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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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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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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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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 Need to Rethink Your Email Marketing Strategy

Posted By AIMS Society, Friday, August 3, 2018

Why You Need to Rethink Your Email Marketing Strategy

Even if you’re already email marketing, chances are you’re not doing it as effectively as you could be. Many insurance agencies are using outdated templates, automated messaging or sending emails too sporadically. Whatever it is, there’s room for improvement.

The good news is that email marketing is still an effective way to market to your current and prospective customers. Email is powerful. It’s a direct line of communication that stays in front of people. In fact, a study by the International Data Corporation showed that email was the most popular mobile app for 78% of people.

But because your customers and prospects are inundated with emails every day, you need to be smart about your email marketing tactics. Here are some things to consider:

Tune into your ability to help. As an insurance agent, you’re there for protection and assurance, for safeguarding and advocacy. Instead of pounding home messages about discounts and bundling policies, give advice on safety and share inspirational stories instead. Once you start doing this on a regular basis, customers will start to see you as someone they can trust and someone that cares. You can talk about insurance, just don’t try to sell it.

Be personable. Agency Nation says that not personalizing your emails is one of the biggest email marketing mistakes that insurance agencies make. To stand out among the crowd, take the time to design your emails so they are relevant and individualized. You should also make sure your “From” line is either someone’s name or your agency’s name.

Design a strategy and be consistent. One of the most essential aspects of an effective email marketing strategy is to stay consistent. Set a realistic goal, whether that’s once a month or once a quarter so clients know what to expect when. If communication becomes unreliable, you’ll confuse customers and lose trust.

Use email marketing to generate and nurture leads. Once you have a lead in the door, you want to nurture it, feed your prospect’s interest until it blossoms into a sale. With email marketing, you can deliver relevant content that relates to wherever they are in the consumer journey. Develop a relationship through email and they’ll be likely to engage in person down the road.

When you follow these tips, your email marketing campaigns can easily bring in new policy holders, new revenue and enhanced loyalty. Spend less money on print ads and instead focus your budget and time on email marketing — you might be surprised with your results.  

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

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