Every insurance agent seeking to attract new prospects knows the two basic obstacles in doing so: a lack of awareness and a lack of trust. Hundreds of people in your market know they need insurance, but they don’t know who they can turn to for help. Your products may be able to solve their needs, and your services may provide them with security and satisfaction, but if they don’t know you exist, these offerings are essentially useless.

“Know a good insurance agent?” they may ask their friends and colleagues. It’s your goal to become the first name they give.

Sure, you can turn to listings in phone directories or on the Internet, but if they find your name in these places what have you really achieved? You may have gained a tiny bit of awareness with them — but no more than your competitors have achieved with the same listing. Your name and business is only one of hundreds. It’s simple: You need more visibility.

And even with awareness, you haven’t achieved the second part of effective marketing: trust. Consumers can’t tell from a basic listing which agent is smart, which one is honest, which one is dedicated to the well-being of the client, and which one knows the insurance game inside and out.

Positioning yourself as the expert – on the radio?
In any city in the U.S., there are a multitude of radio stations that will gladly sell you at least two hours of air time, every weekend, at a surprisingly low cost. You’ve probably heard it similar programming from other professionals: Financial planners. Real estate brokers. Veterinarians. All professionals just like you, and all of them with their own weekly radio shows on featured on highly rated local stations.

There are two big differences between these professionals and the station’s regular hosts:

  • The weekday hosts are paid by the radio station. The weekend professional, however, hosts niche programs and pay the station for the privilege of appearing on its airwaves.
  • The local hosts deliver content that is defined — and confined — by the station’s program director. The weekend professionals, however, can do pretty much whatever they want during their airtime hours – given, of course that they do not violate any FCC regulations: monologues, guest interviews, conversations with satisfied clients – the possibilities are endless.

Choosing your radio station
There are tons of radio stations. Choosing one, however, is simple: It should be the type of station your target client base regularly listens to — not the one that happens to be your own personal favorite. If you love hip hop music, for example, but you’re selling annuities, you probably want to avoid those stations that play hip hop music.

For starters, you might try the following formats:

  • Talk radio – these stations typically have an adult audience, and that audience is listening to that station to – surprise — hear people talk. Unlike stations with purely musical formats, your “Insurance Insider” program won’t be perceived as an interruption. It will be perceived as standard program
  • Classic rock – This is the stuff that baby boomers listen to.
  • Adult contemporary – These music stations play upbeat music that’s lively enough for adults, but too boring for younger audiences.
  • Ethnic stations – This programming features music in languages other than English. This is an especially good choice if you’re targeting non-English-speaking markets – something that many insurance agents should consider as untapped markets. If your market base and/or community has a substantial Hispanic population and one of your local radio stations caters to them? And do you speak Spanish? It’s probably a good idea to check them out.

Warning: Do not buy airtime on the cheapest station in your market. There’s a reason it’s so cheap: It lacks enough listeners.

How to sell yourself to the station
After you’ve narrowed the field, call each station targeting your market and ask to speak with the sales manager. When they person come on the phone trying opening with, “I’m an insurance specialist, and I’m interested in purchasing a two-hour block of airtime on your station each weekend in order to educate your listeners on the do’s and don’ts of financial protection.

The sales manager might respond with, “Oh, we’d be glad to design a wonderful ad campaign for you.”

Your response: “No, I’m not looking to buy advertising. But I am looking to buy a two-hour block of time every weekend on a station here in the community. Would you be interested in my business, or should I call a different station?”

Don’t be insulted when a station tells you they’re not interested. Many stations just don’t sell brokered time – it’s nothing personal, and it should not deter you from calling other stations

An important tip: When negotiating with a station, insist that they include a minimum number of recorded promotions for your program that will run throughout the week.

To your audience, you may eventually become a local celebrity. Prepare for more business, and prepare for more calls. This simple and cost-effective way is a unique method for getting your name out there, something other agents may not have thought of, and it could be the best marketing technique in your tool box.

Dan O’Day (www.danoday.com) is “the radio advertising guru,” having taught ad agencies and businesses in 34 countries how to create radio advertising that is a profit center, not an expense.

Do’s and Don’ts of Radio Programming

What to do on your show
  • Answer callers’ questions honestly and as completely as possible
  • Share information freely
  • Position yourself as a consumer advocate
  • Invite listeners to meet with you for a free, no-obligation analysis of their financial situation
  • Direct them to your Web site – but only if it contains valuable content

What not to do on your show

  • No commercials
  • No bragging, no boasting, and no lambasting your competitors
  • No selling