Insurance Marketing Strategies for Agents
What is the most challenging aspect of selling insurance? According to the overwhelming majority of insurance agents I speak to, it's prospecting for new business.
Why? Because many insurance agents fail to think strategically about how they want to market their services. It’s easier simply to jump from tactic to tactic—send a sales letter, run an ad, do a seminar—without taking the time to develop an insurance marketing plan that outlines exactly what you want to accomplish with your efforts.
But a recession is no time for wandering off on tangents with your marketing. In this economy—whether you’re an independent insurance agent or a billion dollar corporation—you need to be focused, effective and efficient in everything you do—especially recruiting new customers.
For more insurance marketing strategies, you can download the white paper "Recession-Proof Your Business: An Agent's Guide to Marketing During the Downturn."
Developing Your Insurance Marketing Plan
Developing an insurance marketing plan will help you establish exactly who you are, who you are you trying to reach and what you are trying to accomplish long before you make the crucial decision of whether to send an e-mail or a postcard. Because you need to know where you are going before you can decide how to get there.
- Define your short- and long-term business objectives using the SMART method (make your goals Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely)
- Define your ideal client in terms of demographics like age, income, marital status, profession, etc.
- List additional target markets
- Determine your brand positioning, i.e. what differentiates you from your competition in your ability to meet the needs of a particular demographic
- Taking into account your objectives, target market and position within that market, you can now decide how you want to market yourself and develop strategies accordingly
- Determine how much you're willing to spend to carry out your strategies
- Choose the marketing tactics you will use to attract customers, e.g. fliers, postcards, email marketing, newsletters, Web site and more.
- Set goals for each tactic you choose. For example, if you do a postcard mailer determine beforehand how many responses you want to get, how many new client conversions and how much you hope to sell as a result.
Notice that choosing tactics is almost the final step in our plan. In reality, that is where most agents start when it comes to thinking about marketing. But, without a plan, it is difficult to know who you should be talking to, what you should be talking about, and it’s especially difficult to gauge whether your efforts are working.
Your Marketing Plan should yield answers to the following questions:
- Who is your ideal client?
- What do those customers typically need?
- What differentiates you from your competition in meeting the needs of that demographic?
- What marketing techniques are best suited to your chosen market, product offering and your practice?
- What is your position in the market?
- What do you want your market position to be in the future?
Executing Your Insurance Marketing Plan
Now that you’ve established your target market and brand positioning with your Marketing Plan, the next step is choosing the appropriate channels to use in reaching out to prospects.
What channels make the most sense for you will depend on your target audience, the product you’re selling, your budget, your timeframe and your technical know-how.
For example, an annuity producer may not have as much luck with cold calls or ads as he would with seminars or referral partnerships. Selling a six-figure annuity requires a high level of trust, which is difficult to build with a cold call or an ad. Holding a seminar or getting a referral from a prospect’s CPA automatically positions you as an expert and a professional, which is a huge step toward landing a new client. Think of it this way: the longer and more complicated the sales cycle for a given product, generally the more personal your marketing touches will need to be.
On the other end of the spectrum, the quicker the sales cycle for your chosen product, the less time you have to spend on cultivating relationships with prospects. The Medicare Supplement agent, for example, needs sales in volume. He needs to utilize marketing techniques that reach vast numbers of people with relatively quick response. Therefore, an ad or a direct mail campaign can be very effective in this role. It all just depends on who you’re trying to reach and what you have to offer.
Popular Insurance Marketing Tactics
Targeted mailings – Direct mail has long been a preferred tactic for many agents. Once again, it pays to have a systematic approach. Test different offers, headlines, calls to action. Track your results and refine the mail piece accordingly.
Tip: Always have a solid primary and secondary offer. Example of a Primary offer: you’re invited to a seminar on retirement planning. Example of a Secondary offer: everyone who shows up gets a copy of a best-selling book relevant to your seminar topic. Direct mail is also a good time to begin establishing credibility by including an article you’ve written, referral letters, etc.
Seminars – We could do a whole chapter just on seminars, but here are just a few tips on this highly effective marketing technique:
- Think about whether you should charge for your seminar. Offering it for free will certainly attract greater attendance, but most advisors who charge a small fee for their seminars find they draw a much higher quality prospect.
- Think about how you’ll drive attendance for your seminars: Direct mail? Referrals? Advertising?
Tip: Leave a card at every seat for people to fill out their information and request an appointment.
Internet Marketing – More and more agents are gravitating toward Internet marketing right now. That is partly due to the recession and cheaper cost of doing business on the Internet. It is also because consumers are increasingly turning to the Internet for their insurance needs. The power of the Internet is that it can deliver sales-ready leads, it allows you to spend time, not money and everything is measurable.
Learn more on our related hub: Internet Marketing Strategies for Insurance Agents.
Networking – The art of getting people to know, like and trust you. Think of networking this way: if someone knows, like and trusts you and they have a need you can fulfill, you’re already most of the way to a sale.
Tip: Look to join groups or attend conferences in two different categories: those that will help you build relationships with potential clients; and those that will allow you to network with fellow agents. See Strategic Alliances section below.
Strategic Alliances – Developing strategic alliances or referral partnerships with attorneys or CPAs can lead to annuity or life insurance sales. Relationships with Property & Casualty agents might also yield some referrals for Medicare or Long-Term Care insurance.
Tip: Keep in mind that professionals who work in these areas—especially those who specialize in high-net-worth clients—get approached for referrals all the time, so make sure you have something to offer in return—like referrals of your own. And be ready to build a relationship over time.
Referrals – There are many great ways to generate more referrals from your clients:
- Differentiate yourself: offer them more than they expect,
- Be an expert: specialize in a given area
- Just Ask: Make asking for referrals a regular part of every sale. The hard part is knowing when.
Learn more in our related hub: How to Build a Referral-based Insurance Practice.
Cold calling – The choice of whether or not to engage in cold calling is usually an easy one for most agents. Because it often comes down to something as simple as whether it fits with your personality. Some people can be incredibly effective building trust and selling over the phone. Many others would rather has a lot to do just about anything else.
If you do any selling on the phone, make sure to script you calls. It might be more interesting to freelance, but selling from a script is much more effective. Also, familiarize yourself with the marketing rules for your product line as well as Do Not Call laws. Medicare Advantage does not allow cold calling, while Medicare Supplement does.
Media Placements – The effectiveness of advertising with traditional media (print, television, radio) seems to be waning. Many corporations are responding by reducing their advertising budget and focusing more online. You can take a different approach by becoming an expert resource for the media. You could write an article for your local newspaper or be an interview source. Some advisors have even gained exposure by starting their own radio shows. Instead of buying ads, you provide the content. It’s a great way to position yourself as an expert.
Tip: Stay current on national news in your area of expertise. Take a national story and put a local angle on it, then pitch it to the appropriate editor for your local newspaper. If they decide to do a story, chances are you’ll be the first interview subject they call.