Most people confuse ‘advertising’ with ‘marketing.’ Sure, sometimes you can use them interchangeably. But, advertising is generally a sub-set of marketing.
The purpose of an ad is usually to get attention. It’s to generate leads.
The purpose of marketing is to guide the entire ‘customer journey’ from beginning to end. It’s not just about ‘getting the word out there.’ It’s about communicating and developing relationships.
And you want those relationships to be deep and strong.
That journey often starts at the moment someone discovers you and is motivated or inspired to begin to move your direction.
Ideally, if you’ve attracted the right kind of person, it’s a relationship that lasts a lifetime.
Even if they leave, a good marketing sequence will bring them back.
Marketers frequently divide the marketing sequence into two ‘big chunks:’
- Before they’re a customer, and,
- After they become a customer.
Then, marketers frequently chunk the ‘before’ stage into three subsets:
- The Awareness Stage. This is when you try to get their attention. And you try to get them to pay attention… by solving a problem that is common with the market you’re trying to reach. This is usually called ‘Top of the Funnel’ (or ToFu).
- The Consideration Stage. This is when the prospect is considering if they should pursue a solution. It’s usually too early for them to consider you… but they are thinking about finding a solution. This is where you start to share more in-depth details about the kinds of solutions that are available to them, including the features that you offer. This is usually called ‘Middle of the Funnel’ (or MoFu).
- The Conversion Stage. This is when the prospect has decided they probably need to make some decision about the solutions – and they want details. They want information that will give them confidence about their decision. This is usually called ‘Bottom of the Funnel’ (or BoFu).
Let’s walk through a simple example of the kinds of marketing content an insurance agent or broker may use in the real world. Imagine, for example, that you want to expand your niche in the arborist market.
- The first thing you want to do is get attention. They need to be aware of you. But, beyond that, you want that awareness to be coupled with positive emotions. Like trust, respect and confidence. But, remember, a lot of your prospect won’t be looking for your solution yet, but you still want to get them into your marketing funnel.
They’ll move through the funnel at their own pace. So, you need to reach them with a piece that has very, very broad attraction. I often recommend to my clients that they start with a very level topic that doesn’t necessarily ‘pitch’ insurance but allows you to introduce it. This niche may very well respond to a piece (like a bog post) called something like: ’11 of the Most Dangerous Mistakes Made by Arborists and How They Can Destroy Your Business.’ One or more of the ’11 dangerous mistakes’ should probably reference ‘the wrong insurance.’
- Now you have some leads in your funnel. They may not know much about you or your solution, so you want to build more trust – and begin to answer more comprehensive questions. At this point, it’s usually time to get serious about selling insurance and moving them down the funnel, so you may want to offer them something like: ‘7 Arborists Who Almost Killed Their Business with the Wrong Insurance.’ This could be a piece where you profile case studies of seven of your clients who had a claim that was covered (because it was in your insurance program) that would not have been covered by a non-specialist.
Or you could simplify it by profiling one client: ‘The Ohio Arborist Who Saved His Business with This One Simple Decision.’ It should demonstrate the benefits of the kind of insurance you offer and, conversely, show the danger of choosing the wrong protection. Remember: this content should be mostly ‘about them and their problem’ – not just about you and how great you are!
- Now it’s decision time. They’re considering how they should protect their business. Help them decide on you. Good BoFu content includes things like free audits, insurance checklists, assessments, or, written pieces like ‘The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide for Arborist Insurance.’
So, throughout the sequence, you 1) get their attention, 2) get them warmed up and 3) help them make a decision. If you’re the right decision, they’ll probably choose you.
So, you want to focus your resources.
Do you need more leads? Or are you wasting too much time talking to leads that don’t close? Do you need to warm them up better? Or do want a killer closing rate – and you want them ‘sizzling hot’ because they’ve read your buyer’s guide? Focus.
But, many, many agents miss where the big money really is. They always think that they need more customers in order to grow.
But, a lot of research demonstrates that the fastest growth and highest margins come when you get more loyal customers – and the easiest, most efficient way to do that is to help your existing book of business move from being mere customers to becoming loyal customers.
Bain & Company’s research shows that highly loyal clients deliver (a stunning!) 7 times the lifetime value of low loyalty clients and three times the value of neutral or ‘mid-loyalty’ clients.
Seven times the Customer Lifetime Value?! With those numbers, you can probably work your existing book for years without any new clients!
How is this possible? Because loyal clients deliver:
- 250% more referrals than neutral customers. (Low loyalty clients don’t deliver referrals. They deliver complaints!)
- 97% retention.
- 25% more insurance purchases.
Not only do they give more, generating revenue from them costs less. Most marketers agree that it costs 5 times more to get a new client than to save clients you already have.
One useful way to see the content marketing process in action is to look at it in the context of the four-stage ACOR marketing model that I developed when I owned Agency Revolution.
In the middle of Stage Two – Convert – they become customers. Before that, you’re guiding them through the three stages of the funnel. Then you guide them from ‘new customer’ to ‘loyal customer.’
Many agents spend resources, energy, time, talent, marketing dollars and so forth, to get new customers – the most expensive part of the process. Then, they under-invest in the actual customer relationship – the most lucrative part of the process.
Once someone becomes a client, you should be delivering high quality content to them!
Hint: look for ‘triggers’ in their customer journey where your customers are especially receptive to receiving content:
- When they become new customers, they’re receptive to content about this new agency they now have a relationship. You can ‘onboard’ your customers with content about your team, about your services, hours, philosophy and so forth.
- If they have a claim, they’re receptive to content about how to have the best possible claims experience (and about how you care!)
- When they close that claim, they’ll be receptive to interactive content from you about their experience.
- As they approach their renewal, they’re most receptive to content about their protection, gaps and possible savings.
- Any time there’s a natural disaster or threat to their assets, they’re receptive to information about how to protect themselves.
- All year long, they’ll be receptive to information about safety and protection. Some seasons or months naturally suggest topic ideas. As summer approaches, they’ll appreciate content about how to protect themselves or family when they travel; or how to protect their home when they’re away. In the winter, you may want to send information about driver safety – and on and on.
Running a great business means creating great customer relationships – and you create great relationships by communicating.
NOTE: Agency Revolution can deliver much of this content automatically by triggering message campaigns based on changes in your agency or brokerage management system.
One final and important note. Deloitte recently reported that insurance customers perceived they received ‘no service above and beyond shopping’ for the policy from their agent. Further, the global consulting firm EY recently reported that 44% of insurance customers perceive that they had zero communications from their insurance provider in the past 18 months.
That puts insurance in a very dangerous position. But, with good content marketing, you can fix that. At least for yourself!
Content marketing attracts people who want to do business with you. And, guides them to the best relationship for both of you: loyal customer.