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Today’s prospects and customers are in the driver’s seat and boy, are they!  In the insurance world it is definitely a buyer’s market out there and this is because buyers are more informed than ever before.  Today, prior to making an insurance purchase, prospects and customers research and compare policies and insurance carriers and agents, tapping into both the opinions of people they know directly and reviews from online communities such as social media. In fact, by the time a prospect or customer engages with your agency, they may well already be 80 percent of the way through a traditional insurance sales cycle.

The challenge for all marketers in the insurance industry is to engage with this new breed of prospect/customer. When it comes to the social media channel, or channels of engagement, the prospect now calls the shots.  That’s right, you no longer do. We need to ensure that, as an agency, we can deliver brand and message consistency across every single social media channel.  That means we need to be consistent with our message, whether we are communicating in-person, online (social media), from our phone (smart-phone), through email (CRM tool or digital), via our Agency App and more.

My first question is: How many devices do you have?  Do you have a smart phone, smart TV, smart watch, iPad, iPad mini, laptop, or desktop? The average person has three.  I have five, yes five! As agency owners, we need to offer the same type of marketing outreach and overall customer experience across all of these devices and engagement platforms. Our end goal must always be consistency, while connecting with the prospect in the way they WANT to and at the time of their choosing. Can I repeat myself? Prospects want to buy on their time and on the device of their choosing.  Have you agency polled or asked your current clients how they are finding you and on what device? If not, you may be ignoring prospects and that wouldn’t be good.  At our insurance agency, our ultimate goal is to lay the foundations to build lifelong relationships with our customers, based on trust, via our marketing and turn them into raving fans. The best lead is still a referral so the more raving fans you have the more referrals you and your agency will receive.

I should stress to you and your marketing team that rethinking your marketing strategy doesn’t necessarily mean throwing out all the old marketing techniques all together. Keep what works; just make sure that those tools/technologies can be seamlessly slotted into your newer marketing outreaches. And, I’m not talking about ‘what works’ as measured on a hunch basis or a gut feeling.  It’s what works based on the application of marketing analytics. Yes, you must be measuring what is working for you and your agency so you can continue, but it also helps you move away from the strategies that aren’t working. At the end of the day, measuring will help you and your agency’s ROI.

Personalized Marketing Driven by Data

The prospect population that I’m addressing is highly diverse, potentially spanning four or five different generations. We have to consider our approach bearing in mind the individuals we’re targeting and their buying habits. For an older generation of buyers, any overt use of the data we already have on them may have a negative impact on how they view us and our agency brand. However, for younger buyers such as Millennials who’ve never known a world without the Internet or social media and have a different conception of online privacy, a highly personalized approach based on historic purchasing patterns (data is there on them thanks to Facebook etc.), may be welcomed and boost our standing with them with the proper strategy and brand.  Marketing needs to be personalized if you want to have a big ROI! The key is we must be collecting the data and reviewing it.

Customers Become Raving Fans and Co-Marketers

As we become more familiar with our customers as individuals, we’re able to build a much stronger bond built on trust with the help of social media.  In effect, we’re looking to partner with our clients so they also become ambassadors for our agency brands. We market to them and in turn they, as individuals or their company, market us to their friends/customers.  In many ways, marketing becomes more focused on community based building and then helping to inspire members of that social community to engage with their peers. Even if they don’t engage, they still see what’s happening on their wall.  We agency owners NEED to think of ourselves and our customers as storytellers and if we can do that, our agency will have online social success.

Just think, back in prehistoric times when communities would gather around a fire to share stories and to learn from each other.  Today we sit in front of a computer to tell stories that the whole world can see. As a marketer within this insurance agency, my role is to help create sparks of interest in our brand and, together with our prospects and customers, to fan those sparks into flames and create raving fans. Our customers then evangelize our agency into the social and online world to their family and friends. We build the agency’s marketing fire and then our prospects/friends/fans/customers stoke it and keep that fire alive and well!

Social media marketing, just as traditional marketing, is NOT about you, it is all about them!