What if you placed an ad and it attracted plentiful qualified prospects? Do you like that idea? Duh? What agent wouldn’t?
I’ve been in the insurance industry for 23 years and I have discovered what I believe is the single biggest reason for failure in this industry: Lack of marketing skills. New agents usually start with their warm market: Family, friends and co-workers. Then they branch out to referrals from their warm market. Once those two prospect sources dry up, so does their budding career.
The obvious next choice is to buy leads. I can tell you from talking to many, many agents, that’s a hit-or-miss proposition. The vast majority of providers sell the lead to multiple agents. Just imagine the prospects delight (sarcasm) when you are the 5th or 15th agent to call him! And frankly, many of the “leads” responded to deceptive advertising so are not truly interested in what you are selling. So much for “qualified.”
I get offers every week; “Sign on with us and we’ll give you free leads!” (Don’t forget, I’m an agent too.) I’m quite unusual because I CAN create my own leads so I don’t need this sort of arrangement. But I have checked them out and found one or both of these conditions: (1) The leads are of very poor quality and/or given to multiple agents and (2) The company wants something from me that I’m not willing to give – like a quota or exclusivity. (I never agree to those – messes with my status as an “independent” agent.).
So what is an agent to do? Learn how to market effectively. Seriously, most advertising is so awful that you can be a mediocre marketer and still thrash your competition. But you’ve got to learn some basics, then apply them. Start with the four below.
- Your ad must have a headline that provokes curiosity
- Your ad must have a compelling offer that requests a direct response that can be measured.
- Your ad must have a deadline, either by expiration date or limiting quantity.
- Your ad must have a clear call to action because confused people do not respond.
Direct response advertising
The whole purpose of advertising is to drive business into our agency, right? That usually takes the form of leads (although there is a small minority of agencies who sell direct online, without an agent.) So, let’s start with a correct definition for “a lead.”
“A lead is not just a statistic or a name or even an email address grudgingly provided. A lead is someone who has expressed real interest in information about your expertise, products, services, etc. and invited you to sell to them, and cooperated with some process by which you can sell to them.” (Dan Kennedy in the November 2012 GKIC Diamond Letter)
That definition is my measuring stick for determining if an advertisement is good or bad. Does it generate leads? But how do you accomplish that goal? Let’s look at two real-life examples.
Last week I was talking with one of my clients, a P&C agent (not an insurance client). He told me his doubts about direct response marketing. He had done what he thought was a great mailing. It bombed, and he didn’t know why. At first glance, it seemed he had done everything right.
- He used a proven successful lumpy-mail template acquired from a bona fide expert.
- He chose a list that fit his ideal client profile, someone who needed his services and could afford to buy (namely, doctors with certain wealth/property characteristics).
- He used stellar client testimonials whose names those prospects would recognize and respect.
- He had a headline, deadline, offer and call to action.
Why were his results dismal? I’ll tell you!
Message / media / market