Monthly Archives: August 2015

Disabled Veterans Insurance Careers

A couple of years ago, I was reading an insurance industry magazine article about an interesting organization that was hiring, training and licensing disabled veterans for placement into insurance agencies.   I decided to contact both the Founder and President/CEO, to discuss my possible involvement, as a volunteer.   I had retired from my full-time marketing and sales related position and was looking for an organization that was really trying to make a difference, not just spending most of its money on administration and advertising.

When I met the Disabled Veterans Insurance Careers Program founders and staff – www.dvic.us I quickly determined that it was the right organization for me.   They made me part of their team as a Strategic Board member, which has been a very rewarding experience for me.  The  DVIC team works together very closely to achieve the mission to educate, train & create meaningful employment opportunities within the insurance industry for disabled veterans.

Take a few minutes to look at the website listed above and particularly the 4-minute video of the interviews with some of our disabled veterans.   You will see how the DVIC program has made a difference in their lives.

Websites for Insurance Agents – Designed by Insurance Agents

In my discussions and dealings with agents who are looking to start their own agencies or acquire additional markets and useful services for their existing agencies, I often hear them tell me that their web-designer either does not understand their needs or reacts slowly to their required updates.

I am not saying that all non-insurance web-design entities fail in this area.  However I know that one insurance agent almost always best understands the needs of another in this area.  Agents understand one another’s needs.

Toward that end, at the Florida Insurance Agents (FAIA) Annual Convention in Orlando, I recently met an insurance agent who provides web design and upgrade services to other insurance agents, along with social media marketing services.

If you are interested in exploring her services, She is Amberlee Easterwood and can be reached at : www.simplysocial.com makesenseins@gmail.com

I also discovered that Amber has an Insurance Blog specifically focused on educating consumers about the importance of understanding the need to have adequate coverage. If you need free content of this nature for your social media accounts, feel free to share her blog posts with your clients and prospects!

 

Marketing Plan – “Non-Marketing Fluff”

Too often when I am helping an agent update an existing marketing plan, prepared by someone else, I frequently find that they contain a lot of what I refer to as “non-marketing fluff”.  Simply put it is filler that is often used to make the plan look more impressive.  The opposite effect is usually the result.

It is easy to fall blindly in love with statistics, charts and and demographics when preparing a marketing plan.  The most important guide-point to help avoid overuse of such data is to always remember the following two major purposes of a marketing plan.  They are equally important.

For one, an marketing plan is developed to provide direction for an agency’s operations, especially as relates to revenue enhancement and profitable growth.  It is the agency’s map to guide them through the processes that will most probably ensure success.

Secondly, and just as important, a marketing plan is developed to show both your existing carriers and prospective carriers how you are going to attract and write the profitable business that they want from their agency partners.

No one wants to have to swim through a lot of “marketing fluff” to get to the real-life activities that will get you to achievement of your objectives.

Sale of Your Agency – Examples

Before you join a premium aggregator or agency network group, one of the key questions to ask is:  “What would happen if and when I decide to sell my agency to an agency that is not a member of your network?”   Make sure that you get a very logical and understandable answer, in writing of course.

It is also a good idea to make up a few sample scenarios and present them to the network representative, asking for clear answers to cover each situation.  Again, get the answers “in writing”, email or whatever covers it for you.  Think of a few agency sales or mergers in the area, of which you have some basic knowledge.  Use them as your examples to present to the representatives.

 

Marketing Plan – Strategies – Questions

Within your agency’s marketing plan under the ‘strategies’ section, you need to answer the following questions:   

In what ways will you be attracting business?   Through direct sales approaches – Internet Marketing – Referrals – Cross-selling to existing clients – Mail solicitation, etc.?

Who will conduct which of these activities?  You – Designated staff members – In-house – Third-parties – a Consultant, etc.?   –

Exactly what will be your promoted specialties?  What markets, lines of business or special products?

How are you going to assess progress and measure it?   How often will you check on progress?

What training will be needed?  Who will conduct it?   What forms of delivery might it take?

Consider these questions when you are developing your strategies.  The time to take the efforts to think them through very clearly can pay big dividends for you.  You do not want to operate without these strategies defined within your marketing plan.  

 

 

 

Marketing Plans – Keep Current

The management of many insurance agencies develop their written marketing plans, share them with a few prospective carriers and ‘shelve’ them.  Operations change, of course and should be reflected in an agency’s marketing plan.  So, it is important to update plans to reflect a current ‘picture’ of the agency’s plans, particularly those for acquiring new business, retaining existing clients and cross-selling to them.

Depending on the format of the plan, it is usually not difficult to include new items, strategies, team members, etc.  Check with the developer of your marketing plan, to see if the service for which you paid includes updates.

My marketing plan development services include free, unlimited updates for two years – maybe longer, if you provide a referral for me!

Agency – Carrier Matches

What do insurance carriers really want from insurance agencies?   I was surprised recently when a marketing rep for a national carrier answered by saying:  “We want continuing production!”   I asked him if it was important to his company that the production be profitable?   He looked at me like I was challenging him.  Apparently I pierced a raw nerve.

Growth goals should always emphasize profitability first.  Too often, some people get so caught up in the production numbers, that they lose sight of how we have succeeded in this industry.

Many agencies are asked to increase production by 10% or more each year so that some carriers can exceed their annual production goals.  Would it be wiser to possibly lower the production requirements and factor-in what constantly increasing production sometimes affects?

Decision Making the ‘Ben Franklin Way’

Most people know that Benjamin Franklin was a really interesting & creative man who contributed greatly to the development of many useful things in both society and industry.

In 1772, he introduced what was considered to be the first ‘decision balance sheet’.  Many of us use it today.  I call it my ‘pros & cons’ list.  It is a simple exercise that can serve us well in many aspects of life, not just in business decision making.

In its most simple form, take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle, listing ‘Pros’ on one side of the line and “Cons’ on the other.  Apply this process when you are trying to decide the best option between two choices.

In a business example for an insurance agency principal:  “Should I join the ‘Smith Premium Aggregator Group’ or The ‘Jones Premium Aggregator Group’?

Do a separate sheet on both groups.  List the pros and cons of each, as Ben’s decision making tool indicates.  After the pros and cons of both are listed, weight each one in terms of level of importance to you.  (I use a 1-5 rating scale, with 1 being the least important to me.  However, you can also use 1-3 or whatever scale you choose to apply.)  Add them up and while it isn’t a perfect system, if you do it carefully enough, it should give you a pretty good idea of which insurance network group you should consider joining, based on the values of each of their respective programs’ characteristics, as they relate to your agency.

It will also help you identify issues that may not be clear to you and require that you ask additional questions of the insurance network group representatives, so that you are clear on everything.

Obviously this simple approach can be used to make decisions of all types, both personal and business related.

Thanks, Ben!