101 Sales & Marketing Ideas for Agencies

August 20, 2018

1. RTSP! Read the Stinkin’ Policy! Don’t guess about coverage. Your prospects and clients depend upon you and your knowledge. When in doubt…read the stinkin’ policy! Too often agents rely upon what they think – rather than the actual facts of how the policy language will apply. – Casey Roberts, Laurus Insurance Consulting

2. Always Assume the Sale. If I’m in your office, never say, “But take some time and think about it” as if I’m going to do so. – Matt Curless

3. When Claims Get Denied. Never accept a claim denial of a customer’s loss that: 1.) is not in writing, 2.) doesn’t cite specific policy language on which the denial is based, and 3.) explains WHY the language precludes coverage. – Bill Wilson, InsuranceCommentary.com

4. Right Coverages. The best way to increase sales, protect customers and protect from E&O claims is to sell the right coverages. – Chris Burand, Burand & Associates

5. Carrier Know-How. Know how to submit and sell to a carrier. You will move your submission to the top of the underwriter’s desk, plus get better pricing and a quicker response. That’s what your clients want. It’s a lost art that’s a great marketing differentiator for your agency. – Jocelyn Rineer, Agency Network Exchange, ANE

6. Gen X Not Forgotten. Don’t ignore the Gen X employees. Everyone is so focused on the Baby Boomers retiring and hiring, retaining and trying to please every whim of the Millennials. We seem to be the forgotten workers and are completely off the radar. – Anonymous

7. Other Professionals. Producers should ask their key accounts who they use for an attorney and their CPA. Often, they will find that many clients use the same professionals. Then, the producer can call that CPA or attorney and mention that they have several key accounts in common and can ask for referrals. -Catherine Oak, Oak & Associates

8. Go Organic. The most profitable and reliable leads are organic. Stop going to random networking events with a revolving door. Join a group that meets regularly and make real relationships to see growth in your book of business. – Paula Stubblefield, C.T. Lowndes & Co.

9. Ongoing Training. Take the time to become an expert when you come across a risk you haven’t seen before. Ask the insured as many questions as you can about their operations, until you have a thorough understanding of the risk. Do some research online after speaking with the insured and expand your knowledge even more. – Jenny Kolan, Insurance Shop LLC

10. Recurring Payments. Assume recurring payments are option No. 1. Forgotten payments are the most common reason for cancellations. – Matt Curless

11. Be an Emerging Topics Sponge. It’s your business to understand our business and to be able to discern what’s important to customers and what’s not. New issues arise almost daily; stay current and be prepared to assist customers with managing these issues to increase your value to them. – Ann Myhr, The Institutes

12. Secure Emails. They are the most valuable piece of marketing data you have. Ask for an email address with every prospect and every client you talk to. Use it to look them up in your agency management system. Then you know you have an accurate email address, which you can use to send lead nurture emails, cross sell emails and customer communications like newsletters or renewal reminders. – Becky Schroeder, ITC

13. YouTube. Create a YouTube channel with informative and/or instructional insurance-related content. This works especially well for niche agencies. For example, an agency that focuses on restaurants can post videos discussing risk management, loss control and suggested coverage. Next, post it on the agency website, promote it on LinkedIn and Facebook and share the link in newsletters or emails. – Bill Schoeffler, Chrysalis Financial LLC

14. Many Formats. Agents should have the ability to send out helpful information in as many formats as possible. A mobile app that provides customers with agency and carrier contact information means the customer doesn’t have to go looking for it when they need it. Text messaging to provide customers with helpful links and content gives the customer a friendly and familiar feel. – Patrick Wraight, Insurance Journal’s Academy of Insurance

15. Create a Client Journey. Help your client understand what to expect throughout the process. Anticipate the frustration points and overcommunicate the process and timing. A client who is in the know is much more understanding than if they make assumptions. – Laura Sherman, Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners

16. Human touch. There’s a relatively simple, low-cost way to increase satisfaction and keep small commercial lines customers from running off to a competitor. It’s the human touch. Customer satisfaction is 100 points higher for firms that talk to people to explain issues than for those who inform via email. – David Pieffer, J.D. Power

17. Handwritten Thank Yous. How retro. How rare. But how nice when clients receive a personal note.

18. Broker Fees. Broker fees can make a huge impact on income but there are several things to consider. How much time is it going to take to gather all the information, reach out to the appropriate carriers and get a quote back to the insured? Will this account need constant servicing after issuance? How much competition? Will you lose the account if your broker fee is $50? – Jenny Kolan, Insurance Shop LLC

19. Trade Show Lists. Be sure to get the attendee registration lists from any conferences where you are a sponsor or exhibitor.

