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What’s the Difference between Marketing and Sales?

Posted By Kitty Ambers, Friday, May 24, 2013
Updated: Thursday, May 23, 2013

We've all heard the old adage, "Nothing happens until somebody sells something!" But is that really the truth? If you understand the difference between marketing and selling, you realize that much needs to take place before anybody sells anything.

At its base, "Sales" is when money changes hands; everything else is "Marketing". To be wildly successful, we must understand and embrace the difference and apply this understanding to what takes place within our own organization—whether it’s an insurance agency, a brokerage, or some other business.

Marketing generally involves communicating to the masses; sales most often is one-on-one. Marketing takes a long-term approach. Sales, while not always a one-shot endeavor, operates in a more defined time-frame. Marketing builds product and brand awareness; selling calls for persuasion that leads to a decision. Marketing is the wide top of the funnel; selling is the bottom.

In short, marketing leads up to the sale. The sale is the reward.

As an insurance agent or someone who leads an agency, it is critically important to establish insurance agency standards for marketing and sales and to structure operations to support both. Agencies need to offer staff training that helps employees develop the skills they need to be not only good "openers,” but good "closers,” as well. Such training also can help them understand what "marketing” needs to take place after the sale to boost retention.

While we’ll probably never do away with the "Nothing happens until somebody sells something” adage, perhaps a better core mantra for highly profitable insurance agencies—and one that recognizes the difference between marketing and sales—would be, "Find 'em, Catch 'em, Keep 'em".

Tags:  AIMS Society  CPIA designation  insurance marketing and sales 

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The 3 Ms of Insurance Marketing

Posted By Kitty Ambers, Friday, May 17, 2013

The term "Insurance Marketing" is often misunderstood. In our industry, often we think of marketing as the activities required to place business with an insurance carrier. At the AIMS Society, we encourage our CPIA seminar participants and members to think about marketing in terms of building and solidifying prospect and client relationships.

To successfully build and bolster such relationships requires knowledge of your agency MARKET. Do have particular niches or programs where you and/or your staff have expertise? Are you focused on a particular demographic where you can offer a competitive mix of products?

Maybe you’re identified potential target areas where you and others are working to develop such intimate knowledge. One agency I know of asked each of its employees to identify a particular customer group of interest—perhaps one where the employee’s parent worked while the employee was growing up, or maybe on in which the employee volunteered or received training before joining the agency—and learning as much as possible about that group.

This learning and understanding is critically important. Without solid knowledge of your current marketplace and a clear focus on where you want growth to occur, your agency can waste significant time, energy and money.

Once you have identified the specific market or markets that could be profitable for your firm, consider your MESSAGE. What does your agency stand for? What are the core values of your business operations? More important, does everyone in the organization know them and know how to demonstrate them daily? Have you spent the time to develop your "brand"? Do employees represent your values and your agency’s brand to clients and prospect? By default, your agency has an identity. Is it the one you want?

Once you know the "who” (your market) and the "what” (your message), the next step is to determine the "how”—the proper MEDIUM for reaching your market with your message. In determining the medium, consider where your prospects and clients are.

What do they typically read or listen to—and how? Is there an association or other group they belong to? What events do they attend? Are they engaged online? Consider how Social Media tools such as Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest may help you reach them. If you’re not sure, ask them!

By taking the time to explore and contemplate your Three Ms, you will be best prepared to create an effective agency marketing strategy. Remember, you can find tools to help create a comprehensive plan for identifying and building your unique approach in CPIA 1: Position for Success. Consider how the seminar might fit for you—perhaps as a refresher—and for employees on whom your agency’s future success relies.

For your convenience, attached is the current CPIA Seminar Schedule.


 Attached Files:

Tags:  AIMS Society  CPIA designation  insurance marketing and sales 

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AIMS Society Honors CPIA Instructor, State Association

Posted By Administration, Thursday, April 4, 2013
CPIA Conferment Recognizes 519 New CPIAs

March 29, 2013 -- The American Insurance Marketing & Sales (AIMS) Society recently recognized a professional insurance educator and state insurance agent association for their success in bringing Certified Professional Insurance Agent (CPIA) professional designation education to independent agency and brokerage professionals during 2012. 

Becky Lathrop, CPIA, CIC, vice president at Tampa, FL-based Optimum Performance Solutions, was named the first-ever CPIA Facilitator of the Year. She was honored at the 26th annual AIMS Society PRO-to-PRO Executive Retreat, which was held in conjunction with the organization's annual meeting in Dallas, TX in late February.

In 2012, Lathrop taught 17 CPIA classes in Florida, Nebraska and Oregon. In presenting the award, AIMS Society Executive Director Kitty Ambers, CPIA, CIC, CISR, CPIW, said, "Becky's strong technical knowledge and engaging presentation style serve insurance professionals well in our CPIA courses. One of her student summed it up when she wrote of Becky's class, 'You don't leave feeling crammed or bored. You leave with fresh new ideas and ready for the next day of work.'" 

The inaugural CPIA Seminar Sponsor of the Year Award was presented to Professional Insurance Agents of Florida. In 2012, PIA of Florida offered 18 CPIA classes; 358 students took part and 85 insurance professional earned their CPIA professional designation during the year. 

Ambers, who presented the CPIA Seminar Sponsor of the Year Award during PIA of Florida's annual Expo and CPIA Conferment in February, said, "Florida PIA has done a great job helping agencies boost employee skills and performance through the CPIA program. It was exciting to take part in the Expo and Conferment, and see the enthusiasm the entire PIA of Florida Board and Staff has for the CPIA program and the energy they put into it." 

During 2012, 519 individuals earned their CPIA professional designation. They were recognized during the AIMS Society Annual Meeting this year in Dallas. More than 4000 people have earned the exclusive CPIA designation since the program was launched in the late 1990s.


About AIMS Society: Founded in 1968 as The Firemark Society, the AIMS Society (www.aimssociety.org) is a national, member-driven organization that provides practical training, information and networking services designed to increase the personal and agency sales production of property and casualty insurance agents. AIMS Society was the first organization to honor property and casualty agents for sales excellence and to establish the industry's only sales-based insurance designation: the Certified Professional Insurance Agent (CPIA). Completion of the CPIA designation requirements is not necessary to qualify for membership. 

Tags:  AIMS Society  CPIA designation  insurance marketing and sales 

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