The 2012 presidential election is coming up quickly and the media is outputting endless stories, videos, tweets and more about it. Pay attention to the ads and the action to pick up some interesting lessons you can apply to your agency. Here are eight to consider.
Adapt your message. Politicians pander by delivering explicit messages that appeal to the needs and wants of targeted audiences. You can do the same by identifying the specific insurance buyers you want to solicit and approach them with targeted promotions. Employ an appropriate mix of digital and traditional media, like the candidates do. Don’t rely on just one.
Make the incumbent accountable. When selling, ask your prospect to hold his present agent responsible for every act of under-performance. Point out significant exposures that aren’t adequately covered and discuss how they can impact the buyer’s financial security. When the moment is right, invite the prospect to vote with their feet and move their account to you. Demanding accountability is easy when you’re the challenger, because you don’t yet have a record to stand on.
Don’t allow misinformation about you to go unanswered. Aggressively protect your professional reputation. At times, competing agents will try to undercut and underprice you through misinformation. They may understate sales and payrolls, replace coverage forms, reduce limits, etc. When you uncover these unethical actions, point them out to the affected insureds, prospects and carriers. Forcefully defend your integrity but never directly attack the other agent.
Don’t attack your opposition. Negative campaign ads are a dangerous tool. At times they are effective, but they can also backfire on the campaigner who uses them. Similarly, harsh, unwarranted statements about another agent can injure you more than your intended target. Ethics aside, they’re dangerous territory since you can’t predict their impact. Instead, calmly point out the differences in your proposal, focusing on your advantages — not on your rival.
Take credit for favorable factors. Incumbent politicians do this at every opportunity. They want you to believe that everything good that happened during their term in office was due to their efforts. You can do something similar. For example, you may have had nothing to do with the fact that a client’s premium was reduced or that his coverage was broadened. But since you are frequently held accountable for negative factors beyond your control, modestly grab the glory for the good things and use them to your competitive advantage.
Cultivate media relationships. Politicians know the dollar value of free publicity. A national interview on a news show is worth a small fortune and can have more impact than campaign ads. You can work the media as well. Make yourself known to area reporters and business writers. Endeavor to become “the agent” they contact for insurance insight and information.
Turn the negative into something positive. Whenever a politician encounters bad news, he often tries to spin it around so that when he discusses it, it sounds like it’s something good. This act is known as “spinning.” It doesn’t always work, but perception is often more important than reality. You may do it as well, without realizing it. For instance, you may say that a 25 percent premium increase is “good” because some insureds are encountering much higher increases or having their coverages non-renewed. Consequently, spinning isn’t bad; it just depends on the degree.
Political service is a privilege and responsibility. Ditto with providing insurance. Professional politicians and agents both require the continuous approval of their respective constituencies, or they’ll literally be replaced. But fortunately in practice, your vote of acceptance lasts longer than those of most elected officials.
Shulman, CPCU, is the publisher of Agency Ideas, a subscription-only sales and marketing newsletter. He is also the author of the many tools posted on the Agency Ideas Instant Download Store. Phone: 800-724-1435. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.agencyideas.com.