This article was originally published here and has been edited to include needed and updated information. 

Insurance agency growth is dependent on the marketing + prospecting combination. And we’re not talking about “RFPs to the carriers” when we talk about marketing. “Marketing” is communication to people outside (or inside) your company sharing information with them about your company.

Effective marketing can help turn lookers into buyers. This communication is a critical first step in your sales process, and if you’re ignoring it, you’re likely suffering the consequences of an anemic pipeline.  

Empty pipelines abound

The lack of agency attention focused on this type of external marketing is, quite frankly, shocking. The relationship between marketing efforts and prospecting efforts has transformed the buying experience. Yet the lack of understanding insurance agencies have about effective marketing keeps them from well-deserved growth.

We see three things so frequently that we believe it’s the norm and not the exception within the industry:

  • Agencies report insufficient pipelines to meet goals
  • Producers are not meeting their goals
  • The agency admits to a total lack of marketing efforts

It's not about you

Without a focus on the right marketing efforts, you can’t fill the pipeline with viable prospects. Today’s buyers are looking for a new advisor relationship only when they are experiencing some discomfort, either with their current broker or with something going on in their organization – something that the current advisor likely can’t fix.

Your buyers have problems, and they want someone to help them solve those problems. If you can help them, you win. If not, you lose.

Your buyers are going online and looking for two primary things:

  1. Information to help them solve the challenges they’re facing in their organizations
  2. Validation of information about someone they’ve heard of, been referred to, or learned something about

How to lose a prospect in 60 seconds

If the buyer is looking up information on a challenge they have, and the information on your website and LinkedIn profile is about your agency (how long you’ve been in business, what products you sell, and what carriers you work with), they will never even see your site. You won’t show up in search engine results pages (SERPs) because you’re not keeping searcher intent in mind. You lose.

Another scenario is when the buyer has heard about you or been referred to your agency. They look you up and make it to your website or profile this time. But once they arrive, they find the same “me-focused” website described above. You can celebrate that you’ve gotten their attention—but make it a quick celebration. By only talking about yourself, you’re still not addressing their challenges and allowing them to see how their world could improve by working with you. Again, you lose.

These two scenarios play out day after day, and I’m confident they’ve played out on your site more times than you’d like to admit. This was your one shot at grabbing the reader’s attention, and instead of intriguing them and giving them a reason to learn more, they left.

Now, they’re no longer a viable prospect for your pipeline.

How to win a prospect and pull them in

Now imagine that same buyer came to your site (either through search engines or referrals) and found you writing and talking about topics that mattered to them, such as ways to influence cost containment for a benefits program or how to create communication programs to help employees better understand their benefits.

They may even see pictures of your team members with bios that talk about what they do and why they do it. Those bios include links to their LinkedIn profiles where the buyer finds more articles that address these different challenging topics.

The buyer continues looking around and clicks through to the LinkedIn company page and sees more articles, videos, and ideas shared about their challenges. And they see the members of your team leaving thoughtful comments and engaging in discussions with HR managers and CFOs.

Do you think the buyer may be interested in:

  • Clicking the follow button?
  • Asking to make a connection?
  • Going back to the website and subscribing to your blog or newsletter?

Yes. Yes, they will, which is a win for you.

Win or lose—your choice

And guess what? Once they reach out or subscribe, now you have the name of a person who is genuinely interested in what your agency does—a legitimate lead that came to you through marketing efforts. Marketing that works on your behalf all hours of the day and night.

Now, the person who read all your articles and scoured through your website and LinkedIn profile feels like they know you. So when you reach out, it’s a “warm call.” You’re familiar to them, and there is instant rapport. A friendly, welcoming voice responds because they are intrigued with what you’re doing and how you might be able to help them—another win for you.

That’s how marketing influences prospecting and your pipeline. It allows you to win or lose before you ever have a conversation. Because if today’s buyer isn’t intrigued with what you’re sharing online, they’ll have no reason to be intrigued with what you have to say in person.

Remember, it’s marketing + prospecting

Marketing isn’t the only way to fill your pipeline and it does not excuse you from prospecting. You need to constantly focus on getting your name and message in front of people so they have a reason to look for new solutions, question their current situation, and look you up.

Marketing is there to support and enhance your prospecting efforts. But don’t use marketing as an excuse NOT to prospect. Don’t think you can sit quietly in your office and wait for prospects to roll in—you must still generate activity.

We get the biggest pushback from producers and owners saying they’re “too busy” to market. We call BS on that. Do an audit of your time and see how much of your day is spent being “busy,” doing work that can likely be done more effectively by someone else.

Marketing is a critical part of selling now. And if you choose not to make the time to write, record, speak, present, network, and educate, you choose not to put forth your full effort, and you’ll get the results you deserve.

Choose to make the time.

 

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