How to Promote Your Agency for a Paltry $25-a-Day

By | August 8, 2005

About thirty years ago, you could travel around Europe for $25-a-day. Of course, it meant low-end accommodations and marginal meals. Today, both the times and the dollar values have mightily changed, but our raw urge for adventure still rages on. That’s how we became cogs in the insurance business, one of the most competitive industries in the history of commerce.

Still, the distant echo of “$25-a-day” has that magic appeal to it. Fortunately, this famous amount can be used for more than just gallivanting around; you can also use it to promote your insurance office.

This unassuming daily investment means that there’s no excuse not to aggressively market your agency. Well, actually there are some more excuses. Hesitant insurance agents always try to explain why growth isn’t possible at this time. The top four justifications that they use include market conditions (either hard or soft), a lack of competitively-priced policies, no available time to sell, and the outrageous costs associated with launching an insurance marketing campaign. Each of these pretexts for inaction can be ignored or reasonably overcome.

The short answer for each excuse, respectively, is as follows: 1) People always shop for lower renewal premiums, regardless of market conditions. 2) Be patient, as competitors’ rates will soon catch up. Start marketing now and reap the rewards when they do. 3) A successful promotion or two will motivate you to make more time to sell. 4) Read the rest of this column.

When it comes to cash, even the tiniest agency can afford $25-a-day. This translates to a modest annual budget of $9,000. Twenty five dollars isn’t an enchanted number. It’s just a nice doable starting point, especially for agents who currently run few or no promotions. And yes, you can make an impact at this level of spending. Select enough of the suggested promotions [below] to total $25 per day. (Notes: Larger offices should use $100 to $250 or more per day. Media ad costs shown may be higher or lower in your locale. Each daily cost equals the estimated total cost divided by 360.)

Eight low-cost marketing ideas
Display ad in your local advertising publication (e.g. Penny Saver).<@$p>
Build brand recognition and generate new sales. A good personal lines ad generates auto and home leads–and attracts the attention of the publication’s other advertisers. Contact these fellow business marketers. Use the common fact that you both place ads in the same periodical as a conversational lead-in. But do so only after your ad has run for six or more weeks, to give them time to recognize your placement.

Details:
Run a small display ad (about 2.5″ x 3.5″) for eight to 13 consecutive weeks.

Estimated total cost:
$1,500

Cost per day:
$4.16

Display ad in the local legal daily.
Attract the interest of local lawyers by advertising a One-Day Property Closing Service or a One-Day [non-judicial] Bond Service, depending on your available markets. Attorneys who contact you may be unhappy with the attention that they receive from their current insurance person. These one-day services are low-end lead-ins that will, ideally, result in a lucrative long-term professional relationship.

Details:
Run a small display ad (about 2″ x 3″) in each daily issue for eight to 13 consecutive weeks.

Estimated total cost:
$1,500

Cost per day:
$4.16

Advertise identity-theft insurance in the local daily paper.
Promote identity-theft insurance and attract the interest of quality personal lines prospects. This undersold coverage can be placed stand-alone or as a homeowners endorsement, depending on your carriers. Either way, it makes for a solid lead-in to higher-value personal lines sales. Placing the ad in your main local daily, which runs endless stories on this common crime, helps to bring your name to the attention of the editors. A possible side benefit of your continuous advertising is that you may end up being interviewed about ID-theft policies or some other insurance-related issue. Tip: Run this ad in a suburban newspaper if advertising in your metropolitan paper is prohibitively expensive.

Details:
Run a 2″ x 2″ display ad three times a week for 26 consecutive weeks.

Estimated total cost:
$3,120

Cost per day:
$8.66

E-mail marketing.
Stay in regular contact with your insureds and prospects with periodic informational e-mails. En-lighten recipients with non-sales facts and dangers about various personal lines exposures. Examples: ID-theft, million-dollar lawsuits, and a term policy as a supplement to employer-provided life insurance. Do the same in commercial lines, presenting facts on such concerns as employee dishonesty, key-person life, etc. Send e-mails only to people who have given you their express permission, but don’t overdo it. Send no more than one mailing per month.

