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What Are Your Best Tips for Maintaining Work-Life Balance?

Posted By AIMS Society, Friday, August 11, 2017

It's back-to-school season, which means many of us — students and parents alike — have to get back into the swing of juggling the demands of work and school, both of which have fixed and often competing schedules. Maintaining our sanity requires flexibility and ingenuity.

Tips from business experts. If your office offers flexible or remote work options, you're in a great position to shape your schedule to suit you! If not, you might find the 26 time-management tips I wish I'd known at 20 shared recently by Business Insider to be helpful. Our own experience has convinced us to add No. 27: Don't neglect yourself during busy times. Running the work-school marathon requires you to be well-rested and nourished in both body and soul.

Gratitude. The next time you schedule a business call while watching soccer practice or answer emails while you're waiting for your take-out dinner, whisper a small "thank you" for cloud-based software. We are the first generations who can take our offices with us on our devices, allowing us to make the most of found time — whether it's while waiting for a hair or doctor's appointment, waiting in the car-pool line or observing a child's piano lesson. Just remember to respect the boundaries between your two lives, and try to stay present as much as possible so you don't accidentally send an unfinished email or dismiss your child trying to tell you a story.

How do you find time? We all struggle with work-life balance, and balancing a thriving career in insurance while caring and being there for your family can be challenging. But insurance professionals are among the best at using tools and time wisely. In the comments section below, please share one or two of your favorite time-management tips with AIMS Society readers. If we all work together, we can find the best way to maintain our own perfect work-life balance.

Tags:  AIMS Society  business value  efficiency  insurance marketing and sales  Networking  productivity  Professional Development  Relax  self-improvement  Social Media  teamwork  Technology  time management  vacation 

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Sales Slowing Down? Revamp Your Strategy.

Posted By AIMS Society, Friday, June 30, 2017

It's summertime, which means family vacations are in full force and leisure living is priority. Chances are good that your sales, too, will relax during these summer months. While your clients and prospects play, consider using this down time to revamp your marketing and sales strategies. Trust us — you'll thank yourself later.

Here are a few specific suggestions:

Check your marketing strategy for missed opportunities. Since things will be slow around the office, consider taking time to get into the weeds of your marketing strategy. That way, you can make your efforts more effective, authentic and fresh.

Look at digital improvements. While 16% of brands, have a digital marketing strategy that isn't yet integrated into marketing efforts, nearly 46% of brands don't have a strategy at all. Wherever you stand on the spectrum, consider setting new objectives and a game plan for how to reach your target audiences — and beyond.

Create better content. Maybe your website, blog and social media accounts are already strong. Consider going back to the basics and checking out your website content or adding SEO-friendly phrases to a few blogs. Remember, it's about quality over quantity, so make sure your content is engaging, true to your brand and unique among the competition.

Look on the inside to improve the outside. It's always a good idea to bring the team together to discuss how things are going. Schedule a meeting or two this summer to talk about challenges within daily operations and communication practices. Have a brainstorming session to come up with innovative marketing ideas, or just have a cookout to bring the team closer in an informal setting.

Tags:  AIMS Society  business value  CPIA designation  efficiency  insurance marketing and sales  Leadership  Networking  productivity  self-improvement  Social Media  teamwork  time management  vacation 

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How to Become a Superstar without Working Yourself to Death

Posted By AIMS Society, Friday, June 2, 2017

Agents are often so busy trying to be "the best" overall, that they don't realize there might be a better route to success.

Just as agencies want to be in the top tier, so do students. Consider the competitive college application process at prestigious colleges. Georgetown professor Cal Newport describes the Superstar Effect, which he believes plays a role in acceptance rates. As he shares, only 2,300 of the 32,000 applicants to Stanford were accepted in 2010, which at that point was the lowest rate in school history — 7.2%. Looking at the applicant pool, nearly all would be considered exceptional in their own right, with a transcript full of demanding advanced placement and International Baccalaureate classes. Nevertheless, it was clearly tough to get noticed in that crowd. So how can students (and by comparison, agencies) win out over the competition?

Human nature is to give preference to the individual who is the obvious standout — the valedictorian, the multi-sport varsity-letter athlete, the class president. But all three of those positions require an incredible dedication of time and effort over many years. What if those aren't roles a student can obtain? How can all those exceptional students who simply aren't the one dubbed "best" still stand out?

Newport maintains that the key is in being best at something "different," and choosing an area of expertise that doesn't necessarily require the same level of time and energy that something like valedictorian status does. Does it mean these students will suddenly be considered average or delegated to the runner-up position? No, in fact, if they attack their goals appropriately, they can prove to be standouts in their own right. And they can reach that top tier without having to invest the hours required to be the best overall.

