Will your agency wither on the vine? Running an agency can be a tough row to hoe. You have to know your product, carriers and underwriting guidelines. You must have mad-great sales skills and be expert at customer service too. Perhaps you manage staff and premises as well. And on top of all that, you have to know how to generate leads. Heck, without a way to attract new prospects, your row will become little more than a patch of weed.
You want an ever-growing, thriving garden, not a weed patch. If your agency resembles a healthy garden, the clients soak up all your advice like rays of sunshine, put down strong roots to stay long, buy everything you offer that fits their needs and they cross-pollenate by referring their friends and family. Here are nine tools to help you grow your own blossoming agency:
1. Make a marketing calendar
Marketing is one of the most important activities of your agency. I’ll go out on a limb here and say this: After you have a solid understanding of your products, marketing is the most important activity to engage in. Why? All the knowledge in the world won’t earn you one red cent unless you have someone to sell to. You make money by helping people protect or create their ideal lifestyle. That requires a steady source of prospects and referrals plus a cross-sell program. Make sense?
But, if you are doing marketing by the seat of your pants with no plan or forethought, chances are you are needlessly missing opportunities. Even a simple marketing calendar is better than none at all. What should go on your marketing calendar?
- Community events to participate in (think booth)
- Your ad schedule
- Client birthdays and anniversaries
- Agency anniversary
- Your client newsletter mailing
Every month there are dozens of wacky holidays and celebrations that can be used in your promotions, such as:
- January is Financial Wellness Month;
- February first is Car Insurance Day;
- Third Tuesday in March is Companies That Care Day;
- April is Financial Literacy Month.
- April is International Customer Loyalty Month”
What can you do with these holidays and your marketing calendar? Engage your customers and prospects. Send cards, postcards, sponsor a coloring contest for kids, Send interesting information relating to the holiday, hold an open house or customer appreciation events. The point is, don’t be boring. Be interesting. Be a topic of conversation.
2. Build a list
Your mailing list is one of the most valuable assets of your business. Collect the name and contact information of every prospect, no matter how they found you. Use an industry-specific contact management software like Applied, Advisors Assistant or a generic one like IContact (or even something as simple as Excel.)
Add other meaningful categories to the data stored about each person. What kind of data should you collect?
- Marital status and anniversary
- What they purchased
- Expiration dates of policies with other agents
- Term life expiration
- How they found you (which ad, referral source, etc.)
- Interests and hobbies, etc.
The more information you have, the better.
With the additional data, you can segment your list and send promotions specifically targeted to sub-groups while excluding others. Here are a few examples:
- Term life insurance offer to young adults and permanent life insurance offers to older adults.
- Home insurance offers to auto insurance clients who own a home; renters’ insurance offers to the others.
- Send Medsup offer to all clients who are turning 64.
- Send annuity info to Medsups clients without an annuity.
Note: Sending poorly crafted advertisements, even to a segmented list, is always a waste of money. How to write a good ad is beyond the scope of this article. If you need that data, email me.
Those are examples of cross-selling your client base but the same rules of list building and promotion apply to prospects.
3. Develop relationships
You have built a list and collected detailed information about your customers and prospects. That gives you a jump start on developing a relationship with the people whose premiums pay your commissions. Send birthday and anniversary cards, hold customer appreciation events. Send a client newsletter (like the one I offer, hint, hint). Use the marketing calendar you’re going to develop to communicate with them often.
4. Track results of promotions