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PODCAST - AVA President Craig Most - Time to Reset Your Agency Marketing

Posted By AIMS SOCIETY, Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Agents typically are strong salespeople, but customer and prospect marketing? Not so much. What should they do about that? What resources are available? What is working for smart agencies, such as niches? Listen to this action-packed podcast as Tampa-based agency principal Craig Most walks us through his thought-provoking marketing ideas. Video blogging and co-branded Smart Cars are just two ideas he outlines. Craig also serves as president of the American Insurance Marketing and Sales Society, or AIMS Society, providing agencies a wealth of shared marketing talent and ideas.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

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Take a fresh look at your insurance agency's education program

Posted By AIMS SOCIETY, Tuesday, August 28, 2018

I’ve pursued knowledge my whole life. I’m inquisitive. I enjoy learning … it seems natural to me. If you are NOT growing and learning, then you are sliding back the other way. I like to learn from my peers and from people who aspire to do things better or more efficiently. It’s a journey that’s never quite over.

I know I’m not the only one who feels this way, yet I find that so many in our industry believe they’re done learning once they have their insurance licenses. Why do they just grudgingly get the minimum continuing education required by the state?
For that matter, why do so many agency owners frown upon or avoid spending money for education? It is shortsighted to want your employees’ butts in their seats every possible working hour, every day, every week, every month, and not want to invest in their education.

Investing in professionalism, education

If an agency is not investing in the professionalism and education of their agents, they signal their stance on professional development, and become less relevant. They are doing a disservice to their staff and customers alike.

It’s time to take a fresh look at your agency’s education program — and if you don’t have one, get started. The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America’s (IIABA) Best Practices agencies budget each year for education for their staff members. Here are a few ideas:

Click here to read the full article on Property Casulty 360.

Tags:  AIMS Society  Insurance Education  insurance marketing and sales  self-improvement 

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Why You Need to Rethink Your Email Marketing Strategy

Posted By AIMS Society, Friday, August 3, 2018

Why You Need to Rethink Your Email Marketing Strategy

Even if you’re already email marketing, chances are you’re not doing it as effectively as you could be. Many insurance agencies are using outdated templates, automated messaging or sending emails too sporadically. Whatever it is, there’s room for improvement.

The good news is that email marketing is still an effective way to market to your current and prospective customers. Email is powerful. It’s a direct line of communication that stays in front of people. In fact, a study by the International Data Corporation showed that email was the most popular mobile app for 78% of people.

But because your customers and prospects are inundated with emails every day, you need to be smart about your email marketing tactics. Here are some things to consider:

Tune into your ability to help. As an insurance agent, you’re there for protection and assurance, for safeguarding and advocacy. Instead of pounding home messages about discounts and bundling policies, give advice on safety and share inspirational stories instead. Once you start doing this on a regular basis, customers will start to see you as someone they can trust and someone that cares. You can talk about insurance, just don’t try to sell it.

Be personable. Agency Nation says that not personalizing your emails is one of the biggest email marketing mistakes that insurance agencies make. To stand out among the crowd, take the time to design your emails so they are relevant and individualized. You should also make sure your “From” line is either someone’s name or your agency’s name.

Design a strategy and be consistent. One of the most essential aspects of an effective email marketing strategy is to stay consistent. Set a realistic goal, whether that’s once a month or once a quarter so clients know what to expect when. If communication becomes unreliable, you’ll confuse customers and lose trust.

Use email marketing to generate and nurture leads. Once you have a lead in the door, you want to nurture it, feed your prospect’s interest until it blossoms into a sale. With email marketing, you can deliver relevant content that relates to wherever they are in the consumer journey. Develop a relationship through email and they’ll be likely to engage in person down the road.

When you follow these tips, your email marketing campaigns can easily bring in new policy holders, new revenue and enhanced loyalty. Spend less money on print ads and instead focus your budget and time on email marketing — you might be surprised with your results.  

Tags:  AIMS Society  email marketing  insurance marketing and sales  Networking  self-improvement 

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Turn a Prospect’s ‘No’ into a Positive Experience

Posted By AIMS Society, Friday, July 20, 2018

 

Turn a Prospect’s ‘No’ into a Positive Experience

 

When it comes to discussions about sales strategy, one of the most entrenched concepts is “don’t take no for an answer.”

 

But the reality of sales prospecting is that “no” is an answer you will probably hear — often. Despite your best efforts, it is sometimes the only answer the prospect is willing to give.

 

Insisting on changing “no” to “yes” can, in fact, do nothing more than turn off a prospect and shut you out from any future discussions about what benefits and services your company could provide in the future. Persistence in the face of a repeated “no” can lead to antagonism and frustration for both you and your prospect. Once your prospect perceives you in a negative light, trying to turn that perception around will be almost impossible.

