Insurance marketing in 2019: believe it or not, it’s not all about social campaigns, email targets, and trendy digital media tactics. In February, Agency Revolution hosted a Live Webinar Roundtable titled “What Does Marketing Mean in 2019” to delve into the topic, because it’s something that’s more and more prevalent in the independent insurance space.
One of the interesting takeaways from the discussion is that sometimes, as the saying goes, there’s no school like the old school. In this blog post, we highlight the nuggets that panelists shared for traditional, non-digital marketing techniques that still yield powerful results.
NOTE: We discuss the panel’s tips for digital and social marketing in a separate post, “What Does Marketing Mean in 2019? – Part II, Electric Edition”
Host Rick Fox, Former President of Agency Revolution, shared insights and moderated a discussion of four industry leaders with expert and diverse viewpoints about insurance marketing:
- Robert Knop, the CEO of Assist You Today, a social selling training and coaching agency. He specializes in creating custom sales and marketing programs that convert social media activity into real meetings and sales.
- Michael DeLaGrange, the Founder and President of Insurance Lounge, an agency that combines the best features of a traditional retail agency with the online insurance shopping experience.
- Brent Sheppard, the Founder and President of Xanatek, which provides agency management systems for insurance agencies. Xanatek is a partner of Agency Revolution, and Brent’s role in the industry affords him a valuable perspective on the evolution of managing and growing agencies.
- Tyler McConvill, the Vice President of Marketing at Agency Revolution’s parent company, FMG Suite. He has extensive experience in guiding digital marketing teams, implementing new technologies, and launching integrated strategies.
What’s old is new again
Undoubtedly, the emergence of social media and digital technology has fundamentally changed commerce, society, and consequently, the art of marketing. Both consumer behavior and expectations have changed as well.
For example, as Fox points out, 86% of today’s insurance customers surveyed said they prefer NOT to be called on the phone. But many in the insurance field can remember when the business used to be all ABOUT the phone – and that good old ad in the Yellow Pages, too!
Of course, there aren’t any phone books sitting on consumers’ shelves in today’s era of Google search. Still, the panel uncovered a number of “old school” strategies that stand the test of time – as well as others that feel like a fresh breeze compared to the daily onslaught of email clutter we all have to manage nowadays.
Print is dead, long live print
FMG Suite’s Tyler McConvill has fifteen years of experience in digital marketing and implementing new technologies. His career in marketing has never really emphasized the old school approach, but he appreciates the power of print.
“I’ve been immersed in digital marketing for the vast majority of my experience; however, there are tools that have been around for a long time—like print—that people have decried as dead, but used in the right way and through an authentic brand or personal voice… is extremely effective in creating a moment of differentiation.”
Michael DeLaGrange agrees. His company, Insurance Lounge, delivers a techy Apple-esque, high-end retail shopping experience for insurance buyers. The look of his retail store is clean, spare, and modern. However, he sends customers home with a piece of print collateral, an “insurance box” that’s a physical representation of their purchase.
Describes DeLaGrange, “We created the insurance box for each product that we represent. We give it to our clients to take home with them so they have something tangible, with all their policy information inside.”
Another print tactic used by Insurance Lounge is a “Turning 65” mailer, which DeLaGrange says is surprisingly one of the company’s most successful marketing pieces. “It’s funny. For certain markets, certain things work. What I would say to everybody out there is, ‘Just try everything.’”
So, in planning 2019 marketing strategy, adding something as simple as a holiday greeting card or a unique postcard mailer to customers or prospects is worth considering. Print can pay big dividends because most marketers are overlooking it as a tactic.
Not just Facebook… Face-to-face
Robert Knop of Assist You Today is no stranger to digital marketing, but for traditional tactics, he’s a big proponent of good, old-fashioned face-to-face marketing. While he admits that it’s not realistic for agents who have thousands of property and casualty customers to build personal relationships, face-to-face is THE traditional tactic he utilizes with commercial line and high net worth clients, especially at the start of an engagement.
“I try to do this as much as possible,” he explains. “They still respect that white glove treatment, and I think face-to-face is still really valuable, although it’s fleeting. People are so on-the-go nowadays, it’s challenging.” Knop finds a way to emphasize the in-person aspect of his client relationships, and in return builds trust, camaraderie, and rapport.
Brent Sheppard of Xanatek echoes Knop’s point about the importance of building personal relationships with commercial clients adding, “As a business owner myself, I want to have a little trust in my agent and know that they know what I am talking about, and whenat I need to cover my tail or my business.”
Knop tells it like it is: “We all think that our products and services are purple unicorns, that they’re so much different than anybody else’s, but to the consumer, it’s all the same thing. It’s all commoditized. You add value outside of your products. That value add is what’s going to make a difference in a retention situation.”
It’s for you…
For Sheppard, adding value sometimes comes in the form of a phone call. Despite—or because of—society’s current preference to text or email, he advocates using the telephone as a traditional marketing tactic, and his company’s software makes it easy for agents to notate which of their clients actually prefer calling versus emailing.
“I believe picking up the phone is a really good thing to do still,” he explains. “Sometimes, when you’re trying to make the message in a text or in an email, it just doesn’t work and just picking up the phone and having that live voice makes a big difference.”
Turning to panelist Michael DeLagrange, he says his favorite old school strategy is “Just caring about the community you’re doing business in.”
“If you care about the community you’re doing business in – whether it’s a small local community or a national community – if you’re giving back, people can see that. People see you’re genuine. That’s something that will never get old.”
DeLaGrange also emphasizes the importance of a brand relationship, saying, “You can build personal relationships in so many different mediums now. We try to focus on a brand relationship and what that brand brings to the consumer.”
Social media can amplify the reach of a company’s community service, but the act itself is non-digital. Fox puts it this way: “While it’s an old school strategy, you can employ new school technologies to get that out and make it more relevant.”
Got a tracking number for that?
As for Fox, his top old school strategy for marketing is tracking efforts and gauging results.
“Even back in the day when you had Yellow Page ads, you found out how many people were calling you from them, to see if you’d paid for them. Staying tracked on effectiveness so that you can get off of something if it’s not working sooner is, to me, something that will stand the test of time.”
McConvill corroborates, adding, “This is one of the most critical parts of marketing that people tend to miss. Defining the goals upfront, (saying) what are you trying to achieve, and then setting milestones for those goals.”
“Everybody who’s participating there, whether it’s just you or it’s you and a team, knows what you’re aiming for and has check marks along the way to reorient and then also sending timeframes around whatever effort that you’re engaged in. Knowing when to either pull the plug, or dump more resources into it. Setting that up in advance and having everybody be on the same page is absolutely critical to being successful.”
Michael DeLaGrange provides a tidy summary to the traditional – and digital – marketing discussion:
“Don’t be afraid to try something – but definitely track the analytics, make sure you’re looking at it constantly and be able to change. If something isn’t working, change and try something new.”
* * *
Part two in this blog series summarizes the digital marketing tips that our panelists shared in the February 14th Live Webinar Roundtable titled “What Does Marketing Mean in 2019?”.
For year-round insight and inspiration about insurance agency marketing, subscribe to Agency Revolution’s Connected Insurance Podcast.