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Grow Your Creative Muscle

Posted By Donna M. Gray, Friday, July 26, 2019

Grow Your Creative Muscle

When we hear about creativity, it's almost always related to the liberal arts. Artists, musicians, writers, and dancers are bestowed with a creative gift, while the rest of us watch from the bleachers.

We often fail to consider how much true creativity is necessary for daily life, including the workplace. Innovation, imagination, inventiveness, and resourcefulness are all parts of a creative mind. No matter what your job, creativity can give you the spark you need to solve a tough problem, work with difficult people and impress your boss.

Creativity is like a muscle in your brain. The more you work on it, the stronger it gets. Even if you don't consider yourself a creative person, don't give up! Check out these 4 steps to help you become more creative.

  1. Try something new. Whether it's visiting new museums, trying out yoga, or just watching a genre on Netflix that you usually wouldn't, expanding your horizons can help you break through your creativity barriers.

  2. Play. Make time for your inner child. Children have incredible imaginations, and reminding yourself of what that was like can be a good step toward opening up your creativity. Try putting together a challenging Lego set or hosting a fun game night.

  3. Ask questions. Even if you feel like you already know the answers, take the time to ask more questions. Curiosity can help discover new things that allow our brains to make new creative connections.

  4. Be wrong. Don't let the fear of making a mistake hinder your creativity. The world needs new ideas to solve complex problems. Don't hold back your creative instincts just because you aren't sure what others will think. In fact, mistakes can serve as a launching point for the right solution.


What are your tips for becoming more creative? Let us know what you think on Facebook.

Tags:  AIMS Society  CPIA designation  efficiency  email marketing  insurance marketing and sales  Leadership  Networking  productivity  Professional Development  Social Media  teamwork  thank your clients 

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The Secret to Inspiring Others & Selling Smart Ideas

Posted By Donna M. Gray, Friday, June 28, 2019

The Secret to Inspiring Others & Selling Smart Ideas

“Ideas are the true currency of the 21st Century,” writes public speaking coach and author Carmine Gallo in his book, Talk Like Ted. “So in order to succeed, you need to be able to sell your ideas and yourself persuasively. That ability is the greatest skill that will help you accomplish your dreams.”

To provide the tools to create strong presentations and deliver winning talks, Gallo studied hundreds of TED Talks and interviewed the most popular TED presenters and top researchers in psychology, communications and neuroscience. The result is expert advice on creating and delivering engaging and memorable presentations. Below are Gallo’s tips for inspiring any audience.

  1. Let Loose. Passion is contagious, but you can’t inspire others unless you are inspired. It is vital to express your enthusiasm and passion for your ideas. Identify your connection to the topic, and inspire listeners with this meaningful connection.

  2. Master the Art of Storytelling. Because stories stimulate and engage the human brain, storytellers must tell stories that touch the hearts and minds of listeners, as well as express passion and inspire.

    For an  example, listen to public-interest lawyer Bryan Stevenson deliver the 2012 Ted Talk, entitled, “We Need to Talk about an Injustice.” Stevenson’s passion for his topic generated the longest standing ovation in TED Talk history. Not only did he spend a majority of his speech sharing stories, but he also welcomed his grandmother and Rosa Parks onstage to share their personal stories, too.

  3. Have a Conversation. Only after creating an emotional connection, building rapport and gaining trust, can you practice true persuasion. In order to achieve this, your presentation should feel relaxed, similar to having a discussion with a friend. Consistent practice and internalizing the content are two ways to create this conversation.

  4. Stick to the 18-Minute Rule. Nobody likes a long, overloaded and meandering presentation. Instead, you need to inform, while also holding people’s attention. So what’s the best length? Only 18 minutes.

    TED Talks curator Chris Anderson says, “Eighteen minutes is short enough to hold people’s attention … [and if you make points precisely] … it’s also long enough to say something that matters.”

  5.  Lighten Up. Research from the Mayo Clinic shows that laughter relieves stress and increases endorphins, but improves the immune system, relieves pain and enhances mood. And humor can help charm your listeners because it makes you more likable, which in turn, makes others more willing to do business with you.

