Marketing is growing in importance for insurance agencies, and it’s assuming a more and more significant role in the overall prospecting and sales effort. Reflect on your activities – how engaged are you and your company with marketing? And be honest about it. You may be surprised at how much time has passed since you last engaged. When was your last LinkedIn post? Your last blog article? Your last marketing-focused email?
Filling the pipeline has historically been a salesperson’s responsibility, but that is expanding to include marketing as well. So much so, that the lines are blurring between sales and marketing teams. And everyone on those teams must be participating in creating and sharing content with your buyers. But not just random content.
You have to start with strategy
Without a strategy, you don’t know what you’re aiming for, and any activity seems like good activity.
With a strategy, you’ve decided to target specific things, such as increased website traffic, higher numbers of followers or engagement on social media, or number of blog subscribers. When you can see you’re hitting or exceeding your numbers, you know you’ve got a good thing going and to keep it up. If the numbers aren’t budging, you need to make some changes.
Put some thought into what you want to accomplish with your marketing effort and write it up into an outline and guide for your team to follow.
- Determine your intent with marketing and what you want to accomplish: Increased brand awareness, number of connections, improved sales, etc.
- Then you can decide what mediums you’ll use to get there: Website, social platforms, publications, etc.
- And finally, you can start to organize the type of content you’ll create and how to distribute it and on what frequency: Blogs, social cards, videos, articles, etc.
Buyers want to hear from you
You may think that creating content isn’t worth the time, that buyers don’t really care about it. But they care. In fact, they care a LOT. They want to know how and what you think before they want to talk to you. Hands down. If they don’t find information online or can’t find satisfactory information to read or watch, they’ll just move on, and you’ll never know it.
Buyers want to learn about companies from the various forms of content they share. Putting your thoughts and ideas into a consumable format makes it the most valuable way for your audience to learn about you: how you think, your philosophies, and how you approach the industry. Ultimately, through this consumption, buyers want to discern how you would approach their account.
Don’t dismiss the importance of this content as a “nice to have” component of your marketing mix. The average user is reading/consuming multiple pieces of content before making their final buying decision – up to 13 PIECES! That’s a lot of content! Even if your buyers are only consuming half this, that’s still a lot of interaction that you’re responsible for making available.
Do you have 6 - 13 different pieces of content for your buyers to consume? Go look and see what you come up with.
Blogging – should you?
Should you be blogging as part of your content strategy? The marketers and stats say yes. B2B blogging is consistently part of an effective strategy.
Companies who prioritize blogging see higher returns from their marketing efforts than those who don’t include a blog in their marketing mix. Website traffic naturally increases for companies with a blog because they’re giving people a reason to come back to the site.
Why are they reading blogs? Good question – they want to learn something new, they want to be entertained, and they want to learn about trends related to the industry.
Buyers want to learn and consume on their own time without anyone interrupting them, pushing an agenda, taking over the conversation, not focusing on what they want. When it’s just them and the content, they can get a feel for what it might be like to be a client. Will they get the type of strategy and solutions they want or know they need?
Provide them with the answers to questions through your online presence – repeatedly and often and in different formats. Quality content shared regularly leads to readers developing trust and confidence in you and your organization. Get them so comfortable with the way you think that they feel they know you and reach out for a conversation.
Bring different perspectives
We don’t want to leave content creation and online presence to just one person – marketing shouldn’t be the responsibility of a single individual on your team. It should be a group effort where you’re bringing together a variety of ideas and perspectives to create content that represents the diversity of your organization.
And quite frankly, the buyer doesn't care who is creating or sharing. They want to read multiple content pieces before making a buying decision. If that's from the salesperson, from the company, from the executive - all should be active, sharing online, and participating in creating and sharing content.
While you can’t make anyone participate in social media, you can establish your company expectations. If you have people on your team in these key roles who don’t want to participate, you both need to consider if they’re in the right role. Online presence is a critical part of establishing a personal and company brand.
- Executives need a strong presence on LinkedIn. They are the face of the company and should be actively putting themselves out there, connecting with people, and sharing thoughts, beliefs, and ideas that drive the company.
- Salespeople should be fighting for the time to get on social media and connect with potential buyers. #AlwaysBeConnecting
- Marketing is a critical part of rounding out the overall messaging. They take a holistic approach to make sure all bases are covered and all aspects of the company message and content are being shared correctly and with frequency.
But content is hard!
Yeah, true story. Content development is hard. And time consuming. But that shouldn’t be the reason you don’t participate. Prospecting is also hard. So is managing people. And running a business. But you’re doing all of those things.
The benefit marketing has over all those other difficult things you’re doing is that once you’ve created and shared content, it’s out there working for you 24/7. Your content works for you round the clock, and when you create new content, it just adds to the other, building up your accessible library of information.
Make content development a priority, but do it smart. Create a single item and reuse or repurpose it in many different ways.
- Include it in an email newsletter
- Send an email that directs people to a landing page
- Share it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook
- Share it with your LinkedIn connections individually (as appropriate)
- Connect with influencers and ask them to share to their audience
- Include it in a blog
- Make a video out of it
- Create an infographic with it
- Make an eBook for download
- Create a graphical card to share on social media
- Interview someone about the topic
- Create a checklist
- Write up a case study
As you look around at the marketing reports, another key finding you’ll see is that marketers commonly outsource content creation because it is so hard and time consuming. It’s okay to be okay with that answer for yourselves as well. But also, be sure you’re getting the quality content that really represents your company.
AND, as a warning, don’t get too comfortable with all your content coming from an outsourced option. Some of it should be created by you. Have someone else help with editing sure, but there are some ideas and stories that can only come directly from you and your team. And those are gems you want to capture and share. Have a mix of content, but the bottom line is that however you go about doing it, you want to let your ideas shine!
Photo by motortion