Deserved or not, many insurance agents often find themselves being pigeonholed into the stereotyped of the annoying, “you need more insurance,” sales-focused Ned Ryerson character from the movie Groundhog Day.
People just don’t understand the important work insurance agents do every day to help people protect their families. They don’t understand the commitment many agents have to being socially responsible and contributing members of the local business community.
Sure, there are a few Ned Ryersons out there who foster that unflattering image. But for every Ned Ryerson, there is a Scott Campbell and an Yvette Holguin, and a Gregg Blanchard.
The Scott Campbell Agency in Waukesha, Wis., recently teamed up with Good Friend Inc. for a new charity campaign to raise awareness about autism and generate funds to help the organization teach acceptance of differences and foster empathy for students with ASD.
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Holguin’s agency in Arlington, Texas, recently volunteered to help with the Special Olympics Texas and is also raising funds for a local teen-ager battling a very aggressive form of childhood cancer.
Blanchard’s agency in South Florida recently launched a new charity campaign to raise funds and awareness for the Stop Bullying Now Foundation.
These are just a few examples of how a variety of small insurance agencies across the country are actively pledging their time and resources in an effort to make a difference in their community by becoming involved with charitable causes. Doing so helps them raise awareness not only for worthy causes, but also raises their own profile and helps them establish credibility within their community.
What the aforementioned agencies all have in common is they are part of a year-old program called “Agents of Change,” created by Miami-based Agency Marketing Machine. AMM was founded by Jay Adkins, an Allstate agent who was looking for ways to consistently grow his agency by increasing client retention, bundling more policies and generating referrals. Adkins wanted to change the perception of his agency and insurance agencies in general while also finding a way to give back and become more involved in his community.
Adkins challenged and encouraged marketing expert John Tate to dive into the insurance industry, and then explore, test and prove out marketing tactics presumed successful within the industry. Tate took the plunge, and after two years of testing, the outcome was the discovery and development of a systematic platform of services designed to help agents build their business. A cornerstone of the process is the “Agents of Change” community cause program, where every 45-60 days, a worthy local cause – typically a child or family in need, a charitable event or a nonprofit, is identified and a campaign is launched by the agency to provide assistance. The net effect is that the promotion of these causes makes a difference within the agent’s community while simultaneously raising the perception of the agency to be far from that of “just another insurance agent.”
It helps to differentiate the agency not only from the competition but also to distinguish it even from other types of businesses in the community. Simultaneously, the agent is able to build and deepen relationships with clients and raising awareness of the agency itself as well as the cause.
“We’re really trying to make agents stand out above other agencies in their area, so they’re not seen as just a commodity with set insurance prices,” said Chris Parrish, senior account manager with AMM.