20. Call More. The best way to increase your sales opportunities is to make more sales calls and build more relationships. – Chris Burand, Burand & Associates

21. Online Presence. Develop an online presence and give it continued attention – that is the future (and present) of insurance sales and service. – A.J. Schrage, Insurance Shop LLC

22. Be Cool and Authentic. Consider advertising that focuses on the originality and nonconformity of your firm and product. (e.g., Apple’s “Think Different”) But think hard about how your communications will come across to consumers. Many companies come across as cool or hip in all-too-obvious ways. Be natural and authentic. – Lalin Anik, Johnnny Mils, Ryam Hauser, University of Virginia Darden School of Business

23. Build a Community. Brand ambassadors talk about evangelism. The idea is to be in the hearts and minds of people, and that’s beyond the product you’re trying to sell. Product is a commodity. The community will never become a commodity. – Sangram Vajre, Terminus

24. Trust the Process. Continuous learning and diligently applying best practices will put you ahead of the crowd. Focus on the right activities and the numbers will take care of themselves. – Ann Myhr, The Institutes

25. Convert Cynics. Not everyone is going to love your brand. That’s human nature. But don’t ignore your non-believers. If you can move the needle on your brand cynics by engaging with them, they are then going to promote your brand with great gusto. – Kevin Wellfare, Insurica, at IMCA

26. Client Expectations. The future of insurance is about meeting client expectations. It is not about insurance. – Chris Burand, Burand & Associates

27. Advocate. Determine and advocate for your client to choose the best insurance solution, which may not always be for what they are asking. – A.J. Schrage, Insurance Shop LLC

28. Communication is Key. If you have an account you are excited about, chances are there are other agencies with the same submission sitting on their desk. Communication can certainly set you apart from other agencies. The quoting process, especially for complex accounts, can take several days or even weeks. Don’t “ghost” the insured until you hear back from all your carriers. Send them updates. It can make all the difference. – Jenny Kolan, Insurance Shop LLC

29. Drip Marketing. Agents can provide a continual ‘drip’ of information to their customers. Short email newsletters throughout the year help build trust and confidence. Example emails include a back-to-school issue that might include links to local school district packing lists or tips to avoid fire or theft at Christmas. Be a resource throughout the year. – Patrick Wraight, Insurance Journal’s Academy of Insurance

30. Be Bold. Do things differently. If it does not work, so what? You tried something new and learned from it. The next time you try something, use what you learned. We are not curing cancer. No one will get hurt if you don’t get a big response from your marketing approach. Regroup and try again. – Dan Sommer, MiniCo Insurance

31. Partner with Insurtech. Find insurtech partners that can help your firm become more customer-centric. – London-based Managing General Agents’ Association (MGAA)

32. Expand but Localize. Explore serving a niche market in another state, region or even another country. But be especially mindful of cultural and language customs, differences and sensitivities.

33. Keep it Simple. At its core, selling insurance is not rocket science. Don’t let sophisticated sales processes get in the way. If the basics are not working, making the system more complex is not the solution. – Chris Burand, Burand & Associates

34. Speak the Culture. Hire sales and service people from the community you wish to serve whether that be a geographic, ethnic, social, business or other community.

35. Align Sales and Marketing. Some think sales is from Mars and marketing is from Venus. Thus, these departments too often do not see eye-to-eye. But a positive alignment between marketing and sales promises “potentially the largest opportunity” for proving business performance today. – Emily Hathcoat, CNA

36. Prioritize Privacy. Become an expert on the GDPR and California privacy laws so you can properly advise clients on their cyber exposure and solutions.

37. Three Questions. Marketing and sales have one shared goal: to enable sales that generate a profit. The culture must answer three basic questions to make it clear what the roles are in achieving that goal: 1.) Who is the customer? Broker? Buyer? 2.) Who makes the sale? Business development manager? Marketing? Mass media or social media? 3.) How can others support the people who are making the sales? – Steve Hood, Westchester Insurance

38. Forget Product; Solve Problems. Nobody cares about your product. They care about their problems, their trials, their issues. If you can figure out what it is they are trying to solve, that would be amazing. – Sangram Vajre, Terminus

39. Inclusive Sales Planning. Too often there is too little understanding of why a company has chosen the direction it wants to go. Marketing folks may not be included early and don’t understand what’s going on. Sales planning for the year should include open dialogue from the beginning with as many people as possible. – Lisa Sanders, Starr Companies

40. Go Mobile. Agencies must embrace mobile technology now for both clients and staff. Agencies that provide customers with a digital app see 37 percent higher revenue per employee. – Applied Systems Digital Agency Report 2018

