their skills is a smart approach. Though an Insurance Producer applicant may not exhibit all of the skills you are looking for, there are signs of behavioral competencies, personality, and work habits that each strong performing employee should exhibit. These signs are:

  • Can Do: Can they do what is asked or do they have the potential to fulfill the expectations for the role?
  • Will do: Do they have the desire to do what is necessary over the long term to be successful?
  • Good Focus: An employee who doesn’t waver in focusing on the big picture and is more inclined to perform better, compared to someone who often gets bogged down with details.
  • Integrity: Establishing trust and walking the talk are very important. Someone who sticks by their word and believes in what they do.
  • Reliability: An employee the organization can count on to be there when he is needed. He comes to work on time and delivers work on time.
  • People skills: Getting along with a team is critical. Building good relationships with others translates to higher productivity.
  • Willingness to Learn: There’s no good in hiring a smart applicant if he’s not willing to be taught new skills. Instead of wasting your resources on a know-it-all, hire someone who knows the basics but is willing to learn more.

There are many additional ways to hire good Insurance Producers. Once these individuals have been hired, take the steps necessary to grow a strong workforce, which will prove to be a wise business investment in the long run. Below is a list of additional articles for hiring a successful and productive workforce.

We at SIS understand how perplexing it can be to hire for today’s needs and tomorrow’s vision. Through our combined experiences, we have learned that a vital way to attract and hire new employees is to build a standardized hiring process and stick to it! Don’t simply rely on the conversational skills of yourself or your team, but incorporate standardized assessments and structured interviews. There are many assessments and interview tools available that are more consistent than the traditional interview. Also, don’t underestimate the power of using your team for recruiting; this will build both retention and brand ownership.

Aside from providing a solid software to help agencies run better, we aim to provide assistance in key business initiatives such as those described in this blog. For more information, please feel free to contact us at 800-747-9273 or [email protected].