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The AIMS Society blog is designed to provide practical, timely ideas to help insurance agencies improve results from their marketing and sales efforts. Wishing you much success!!! For even more, consider joining the AIMS Society and you'll have access to a powerful network of agents and carrier personnel focused on excellence in sales!

 

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Bugging your Customers - A Great Way to Reach Out This Summer

Posted By AIMS Society, 21 hours ago

Part of being a great insurance agent is looking at all aspects of risk faced by your clients and sharing ways that they can protect themselves, even if it doesn't immediately translate to a policy sale for you. The point is to become a valued resource that your customers can't imagine being without.

One of the biggest risks of summer is pests; and people are always interested in finding new ways to stay bite-free. Below is some basic information you can simply cut and paste into an informational email. By doing this, you add another point of contact and another reminder of your value.

Sample Email Copy

Buzz Off—Tips for Staying Bite-Free This Summer

As insurance agents, we see all types of risk, big and small. With the arrival of summer, there's one risk that can quickly turn from just a nuisance into a real health issue—bugs and their bites.

Mosquito-borne illnesses include Zika, West Nile virus, dengue fever and Chikungunya.

  • Zika symptoms include fever, rash, headache, joint pain, conjunctivitis (red eyes) and muscle pain.
  • With West Nile, there are no symptoms in most people (70%-80%). However, about one person in five will develop a fever as well as a headache, fatigue, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. Fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months. Unfortunately, a small percentage of people, particularly those over age 60 or with medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension or kidney disease, are at risk for more serious symptoms. In these cases, recovery can take several weeks or months, with some neurological issues remaining permanently.
  • The obvious goal with all mosquito-borne illnesses is to avoid bites in the first place; unfortunately, citronella candles and sonic repellents don't work as well as advertised.
  • Instead, look for pesticides containing DEET and lemon eucalyptus. Spray them around your yard, particularly before gatherings.
  • Also, it's important to regularly empty any standing water on your property and cover or turn over anything that could retain water, such as tires, buckets or empty planters.

Experts predict that 2017 will be a "particularly bad year" for Lyme disease, which is caused by deer tick bites. It's now the fastest-growing vector-borne disease in America.

  • Symptoms include fever, headache, exhaustion, swollen lymph nodes, and muscle and join aches. Although considered a tell-tale sign, only half of Lyme disease cases present with a bull's-eye-shaped rash. Making diagnosis even more complicated, blood tests show a false negative 25%-50% of the time.
  • Left untreated, Lyme disease can become a serious health problem with chronic shooting pain and swelling, heart trouble, shortness of breath, and neurological issues.

To minimize chances of a tick bite:

  • Stay away from where they live—brush areas, tall grass and thick woods. Walk in the center of trails when hiking.
  • Use a repellent with 20% more of DEET, picaridin or IR3535. This EPA tool can help you pick the best one for you.
  • Put the repellent on after sunscreen and spray on your clothes as well.
  • Cover baby carriers or strollers with netting.
  • Wear light-colored clothes and long sleeves and pants. Tuck pants into socks.
  • Protect your pets as well with a pest collar, sprays, powers or monthly topical.

 

Tags:  agency value  AIMS Society  business value  Friends  insurance marketing and sales  Networking  sellability  Social Media  vacation 

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Planning on Disaster

Posted By AIMS Society, Monday, June 12, 2017

Depending on which part of the country you live in, you're probably very familiar with at least one major natural disaster threat. You may even be "luck enough" to have two disaster threats considered primary for your area. And although any natural disaster has the potential to strike at any time, each has a designated "season":

  • Tornado season: March-July
  • Hurricane season: June-November
  • Fire season: October-January
  • Earthquake season: January-December (okay, there is no season on this one; it's year-round)

When's the last time you talked to your clients about their plans should disaster strike? And are you addressing the threats that impact your clients' businesses in all the locations that they operate. Don't make the common mistake of addressing only those you're personally most familiar with. A business may be headquartered in the Midwest, but the location of its greatest resources could make hurricanes a bigger threat than its HQ region suggests. Is your client fully versed in disaster preparedness, not only for headquarters but also for where the organization's other locations operate?

Points to cover with your clients:

  • The need for business interruption coverage
  • The most common causes of business disruption: office fires, burst water pipes, a smashed transformer or a fallen communications tower. Of course, it doesn't take a natural disaster for any of those to happen, and without adequate coverage, just one of those events could cause the end of a smaller business already working with limited resources.
  • Disaster plan requirements:

 Back up processes in the event of power outages

  Communication plans to reach both clients and employees in emergencies 

  Remote work options if their office becomes unusable

  Basic supplies in reserve at an off-site location

  Identified disaster-preparedness point person or team.

For you, the biggest value in covering this information is that it positions you as more than a salesperson. It positions you as someone interested in creating a valued, long-term partnership. If you'd like even more detailed disaster plan ideas to share with your customers, visit agilityrecovery.com  or check out Emergency Essentials for ideas.

Tags:  agency value  AIMS Society  Be Prepared for Natural Disasters  Cyber Attacks  efficiency  Insurance Education  insurance marketing and sales  Networking  productivity  Professional Development  Risk Management  Social Media 

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How to Become a Superstar without Working Yourself to Death

Posted By AIMS Society, Friday, June 2, 2017

Agents are often so busy trying to be "the best" overall, that they don't realize there might be a better route to success.

