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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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FREE Attendance at 2017 PRO-to-PRO

Posted By AIMS Society, Tuesday, January 24, 2017

How to Get it PLUS a Designation!

Free attendance for the 2017 PRO-to-PRO? How can that be? Actually, it's quite the deal.

If you come to Celebration, Florida just two days early, you can earn your CPIA designation and then stay through the end of the week for the PRO-to-PRO Retreat — free,

Yes, you read that right: Anyone who signs up for the CPIA seminars February 7-9, 2017 and stays at the Bohemian Hotel Celebration in our event's block of rooms will have their PRO-to-PRO attendance fee waived; that's how dedicated we are to making your time in Celebration even more worthwhile. 

You're committed to only one trip (to a pretty awesome location, particularly in the middle of winter), but will reap multiple benefits, including the only focused sales and marketing designation in the insurance industry, as well as interaction with some of the smartest minds in the industry.

Here's the itinerary:

February 7 — Position for Success (CPIA 1) — Facilitator: John Fear

February 8 — Implement for Success (CPIA 2) — Facilitator: Becky Lathrop

February 9 — Sustain Success (CPIA 3) — Facilitator: Ed Lamont

February 9-10 AIMS Society PRO-to-PRO Retreat

February 11 Optional golf outing

Of course, we welcome everyone for any portion of the week, but would love to send you home with both the CPIA Designation and the PRO-to-PRO experience. It's not too late to register, either, and we're eager to answer any questions you might have in advance of signing up. Just contact Donna Gray at donna@aimssociety.org. Hurry! The cut-off date for the discounted block of rooms ends January 26th!  

Check out all the details of the 2017 PRO-to-PRO agenda, read more about the benefits of the CPIA Designation, and sign up today! We look forward to seeing you in Celebration!

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Tags:  Agency Management  agency sale  agency value  AIMS Society  CPIA designation  efficiency  Friends  Insurance Education  Insurance Journal  insurance marketing and sales  Leadership  Networking  productivity  Professional Development  PRO-to-PRO  Relax  Risk Management  self-improvement  sellability  Social Media  teamwork  Technology  time management  vacation 

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Owning Your Brand

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Updated: Monday, August 25, 2014

Owning Your Brand

In his article, Agency Models: What Defines Today’s True Independent Agency, Mark E. Ruquet said, “The conventional definition of an independent agent is an entrepreneur who owns his or her book of business and offers multiple carriers to service their clients.”

The single word that jumped out at me in that sentence was “entrepreneur,” and it left me wondering how many insurance agents truly treat their business in an entrepreneurial manner.  What does it take to do that?  Jayson DeMers is founder and CEO of AudienceBloom, a Seattle-based SEO agency and contributor to Entrepreneur magazine (which seems like a promising start for expertise on the subject).  He believes there are five important skills every successful entrepreneur should possess:

1.       Communication—whether you think you’re a natural or believe this is a personal challenge, DeMers recommends paying attention to how people react when you talk for clues about your effectiveness.  If you’re seeing puzzled looks, you know there’s work to be done.

2.       Branding (personal and business). To be effective, DeMers maintains that you must be online and active on social media.  As we’ve discussed in previous blogs, deliver relevant content that helps you connect with your audience—this isn’t the place for overt selling.  He offers these resources to help you get started if you’re still reluctant: 5 Ways to Build Your Brand in Short Chunks of Time and The Definitive Guide to Marketing Your Business Online.

3.       Selling—DeMers maintains that everyone is in sales, noting that “every time you deliver your elevator pitch about your business, negotiate with a vendor, or even just persuade anyone to do anything, you’re tapping into sales skills.”  He emphasizes that most sales likely come from conversations and says, “If you focus on helping, rather than selling, you’ll feel more confident about the sales process, and make more sales, too.” 

4.       Strategy—with all the daily to-dos, it’s easy to lose sight of the long-term challenges and goals of the business.  But DeMers encourages everyone to “dedicate time to simply dream about what you want for your business–it’s the only way to grow over time and remain competitive.”  Dreaming doesn’t sound like a bad to-do list item at all!

5.       Finance—reality demands what DeMers calls a “decent understanding of your finances, profit margins, cash flow and funding.”  Knowledge equals comfort and that means better decisions.  He recommends a tool that helps you actually visualize the numbers beyond spreadsheets too. 

So even if you’re surrounded by co-workers and you see your position as a niche role within a bigger organization, treat your brand as if you are a solo entrepreneur.  It’ll surely add to your passion, help you create buy-in with others and should make even the more mundane tasks feel more relevant.  Now that’s how to own your brand!

Tags:  Insurance Journal  insurance marketing and sales  self-improvement 

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How to attract millennials

Posted By Donna M. Gray, Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, August 5, 2014

How to attract millennials

In last week’s blog, I shared information about the 2009 Insurance Journal Young Agents Survey.  Independent agents under 40 revealed what they liked most and least about being an independent agent.  The bad news was that many young agents struggle with the negative perceptions about insurance.  But, we know better, so I challenged you to share the good. 

And there’s a lot to share.

