What is the single most important message you need to deliver to your clients in 2016? What do they need to hear - intellectually and emotionally - to convince them that you are “the one?” Precisely, what words must your customers hear to feel, to believe…to know…that as far as insurance is concerned, you are the “love of their life?” When others come calling - and they will - your customers’ loyalty will keep them with you. In their “happy place.”
Most of the readers on this blog don’t need to be convinced that the insurance world is changing.
In fact, it seems that most agents and brokers don’t need to be convinced that the world is changing. A couple of years ago, we surveyed agents and brokers with one very simple question:
“Are you worried the world is changing faster than your agency or brokerage?”
96% - yes, 96% - said “yes.”
That, friends, is the definition of anxiety. All of a sudden, the world became a bit unpredictable. A little scary, maybe.
It's not your father's insurance agency.
Insurance marketers, take heed.
As Jack Welch - often recognized as the best CEO of the previous century - “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.”
So, yes, it seems their is a growing consensus: the world is changing. And, generally, my readers don’t need to be convinced that:
- Consumer behavior is changing. They research insurance online. Shop insurance online. Digital communications is part of their life. They expect vendors to communicate to them...to market to them...digitally. In a meaningful, value-adding way.
- The old methods don’t work, their too expensive or too time consuming. (Once upon a time, my most downloaded report was called, “21 Ways To Write A Killer Yellow Pages Ad.” Thousands and thousands of downloads. When I traveled throughout North America, I could always tell who my clients and followers were by opening up the yellow pages and look under “insurance.” Our advertising model got results. Now - at least in Bend, Oregon - the yellow pages wouldn’t even serve as a door stop. It’s too thin :) )
- Tons of VC/fintech money is flowing into the industry, seeking to displace the local agent or broker. (9X what it was a year ago.)
- There is a a growing gap between the agent and the consumer.
I think we all agree on one more thing. If there is a “god” in the insurance industry - one who makes life possible for the agent - it’s the consumer. Yes, carriers may come and go. Merge or whatever. We’ll find a way to deal with that. Employees may come and go. We’ll deal with it.
But, as the consumer gets more choices - and they will - the fundamental question is, “what must they hear from the agent to give them unshakeable confidence.” How can we make them not go away. Not want to go away. Want to stay.
The answer is simple. If the consumer has changed - and, yes, they have - we must change, too. We have to meet the where they are. Including the digital world.
We have to prove to them that we’re no longer taking them for granted.
We have to prove to them that they matter more than anything to us.
We have to prove to them that we’re going to live in their world. Yes, we’ll be online. Yes, we’ll use the online communication world to connect to them…as they desire it. Yes, we’re committed to a relationship that matters.
Sadly, 6 of 10 clients do not perceive that agents do anything - other than find a policy and sell it.
In other words we need to say, things are different. And we're going to be different. We're going to be better. And we're going to earn a meaningful relationship with you.
We will connect with you and add value at every point of contact.
Here’s a draft of a message that we’ve created for our new customers. Something we’ve learned about going from almost “no communication” to “ongoing and deep communication” is that customers need to be told.
They need to be warned: we’re going to reach out. We’re going to care. We’re going to be there.
It helps customers appreciate what you’re doing: investing in your relationship with them.
SUBJ: Why we care about you
Summary: Updates to our service
Hi <Name>, we recently took some time to think about what matters most to us. We came to one simple conclusion.
You’re the reason we’re in business. And helping you to protect the things that matter most to you is what matters most to us.
If you haven’t felt that - for any reason - we hope to change that.
Relationships that matter are relationships worth investing in. And we’ve chosen to invest in our relationship with you.
So I want to give you a quick heads-up. You’re going to be hearing from us a little more.
A couple times a year, we’ll reach out to you. Periodically, we need to see if anything has changed in your life that may expose you to risk. Or have you overpaying.
Second, about once a month, you'll get a quick bulletin in your email. We’ll share a tip or or a strategy (in about a minute) that can help you protect what matters to you. (There is never an obligation, and you can unsubscribe at any time.)
Our goal is to help you prevent accidents or exposures. We hope we can save you from having to file an insurance claim in the first place.
Nobody ever said insurance was fun. But, at the very least, we want you to feel like you have a relationship you can trust.
Again, from all of us here, thank you for your business.
P.S. My job is to protect you, so if anything is ever unclear to you -- about your policy, the claims process, or anything else -- please just hit “Reply” and ask. Or just call us at <<phonenumber.>> I’m always glad to hear from you.
There IS a crisis in our industry. Consumers are past the tipping point. We must re-gain their trust.
Digital marketing and digital communications doesn't need to negate or replace whatever "traditional" communications you already deploy. It enhances it.
But let's be honest about the pure economics of the industry. The math doesn't support old school manual outreach beyond the bare minimum. It's not that you don't want to communicate more frequently and meaningfully to your clients. You cannot. (Which overworked CSR are you going to lay this additional burdent on?)
Even those high end personal and middle market accounts that you see four times a year. They're probably on the receiving end of valuable content from your competitors already.
Shouldn't you be in their inbox, delivering valuable content, too?
If there was a crisis in a personal relationship - and you wanted to save that relationship - you’d have to promise change. And, of course, if you really cared, you’d have to deliver on that change.
For those of us who care about the relationship between the agent or broker and the customer, the day to do that is…today.
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