As we work with agencies and other industry businesses, it is clear how far many still have to go to leverage the impact marketing can have on their business. Somewhat shocking is that many don't market themselves in any measurable or meaningful way – at all.
If our industry recognizes anything, it is the need to show up every day and service existing clients. We also recognize the need to work regularly to sell and bring on new clients. But very few embrace the fact that marketing is also a critical daily function of running a healthy and growing business.
As we promote our marketing division, we get a clear look at where our industry businesses are in the marketing evolution. We see several critical shifts that most need to consider to make their growth more predictable.
Many agencies' closest thing to a "marketing team" are the individuals responsible for taking prospects and clients “to market” - to get quotes. Let’s start calling this valuable effort what it is, maybe the “quoting team?” Regardless, let’s stop fooling ourselves and face the fact that this isn’t the type of marketing necessary to get the attention of new prospects.
How to make this shift – Recognize marketing efforts for what they are and integrate them into your weekly, if not daily, business operations.
Everyone has a website, but, as we evaluate websites, what we mostly see aren’t much more than electronic versions of brochures. What should be a dynamic and engaging communication with your target market is anything but.
Once launched, too many tend to forget about their website and leave it to deliver the same tired message day after day. Too many agency websites emphasize how long they've been in business, the carriers they represent, the free stuff they give away, promises of better service, and maybe one of the owners giving away one of those big checks to a local charity.
If you removed the logo, you would be hard-pressed to tell one agency's website from another.
Most websites basically establish the fact that the business doesn't suck. But precious few are so compelling and valuable that visitors keep coming back or reach out on their own to learn more.
How to make this shift – Make your website a go-to destination for your target audience for continual learning. Do this by discussing the challenges your prospects and clients face in running their business and provide ideas and resources to start overcoming those challenges.
While most everyone participates in social media personally, most miss the opportunity to leverage its potential for their business. Even when they try to capitalize on social media, very few encourage or even allow everyone on their team to participate as part of the collective voice.
Often this responsibility is given to one individual, and it isn't unusual for that individual to be a 21-year-old intern. This happens because they're 21 and understand social media. Dangerously, they don’t have a freakin' clue about the industry yet, but we look past that minor detail.
How to make this shift – Develop a social media strategy for your team. This should include a company page on LinkedIn, complete personal profiles for each team member, and a plan for how everyone will engage on the platform.
Then there are those agencies who decide they want to position themselves as thought leaders and start a blog. We LOVE this idea and know how impactful it can be.
However, they often will write a blog or two and realize creating content is hard; creating quality content is really hard; creating quality content on a regular basis can be overwhelming.
They then get distracted by the next squirrel that runs across their path, and the "interweb” is left with another abandoned blog.
How to make this shift – Create a list of topics that your target audience will find interesting and helpful and establish a cadence for how often you will create content. Once created, have a strategy for sharing the content (subscriptions, email, shared on social media, etc.).
This is the ultimate shift in marketing, one we rarely see in our industry. This type of marketing is THE difference-maker. Whoever figures it out and commits to it in a given market will own and dominate that market.
Making this shift starts with the recognition that marketing isn’t a project and it isn't optional. Like sales and service, marketing is a critical daily function of running a growing and healthy business.
As the name implies, this type of marketing is about educating the buyer. Not about the features and benefits of a product, but how to make their business stronger and more successful.
This means you have to:
- Study and understand the buyer
- Study and understand their needs
- Study and understand how to put solutions in place to address those needs
- Study and understand how to communicate all of this consistently
How to make this shift – Admittedly, this is a significant shift. To better understand why you would want to make this kind of commitment, read books on the topic (check out the OG Inbound Marketing by Shah and Halligan or Permission Marketing by Seth Godin for some examples - this isn't a new idea and has a long history of success) or talk to a marketing agency specializing in this strategy for the insurance and benefits industry (Q4intelligence for example 😏).
No, my friends, marketing isn’t easy. But think of all the other things you already do that aren’t easy either – servicing clients, selling, leading your team. You can do this.
But it must start with giving in to the fact that marketing isn’t an optional activity and embracing it for what it is. Marketing is the critical first step of the sales process; it is the step that when you commit to doing it and doing it well, the rest of the sales process becomes infinitely easier.
And a reader bonus– Here’s some free marketing sh!t from us to you - Insurance Agency Marketing Plan.
Photo by marcinmaslowski.