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Top 10 Productivity Tools for Sales & Marketing Professionals

Posted By AIMS Society, Friday, November 16, 2018

Top 10 Productivity Tools for Sales & Marketing Professionals

Orchestrating a team can be challenging. Whether you have a team of five or 20, every member has a unique personality and preferences. You also may have a host of processes and systems that you're using in the office.

When was the last time you looked at how you're getting work done? Are you being as productive as possible?

When you use the right productivity tools, your team's efficiency and collaboration will increase — resulting in more sales and better organization. there are a host of technologies, apps and systems out there that are designed to improve workflow.

Here are the top resources for insurance professionals:

  1. DocuSign: Incredibly popular in the insurance industry, DocuSign is an e-signature service that helps reduce inefficient paper processes and email contracts in record time.

  2. Slack: If your team is wasting time with inefficient communication processes, consider using Slack. It’s one of the most effective ways to instantly communicate and message your team members — and it works on both desktop and mobile. You can create “Channels” for specific purposes like marketing and only invite those on the marketing team.

  3. Google Docs: This is one of the most user-friendly tools out there for document collaboration. Think of it as a free online version of Microsoft Office. You can create and share word, spreadsheet, forms and presentation files (like proposals, pitches and sales letters) with other team members in real time.

  4. CamScanner: Download this app to easily scan any document and save it as a PDF. It will even enhance the scanned images and lift out important pieces of information like dates, titles and prices. You can also add notes and drawings to your scanned images.

    Note: If you have the Google Drive app on your phone, you can not only access your Google Docs but scan receipts and documents. You can share files immediately and access them later.

  5.  Trello: This collaboration tool helps you organize and prioritize projects and tasks. You can see who’s working on what, where something is in a process and what the next steps are for each prospect. Trello is great for delegating tasks, creating automatic to-do lists and keeping things transparent.

  6. CRM: You’re in a customer-centric business, so it makes sense to have an effective customer relationship management (CRM) system. It’s essential for growing your agency and managing leads and customers every step of the way. HubSpot has a free CRM, but if you’re looking for something personalized, consider Salesforce, Insightly, Zoho and Infusionsoft.

  7. SignOn Once by ID Federation: If you struggle with maintaining passwords and IDs, you’re not alone. It’s one of the biggest pain points among carriers and agencies. SignOn Once enables one identity to replace multiple logins for insurance system users. That way, you can spend less time resetting passwords and more time focused on serving prospects and clients.

  8. Evernote: This is the system for someone who loves sticky notes and keeps infinite tabs open in their browser. With Evernote you can take pictures, save websites and write to-do lists. It’s like your very own digital notebook. You can create different sections for different areas of focus and tag each document or idea — keeping everything you may need in one spot.

  9. Voice-to-Text: You may not think this would be helpful, but have you ever thought about how much time you spend typing something instead of saying it? Or have you ever had a great idea while waiting and didn’t have time to type a note? Voice recognition software has been around for a while, but the technology is finally advanced enough for the translation to be correct instead of jumbled. Consider a robust software like Dragon or start with a free app like Cortana.

  10. Zapier: If you have plenty of leads coming in but are getting bogged down with the follow-up process, consider an automation process. For example, if you get an email with an attachment, you can set up a “trigger” that copies the attachment into your Google Drive and then alerts you in Slack. You can integrate all of your systems like email, social media, email marketing and so much more.

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

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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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How to Build Your Agency Presence

Posted By Donna M. Gray, Friday, March 2, 2018

How to Build Your Agency Presence

Last month, we shared a few articles on social media written by AIMS board members or featuring CPIA designees. It's incredible to see the reach our agents and members are having in the industry.

You may already have a company blog, and you may post to social media or send newsletters to your clients. But there are more ways to increase the reach of your content, attain high visibility and harness engagement from new audiences. So how can you magnify your scope outside of your agency's bubble? Here are a few strategies.

  1. Share your successes. No matter how small or local the publication, it's always worthwhile to share how you're growing. The Williston Observer in Vermont gave a shout-out to Niki Hayes of Kinney Pike Insurance for her CPIA designation award. Contact your paper's business section, a local magazine or insurance chapter to see how you can spread your company and staff accomplishments throughout the year. It shows the public (and competitors) you're cultivating a community of learning and achievement.
  2. Share your insight. You have ideas, you have experiences and you know what you're talking about. Think about how many clients you've helped. Continue to support others by sharing what you know with the local community. Reach out to organizations that share similar values in risk management to host an educational event for business owners. Leverage your knowledge and expertise to build community involvement and strengthen your agency brand.
  3. Share with video. You already know video is the next big step in content marketing. If you've never done it before, you'll certainly catch eyes when you start doing it. Create an objective, channel your audience, start shooting and see what happens. There are a variety of easy ways to create engaging video content, so why not give it a shot? It doesn't have to be highly produced. Just start your own YouTube channel and post on social media to expand your reach.
  4. Share with your industry. It may seem daunting if you've never published an article before, but it's a fun and effective way to get your name in a national publication. Just consider Robert Klinger, president and CEO of Klinger Insurance Group, who wrote an article for Property Casualty 360, "6 Ways Insurance Agents and Brokers can Find 'Ideal' Clients: Prospecting 101." You don't have to write revolutionary or mind-blowing stuff. Just stick to your own voice and areas of expertise.

