As an independent insurance agent, finding a cost-efficient marketing strategy that fits your style, budget, and business needs can be quite a challenging feat. In our previous blog titled “An Introduction to Effective Insurance Marketing on a Limited Budget” we discussed the importance of selecting a marketing strategy that will optimize what you have and focus on capturing the customers that will provide a return on your investment. We provided various website, social media, email, and direct marketing strategies to capture the customers you need on a marketing budget you can afford.
In this blog, the three main facets of marketing that we are going to explore are Networking, Community Events, and Referrals. Each of these marketing approaches will enable you to build a strong presence in both the insurance industry and your community.
Traditionally, when one thinks of networking, the first thing that comes to mind is the local Rotary ro Chamber of Commerce meeting and “Business After Hours” events. These days, however, networking can be done in any number of ways – from traditional functions to speed networking events, to online communities.
Local Networking Events: Your local Chambers of Commerce and many additional professional organizations host networking events that enable business people to meet. Attend these events and make as many contacts a possible. Many of the individuals that attend these events are salespeople; focus on how you can help everyone that you meet and have fun! Don’t forget to follow-up with a “Nice meeting you…” email or letter. If you really want to gain exposure for your agency, consider a leadership position. While everyone involved in the group will not know every member, you can rest assured that they will all know the President and other members of the leadership committee.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a great resource for building your network online. It provides you with an opportunity to network with not only the people you know, but the people they know as well. Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn is primarily a professional social networking site, and many groups and organizations that meet in traditional settings offer LinkedIn groups as well. Extend your traditional Rotary, Kiwanis or Chamber membership by joining the affiliated LinkedIn group. Become an active participant in group discussions. Post links to blogs you’ve written. Comment on others’ blogs. Don’t comment just for the sake of commenting, however. Be sure you have something valuable to add to the conversation.
Volunteer: There are many opportunities for growing your business while volunteering. Not only will you get great PR in the newspaper and meet other local business owners and community members, you will also have the opportunity to educate people about their insurance options. Here are a few suggestions:
- Sponsor a police or fire department event.
- Host Seminars coving information such as Insurance Basics, Baby Car Seat Safety, or Financial Planning.
- Step up when local organizations are looking for speakers for their monthly meetings.
- Volunteer to coach or sponsor a youth sports team
- Take a leadership position at the local Chamber of Commerce
- Set up educational booths at community events.
- Get Creative: Unless you do something memorable, very few people will really remember the insurance agent he or she met while attending the county fair. So get creative. One trick is to use smoke detector batteries as hand-outs. Don’t just count on foot traffic either. Promote the event via community boards and Facebook to get the message out in a cost-effective way. Get even more leverage by pulling the promotion back into the office as well. Invite current and potential clients to stop by the office for free batteries. Charge America and your client-base one battery at a time!
Referral Marketing Program: Provide a reward to existing policyholders for sending new clients to your agency, such as movie passes or a gift card. Promote your referral program on billing statements and/or via your website page and make mention of the program during each interaction you have with your members.
Referral Marketing Exchange: There are many successful agencies that offer incentives to car salesman, local real estate firms, and mortgage brokers who refer their agency to individuals they conduct business with. Some of these incentives include cash, shared expense in publications, or assistance with the distribution of marketing material. (Please check the laws in your area as this is not legal in all locations.)
Referral Specialist: Designate a referral specialist in your office and assign them to develop and support a referral process. Ensure that you track referred business and provide a greater commission to the individual responsible. Not only will this enable a specific person to take ownership of the program, but it will also spark other employees in the agency to see how they could benefit from referrals as well.
Through the many discussions we have had with clients over the years, we understand how challenging it can be to effectively grow and market an insurance agency. Strong referrals, consistent community involvement, and wise business networking, though time consuming, can be very beneficial to your business. Volunteering for the American Red Cross and attending a city council meeting will not only promote your company brand, but will show current and potential clients that you take pride in those communities you insurer as well.
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].