I woke up this morning. Watched the news. Saw four different insurance company ads. To top it off, the local weather was sponsored by a different insurance company. I watched the news for less than 15 minutes. A full newscast might have blown my mind. There are so many choices to choose from; how do you stand out? More on that in a bit. Let's talk consumer behavior first.
My experience this morning reminded me of a conversation I had with my dad a few days earlier. He is your perfect customer. No tickets. No accidents. Good credit. Pays his bills. Bundles his two cars and homeowner policies. Most of all he is loyal. Or so I thought. Knowing my industry he asked me about changing insurance companies. I was shocked. He has been with his agent since before I could reach the pedals. I asked, 'What happened there Mr. Loyal?' His response was, 'Why not, they are not loyal to you. You have an accident or a ticket, and they charge you more or may even cancel you. With all the choices out there, why wouldn't I switch if the coverage is the same for less money?'
I sat back and smiled. The old-school insurance consumer was changing right before my eyes. I pressed him further. 'I never here from my agent. The only time we talk is when I am wondering why my rates went up. Why do I even need someone local? I can't go five minutes without seeing or hearing an ad for this company or that company.' There's a red flag to anyone interested in growing their agency in this market... his agent is not continually selling the value of working with a local agent. Shame on him.
Not only do you have to operate differently to attract the newer web-savvy consumers, you now have to worry about the long-term loyalists who are starting to take advantage of the new world of insurance.
For you to stand out you need to do a little homework to determine how your agency will address who, what, when, where and why.
The Who (not the band)
Who are your target clients? Create personas for them. Are they tech dependent? Are they price driven? Are they service driven? The list could go on.
Now you know the who... what will they want? They are going to come to you with a list of needs and wants. It is your job to create a package that meets their needs while addressing their wants. Be open; what you think they need might not necessarily be what they think they need.
Now you have who is going to buy what. When will they buy it? What is the average buying cycle for each product offering? Do you have instant purchase options on your website? Have you developed a follow up plan that each and every producer in your office will follow? Nothing is worse than getting a bright and shiny new lead and leaving it outside to wither.
When the who are looking for the what, are you there? The first obvious place is online. You might be intimated at first. However, I have good news. You can compete with the big guys online. They are not able to monopolize every keyword combination. If your target client is looking for a specific product that meets their needs locally, they will choose you.
Here is the multi-million dollar (book of business) question. Why should they choose you? Just offering better service is not a differentiator that will set you apart. Is your agency fun? Are you involved? Are you appreciative of their business? Are you looking out for their best interests? Are you an expert in meeting their ongoing and ever-changing needs?
Put all of these together, and you are going to stand out to your prospective and existing client base.
As I mentioned above you can compete with the direct writers and advertisers online on a more local level. But, how do you compete for impressions in the increasingly competitive marketplace of TV and radio? The answer is sheer numbers.
You are part of an elite group of professionals. You are an independent agent. You are part of more than 40,000 organizations that share a common goal. The collective group can outspend even the largest carriers should you choose. You can overwhelm the search results through fresh and unique insurance websites that will push the big guys out. You can join local, state, regional and national organizations like the Big I and the PIA. You can take advantage of marketing co-op programs from organizations like Trusted Choice.
Together we can create an effort that can beat anyone but only if you are thoroughly committed to it.
Are you in?
About the Author
As CEO, Laird Rixford is responsible for providing strategic direction and leadership for the company. Rixford has a proven executive management track record and has more than 20 years of experience in entrepreneurship and insurance technology. An expert in insurance technology and marketing, Laird is a recognized public speaker and has presented at industry events across the United States.Follow on Twitter More Content by Laird Rixford