Each year, some 321 million new computer shipments occur worldwide, compared with 1.16 billion new mobile phones. Why do you think Google is moving into the mobile phone business? The amount of searching that will eventually occur via mobile phones will far eclipse that of personal computers. So, if you are an agent looking to reach a new market of individuals, consider communicating with them via their phones.
How? Start with what is already there for you; Twitter. Set up a Twitter account for your agency. Offer it to everyone you meet. Put out small tidbits of information that are valuable to the individual market. I recently saw a firm do this when the COBRA rules changed. They put a post on Twitter and Facebook letting people know there was an important change with a link to more information. That link led to an in-house produced video on their Web site. No IT resources or expenses were required. If video isn’t an option for you, your firm could do something with a PowerPoint slideshow, press release, or similar venture.
Another idea is to use traditional media, like radio, in conjunction with standard cell phone texting services. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City runs radio ads during morning drive time prompting individuals to “Text Blue” with their age, gender, and ZIP code. That information is forwarded to an e-mail account. A standard quote is generated and a return text is sent with the amount. A link is included in the text message, leading individuals to Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s Web site for more information and to apply. What a simple idea, yet they are having tremendous success. And cell phone carriers have a service that allows you to easily set up a text destination name which forwards to an e-mail account, so you can give out an easy-to-remember text domain in your ad.
How about an application specifically built for use on Apple’s iPhone? While setting up a Twitter or Facebook account is simple, creating an iPhone app may be a bit more involved. The good news is there are numerous, low-cost consultants that will build one for you, often in a matter of days. If you can dream it up, it can be built quickly and rather inexpensively.