41. Track Everything. The traffic to your website. How your email marketing is doing. Any online advertising you’re doing. Engagement with your social media profiles. Where your leads are coming from. Your close ratios, both total and by lead source. If you don’t track, you don’t know whether or not your marketing is working. – Becky Schroeder, ITC

42. Personal Tidbits. Get to personally know your centers of influence. Learn the names of their spouse and family, their alma mater, hobbies, favorite sports team, vacation spot, etc. Save these personal tidbits for future reference. – Laura Sherman, Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners

43. Events. Host events in collaboration with local organizations. The great thing about collaborative events is that your costs will be minimal because you won’t have to pay for a venue or marketing. – Chris Mayernik, Start Some Marketing

44. Download. Agencies using download services see 18 percent higher revenue per employee. They have greater access to markets and automated servicing, providing instant access to the latest client information – from quotes to policy details to claims management – at a moment’s notice and when clients need it most. – Applied Systems Digital Agency Report 2018

45. Agent Resources. Use your territory manager as a resource. A seasoned territory manager will provide you and your staff the initial and continued training, resources and feedback to grow your business. They will help your team increase product knowledge, stay abreast of market trends and help you design a unique, targeted strategy specific to your business needs. – Kerrie Ruland, Security First Insurance

46. Paperless Time Saver. By going paperless, agencies save at least one hour per employee per day. – IVANS Annual Agency-Insurer Connectivity Report, 2017

47. Don’t Phone Millennials. For millennials, a phone call is an interruption. Use digital tools including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. – Melissa Stallings, Stallings Insurance Agency

48. Be a Leader. Employers don’t know what they don’t know and are almost certainly and unknowingly facing significant risks. Lead decision makers through a process to assist them in self-discovering threats to their business and personal assets and how they can address them. – Frank Pennachio, Oceanus Partners

49. Share the Love. Having a passionate internal culture and a deep connection to the local community is the best kind of experiential marketing…when clients and prospects feel your love for what you are doing and where you are, they are drawn to that energy and want to engage with you. – Rachel Carr, Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners

50. Back to the Basics. Don’t underestimate the importance of knowing the fundamentals through training and planning. Have a plan and make conscious decisions. Be mindful of the process throughout the transaction. – Ann Myhr, The Institutes

51. Know Your Product. I’ve spoken with too many agency owners who go through a “cheat sheet” with me at their table to see if their products offer what I’ve requested, and it destroys my confidence in them. Each one of your carriers offers you online education tools about their products, so use them. – Matt Curless

52. Deploy Agency System Capabilities. Agency management systems have prospect information tracking capabilities and integrated marketing that can create sales opportunities, but not all agencies use these features. – Applied Systems Digital Agency Report 2018

53. Start on the Right Foot. You’ll find the rest of the journey will stay on track. Plan carefully, making sure you have the right tools and resources in place, and always do the prep work to properly manage and mitigate risk for your clients. – Ann Myhr, The Institutes

54. Attitude. Approach every encounter as an opportunity to serve. Once your heart is right, you can focus on your sales process. – K. Patrick Armstrong, ReSource Pro

55. Be Present. While you are in the sales discussion, be present and conversational. Note any of the important outtakes from the conversation on your tablet or on paper that share something unique about the customer. – Charla Martin Bloodsaw, Kent State University

56. Respond to Every Review (Good or Bad). You can’t allow any reviews to be online without a response, especially a negative review. If you messed up, then own up to your mistake and show some character and professionalism in your response. – Chris Mayernik, Start Some Marketing

57. Join Associations. By joining associations for niche industries, you’ll often have access to the email list for the members. – Jeff Schmidt, Eaton-Provident Group LLC

58. Digital Benefits. Overall, agencies that completely transform into a digital agency see 156 percent higher revenue per employee than those that do not. These agents are focused on selling and serving customers rather than performing manual tasks. – Applied Systems Digital Agency Report 2018

59. Clarity. Use agreements to make your process and next steps transparent, avoid surprises and create an atmosphere of cooperative engagement. – K. Patrick Armstrong, ReSource Pro

60. Add Value. Figure out what you can do better, more of or differently for a client…and deliver on that! Whether it’s service value-adds, resource value-adds or overall program improvements, figure out how you can stand out from the competition. – Kim Shaidle, Gulfshore Insurance

61. Niche Marketing. Pick two or three industries and try to become the top 1 percent in knowledge and market offering for both. – Jeff Schmidt, Eaton-Provident Group LLC

62. Coverage Tips. Write a 12-to-15-part weekly coverage tip series that goes out on Tuesday mornings with a resend to anybody who didn’t open on Thursdays. By offering value-added content geared toward industry specific concerns, you establish your credibility as an expert in a niche industry. Plus, email marketing is very inexpensive and delivers a tremendous ROI. – Jeff Schmidt, Eaton-Provident Group LLC

63. Invest in Media You Can Touch. Business cards are still very much a part of business. People still prefer to read magazines in print. Email and social will remain an important part of business. But privacy concerns, hacking revelations and regulations mean that more email will hit the junk folder. It’s time to invest more in items that prospects and clients can hold. – Julie Tinney, Wells Media Group Inc.