Details:
Provide insurance facts and tips along with a direct link to an agency Web page where more detailed information is available. Use ListBuilder (www.bcentral.com) or Constant Contact (www.constantcontact.com) to send and manage your e-mail campaigns.

Estimated total cost:
$299 for 10,000 e-mails a month with ListBuilder or $320 for a list of 2,500 with Constant Contact.

Cost per day:
83¢ or 88¢

Marketing postcards.
Postcards are a proven, low-cost way to get prospects to think about you for their insurance. From your end, they are particularly easy to address and send out. Multiple mailings to the same list are required for maximum impact. Insurance postcards allow you to solicit insureds and prospects for a modest investment in printing and postage. Visit PostcardIdeas.com (www.postcardideas.com) for a variety of insurance marketing postcard ideas and templates. [Full disclosure: The site is published by the author of this column.]

Details:
Mail 100 color standard-sized postcards (4.25″ x 5.5″) a week for 50 weeks.

Estimated total cost:
$1,650

Cost per day:
$4.58

Personalized newsletter.
Attract the attention of selected prospects and insureds by sending them an individualized agency newsletter. These mailings can be created and output, right from your office, using page one of a predesigned Microsoft Word or Publisher newsletter template. Employ creativity and personalization to maximize the impact. Integrate the name of and database facts about each person into the actual headlines and articles. For personal lines, cover such subjects as umbrellas, replacement cost on contents, ID-theft insurance, HO policy limitations on jewelry, home offices, etc. This same approach can also be used to attract the attention of small business owners. Output the mail merged newsletter as a one-page document and enclose it in a #10 envelope.

Details:
100 personalized newsletter mailings per week for 50 weeks.

Estimated total cost:
$3,000

Cost per day:
$8.33

Cross-sell marketing labels.
One of the least expensive ways to deliver cross-sell or upsell messages to insureds is by placing labels, imprinted with that message, onto selected pieces of your outgoing mail. Messages can promote multi-policy credits, million dollar umbrellas, replacement cost on contents, disability income, low-cost term life, LTC, retirement planning, etc. Modify the label templates included with Microsoft Publisher and output them yourself–or have them typeset and printed by a professional (recommended). Either way, there are no delivery costs.

Details:
100+ marketing stickers applied per week for 50 weeks.

Estimated total cost:
$300

Cost per day:
83¢

Business cards for non-sales employees.
Provide cards to every staffer so that all employees can promote the agency to family, friends, contacts, etc. In many cases, they are the non-sales person’s first-ever business card. And as such, they’ll hand them out freely, use them as luggage tags, etc. It’s one of the least expensive and most effective ways to promote your agency. Cards make non-producers feel like they’re a vital part of the agency team. Tip: Make certain that these cards are of the same look and quality as those provided to agents and principals.

Details:
500 business cards for each non-sales agency employee

Estimated total cost:
$400 (assuming five employees)

Cost per day:
$1.11

Conclusion
A marketing budget of $25-a-day, judiciously invested, is adequate to increase the sales of virtually any small insurance office. Larger investments are, of course, required for more sizable operations. Still, the principle is the same. Too many agencies simply fail to market. Others throw money after sales and expect to buy results. It doesn’t work that way. Constancy, creativity and wise target selection are far more important to a successful insurance marketing campaign than your total budget. Furthermore, the less money that you spend, the more attention you’ll pay to the requisite details for success–in order to maximize the value of your investment.

Alan Shulman, CPCU, is the publisher of Agency Ideas, a subscription-only sales and marketing newsletter. He is also the author of the 1001 Agency Ideas book series and other popular P/C sales resources. He may be reached at (800) 724-1435 or by e-mail at: shulman@agencyideas.com. His Web site is www.agencyideas.com.

About Alan L. Shulman

Alan Shulman, CPCU, is the publisher of Agency Ideas® sales and marketing newsletter (free basic subscription at www.agencyideas.com/join). He is also the author of “500 Sales Ideas for Commercial Lines Producers” among many other P&C sales resources. Email: alan@agencyideas.com. Website: www.agencyideas.com. More from Alan L. Shulman

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