A survey conducted by Ohio-based Progressive Insurance found that independent insurance agents use a variety of advertising methods to help them attract consumers to their agency, and “the overwhelming majority of agents think their advertising investment has helped them grow their business.”
Progressive queried over 1,000 independent agents online at the company’s agent-dedicated Web site, ForAgentsOnly.com (FAO). The findings show that advertising seems to pay off. It also revealed details of what kind of marketing tools agents most frequently use.
“Countrywide, 84 percent of respondents said they use Yellow Pages advertising, 49 percent said they place print advertisements in newspapers and/or magazines, and about a quarter of respondents said they use direct mail and/or radio advertising,” the study found.
The survey revealed that different methods were favored in different regions of the country. “Print advertising is far more popular in the Northeastern states, where 59 percent of respondents said they use it, than in Western states, where only 32 percent said they use it.” Agents in the West, however, use the Internet more. The study found that “32 percent of respondents from Western states said they advertise on the Internet, while only 22 percent of respondents countrywide said they do so.”
“Overall, these agents are confident that their advertising dollars are well-spent. Ninety-one (91) percent of respondents countrywide said that advertising has helped their agency grow. One-quarter of the respondents credit advertising for more than 25 percent of their agency’s growth last year, while another 43 percent said advertising was responsible for over 10 percent of their agency’s growth,” said the announcement.
It also revealed that companies are working with their agents. 60 percent of respondents said they receive consumer referrals from the companies they represent. Here also there’s a regional difference. “Agents in the Mid Atlantic and Western states seem more likely to have access to referrals (about 70 percent of respondents from both regions said they get referrals) than agents from the Great Plains, Northeast, Midwest, and Gulf regions (where only 60 percent or fewer respondents said they receive referrals).”
The company gave a plug to its own efforts, noting that “Progressive’s ProLeads® referrals program, introduced countrywide in May 2001, has helped the company’s authorized agents sell over 45,000 policies.” It’s the biggest writer of auto insurance in the U.S. through independent agents, and is looking forward to continued growth.
“Independent agents are uniquely suited to combine personalized service and counsel with choice and competitive products,” stated Bob Williams, Progressive’s agent group president. “So it’s important for agents to effectively advertise that uniqueness to their community. As captive writers move their focus away from property and casualty insurance and struggle in a hardening market, independent agents’ opportunity for growth is tremendous.”