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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 Many insurance agencies are using outdated templates, automated messaging or sending emails too sporadically.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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What Can You Teach Me Today? Why Your Hiring Focus Needs to Change

Posted By AIMS Society, Friday, June 15, 2018

What Can You Teach Me Today?
Why Your Hiring Focus Needs to Change

When you are searching for a new hire, there's an approach to the interview that could lead to a real transformation of your agency.

"As a #Millennial — I like to hire people who I know I can learn from." That comment, which was recently shared on Twitter, comes from Tyler Olson, founder of Modern Foundation, an analytics based social and search consulting firm.

Yes, it's just a tweet, but stop to consider the potentially profound impact that kind of approach could have. Of course, every new hire will require some degree of on-the-job training, and you are looking for someone you think has the initial experience required to come in and learn your agency protocols and move forward from there. However, this one-way view of the employer/employee relationship misses what could provide a tremendous payoff.

You do need someone who can learn. But what about finding someone who can also teach? And what if you deliberately explored the teaching roles of every single hire, even entry-level workers or those in more distant support roles?

You may argue that questions such as "Tell me about your experience" or "Tell me why you're the best candidate" gets at this very issue. But those canned questions will most likely elicit a canned response. Instead, dig deeper.

Start before the interview by thinking about your agency weaknesses and opportunities, not only those related to the position you're hiring for, but even more far-reaching. If your agency struggles with internal communication, ask some questions that explore the candidate's ideas or past experience with just that. "We're always striving to improve cross-department communication—ways to make sure everyone knows what's going on and are on the same page. Have you worked with another group or organization where either you or those around you had an approach that led to improved communication and fewer misunderstandings or dropped balls?" Who knows, you may be surprised to learn that the person sitting in front of you built an organizational app or started a weekly lunch group to improve dialogue.

Next interview, keep this approach in mind. As you focus on finding more potential teachers, you'll also be positioning your agency as a place open to change and innovation — and that sounds like an agency on the move.

Tags:  AIMS Society  efficiency  Leadership  Networking  Professional Development  self-improvement  Social Media  Technology 

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Are Brainstorms Washing Away Success?

Posted By AIMS Society, Friday, May 25, 2018

Are Brainstorms Washing Away Success?

Play nice. Share. Get along. There’s no “I” in “team.” Collaboration is key.

We’ve been coached since childhood to collect everyone’s opinions and ideas, believing it’s the single best way to find the best solution. Although it’s true that businesses use teamwork as the foundation of success, has our propensity to brainstorm inadvertently crippled business in some ways?

Renowned Wharton professor and leadership expert, Adam Grant, thinks so. He maintains that when people work so hard to develop consensus — essentially going along to get along — originality suffers, threats are overlooked, and disaster can remain undetected until it’s too late.

Instead, he recommends “brainwriting,” which begins with each individual developing a list of ideas on their own. Only after everyone has thought through the issue privately and committed positions to paper does the team meet to discuss and evaluate. Why is this more effective? “The wisdom of crowds mostly comes when you put people in separate rooms and get their judgment independently,” Grant explains.

It appears he’s not alone with his hypothesis. In his book, 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot, Richard Wiseman says, “Over 50 years of research shows that people often reach irrational decisions in groups … and highly biased assessments of the situation ... strong-willed people who lead group discussions can pressurize others into conforming, self-censorship and create an illusion of unanimity.”

While Forbes contributor Natalie Peace sides with Grant and Wiseman, she believes there are still opportunities for brainstorming, albeit in new ways. She recommends:

  • Provide strong leadership and a process framework to follow. People often want to have "no rules" brainstorming, but that can quickly derail or stall.

  • Give everyone time to think in advance of the session (essentially following Grant's "brainwriting" idea).

  • Make contribution mandatory. No sitting in the room just nodding. 

  • Any idea can be shot down, but must be replaced with an alternative.

How do you feel about brainstorming? Do you love it or hate it and why?

Tags:  agency value  AIMS Society  business value  efficiency  Goals  insurance marketing and sales  Leadership  Networking  productivity  Professional Development  self-improvement  Social Media  teamwork 

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