What have you done to share content outside of your agency's digital channels? Let us know! We'd love to share your ideas with the AIMS Society community.

Tags:  Agency Management  AIMS Society  Branding  efficiency  insurance marketing and sales  Professional Development  self-improvement  Social Media 

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Welcome to the Year of the Personal Touch

Posted By AIMS Society, Friday, January 5, 2018

Welcome to the Year of the Personal Touch

Happy 2018! Do you know the up-and-coming insurance marketing trends to expect this year?

There's a lot to keep up with — from multiple social media platforms to strong content to visually-shocking graphics. 2017 saw an increase in influencer marketing, live video-streaming and mobile-first strategies. While those likely will still linger, here are some additional avenues the industry will take in 2018:

  1. User-generated content. To engage followers and customers in a more personal way, many companies are employing user-generated content: video, blogs, posts and testimonials created by consumers and then made publicly available to a firm's other customers. Chosen customers will enjoy the recognition, and potential customers can look to their peers for true advice and insight into the products you're selling.
  2. Data-driven insight into the customer journey. It's time to start using the data you're collecting (whether consciously or unconsciously) as a powerful tool to better understand the customer experience. Marketers can tailor an approach based on purchasing paths, decisions and associated emotions.
  3. Targeted ads. Is your agency using its advertising budget effectively? 2018 will see more targeted ads with a defined and exclusive purpose. It may require an outside agency, but producing ads that are very streamlined with ideal conversions will give you a huge boost toward reaching your marketing goals.
  4. Transparency and trust. This trend is fueled by millennials, but other generational groups are placing just as much importance on the idea. Brands will be much more transparent with their messaging and branding next year. Consumers want companies to be authentic and genuine. Open up a bit and add a personal touch to your marketing efforts. (Hint, hint: user-generated content.)

What are some marketing trends you're look forward to in 2018? Any you plan on implementing? Let us know!

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

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What Does Kim Kardashian Know That You Might Not?

Posted By AIMS Society, Friday, December 1, 2017

What Does Kim Kardashian Know That You Might Not?

Regardless of your personal opinion of her, Kim Kardashian is a brilliant marketer who understands the value of customer appreciation. While you may argue that her 15 minutes of fame should have ended long ago — or that she didn't even deserve 15 minutes in the first place — she has an enviable amount of staying power (and a brand that's stronger than many insurance companies'). And it all has to do with smart marketing.

Consider just one recent story that earned considerable replay across multiple media outlets. One of Kim's self-professed biggest fans tweeted that she had tickets to an upcoming Kanye West concert in New Orleans (Kanye is Kim's husband). During the concert itself, Kim tweeted a message to the super fan to let her know Kardashian's bodyguards were coming over to escort her backstage to meet Kanye with Kim. Of course, pictures were taken, and the story went viral. In addition, Kim later sent a concert T-shirt and handwritten Christmas card to the fan, which extended the story's reach even further.

Of course, the super fan was understandably thrilled. Kim didn't necessarily increase her loyalty, but she certainly cemented it. The more powerful effect was on others. After reading the story, remarks included ones like this: "I'm not into Kim like that but that was very nice of her," or "it really brought a smile to my face...I appreciate little things like this."

With one simple gesture, Kim advanced her brand in a positive, powerful way.

Here's the lesson we should all take away from Kim Kardashian: It doesn't take grand gestures to create grand changes. Too often, we do nothing because we can't invest considerable time or resources. Yet "big" isn't always your most powerful tool.

Imagine what could happen to your brand and your customer loyalty by just taking a more deliberate, personal approach to customer outreach. After finishing up a claim, envision the customer delight you could create by simply sending a handwritten personal note to check in on their recovery. What if you sent a link to an article about a hobby you both share or emailed a reminder about upcoming quarterly requirements so you don't catch them off guard? They're little gestures with immense potential to improve relationships.

Are there other simple gestures you could do to show appreciation? The 10 minutes it takes could transform your brand perception from just acceptable to exceptional. And ultimately, isn't that one of the best ways to become irreplaceable as well?

Tags:  Branding  efficiency  insurance marketing and sales  Leadership  Networking  productivity  Professional Development  self-improvement  sellability  Social Media 

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