I was recently driving toward Tahoe and passed a vacant billboard. In bold lettering against a blank white background a sign proudly proclaimed, “2.2 Million Views a Month.” Since I had just met with a client regarding their online marketing, the similarities between the freeway lined with billboard ads and my internet browser lined with banner ads was overwhelming.
With so much of the online and offline world filled with advertisements, it can seem like nothing has changed. It can seem like advertisers are still just yelling for attention in a new way.
It turns out however, a lot has changed and it’s really good news for insurance agents.
Since marketing established itself in the 1900s, it has been constantly changing and maturing. Currently we are at the end of a marketing era – literally. We have closed the “marketing era” chapter and scholars are now debating how to define what era we are currently living in. This previous era was dominated by large advertising budgets. Those budgets went toward bombarding as many people as possible with the exact same message.
This tactic has had one huge result – customers stopped listening.
While the debate continues as to what to call this social and mobile media era, we are left to figure out what advertising works in today’s environment.
The good news is that regardless of what you want to call it, this new era of social and mobile media can bring incredible value to your insurance agency.
So how did I grow my client’s Facebook page “likes” by 500 percent?
Instead of thinking about social media as another place to put up billboards, think about Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+ all as different tools to build your personal network and brand. The medium has changed, but the networking that has made you successful in person is going to continue to make you successful online.
In order to stop being ignored online, you first have to gain your audience’s attention and trust to make personal connections.
Forget It’s the Internet
Just for a moment forget that this is all on the internet. Think about how you would gain attention and trust offline? It’s easy right? You talk, you answer questions, and you most importantly listen.
If you met someone for the first time would you open with, “Hi, My name is Dave. Want to buy insurance from me?”
Social media will fail if it is used as a platform for insurance propaganda. Social media is a connection tool and so you have to use it to connect with individual people.
Here are two examples:
“If the light’s red, stop. It might seem like an easy message, but many still run red lights, putting pedestrians and other drivers in danger. Friendly reminder from ABC Insurance.”
“Check out this site I found. It’s the funniest things people have actually put on claim forms. My favorite has to be: ‘I didn’t think the speed limit applied to me after midnight.’ ‘I bumped into a lamp-post which was obscured by human beings.'”
In these two examples, it’s not just that the second one is more entertaining, it’s that it is more human. The interaction is more genuine. When would you ever insult the intelligence of your friends by reminding them to stop at red lights. You wouldn’t do it in person and you definitely shouldn’t with social media.
What many agencies miss with their social media efforts is that it is not about a company broadcasting marketing messages. It is about a personally branded identity that connects with a target audience.
Here’s another good example:
“A clean garage is a thing of beauty, right? Be the envy of the neighborhood with these tips and tell us what works for you.”
Does this example have anything to do with insurance? Not at face value, but I can tell you that this insurance company knows its customer very well. This company knows its primary customer is a male, middle income, middle aged, suburban homeowner who does his own yard work, watches football, owns an SUV, talks to his neighbors, and probably enjoys yearly camping trips. The routine of cleaning the garage fits right into the daily life of this avatar.
Does it talk about insurance? Not at all but it is very effective in talking to a specific customer who will likely need personal lines insurance and possibility a supplemental life insurance policy, too.
The Rules Have Changed
These examples show just how the rules have changed. Traditional marketing has been about projecting a marketing message. But these modern examples show that by connecting with individuals, the individuals come to you.
This is one of the techniques that increased my client’s Facebook “likes” by 500 percent in three months. What’s more exciting – my client now has Facebook followers who aren’t even his clients, yet – but they will be soon!
Your network is still the powerhouse of your business but the tools have changed. Clients will be drawn to you if you engage in conversations and connect with your audience. Start posting today.
If this makes sense, or not at all, please comment at facebook.com/rallyform.
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