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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 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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On-Line Content: Are You Annoying or Appealing?

Posted By AIMS Society, Friday, April 27, 2018


On-Line Content: Are you Annoying or Appealing?

By now, the hope is that you're engaged online — it's quite simply a requirement for developing and building your personal brand as well as your sales contacts and leads. So, no preaching about why it's important to be online; the assumption is that you already are.

However, the question now is: Are you annoying or appealing? Are you adding to the digital noise (which can be significant), or are you actually leveraging the opportunity to create an actual relationship with clients and prospects?

Here are some tips to make sure you are putting your best you out there:

  1. Write about topics that interest your audience. Seems obvious, right? But most people write from their own perspective. Do a quick review of past postings. How many times do you use "I" and "me"? If the content doesn't work with "you" instead, it probably holds little interest.
  2. Focus on your strengths. If your post requires a lot of research or if it isn't on a topic you could speak about for three minutes or more unrehearsed, it's probably not in your wheelhouse. If it's a topic you'd like to be an expert in, take the time to become that expert before claiming the title.
  3. Don't complain. No one likes to spend their time with someone negative. Spin the content around and present a solution or a positive alternative.
  4. Don't be afraid to create controversy. Own an alternate position from the norm. You might be surprised how many people appreciate a new perspective.
  5. Know your goals. Don't write until you are clear about what you're hoping your reader will do. Are you trying to build likes and shares to boost your online ranking? Would you love to position yourself as a potential speaker for industry events? Do you want to increase your contact list and build off-line conversations? Once you have identified what you're hoping to accomplish, stay in that lane.
  6. Go above and beyond. Always look for ways to be helpful. If someone leaves a comment, you should reply quickly. Go the extra step and add some additional content that you believe will appeal to them, such as a link to an article or relevant resource, even if it's not directly related to insurance.
  7. Invite guests. A great way to build your own presence is by supporting others. If you worked with a great attorney, invite them to provide content that you post to share with your own audience. This can also be a great way to illustrate the quality of company that you keep.
  8. Track responses. Take the time to notice what drives reaction. If ending with a question prompts the most comments, make that a habit. If linking a video drives response rates, that's the route you should focus upon.
  9. Be yourself. Always. Enough said.

Tags:  AIMS Society  Goals  insurance marketing and sales  Networking  Personal Brand  productivity  Professional Development  self-improvement  Social Media 

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