In insurance, the same thing can happen. You want to be the "best" agency in town, perhaps measured by premium volume. But, that's a pretty tall order. Instead, how about identifying how you can be different — and then be the best at that. Best agency for cyber liability coverage and protection. Best agency for families. Best agency for entrepreneurs. Just choose something you're passionate about the top ranking will come. You'll ultimately stand a much better opportunity of being noticed. And you won't have to work everyone to exhaustion to achieve it.

Tags:  AIMS Society  business value  CPIA designation  efficiency  Insurance Education  insurance marketing and sales  Leadership  Networking  productivity  Professional Development  self-improvement  Social Media  teamwork  Technology 

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Become a Standout with Value-Added Services

Posted By AIMS Society, Friday, May 26, 2017

You sell insurance policies just like every other agency. So how can you possibly stand out from the competition?

The key may have nothing to do with insurance. Instead, value-added services could be all that are necessary to solidify your customer relationships, to make your agency seem irreplaceable.

Value-added services are just that — they don't replace your main product, but they can extend your reach and the perception that you've truly thought of everything when it comes to a customer's peace of mind. Ideally, value-added services don't need to be extensive or take a lot of your own time to deliver. More often than not, the only requirement is a thoughtful gesture to make your customers feel truly protected. And isn't that the very essence of any insurance professional's mission, to provide a sense of protection?

It's best to develop a few well-planned value-added services that relate to your existing customers. Then, find some trusted business partners to deliver your suggested offerings. You can build in a referral free to the partnership if you want to generate some additional income, but often, the greatest value comes from long-term customer loyalty you'll establish.

Start with your portfolio and niche businesses and craft a suite of value-adds from there. You don't need to be the expert in any of the services — leave that to your partners — but be certain to fully vet any organization you select as a partner and continue regular follow-up with customers to make sure they're happy with your recommendations. You may want to coordinate service delivery just to stay connected and in-the-loop.

Some value-added services that can bolster your market position:

  • Estate planning services
  • Funeral preplanning
  • Will preparation
  • Videotape or photography services for asset identification
  • Appraisal services
  • Disaster preparation planning list or a discounted price on disaster food kits
  • Tax preparation advice
  • Disaster business plan development
  • Cybersecurity traning
  • Wellness programs
  • Defensive driving courses for teens
  • Alarm systems
  • Winterization kits

This list is limited only by your creativity. Again, you don't need to have on-staff experts, just a connection to experts in the community. The goal is to offer a comprehensive program for those categories your customers' value most. You've already written the policies. Now go the extra step to show you've truly got the client covered.

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Tags:  Agency Management  agency value  AIMS Society  business value  CPIA designation  efficiency  Insurance Education  insurance marketing and sales  Leadership  Personal and Commercial Coverage  productivity  Professional Development  self-improvement  teamwork 

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How to Protect You & Your Clients from Cyber Attacks

Posted By AIMS Society, Friday, May 19, 2017

On Friday, May 12, a massive ransomware attack hit computer systems at private companies and public organizations around the word. Some sources say WannaCry — also known as WannaCrypt Wanna Decrypter or WCry — is the largest ransomware delivery operation to date.

The cyberattack hit more than 300,000 computers by midday on May 15, and users in more than 150 countries have been confronted with a screen demanding a $300 payments to restore their files.

Ransomware, a computer virus that is typically spread via spam emails and malicious download links that lock up files and demand a ransom to unlock them, isn't a new concept or threat. But hackers are getting smarter, leveraging new technologies and designing more sophisticated systems. There isn't an "if" something like this will happen again, it's "when".

The amount of personally identifiable information your agency holds is immense — from Social Security numbers to credit card numbers, form birth dates to drivers' license numbers — and hackers want it. Ant it's more important now than ever to ensure your systems are securely protected from cybersecurity attacks and data breaches while also adhering to industry, state and federal regulations.

At the very least, take the time to make sure your anti-malware and antivirus software are up-to-date. Look at business interruption and cyber liability insurance for yourself. And consider teaming up with a third-party data management company to properly encrypt your data in the cloud.

The most essential part? Communication. Let your clients know exactly what measures your agency is taking to protect their sensitive information. When you take cybersecurity seriously, you'll gain your client's trust and they'll see you as a dependable reliable source.

Tags:  agency value  AIMS Society  Cyber Attacks  efficiency  Leadership  productivity  Risk Management  self-improvement  Social Media  teamwork  Technology 

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