64. Embrace the Inner Tech Geek. You may not ever be the one to write code, but to win today’s data wars, you should know the language of analytics. Learn how to leverage data, interpret it and use it both in your business and to help your customers. If you don’t, someone else will. – Ann Myhr, The Institutes

65. Recruit Insurance Talent Everywhere. Look for those folks who go above and beyond to help others in various ways – this could be in your local grocery store, at a charity event or even the gym. Behaviors such as respect, trust, a willingness to help, taking initiative, problem-solving abilities, a need to educate others, a need for continuous learning and creativity equal the best of the best employees. – Sheila Udelhofen, TRICOR Insurance

66. Advertising on Facebook. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to reach a large number of people. Plus, the ability to target based on interests, geography, demographics, etc., means you’re spending money to reach the exact people you want. It’s easy to test an ad as well as stop running it if it’s not converting at the rate you want. – Becky Schroeder, ITC

67. Follow-Up. Additional sales can be made by the simple act of following up. You really should be following up anyway just to say thank you and for true customer satisfaction. Following up highlights the customer is more than just a number. – Charla Martin Bloodsaw, Kent State University

68. Think Beyond Price. It’s easy to get caught up in the “Price Game” when working with a prospect. Instead, focus on the value you can give. In most cases, prospects will spend more if they see what value the product/service provides. – Andy Spaeth, Ansay & Associates LLC

69. Ask for Help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to admit that you do not know something. There is nothing wrong with not knowing the answer to a coverage issue. It is far worse to guess or make it up than to admit to someone, “I don’t know, but let me go find out.” None of us know it all. – Casey Roberts, Laurus Insurance Consulting

70. Paid Search. Approximately 80 percent of prospects will start their search for insurance with an online search. Use paid ads on Google and Bing targeted to your location, corresponding with your hours of operation to drive live phone calls and quote form fills from online browsers. – Camille Bob III, Infinity Leads

71. Create a Magical Moment. Everyone is focused on customer service or should be. But what are you doing to create magic beyond the established standard? Try to come up with your own Disney differentiator by creating an experience so special, so memorable that your clients will refer you and never leave you for price alone. – Ann Myhr, The Institutes

72. Claim Time. Always remember when selling or advocating on behalf of a customer at claim time that the purpose of insurance is to insure. Assist in risk analysis and matching exposures to coverages. Then at claim time, look for coverage, not a way out. – Bill Wilson, InsuranceCommentary.com

73. Trust. Actively work to reduce self-orientation while increasing reliability, credibility and intimacy. This increases trust, which fuels all sales opportunities. – K. Patrick Armstrong, ReSource Pro

74. Ask Questions. “Does your truck have a hitch? What do you tow with it?” Asking questions is a great way to find out if a client owns a boat, RV, etc. Also, it’s an opportunity to open the discussion about the adequate level of liability coverages and umbrella policy options. – Robert Sheaffer, Premier Group Insurance

75. Customer Experience. Customer experience doesn’t start when a prospect becomes a client, it starts the first moment you meet with a prospect. Only customers can tell you whether they found their experience useful, usable and enjoyable. So, make sure you are focusing on an exceptional customer experience. – Andy Spaeth, Ansay & Associates LLC

76. Email. I still think email marketing is the best way to market an agency. It is often the client’s preferred method of communication. Plus, its ability to be personalized, triggered and measured means you can send the right message to the right person at the right time and be able to know whether it was effective or not. – Becky Schroeder, ITC

77. Be Specific. Tell your IMO what you need from them. Oftentimes, they have a wealth of marketing tools or sales ideas that a conversation never led into. From the start, build the relationship beyond the three P’s: processing your business, giving you a product and giving you a payout. – Harrison Wicker, Capmar Insurance Services

78. Know Your Craft. The best way to resolve a claim dispute is to prevent the dispute from ever arising. You do that by knowing your craft and putting the proper insurance and/or risk management program in place to begin with. Then, if necessary, you advocate for the customer by applying proven resolution techniques. – Bill Wilson, InsuranceCommentary.com

79. Consistency. Have your client experience be congruent with your internal culture and always treat your employees how you would want them to treat your best clients. – Laura Sherman, Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners

