Marketing is the way you tell your marketplace, ‘I want a relationship with you.’ (How else will they know?)
Hopefully, it answers an even more critical issue:
‘Here’s why you might want a relationship with me.’
And, presumably (just like dating!), you show them you’ll deliver value. Solve problems. Be respectful and trustworthy.
Dr. Steven Covey used to share a story. Something like this. A professor has an empty jar. And a table full of rocks and pebbles.
The challenge? Getting all those rocks in the jar.
It turns out, there’s only one way. If you put the small rocks in first, they fill the bottom of the jar. And you can never get all the big rocks in.
But, if you get the big rocks in first, the small rocks can fill in the space between the big rocks.
The moral of the story, of course, take care of your ‘big rocks’ first.
Take care of the three ‘big’ things in marketing first
As true in marketing as anywhere. Strategy comes before tactic. Fundamental principles come before, well, anything.
There are a thousand ways to market. Tricks for everything… on every platform… in every media… for every kind of client.
But, before you dive into a thousand ways to market, take care of those big rocks first.
What is the core strategy that will guide all of your marketing?
If you’re serious about organic growth, serious about insurance marketing, where do you start?
You start with THREE.
Boil it down. Understand it. Master it.
Look closely. Look carefully. Set aside contingencies. You’ll find three ways to make more money in this industry.
And if you get comfortable with them and master the principles behind them, nothing can stop you.
I’ve had clients following my advice (and occasionally swerving off course!) for 25 years. Some did nothing. Some did something. And some were just plain unstoppable.
I want to share the most effective way to organize and understand those principles that I have ever seen.
Learning and mastery always relies on the ability to break a complex subject into chunks. Organize it. Turn it into ‘mental models.’
This ‘mental model’ has sold billions of dollars of insurance for my clients over many years.
My most successful clients could recite this in their sleep.
The 3 ways to make more money in insurance. 1 hard. 2 easy.
Get more clients.
So obvious, it almost seems dumb. That’s often the way primary fundamentals are. But, without them, I’ve seen thousands of agents fly helter-skelter all over the place, trying this, trying that,with no sense of direction.
At a high level, how do you get more clients?
Break that down into two steps.
- Get more leads. That’s right. Get more people to raise their hand. Get more people to say, ‘I might be interested.’ Get more people to request that content, that free report, submit a quote request form, visit your website, call your office. Whatever gets them into your funnel – specifically, what marketers call ‘Top of Funnel’ or ‘TOFU.’
- Convert more of the leads you get. How? Better training for your closers, whether they are CSRs or producers. Better monitoring. Better coaching. Better scripting. (Important secret: the stuff you do before they raise their hand has as much impact as what happens when your staff tries to close them. Testimonials and other forms of social proof. A compelling Unique Selling Proposition. Follow up emails – automated. Proof of trust…and more. This is the stuff that turns a prospect into a ‘High Probability Prospect.’)
Here’s the bad news about customer acquisition in insurance marketing
It’s not only the hardest part of marketing. It’s the most expensive part of marketing.
First of all, you won’t make money on leads. They cost money.
And ‘bad’ leads cost a LOT of money. You pay to get them in… but that pales in comparison to what you pay to have your staff assess their risk, quote them, reach out to them, etc., etc.
Two steps to make your customer acquisition more effective…
- Stop whatever you’re doing that’s getting ‘bad’ prospects into your funnel. In this case, ‘bad’ equals 1) people or organizations who close at a low percentage or 2) people or organizations you don’t want. Like those high-churn price shoppers. Not to mention complainers, whiners, ‘mean people.’ Analyze your lead sources. See what you’re doing to get ‘bad’ leads to raise their hands. And stop it. They cost you money.
- Train your staff to identify ‘bad’ prospects upfront and kick them out of your Insurance Marketing Funnel as fast as possible. Don’t quote them. Don’t chase them. Don’t waste time on them. (Unless your state of province requires you to ‘take all comers,’ they don’t belong in your book of business, sucking profits.)
Get more revenue per client.
You’re over the ‘trust barrier.’ Marketers often say something like this: ‘The first sale is the hardest sale. The second sale is the most important sale.’
The second sale turns them from ‘customer’ to ‘client.’ It teaches them that it’s safe to ‘go deep’ with you. And, it sets them up for those all-important 3rd, 4th, 5th sales.
How do you get more revenue per client? Of course, you must ask. You must offer.
Not by blanketing every customer with a cross-sell campaign.
To be effective, segment, sub-segment and micro-segment your book of business.
Don’t send an email to everyone with your ‘home no auto’ campaign.
That’s not just silly. It’s offensive.
If I already have home and auto with you, that would say ‘you don’t know me’. If I don’t have either, that would say ‘I’m a complete stranger to you’.
Here’s a great example of a client of ours who micro-segmented their book. They wanted to sell more flood insurance. (Not just because it made money. Because they know that more policies = higher retention).
Here’s how they segmented their book. They chose to market to:
- Existing clients
- With property
- Without flood insurance
- In cities/regions prone to flood
Four simple sorts. But, because their customers could feel the message was meant just for them, the response rate was through the roof. (This is especially powerful if your marketing technology lets you use their city or county as a ‘custom field’ in your campaign. Likewise, if you can use their property address).
