The 3 Levels of Insurance Marketing: Why Some Agencies Always Beat Others

Posted by Michael Jans on 3/26/16 9:00 AM
Why Do Some Insurance Agencies Always Beat OthersOver the years we’ve had thousands of clients, hungry for insurance marketing tips, techniques and strategies - and a community willing to share their marketing tests, secrets and results. It’s been common for one of our conference or boot camp speakers to get in front of 500 fellow agents and brokers to share a marketing campaign - and openly reveal the results of their campaign. Meanwhile, hundreds of attendees would be furiously scribbling notes, taking copies of the campaign itself - eager to run the same campaign in their own shop. Here’s the shocker. I’d often see or speak with those eager clients at the next conference. And this is what they’d tell me…

…that in many cases, they didn’t get the same results. And they usually weren’t as good.

Why?

The Story Of Agency A vs Agency B

Why would Agency A get a 5.4% response to a marketing campaign…but Agency B only got a 2.7% response?

Why would Agency A get a 45% open rate to an email campaign…but Agency B only get a 19% open rate?

Why would Agency A triple their referrals…but Agency B “only” adds 37%?

Even if we tested campaigns in very similar agencies or brokerages, we’d discover variable results. Similar carriers. Similar size. Similar communities.

Sometimes the variations in results were extreme.

Why?

This is easily explained by understanding The 3 Levels of Marketing Intelligence. Novice. Intermediate. And Advanced.

The 3 Levels of Marketing

The novice marketer thinks that the magic in marketing is in the “thing.”

How Novice Marketers Think at Insurance Agencies

Here’s what typically happens. An agent gets introduced to marketing. Maybe it’s the first time they were really exposed to good marketing and good marketing principles. Maybe it’s at a marketing conference. Maybe they read a blog like this one.

Perhaps they see an email campaign.

Or a landing page that got great results for another agent or broker.

They hear about the money flowing in. So they copy it.

Copying can be good. Sometimes it’s the best shortcut to success.

But the novice marketer thinks that marketing is all about the “thing” - the email, the landing page, the latest web technique, etc.

And that’s where they go wrong.

Surely, the “thing” matters. A lot. Great copy matters. Great design matters. Marketing “tricks” and technique matter.

But the reason Agency A beats Agency B is not in the “thing.” (After all, they sent out the same “thing.”)

Intermediate marketers go one step further. They go deeper.

The intermediate marketer thinks that the magic in marketing is in the LIST that gets the “thing. Lists? Really? Yes. They matter. The “who gets the thing” part of marketing matters. A lot.

You can generate more revenue - in additional policies, referrals and increased retention - from your customer list than any other list

Companies who make their money buying and renting lists have turned list management into a highly refined science.

And they know their success depends on the list they send their marketing to. Catalogue companies and other “big house” marketers have teams of highly skilled professionals managing their lists.

Insurance agents must pay attention to lists, too.

How Intermediate Marketers Think at Insurance Agencies

What’s the hottest list you can get? Where is the most money? Where are the easiest opportunities to increase revenue and build lifetime value?

Your customer list. You can generate more revenue - in additional policies, referrals and increased retention - from your customer list than any other list. (Yes, this flies in the face of our industry’s lust for leads, leads, leads. Leads are great. Loyal customers - who retain, refer and ‘round’ - are much, much more valuable.)

You can’t buy or rent a better list than the one you have right now.

You’re also (hopefully) sitting on some other lists that historically deliver great ROI.

 

Lost leads. That’s right. Leads you quoted but didn’t close. There are two problems with this in most Agencies. One: Sally CSR says, “Here’s your quote.” Hangs up and gets back to her “real work.” And that future “hot lead” never shows up in anyone’s list. Ever, ever, ever.

Problem number two: if they do get saved and put into a list, they never get nurtured. They never hear from the agency. Other than, “Here’s your quote,” no effort is made to create relationship. (“I’m sorry we didn’t earn your business. Would you be kind enough to tell me what we can do to better in the future?”) Nobody shows they care.

Here’s another list. Lost customers. “Really. Didn’t they decide they didn’t like us?” Unless your agency really doesn’t nurture meaningful relationships with your customers - and that’s more common in our industry than I’d like to admit - it’s better not to project some big emotion on their decision to leave. Maybe they just got distracted by the “shiny new thing.” But the grass is not necessarily any greener in your competitor’s yard than it is in yours.

Statistically speaking, your former customers are one of the best lists you can market to. Re-capturing “lost souls” is standard practice for better marketers.

But even with a “hot” customer list, Agency A can still beat Agency B.

The novice or intermediate marketer says, “But I sent my account rounding campaign to my customers. Just like the guy I copied. And my results weren’t nearly as good.”

Why?

Because of this: The advanced marketer knows that the real magic in marketing is not in the “thing.” It’s not even in the list that gets the “thing.” The real magic in marketing is in the relationship to the list that gets the thing.

What Advanced Marketers Know at Insurance Agencies

Good relationship. Good results. Weak relationship. Weak results.

Below the tip of the iceberg, marketing is much, much more about the “who” than the “what.”

With all of the competitive channels that consumers can choose from these days, we sell relationship

So, to Agency B, who is getting a weak response to marketing: you have a core business problem. Fix it first. Your relationship to your customers - and probably to your marketplace in general - must be fixed.

Too often, agents and brokers think that the “end product” of their business process is a “policy sold.”

That should never be the case. The end product should be a delighted customer.

The money is in the relationship. (And for various reasons, that is more true in our industry than some others. With all of the competitive channels that consumers can choose from these days, we sell relationship. It is one of our few - but huge - differentiators.

They know they won’t get relationship from an 800# or a big corporate website purchase.

They can get relationship from you. And - to this tribal species of human beings - relationship matters.

This of course is the challenge: how do you create “relationship” when - for most policies - the economics of commissions don’t support it. Sure, you’d like to network with, phone and visit every single customer.

The money’s not there for that. (And, guess what? Most customers don’t want that!)

Yes, you’d like to follow up with every lead

Sure, you’d like to welcome every customer.

Of course, you want to follow up on every claim.

Greet them on their birthday.

Reach out to them before their renewal.

Thank them for their business. Advise them on safety and risk. Offer to fill gaps in their coverage. Fill each communication with value and meaning.

And much, much more.

But how?

You can “talk” to each and every customer. You can guide each customer through their journey with you. You can “be there” in your customer’s life.

But not the old school way. Today’s technology allows you to do just what you want to do. Create deep relationships with your customers.

After all, why does Agency A consistently beat Agency B?

Because they know where the money is. It’s in the relationship.

Topics: Insurance Marketing

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