80. Implement a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Program. Multiple studies have shown that both employees and consumers want to be involved with a company that benefits society. Furthermore, almost half of U.S. consumers are willing to pay more for services from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact. – Mikaela Parrick, Brown & Joseph LLC

81. Referrals. Never underestimate the power of referrals: Referrals will have your highest conversion, and they’re free marketing. – Matt Curless

82. Think All Things Mobile, Digital. Your clients are! Local, transparent SEO reaps great ROI. Investigate using beacons or proximity marketing. There are affordable options. – Steve Brown, PEO Brokers Group

83. LinkedIn. Commercial insurance producers should spend 15 minutes every day on LinkedIn: 5 minutes – new target market connections; 5 minutes – offer comment insights on posts of your target market; 5 minutes – engage with LI value-add message to your target market. – Walt Goshert: “Turn-Key Simple” Prospecting for Commercial Insurance Producers

84. Tell Your Story. Customer testimonials are a great way to tell your story. Keep track of the customer feedback and ask them if you can use their experience to help you find new customers. – Stacy Varney

85. Collaborate. Share the cost and make sure your logo, links and social icons are connected with your insurance providers on marketing messaging for lead generation. – Ani Matson, Digital Marketing Strategies

86. Personal Videos. Show off your personality and insurance expertise in a way that is more engaging than generic video ads. Try creating a mini-educational series or feature weekly local business owners to talk about small business topics in their industry. – Chris Mayernik, Start Some Marketing

87. Old School. The phone is your instrument to make beautiful music in sales. Overcome call reluctance. – Charla Martin Bloodsaw, Kent State University

88. Your Own Brand. Create and maintain your personal brand. Become an expert in a niche, get a designation, create speaking opportunities, publish articles on your niche, and become the “go to” person on your niche in the area. – Laura Sherman, Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners

89. Broaden Risk Protection Solutions. Property/casualty agencies do not want to create friction with their existing book of business by adding financial planning products. Find an MGA or IMO you trust who can become an extension of your already existing services to educate and provide support. – Harrison Wicker, Capmar Insurance Services

90. Find a Mentor. Be a mentor. Encourage mentorship. This is where creativity, innovation, continuity and results are derived. If you are not feeding all parts of the engine, it won’t run. – Ann Myhr, The Institutes

91. Work on Word Choice. Be deliberate in your phrasing to guide the customers through the experience and avoid saying words that may turn people away from purchasing with you. – Charla Martin Bloodsaw, Kent State University

92. Become an Author. Get earned media by pitching articles to top publications. This isn’t easy, but the exposure and web back links can supercharge your lead generation. The trick is to write finished articles and pitch them to editors on a monthly basis. Even if you have a one-in-50 success rate, that is great. All the articles that were ignored can be published on your blog. – Chris Mayernik, Start Some Marketing

93. Strategic Partners. Be a true partner, not a vendor. Choose to work with partners who listen to what you need and actively seek a solution. Transparency, trust and collaboration are key. Strategically choose companies that share your vision and that complement your strengths with technology, expertise and drive for results. – Kerrie Ruland, Security First Insurance

94. Get Reviewed. Google reviews are as, if not more, important than referrals. It’s a free 24/7 testimonial. All you need to do is ask for them. People search you/your agency before they ever do business with you. – Bo Bowser

95. Websites. You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so make the most out of having a functional online space. Having a mobile friendly website with online quoting capabilities and client testimonials is a must. Dare to get creative with introducing your staff and telling your personal agency story in a new way. – Harrison Wicker, Capmar Insurance Services

96. Make the Contact. The most underserved customer is the one who goes uncontacted by you – their best resource.

97. Attend a Collector Car Show. People like to talk about their cars and most participants own homes, newer vehicles for their daily drivers and other toys they need insured. – Robert Sheaffer, Premier Group Insurance

98. Stay Fresh. Make sure your website is fresh and relevant. If it’s been a few years since you had it built, look into updating the design. Website design trends change quickly, so a website can look dated after only a few years. – Becky Schroeder, ITC

99. Be the Customer. The moment you stop thinking of yourself as your customers’ vendor and more like their business partner, the sooner you’ll find yourself better supporting them in mitigating loss. Think of their failures as your own, and you’re sure to start creating more successes. – Ann Myhr, The Institutes

100. Customer Thermometers (CT). CT is an email customer service rating tool that allows clients to give feedback with one click. The ease of the technology encourages clients to write great testimonials when they are happy. – Chris Mayernik, Start SomeMarketing

101. Last Call. When all else fails, pay for the sales team’s drinks.

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