Agents often ask me for ideas about how they can make their on-line presence more effective, particularly in terms of attracting more eyes to their websites. I am certainly not an expert but I have collected many ideas over the years and try to stay as current as possible with them. I often share them with my clients but thought I would also start doing so on some of my blogs.
Here is one idea that has proven successful for agencies that write commercial lines. Consider conducting brief, monthly interviews with the owner or owners of small businesses in the area, who are your current clients. Use YouTube videos if possible. Interview a different client each moth.
After brief introductions, ask them to describe their business operations in two sentences or less, adding a few comments about how their services benefit the community. You might ask a few other related questions and even add some comments ...but keep it all short and to the point. It can be helpful to have the interviewees comment on what they do in the community and what might be scheduled events of possible interest to others. They might also want to briefly describe a claim that occurred and how your agency may have helped in the resolution of it. (But don't make the interview a "love-fest" about your agency.)
Then post their interviews on your agency website, as "featured client/guest of the month" or something of that nature. Also, share the interviews on your social media accounts and give a copy to the interviewees for posting to their accounts, if they desire.
"Do you have a current, written marketing plan?"
When I am talking to insurance agents about their markets needs and determining how I can help them, I find that very few of them have a current written marketing plan. Maybe 10%.
In my 45 years in the marketplace, I have determined that there really isn't anything an agent can provide that is more important. In addition to showing initiative and providing your own road-map plan for success, having a written plan is important to carriers and agency networks, as it educates them on how you are going to attract the kind of profitable business that they want to write.
Toward that end, a useful marketing plan does not have to be lengthy at all. Actually, I have seen one and two page plans that are perfectly acceptable since they effectively define the path.
A "good plan" is one that does the following:
Always be prepared! (Who said that?) Before you talk to carriers about possibly accepting you to represent their respective companies, you must do your research about them. With the technology at-hand these days, there really is no excuse for not being knowledgeable about each carrier's history, news, current published plans and at least a little bit about everything in-between. It helps you "stand-out" from the competition. You can also talk to other agents who already represent them. Among your other preparation strategies, you need to show initiative in the form of interest in them as potential business partners.
Just as importantly, don't get caught in a discussion with them without a written marketing plan. It does not have to be elaborate and some carriers will require that you complete one in their desired format. However, when you are asked if you have a written marketing plan and you have to answer "No", it puts you in an uncomfortable position and saddles you with a decided disadvantage.
A good marketing plan does not normally have to be a complete business plan, with extensive financial projections. Carriers are typically more interested in how you are going to attract and write the desired, profitable business they want. Additionally, the marketing plan does not have to be ten-plus pages in length. A few pages will usually suffice - definitely think quality vs. quantity. Start with general contact info, of course with experience backgrounds, including specialties. Then describe your agency operations in a couple of paragraphs. Next, express your strategies for acquiring the prospects you will hope to turn-into clients and carrier customers. It is important to be realistic. You should expect to be asked exactly how you are going to implement each strategy and the obstacles you may need to overcome to do so. Be as specific as possible.
There is a lot of free information available, to give you some good ideas as to what to include. I can also provide you with my thoughts, if you want them. I collect marketing strategies.
Always be prepared. It will serve you well in your efforts.
There are of course several ways to approach carriers in your efforts to get appointed. However, there is one good approach that is often overlooked.
Assuming you have developed some extent of a network of agency friends and business acquaintances, find out which ones already represent the carrier or carriers that you have determined will be best for your needs. Ask them if they will refer you, in terms of a simple call by them to their carrier rep or someone in a higher position, if feasible. Beforehand, give the potential 'fellow agent referrer' a list of your references, along with key strategies you will employ to attract the kind of profitable business that you have determined the particular carrier likes to write. You should know this based on your prior research about the carrier.