It’s easy to imagine that your agency will stay in business for as long as you want, but in reality, commercial endurance is about action, not wishful thinking. To persevere in today’s competitive insurance marketplace, every independent agency must create a survival to-do list and then enact it. And since it’s New Year’s resolution time … well you get the idea. Below are key items to consider, if you haven’t done them already.
Almost every insurance buyer has a smartphone; it’s their virtual window into the world. They use it to search for information, including the products and services they want to buy. So, if your agency isn’t easily accessible via mobile devices, then you are at a serious competitive disadvantage. Here are four ways to do it.
Hire a conversion website to convert your desktop into one that’s “mobile-friendly.” bmobilized.com and dudamobile.com are two sites that tout this service… Publish a second, smaller website that’s for mobile users only… Replace your desktop site with a “responsive” website that automatically adjusts your menus and content to any size screen, from phone to PC (example: agencyideas.com)… Post agency apps for iOS and Android users. There are myriad sources for custom and customizable apps, ranging from vendors to carriers.
Attract Micro Businesses
Micros are smaller than the traditional “small” business and consist mainly of digital-only operations along with a variety of incubated start-ups. Some are even financed through crowd-funding, a web-based mechanism for raising small dollar investments. Use the unit to teach new agents about commercial lines, to train sales-minded CSRs, and to experiment with various marketing methods. Most micros will fail or stay tiny, but some will rapidly grow. It’s how Apple started and it’s why local governments and venture capitalists invest in incubators.
Raise Revenue per Employee
There are multiple elements to this top-line action. They commonly include better work efficiencies… Aggressively soliciting every desirable P/C policy your insureds have outside of your agency… Selling non-P/C products such as life and financial services to current clients… Working mainly with carriers who offer competitive premiums and commissions.
Social media is here to stay and it’s evolving every day. Get in on it and keep on it in 2014. Just don’t bet the agency on it. Use the media, in partnership with viable traditional methodologies, not in lieu of them.
Revisit Direct Mail
Postal mail marketing isn’t dead; it’s just out of favor in this neo-digital age. Regardless, it has its virtues. Its tangible nature and flexible design serves as an attention-grabbing asset when used creatively. As such, addressees open most direct mail envelopes, whereas only a fraction of promotional email is opened and read. Use it selectively in 2014, in conjunction with your social media and other digital marketing efforts, to cross-sell, upsell, and to attract new prospects.
Rededicate Personal Lines
Don’t abandon auto and home to the jumbo insurers. Personal lines provides a survival enhancing revenue stream. Plus it puts you in regular contact with your clients, keeping them engaged in ways beyond social media. There are endless ways to compete. Re-read two of my past columns for ideas… “50 Ways to Market Personal Lines Insurance” (Aug. 19, 2013) and “How to Compete for Personal Lines with the Direct Writers” (Nov. 21, 2011).
It’s hard to be overly concerned about survival when renewal checks keep coming in. But when they stop, it’s too late to worry. Now is the time to make your survival to-do list and check off each item. Endure and grow in 2014 for your sake and that of the independent agency channel.