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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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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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How to Get the Most Out of Content Marketing

Posted By AIMS Society, Friday, May 12, 2017

Content marketing drives traffic, builds trust, retains new and old customers and spreads awareness. There isn't much a successful and valuable content marketing plan can't do.

Whether you already have a blog or are simply toying with the idea, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Start early. Develop a content marketing plan and make sure you get input from all departments. The more perspectives the better, whether you use the ideas or not. Find marketing trends and content themes, and research the competition to see what they're doing right (and wrong).
  • Have a strategy. For content marketing to be successful, you must identify your objectives and tactics. You can easily post and share content, but it's a bit pointless without a goal in mind. Looking at the bigger picture will make the daily tasks much easier — and you'll actually see results.
  • Focus on quality. Don't overload your social media channels with irrelevant memes and unnecessary posts. Focus on what value the content will provide for a consumer or reader. Make sure it resonates well with your target audience to boost engagement and trust levels.
  • Remember your audience. You're talking to individuals and families who are basically looking for protection. Keep things simple and use data to back up your ideas. Consider your customers, clients and friends when writing or using content.

Quality content marketing will elevate brand awareness, boost your reputation and increase engagement. Do it right, and you can see serious improvements in sales and retention.

How is your agency using content marketing?

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Tags:  AIMS Society  efficiency  insurance marketing and sales  Networking  productivity  self-improvement  Social Media 

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Do You Know if You Have Rideshare Drivers on Your Books?

Posted By AIMS Society, Thursday, May 4, 2017

Do You Know if You Have Rideshare Drivers on Your Books?

If you haven't considered the impact of new ridesharing options, such as Uber, Lyft or SideCar, on client auto coverage, it's time to add it to your list of risk assessment issues. You may have clients right now who haven't even considered the impact on their policies if they are using their personal car to earn money as a rideshare driver.

The leading rideshare company, Uber, has only been around since it tested its first app in 2012. It's convenient for users, particularly since the instant pay option was added, and it's certainly a great choice for drivers looking for flexible scheduling. In addition, it's been reported that Uber's internal data reveals that "drivers who use the app to give rides-for-hire in their personal cars are making more money as chauffeurs than professional taxi drivers do — as much as $17 an hour in the District and Los Angeles, $23 in San Francisco and $30 in New York."

And Uber continues to expand, having recently added UberEATS (restaurant meal delivery), Uber for Business (to support business travelers) and UberPool (to provide commuting options).

So, knowing this, what's an insurance agent to do? First, it's important to understand what is covered by each insurance company.Typically (but not always — which is why you need to investigate each situation), personal auto coverage, including liability, applies when the car is being used for personal travel, and then rideshare companies assume coverage when there is a paying passenger in the car.

But who is responsible when the driver is actively using their car for ridesharing, but doesn't have a passenger at the time of an incident? Who is liable when the driver is simply driving to a pickup, waiting, or has just dropped off a passenger? This is the gray area that requires your careful analysis as an agent. Most personal auto insurance companies won't cover this transition time, arguing that these on-the-clock times are part and parcel of the job. Many companies view these times in similar light to those exclusions related to other commercial activities that a person may do with their personal vehicle, for example pizza delivery. There may also be gaps in liability or umbrella coverage during these time periods.

Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut, always reliable solution. Some insurance companies have begun offering a ride sharing endorsement that can be added to a personal auto policy. This "blended" solution bridges personal and commercial use, but again, it isn't available from every company or in every geography.

But now you know — rideshare has to be on your radar. Are you asking your clients directly if they're involved?

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Tags:  AIMS Society  Auto Coverages  Insurance Education  Personal and Commercial Coverage  Rideharing  Risk Management 

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