 

Taking “no” for an answer, when done right, can turn a negative into a positive and lead your prospect to possibly becoming a valuable client.

 

At the outset, you need to respect your prospect and their answer. At that first or subsequent call, a prospect may have his or her defenses up, expecting a lengthy, ambitious pitch that does not respect their time or response. Accept “no” graciously and you just might surprise them, prevent that feeling of antagonism and leave the conversation where he or she might be willing to reconnect with you in the future.

 

After you accept a client’s refusal, don’t just walk away and treat the prospect as a waste of time, either. Having shown respect for their answer, it is now time to reach out and build a foundation for the future. Ask their permission to speak again at some point. Aim for a second conversation in the future to reconnect or send an email about something of interest to them, just to keep in touch. This is an opportunity to build a relationship and shape your brand in the prospect’s mind.

 

Your main objective should never be to force a “no” into a “yes,” but to avoid a bad sales experience. One helpful strategy is to do some homework before making the call. Identify the prospect’s need and have an answer that shows why your product is their solution. Not only does this give you a firm basis for conversing with your prospect, but it also saves time — for the both of you. First, you’ll avoid calling upon someone who has no real need for your product, and they won’t have to listen to a pitch about something that has no relevance to them.

 

Most importantly, when doing your homework, make sure the person you contact is someone who can say “yes.”

 

To prepare, turn to LinkedIn, the prospect company’s website, and any other publicly available material that helps you understand who the decision-makers are and how your product or service will benefit them. And when you make that call to that person, listen to what they are saying, ask questions, and learn how what you are selling will complement their business.

 

Respect, courtesy, and a little homework may not conclude the sale today, but invoking those concepts can open doors to a future book of profitable business tomorrow.

Tags:  agency value  AIMS Society  business value  efficiency  Insurance Education  insurance marketing and sales  Leadership  Networking  productivity  Professional Development  sellability  time management 

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Why You Should Use Humor in Your Marketing

Posted By AIMS Society, Friday, June 22, 2018

Why You Should Use Humor in Your Marketing

Even after you've forgotten the content of a joke, you remember the fact that it made you laugh. Humor is a tricky little devil, extremely difficult to nail, but powerful when done right. Out of all the stories you hear throughout your week, you are most likely to share the ones that make you laugh. After all, who doesn't want to make people laugh?

Unfortunately, humor is fairly subjective. So if using humor is risky, why bother with it at all?

In a recent article for the Atlantic, Nigel Hollis writes, "The first trick of advertising is to make people pay attention. Funny ads attract attention."

Insurance is not perhaps the most intriguing of topics, and that's putting it lightly. Your brand must connect with people on an emotional level to succeed, and that's where humor has its value. This is especially true for everyday brands that might otherwise go unnoticed by the average consumer. 

Writing for Hubspot, Kim Speier states "Humor is a way to sell your brand without outwardly selling something." When you appeal to a consumer's emotions, she says, "you're able to engage them and make them remember you." And that, my friends, is half the battle.

Even if a customer may not remember the exact details of a product or the message of the ad, you've just built brand recognition.

However, that positive association is lost if the messaging isn't consistent or recognizable. Speier cautions that without brand awareness — a distinct knowledge of their consumer base and persona — marketers' attempts at humor can seem inauthentic or even offensive. Know what your brand stands for and who your target audience is before attempting to reel in laughs, and customers.

But that doesn't mean your brand can't be funny, in addition to being serious and trustworthy. Consider a few of the examples Speier provides in her blog post, ones that she chose precisely because the products are considered dull. Dollar Shave Club razors. Charmin toilet paper. State Farm insurance. Old Spice deodorant. Allstate insurance. Clorox bleach. Wonderful Pistachio's...well, pistachios of course.

Chances are you recognize most, if not all, of these names. There's a reason for that — their ads managed to tickle your funny bone.

It's easy to entertain people by marketing a cool or exciting product, as Speier says. "But the real gift is with those who can take something that people don't typically enjoy shopping for and make it an experience they will actually look forward to."

So whether your joke elicits a full-on belly laugh, a wheezing-you-can-barely-breath-laugh, a reluctant snort, a quick chuckle, or even a smile, you're on the right track.

"If there's one thing for sure, it's that people love to laugh," Speier concludes. "We could all afford to smile and laugh a little more in our lives, and if you're a brand that can make us do that, we're going to appreciate it. So keep the laughs coming!"

Tags:  agency value  Branding  business value  Goals  insurance marketing and sales  Leadership  Networking  Personal Brand  Professional Development  self-improvement  sellability  teamwork 

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