Ever since we started the Broker Tool Belt I’ve outlined and explained various insurance agent marketing strategies, tips, tools, and resources. However, figuring out how to effectively put the pieces together can be daunting. So this week I’ll begin to outline a basic flow of phases and activities brokers should take to implement a modern insurance agent marketing strategy.
The first thing to wrap your head around is that marketing is the first step of the sales process. Brokerages have traditionally viewed marketing as a tool to establish brand recognition, and as a means to complement conventional sales strategies like cold calling. In the digital era, waiting for a face-to-face meeting to influence a prospect’s purchasing decision will leave you in a very weak and reactionary position.
Instead, brokers need to think of their insurance agent marketing activities as buyer education. Research from Harvard Business Review shows that B2B buyers are looking to work with salespeople that can teach them new things to help run and grow their business. In fact, customer loyalty to a supplier is largely influenced by their interactions with a sales rep. B2B buyers stated they want to work with a salesperson who:
- Offers unique and valuable perspectives on the market.
- Helps navigate alternatives.
- Provides ongoing advice or consultation.
- Helps in avoiding potential land mines.
- Educates on new issues and outcomes.
They’re seeking your expertise; thought leadership. A broker has to begin the buyer journey with a marketing strategy that will educate prospects. Modern consumers do their research online long before the sales meeting ever happens. So by all means, utilize your digital presence as a tool for brand recognition; but creating and sharing educational content through your digital channels will provide prospects with relevance, definition, and context for your agency’s brand.
In order to truly make your insurance agent marketing strategy efficient you must ensure the content you share, and the online channels you use to share that content, are leveraged as tools to capture data on prospects. We’ll come back to this later.
Now that you understand the purpose of insurance agent marketing, let’s dive into the steps you should take to implement your insurance agent marketing strategy.
STEP 1: ESTABLISHING YOUR MARKETING BASE
Every brokerage needs this step to lay the foundation of their marketing strategy. Step 1 influences every other phase going forward, so it’s important to get this right.
Marketing Activity 1 – Digital Branding
In order to be competitive in today’s market, every agency needs a modern, mobile-friendly website with descriptive text based on your Brand Identity:
- Why you’re in business
- How you work
- What you offer
- Who you work with
- Who is on your team
Your insurance agency website should be used as a central hub to host consumer relevant information, and as a platform for you to capture data. Let prospects know who you are, and your unique value propositions. Beyond driving engagement, your website is also the best online channel to use for capturing data on leads. Any other channels you utilize as part of your insurance agent marketing strategy is for the purpose of directing leads to your website. It’s the central hub for them to gather information and for you to collect contact information from them in return. Check out my previous blog post on updating your agency website for tips and tools you can use to optimize your agency website.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Remember to optimize your website for SEO to increase your website’s search engine ranking. It’s also absolutely crucial to optimize your website for mobile as this now has significant influence on your website’s search engine ranking. Check out my previous blog posts for everything you need to know about optimizing for Google’s SEO algorithms:
Marketing Activity 2 – Customer Journey Mapping
So many companies, and agents, make the mistake of deciding how they want to engage with their customers. It’s a poor experience if you’re, directly or indirectly, forcing your prospects and customers to adhere to your preferred modes of communication rather than giving them the experience they want.
When creating a customer journey map, it’s essential to look at the journey from their perspective. What are the common steps taken on their end to go from prospect to customer? What is their current experience like with your agency during those steps? (use some marketing research tools and surveys to get this information directly from your current customers). And, what opportunities are there for you to improve the quality of their journey?
Check out my previous blog to see exactly how to layout and create your own customer journey map that covers every touchpoint from pre-purchase stages to post purchase.
Marketing Activity 3 – LinkedIn
In the world of social media, LinkedIn is the best channel to engage with B2B decision makers. In fact, studies show that 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn.
There are many articles online that detail how to use LinkedIn for paid advertising, sharing content, etc. For the purpose of the broker I’m not here to add to that list of articles. Many brokers have a LinkedIn profile, but fail to fully fill out their profile’s information.
Everyone on your team should have a completely filled out LinkedIn profile with consistent branding, copy, tone, and messaging. Everyone on your team should be connected with one another and connected to your agency’s Company Page, which is also written based on your Brand Identity. This allows leads to see the depth of your staff, the breadth of skills and talent within your agency, and that you’re a modern agency that values transparency and the power of sharing online.
Think Like a Prospect
While I think this would be an awesome plot for a sequel to Tim Story’s movie “Think Like a Man Too”, for now it’s a great way to approach your Linkedin profile.
Relevant leads who view your profile are searching through the LinkedIn network for a supplier who can assist in resolving some kind of business issue, and they want to know if you might be able to help them in some way.
As an insurance agent, your profile should detail what you can do for the prospect; what they’ll gain from working with you. This includes listing out your experience, skill set, and knowledge. But, If you’re making the same promises as every other broker in the market – professional service, free quotes, years of experience – then you might as well just use your profile as nothing more than a contact page for your immediate connections.
Put some personality into it! Provide leads with a preview to what it would be like to work with you. This will help set you apart from other insurance agents who actively use LinkedIn. Also don’t just list out task descriptions. Highlight key achievements with other clients to provide unique value propositions.
Your profile speaks on behalf of you and your agency, so be sure to make a good impression by having a completely filled out profile.
The goal of Step 1, establishing your marketing base, is to have basic-level communications with clients and prospects. For the majority of consumers who research and shop online for solutions, these are minimum requirements that any employer will expect to see from an insurance broker. If you can’t get this organized, you run the risk of losing prospects to competitors with more sophisticated communication efforts.
Marketing Activity 4 – Content Marketing
Remember that most consumers begin their buyer journey with online research. In order to increase the chances of getting that face-to-face meeting further down the sales funnel, brokers need to share the right content today. Regularly share practical, useful information and resources to help prospects understand why your agency is relevant to their research and needs.
Outline your target audience, their preferred digital channels, and preferred methods of content consumption. List out the type of content that would be relevant to your prospects, different types of media you’ll use to share your content (video, images, blogs, etc.), and what channels you plan to share content on.
This requires a lot of market research on your target audience in order to ensure you have relevant content, shared at the right time, on the right channels. Check out these blog posts for tools to assist in your marketing research and content distribution efforts.
Once you’ve figured out your content marketing strategy, you can use some of the tools listed in the above mentioned blog posts to add data capturing forms to your content, and generate utm codes to track click through rates, etc. This data will help you see what pieces of content are performing best and resonating with your prospects and clients alike.
TUNE IN NEXT WEEK FOR STEP 2
Engaging Your Audience
Next week I’ll detail the marketing activities an insurance agent should take to shift gears from passive communication with prospects, to a more proactive approach – and transitioning pre-purchase marketing strategies into post purchase stages.
In the meantime remember, Step 1 establishes your marketing base. Each activity I’ve listed out is relevant to the modern day B2B consumer. Following these sequence of steps will assist in optimizing your insurance agent marketing strategy, increasing lead generation, and driving conversions further down the funnel.