This one campaign is a must for getting maximum revenue per client
If you do not have an effective Annual Account Review Campaign, you’re leaving tons of money on the table.
Every insurance agent and broker knows this. Few do it.
Staff is busy. It takes many times to reach people. A lot of them aren’t available by phone during your office hours. And it’s expensive.
You MUST use technology to automate this process. You simply cannot be a ‘modern agency’ who wants to connect with today’s modern consumer if you don’t.
Here’s the most important secret about selling more policies per customer. Literally. The. Most. Important.
When our newest clients realize they can segment their book almost any way they want, a lot of them want to jump into the technology and sell, sell, sell.
I urge caution. Think of it like a date. If you want a date, you’re more likely to get it, if they like you. If they trust you. If they feel you care about them – not just what you might get out of it.
Why does ‘Agency A’ get a better response than ‘Agency B’ on the same account rounding campaign? Simple. They have a better relationship with their customers.
In marketing, relationship = response.
Good relationship = good response. Bad relationship… well, you get the idea.
So, on the easy-hard spectrum, getting more policies per customer is EASY. And, the better your customer relationships are, the easier it is.
And, of course, if you have the technology to support you, it’s like butter with a hot knife.
Retain your clients longer.
Ask the average agent, they’ll say, ‘My retention is pretty good.’
Unfortunately, most agents & brokers are lazy about this.
In their defense, a lot of agency/broker management systems don’t make it easy to measure retention.
But, it’s a number you MUST know. It’s your future income.
‘Pretty good’ retention usually means the agent doesn’t know quite what it is.
But, over time, the difference between your current retention and, let’s say, four points higher, is millions of dollars. Want proof? Check out this free tool here. Plug in your numbers, and see what it shows you when you compare it to a slightly higher numbers.
You’ll see that if you bump your retention by four points on a million-dollar book, it’s worth more than a million in cumulative 10-year income. (More than a million!)
No new clients. No more revenue per client. Just keeping your clients longer.
Very high return on very low investment.
Great retention is the product of two interwoven factors:
- Loyalty. Loyal customers give you more money because they’ve already given you their trust – and money follows trust. And trust is rarely just ‘given’. It’s earned. (More about that in a moment.)
- More policies per customer. (See point #2 above). It’s simple math. More policies = higher retention.
So, how do you get that magic loyalty?
Just like any relationship.
If you want the other person to value the relationship, make the relationship valuable.
If all you’re doing is selling product – and returning a year later to renew it – that’s not enough.
Your competitors (whether they are in our agent-broker channel or not) are doing much, much more.
Retention starts at the point of contact.
- Do you ‘deliver delight’ when they first make discover you? Is your website current, useful – and mobile responsive?
- Do you automatically deliver follow-up emails after they complete a form on your website? Does the content make them want to do business with you?
- Do you have a Welcome Campaign when they become a new customer? Does the content make them feel great about their decision?
- Do you have a New Claims Campaign when they suffer the stress of a claim? Does the content make them feel like you care?
- A Closed Claim Campaign after their claims experience? Does the make them feel like their experience matters to you?
- A friendly ‘happy birthday?’
- An automatic Account Review Campaign as they approach their anniversary?
- Do you send them an engaging newsletter throughout the year?
- Do you help them prepare for natural disasters – and alert them when a disaster is impending?
In other words, are you ‘there,’ present with them, in a useful, valuable and non-intrusive way throughout the year.
The insurtech investors are banking on the fact that you’re not. And more and more agent-broker competitors are banking on the same thing.
Technology multiplies ‘you’. It allows you to be there, all year long, delivering value. (To a marketplace with low expectations of our industry. You’ll quickly find it’s easy to exceed their expectations, not just meet them.)
So, on the easy-hard spectrum, boosting revenue EASY. And, so, so valuable!
Before you dive into your next marketing test, tactic or technique, put in the ‘big rocks’ first:
- Getting new leads and converting them into customers is necessary – and hard and expensive.
- Getting more revenue per customer is easy – if they value their relationship with you AND you have the technology that automates your campaign.
- Getting higher customer retention is easy – if they value their relationship with you AND you have the technology that automates your campaign.
Yes, you must have efficient systems to help you get more new customers. But if you want maximum Customer Lifetime Value, don’t just invest in getting new relationships.
Invest in existing relationships. They will reward you greatly.
- Review your current insurance marketing system.
- In your Customer Acquisition marketing, analyze: what’s working? what’s not working?
- In your Revenue per Customer marketing, analyze: what’s working? what’s not working?
- In your Customer Retention marketing, analyze: what’s working? what’s not working?
The direct marketing channel thrives on much shorter term relationships. Their customers churn at a higher rate. But, they have a different business model – so they can afford it.
In the agent-broker channel:
- The money’s in the relationship.
- The big money’s in the deep
As you choose your next marketing tactics, let that be your guide: relationship.
Michael Jans is the founder of Agency Revolution. To see some of his most popular blog posts: