Marketing is a waste of money and time! – Something said by way too many benefits agencies and advisers.
Is marketing a money pit? It can be if you treat it as an afterthought or one-off activities.
- You get a buddy telling you that you HAVE to do Facebook ads, so you agree to three months of ads.
- Or someone in your business club says you HAVE to go all in on SEO, so you hire a self-proclaimed SEO expert who charges you $10K for what, you’re not really sure. But you know it’s gonna work!
- Or your cousin’s sister-in-law who’s in marketing says that getting article placement via PR campaigns is the ONLY way to grow your business. You hire her to write articles and get them placed in random, unknown publications.
You feel pressured into taking action, thinking this is finally going to be the thing that SAVES your business. Marketing is so complicated and you don’t know what to do, so thankfully someone else has figured it out for you!
You know this is going to put a massive number of excited prospects in your pipeline – you’ve been given assurances it will! You carve out the budget, and tell someone to make it happen.
Because you don’t understand marketing or the importance of its role with your business model and strategy, you don’t get involved with the messaging/copy or the details. Instead, you give a quick glance at some visuals and copy that have been created and say, “Great!” Then you pay the bill and essentially forget about it, except to ask periodically how many new leads have come in.
Unfortunately, what comes from this is a half-assed, quickly thrown together effort, and no prospects. And a confirmation that “Marketing is a waste of money and time!”
The number of times we have heard these stories makes the both the logic and creative in me die just a little.
As the business owner (or book of business owner), no one should be more invested in a proper message and effectively managed marketing effort than YOU. Marketing is a reflection of your business model and if you’re not leading the marketing strategy yourself, you’re passing off the most critical communication to someone who doesn’t know your business even a fraction as well as you do.
What chance do they have of properly representing you and your intent? The best they can do without your intimate involvement is make guesses and put together a generic message.
What marketing should do for you
When you put a logical marketing effort together, it should be one based on a defined strategy and executed with specific activities done repeatedly. This approach prevents you from being pulled into one-off bright and shiny distractions. It prevents you from spending money on ridiculous activities that have no ability to help you in any way.
Your presence is the most important part of marketing – Are you there when people look for you? Do they like what they see? Does it help them in any way?
If the answer is No to any one of these items, you’ve lost a possible prospect, or maybe many, and you never even know about it.
Getting your basic online presence organized
People should be able to search you on online and find your website and your LinkedIn profile. When they go to either of these places, they should read a message that speaks to THEM about what you do and how you could be helpful to THEM in their situation.
If they don’t immediately get that feeling, they move on.
Getting the basic marketing foundational activities in place is your number one marketing To-Do. For insurance and benefits agencies, the two places where you need to pay extraordinary attention are your website and your LinkedIn presence.
A strong presence doesn’t just happen all at once, it takes time to work into it, so we break it down into phases for you to concentrate on refining one step at a time and continue building on the work you’ve done.*
A strong website with audience-focused message
Phase I: Informational website based on Business Strategy and Core Brand Messages.
This should be a basic validation site for visitors.
Phase II: Continue building on basic Phase I website. Add calls-to-action that lead readers to educational material. Collect email addresses to build your mailing/prospect list.
Phase III: An educational destination for ideal prospects to learn about challenges. Include content for reading/downloading + calls-to-action directing activities and nurturing readers through the buyers journey.
Site activity should be tracked and linked to a CRM for connecting prospect data and their interactions with your content.
A consistent and relevant LinkedIn presence
Phase I: Whole team has individual profiles filled in, consistent with the company Strategy & Core Messages. Everyone has a profile connected to company page, which is also based on the Strategy & Core Messages.
Phase II: Becoming a regular participant on the platform. Reading and interacting at least 1x/day. You’re likely using a mobile app for quick access. You’re using Search to research prospects and regularly add connections.
Phase III: Coordinated and directed company activity: the Company posts regularly to the Company page. The client-facing team participates on LinkedIn daily sharing Company posts, plush their own ideas and educational items of relevance to your clients and ideal audience. The team discusses what you’re each seeing online - the trends and topics - and how you should respond to them (e.g., do you need to create new content to address these trends?).
Organize your agency / yourself around these basic activities, and when you’ve got a solid foundation, you can expand to other things like ads, PR, etc. But if you don’t have these basic marketing functions in place, any other marketing effort is simply pushing people to a dead end. Because all other marketing activities will result in people looking you up online, and if they don’t like what they see, they’ll move on.
Get your house in order before inviting company over.
*These phased activities are an excerpt from our Agency Marketing Plan. Download the full template to get started on your own marketing planning.
P.S. Through our Q4iMarketing division, we help agencies create core messages, marketing strategy, and marketing plans. After that, we work with the information to write website copy and build/manage Phase I, II, & III websites. And yes, we coach agencies on how to effectively create that strong LinkedIn presence as well. If this is something you need, shoot us a note and we’ll have a chat about helping you establish your own strong online presence. 👍
Photo by Parinya Binsuk