Ideas can change the direction of your life and potentially change the world. “You don’t need luck to be an inspiring speaker,” Gallo writes. “You need courage — the courage to follow your passion, articulate your ideas simply and express what makes your heart sing.”

Tags:  AIMS Society  Branding  efficiency  insurance marketing and sales  Leadership  Networking  productivity  Professional Development  sellability  time management 

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Insights on Marketing an 'Unsexy' Business

Posted By Donna M. Gray, Friday, May 24, 2019

Insights on Marketing an 'Unsexy' Business

It was 1947 when entrepreneur Abraham Levitt and his sons, William and Alfred, founded a planned community in Long Island, New York. The Levitts converted rural farmland into a suburban community, named Levittown, and attracted droves of World War II veterans and their families.

For the next few years, the Levitts built more than 17,000 homes — each with its own yard. In fact, the community had specific rules requiring that all lawns be trimmed weekly and shrubs be kept shorter than four feet.

A shrewd businessman, the elder Levitt viewed a good lawn as a form of “neighborhood stabilization.” On adding lawns to each and every home, Levitt said: “No single feature of a suburban residential community contributes as much to the charm and beauty of the individual home and the locality as well-kept lawns.”

The modern history of lawns and lawn care began in 1947 with the building of Levittown — and still continues today. Homeowners across America endlessly obsess over lawn maintenance, including tackling weeds, fertilizer, grubs, mowing, watering, drought and aeration.

And nobody knows that more than Ryan Farley, cofounder of LawnStarter. Since the company’s launch in 2013, Farley and his team have raised more than $7 million in funding and have grown the online lawn care business into a trusted brand across the country.

Lawn care is definitely not an innovative, sexy business, Farley admits. But “being scrappy” is the way to propel an unexciting business into success, he says.

“Find ways to gain more reach by spending more time than money, and focus on achieving growth with what you have. Success doesn’t come from frills, perks, and expensive office spaces. It comes from attitude, being passionate, and growth hacking with a limited tool set until you can start scaling.”

Like lawn care, insurance service and products don’t carry an innate market appeal. And selling an “ordinary” product can be challenging.

The Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only organization for owners and executives of public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Council members offer their suggestions on marketing and selling products that lack sex appeal:

Share a compelling story. “The best marketing — for sexy products or not — happens when there is a genuine, compelling story told … Any product can have an interesting story and that is what drives people to action and keeps them coming back.” — Vinny La Barbera, CEO of imFORZA, an Internet marketing agency

Pull the emotional trigger. “No matter how ‘unsexy’ the product, there is still an emotional reason behind its purchase … Find that emotional reason and play it back to your consumers at every touchpoint possible.” — Jess Cook, executive creative director of branding agency TMV Group

Remember the fundamentals of marketing. “We're selling to a human with an emotion and a desire to fulfill a need … The fundamentals of marketing are the most important things to keep in mind. The product is secondary.” — Jordon Meyer, president of Granular, a digital marketing agency

Differentiation is the key. “Selling benefits will certainly speak to the customer, but how does your product stand out in the pack? … If you can identify and capitalize on your brand or product's strengths over the competition, you'll entice your customers with an important and strong advantage.”  — Carm Lyman, president of the Lyman Agency, a PR and communications firm

Educate users and help them engage. “There are always users that need to know more to help them engage with a product, so market it like you're educating someone and provide insight. — Lee Salisbury, founder and CEO of design agency UnitOneNine.

While your insurance agency may not sell an exciting or unique product, it’s still extremely important and valuable. Challenge yourself to be creative when designing your sales and marketing strategy. And always remember the wise words of the lawn king, Ryan Farley: “Success comes from attitude, being passionate and growth hacking.”

Tags:  AIMS Society  Branding  email marketing  insurance marketing and sales  Networking  Personal Brand  productivity  Professional Development  Social Media  Technology 

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Why & How You Should Define Your Brand Voice

Posted By AIMS Society, Friday, April 19, 2019

Why & How You Should Define Your Brand Voice

Every blog, social media post, advertisement and mailer is a vehicle for your brand voice.

Your overall voice and messaging are key to how consumers (both old and new) see you, how your company is perceived and how recognizable you are among your competitors.