In fact, one piece of good news—actually the great news—is that we have something many millenials want:  flexibility.  You see, according to PwC’s Next Gen A Global Generational Study, this younger generation of workers says they’d consider a pay cut in exchange for better work-life balance.  Now, consider what some of the young agents surveyed said they like most about the insurance field:

  • ­ The freedom it provides and ability to work hard to determine your own income.
  • ­ The amount of time I have with my family and the flexibility of the business.
  • ­ I can make really good money and I control my schedule for the most part.
  • ­ The freedom to work my own hours and the fact that income ceiling is only controlled by how much effort I put.
  • ­ Relationships, freedom.
  • ­ Flexible schedule and unlimited income potential.
  • ­ Flexible work schedule and the ability to help people understand a piece of their life that is so important.
  • ­ Freedom. Meeting local business owners and developing relationships with them and leaders in the community.
  • ­The ability to write any risk on the planet and not having a home office dictate my life and income level.
  • ­ Own hours, unlimited income potential, exposure to all different types of industries.
  • ­ The freedom to try new things.
  • ­ Freedom of choice.
  • ­ Freedom to work when and how you would like to.
  • ­ I enjoy having the ability to direct my own work-flow while helping people protect themselves.
  • ­ Flexibility.
  • ­ Income and scheduling freedom.
  • ­ I like that I can realize my own dreams, and the self-direction that I can take.
  • ­ Flexibility of job and hours.

So if your agency is like so many others out there, struggling to engage new talent, make sure you’re selling to one of our greatest strengths.  Highlight the best we have to offer—it may be hard for more than millenials to refuse!  

Tags:  AIMS Society  Insurance Journal  insurance marketing and sales  Leadership  self-improvement 

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An Industry With A Complex

Posted By Donna M. Gray, Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, July 30, 2014

An industry with a complex

I recently discovered an article on MyNewMarkets.com that provided an overview of the 2009 Insurance Journal Young Agents Survey that asked independent agents under 40 years old what they liked the most and the least about being an independent agent.  It was a good news/bad news kind of list.  But what bothered me most was the ongoing perception issues faced by our industry-and the frustrating reality that we, the very people who make up that industry, may have accepted our position or done little to try to change it.

Among the top 49 "least liked" aspects of being an insurance agent, here's what was included as comments:

  • Public perception - while we're actually one of the last lines of defense for individuals' and companies' ability to continue operating, we're too often perceived as being one half step above used car salesmen.
  • Cold calls and the negative connotation associated with the job.
  • The public opinion of insurance in general.
  • The perception.
  • The perception the general public has of insurance and insurance agents.
  • Telling people I sell insurance for a living.
  • People's initial reaction when I say I am an insurance gent.
  • Being compared to a car salesman.

Ouch.

Looks like we've got some selling to do-oif ourselves.  Did you know that Insurance Agent ranks as the 13th Best Business Job according to US News and World Report?  Have you recently tweeted, posted on Facebook or sent out a press release to yor local paper when you've sponsored a student, supported a charity or done another good deed as a company?  Have you ever signed up for a career day and told about what it's really like at an agency?

Our industry deserves better, and as salespeople, I know we can do this.  So starting today, let's all hold our heads a little higher and be more intentional with our message.  Let's share the good.

Tags:  AIMS Society  Insurance Journal  insurance marketing and sales  self-improvement  teamwork 

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How to Reach Your Own Sesquicentennial

Posted By Donna M. Gray, Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How to Reach Your Own Sesquicentennial

Staying young may be the best way to become old.  What do I mean by that?  I’d argue that to remain in business across a century and a half requires any company—and in this case, an insurance agency celebrating its sesquicentennial—to remain strategically young in approach, energy and attitude toward change, refusing to accept a “we’ve always done it that way” mentality. 

In the current issue of Insurance Journal there is a particularly interesting article, “Contemporary Growth Tips From a 150-Year Old Agency” that illustrates the value of that forward thinking approach. The agency?  John W. Sanford & Son, which began issuing policies in 1864 and is now part of the Warwick Resource Group (WRG), led by lead principals, who also happen to be brothers: Richard Savino, CEO, and Keith Savino, chief operating officer.

How do they explain the agency’s longevity?  They credit “five ingredients in their formula for adapting and growing in today’s marketplace.”  This includes:

1.   Buyer Identification:  Using technology and online marketing to target potential clients worldwide, rather than limiting their sales potential to a defined geographic region

2.  Hub & Spoke: This organizational structure uses one central location (the hub) to consolidate key operations and uses remote sales offices (spokes) for localized efforts.  Again, technology, such as cloud computing and internet-based phone systems (VOIP), makes this structure both flexible and economically feasible.   

3.  Outside Hires: Great work can come from experts in other fields, i.e. construction, who can join the team and then learn insurance. They bring a great contact list with them too.

4.  Acquisitions:  Just 10 years ago, WRG had only a single office. Interestingly (and perhaps this sounds an alarm for agencies who haven’t kept pace), Richard notes in the article that acquisitions were frequently found among agencies that “did not maintain the technology required to run an efficient office.” 

5.  Leadership:  But not static leadership.  In fact, the Savino brothers value the interaction and learning they receive from industry associations, which I’m pleased to say includes the AIMS Society (Richard and Keith serve as two of our directors).

Turns out some contemporary thinking can keep an old business alive and thriving. Want to read more detail? Check out the whole article here—and be sure to congratulate the Savino’s at the next AIMS event!

Tags:  Agency Management  AIMS Society  Insurance Journal  insurance marketing and sales  Leadership  self-improvement  teamwork 

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