Just as agencies want to be in the top tier, so do students. Consider the competitive college application process at prestigious colleges. Georgetown professor Cal Newport describes the Superstar Effect, which he believes plays a role in acceptance rates. As he shares, only 2,300 of the 32,000 applicants to Stanford were accepted in 2010, which at that point was the lowest rate in school history — 7.2%. Looking at the applicant pool, nearly all would be considered exceptional in their own right, with a transcript full of demanding advanced placement and International Baccalaureate classes. Nevertheless, it was clearly tough to get noticed in that crowd. So how can students (and by comparison, agencies) win out over the competition?

Human nature is to give preference to the individual who is the obvious standout — the valedictorian, the multi-sport varsity-letter athlete, the class president. But all three of those positions require an incredible dedication of time and effort over many years. What if those aren't roles a student can obtain? How can all those exceptional students who simply aren't the one dubbed "best" still stand out?

Newport maintains that the key is in being best at something "different," and choosing an area of expertise that doesn't necessarily require the same level of time and energy that something like valedictorian status does. Does it mean these students will suddenly be considered average or delegated to the runner-up position? No, in fact, if they attack their goals appropriately, they can prove to be standouts in their own right. And they can reach that top tier without having to invest the hours required to be the best overall.

In insurance, the same thing can happen. You want to be the "best" agency in town, perhaps measured by premium volume. But, that's a pretty tall order. Instead, how about identifying how you can be different — and then be the best at that. Best agency for cyber liability coverage and protection. Best agency for families. Best agency for entrepreneurs. Just choose something you're passionate about the top ranking will come. You'll ultimately stand a much better opportunity of being noticed. And you won't have to work everyone to exhaustion to achieve it.

Tags:  AIMS Society  business value  CPIA designation  efficiency  Insurance Education  insurance marketing and sales  Leadership  Networking  productivity  Professional Development  self-improvement  Social Media  teamwork  Technology 

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Become a Standout with Value-Added Services

Posted By AIMS Society, Friday, May 26, 2017

You sell insurance policies just like every other agency. So how can you possibly stand out from the competition?

The key may have nothing to do with insurance. Instead, value-added services could be all that are necessary to solidify your customer relationships, to make your agency seem irreplaceable.

Value-added services are just that — they don't replace your main product, but they can extend your reach and the perception that you've truly thought of everything when it comes to a customer's peace of mind. Ideally, value-added services don't need to be extensive or take a lot of your own time to deliver. More often than not, the only requirement is a thoughtful gesture to make your customers feel truly protected. And isn't that the very essence of any insurance professional's mission, to provide a sense of protection?

It's best to develop a few well-planned value-added services that relate to your existing customers. Then, find some trusted business partners to deliver your suggested offerings. You can build in a referral free to the partnership if you want to generate some additional income, but often, the greatest value comes from long-term customer loyalty you'll establish.

Start with your portfolio and niche businesses and craft a suite of value-adds from there. You don't need to be the expert in any of the services — leave that to your partners — but be certain to fully vet any organization you select as a partner and continue regular follow-up with customers to make sure they're happy with your recommendations. You may want to coordinate service delivery just to stay connected and in-the-loop.

Some value-added services that can bolster your market position:

  • Estate planning services
  • Funeral preplanning
  • Will preparation
  • Videotape or photography services for asset identification
  • Appraisal services
  • Disaster preparation planning list or a discounted price on disaster food kits
  • Tax preparation advice
  • Disaster business plan development
  • Cybersecurity traning
  • Wellness programs
  • Defensive driving courses for teens
  • Alarm systems
  • Winterization kits

This list is limited only by your creativity. Again, you don't need to have on-staff experts, just a connection to experts in the community. The goal is to offer a comprehensive program for those categories your customers' value most. You've already written the policies. Now go the extra step to show you've truly got the client covered.

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Tags:  Agency Management  agency value  AIMS Society  business value  CPIA designation  efficiency  Insurance Education  insurance marketing and sales  Leadership  Personal and Commercial Coverage  productivity  Professional Development  self-improvement  teamwork 

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How to Protect You & Your Clients from Cyber Attacks

Posted By AIMS Society, Friday, May 19, 2017

On Friday, May 12, a massive ransomware attack hit computer systems at private companies and public organizations around the word. Some sources say WannaCry — also known as WannaCrypt Wanna Decrypter or WCry — is the largest ransomware delivery operation to date.

The cyberattack hit more than 300,000 computers by midday on May 15, and users in more than 150 countries have been confronted with a screen demanding a $300 payments to restore their files.

Ransomware, a computer virus that is typically spread via spam emails and malicious download links that lock up files and demand a ransom to unlock them, isn't a new concept or threat. But hackers are getting smarter, leveraging new technologies and designing more sophisticated systems. There isn't an "if" something like this will happen again, it's "when".

The amount of personally identifiable information your agency holds is immense — from Social Security numbers to credit card numbers, form birth dates to drivers' license numbers — and hackers want it. Ant it's more important now than ever to ensure your systems are securely protected from cybersecurity attacks and data breaches while also adhering to industry, state and federal regulations.

At the very least, take the time to make sure your anti-malware and antivirus software are up-to-date. Look at business interruption and cyber liability insurance for yourself. And consider teaming up with a third-party data management company to properly encrypt your data in the cloud.

The most essential part? Communication. Let your clients know exactly what measures your agency is taking to protect their sensitive information. When you take cybersecurity seriously, you'll gain your client's trust and they'll see you as a dependable reliable source.

Tags:  agency value  AIMS Society  Cyber Attacks  efficiency  Leadership  productivity  Risk Management  self-improvement  Social Media  teamwork  Technology 

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