Like many insurance agents, Carrie Reynolds never meant to be one. But 15 years after she became, in her own words, an “accidental agent,” Reynolds is now a principal in Alan Galvez Insurance, an agency started by her father in Bellefontaine, Ohio. She’s also the Insurance Goddess.
As Reynolds’ alter ego, the Insurance Goddess, is an experiment in personal branding. The Insurance Goddess, now the face of Alan Galvez Insurance in Bellefontaine, a city with a population of approximately 14,000, has successfully utilized the power of social media through blogging, Tweeting and regular home page updates. But personal appearances and a fun-loving attitude also have propelled the Insurance Goddess into popularity as a local celebrity.
While Reynolds never intended to become an insurance agent, she’s glad she did. About to graduate from college with no prospects for a job, Reynolds’ father suggested she give the agency a try and if she liked it, she could stay. If not, she could move on.
“It’s worked out beautifully, and I absolutely love what I do. It’s just fantastic, and such a tremendous opportunity,” Reynolds said.
The agency consists of Reynolds and her father, both principals, her mother, and three non-family employees. The firm does about $1 million in premium per year, offers both personal and commercial lines of insurance, and deals mostly in standard risks.
Birth of an Insurance Goddess
It all started with a class in social media.
A couple of years ago “our local career center was offering an introduction to social media class,” Reynolds explained. “I said, ‘If I want to proceed with this, I’d better go learn at least the basics.’ And I thought that would be a great way to do it. So, I went and I took the class. And I was hooked.”
The blogging component attracted her and she figured there was no reason a blog about insurance had to be dry and boring. She wanted to have fun with it. That’s how “Confessions of an Insurance Goddess” was born.
“I used that title specifically to get people to be maybe more interested in reading about insurance,” Reynolds said. “Because, if you just say insurance blog, people are going to be like, ‘There is no way in the free world that I am going to read that.'”
So, she said, “I made it titillating to get people to go, ‘Oh. Hm. Confessions. I wonder what she’s going to say?'”
Seeing the potential, a friend suggested that Reynolds further develop the character, but at first she was hesitant. “I was like, ‘Where am I going to get time? And how can I do this?'”
Around that time, Alan Galvez Insurance and another business were planning to host a networking block party in downtown Bellefontaine, a city of around 14,000.
“We closed off part of our street, right in front of the office,” Reynolds said. “And we hosted the block party.”
Pushed by her friend, Reynolds debuted the Insurance Goddess at that function, in full goddess costume.
“What I did is I baked cookies and I put them in a package with a little insert encouraging people … to go to the blog and read. And so, that’s how it got introduced.
“I didn’t know what would happen to it from that point, but I decided I wanted to just help support other businesses and community events,” she said. “Especially if it was a charity, I could show up and support that. And I tell you it’s been unbelievable. … Never in a million years would I have guessed that an insurance agent could be so popular!”
Move Over Flo
The Insurance Goddess’ popularity has grown so much in the past two years that she recently was invited by Progressive Insurance to a make a personal appearance – in life-sized cutout form at least – at a national event.
Reynolds said being asked to appear at that event was “tremendously significant.” After all, she said, “Progressive has Flo, need I say more? … Out of all their Progressive agents in the country, they picked two and I was one of them, to put in their agency booth as power agents. I was just absolutely stunned by that, and the response by the participants was phenomenal. They just absolutely loved it.”
Reynolds thinks the public’s positive response to the persona has been because the Insurance Goddess is anything but “stodgy, stale and boring. It gives it some humanity. It really puts a person with this intangible product that you can’t hold onto necessarily,” she said.
“It’s fun, because I give her a little bit of personality. She’s a little zany. She’s doing crazy stuff. She’s out fly fishing, or she’s out at this outfitter’s. It’s just interesting.”
Reynolds regularly updates photos on the agency’s Facebook page of the Insurance Goddess and all the places she visits.
“It helps to advertise other businesses. That was the o ther point too,” she said. “They’re not all my customers. They’re not. I just go, ‘Hey, can I come out and do this? Hey, can I try the fly fishing out there?’ And it shows what kind of services they have at this business. … People just think it’s fun and it’s definitely memorable.”
Reynolds said she doesn’t have hard numbers to show how the Goddess has impacted the agency’s bottom line. “What I can say is that people notice and they remember and they interact. … I know we’ve increased our volume of business as a result of it. I have seen it. Sometimes it’s not always easy to track that, especially if you don’t ask.”
She’s also seen a similar response from the agency’s foray into social media.
“I’ll post something out there, people respond. I’ll ask a question, they respond. Or they just go on and post on the pages, whether it’s the Goddess page or whether it’s the agency page or whether it’s on Twitter. I get a lot of traffic and a lot of conversation that way,” Reynolds said.
“It hasn’t hurt anything and it’s definitely made people more aware,” she added. While Alan Galvez Insurance has been open since 1988, the Insurance Goddess persona has taken local consciousness of the agency to a whole new level, Reynolds said. People say, “‘Hey, I want to see the Goddess,’ or ‘I want to talk to the Goddess,'” she said.
The younger generation has been particularly responsive to the Goddess, she said. “Because it gives a little bit of humanity, we’re not like every other agency in town or anywhere else for that matter. It takes that commoditization out of it.”
There are other insurance “characters,” but Reynolds believes what sets the Insurance Goddess apart from the rest is that she can actually advise and place coverage for her customers.
And for Reynolds, that’s just divine.
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