But when your marketing department is small or dispersed, this is often one of the first things that’s overlooked. It shouldn’t be.

Why does a brand voice matter? A strategic and consistent voice gives you credibility and recognition. It’s also an opportunity to reinforce your brand’s beliefs. When you dial in on the right tone of voice, your content will become more effective as it creates a parallel experience between company values and brand messaging.

If you don’t know what your brand voice is, we recommend going through this process:

Since you’ve already shared, created and used content, consider gathering a solid sample of what you have from a variety of platforms. Sort through them and find what worked well, what your audience reacted to, and what you enjoyed writing. It will eventually become a collection of pieces that embodies the brand voice you want.

The next step? Define your brand voice in a few words. Talk about common themes within your best pieces. The Content Marketing Institute asks, if your brand were a person, how would you describe its personality to someone? How do your brand’s personality traits make you different? Take your audience into consideration here, too: What will resonate with them?

Some examples include:

  • Authoritative
  • Caring
  • Casual
  • Professional
  • Quirky
  • Warm
  • Witty
  • Trustworthy

Next, write some do’s and don’ts based on these adjectives. For example, if you’re going to be casual, do be playful but don’t use jargon. This list will help your team maintain uniformity when writing copy for everything from social media posts to email blasts. When you start to document your brand voice guidelines, you will identify opportunities and gaps, ensure consistency and maintain a uniform tone in your content.

Tags:  AIMS Society  Branding  insurance marketing and sales  Networking  productivity  Social Media 

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Delivering Exceptional Experiences for Every Customer

Posted By American Insurance Marketing and Sales (AIMS) Society, Friday, February 1, 2019


Delivering Exceptional Experiences for Every Customer


What's the key to creating outstanding customer service?

According to Nicholas Webb, a corporate strategist  and thought leader in the areas of customer experience design and innovation, the key is to build an exceptional experience for customers.

He maintains this success comes by following these principles:

  • Understand your customers by learning what they love and hate.
  • Invent human experiences across five touch points.
  • Express these experiences through digital and nondigital means.

In his book, What Customers Crave: How to Create Relevant and Memorable Experiences at Every Touchpoint, Webb defines the five touchpoints at which to invent human experiences:

1.The Pre-Touchpoint Moment
This is the research phase where potential customers explore your business via websites such as Google or Yelp. In addition to an online search, some customers may assess your physical location by driving by to look at the outside or even walk in to critique your office space and staff. Basically, potential customers are taking this time to educate themselves about you — and your reputation.

2. The First Touchpoint Moment
This sets the tone for how customers perceive your service, brand or product. It is the point when customers actually engage with you — and the point where first impressions really do matter.

Webb offers Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa as an excellent example. As guests enter the hotel, they are immediately greeted by enthusiastic, friendly staff and treated like royalty. The hotel’s goal is to help guests get in the vacation mood and jumpstart an amazing visit to the “happiest place on Earth.”

3. The Core Touchpoint Moment
Webb describes this phase as consistently reinventing great ways to serve customers. While your customers may have been happily using your service, you can’t become complacent. Instead, you need to find ways to keep them coming back. This means continuously delivering.

He highlights Trader Joe’s grocery chain as a good example of the core touchpoint. The store’s attention to detail translates into offering pumpkin spice cookies and coffee in the fall, as well as fresh vegetables and flowers in the spring. Trader Joe’s focus is always on the customer.

4. The Perfect Last Touchpoint Moment
This is the final moment that a customer has with your service or product. At this point, you must provide a memorable goodbye — one that makes them want to come back. This is your opportunity to say, “Thank you, and I hope you valued the experience enough to return."

5. The In-Touchpoint Moment
After a customer’s experience has ended, it is very important to stay connected. According to Webb, “You must approach this with an absolute commitment not to sell them anything, but rather to consistently and pleasantly provide them with ongoing value. You want them to willingly come back to you of their own accord, not because you’re shoving some One Time Only shenanigan down their throat.”

The bottom line, insists Webb, is that customer experience is more than just treating customers well. “It’s about architecting a machine that serves others,” he explains. And Webb’s five touchpoints allow any organization to create a customer experience that does just that.

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

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