Chuck Blondino's Secret to Organic Growth for Independent Agents article on Agency Revolution

One of the most valuable things we do at Agency Revolution is talk with successful agents and industry professionals about their experience and strategies. We learn so much from the super-stars of our field, and we can’t wait to share it with our audience.

Recently we sat down with Chuck Blondino, Director of Agency Capabilities and Programs at Safeco Insurance. Chuck didn’t just share vague ideas. He referenced information gathered in the 2019 Safeco and Liberty Mutual Agency Survey. The insights he delivered are crucial to the independent agent looking to grow their book of business organically.

If we could distill his entire message into one quote, it would be: “The independent agency channel should be winning.”

This may come as a surprise when one considers that the independent agency channel has been virtually flat for the last ten years. Too often, agents are willing to cede high growth to the larger direct companies like Geico and Progressive. But according to Chuck, it doesn’t have to be so.

The survey found that the top agents on the personal line side were growing at a rate of 13%-20%. On the business line side, the numbers are even better with the top performers growing at rates fo 19%-30%.

What differentiates these high growth agencies from the ones stymied by a flat channel? Chuck calls it “connected marketing.”

“They’re communicating regularly. They’re using social media. They’re updating their website. Great. Their retention is going up. Their new business is going up.”

Increased communication through digital channels creates more profound relationships and more engaged customers. Not only does that increase retention and cross-selling, but it can also forge a pathway to the holy grail of agent marketing assets: the client referral.

Even though most agencies recognize the importance of referrals, very few of them are using documented strategies to achieve them.

“85% of agencies say client referrals are number one. Only 28% of them actually have a formalized client referral program.”

A documented referral strategy should be mandatory for any agency taking organic growth seriously. By leveraging the concept of connected marketing, agencies provide a pathway for their satisfied customers to share the value they receive from the company. This refers to both the service they receive and added value through communications and content.

So what is standing in the way of the independent agent trying to use this strategy of connected marketing? One of the main hurdles is dedicating time and personnel to a marketing effort. Few to no agencies outsource their marketing entirely. But the most successful are finding that a combination of outside vendors and dedicated staff is the ultimate recipe for success. 

Some agencies might find it difficult to dedicate a full-time employee to marketing efforts. The majority of these agencies are hesitant to hire outside vendors. With the advent of automated marketing software, the efforts of even a part-time in-house marketer can be magnified. 67% of marketing leaders currently use some type of marketing automation platform.

Some agencies focus on procuring new books of business to provide growth to their business. However, a proven track record of organic growth will increase the valuation of an agency and makes it more attractive to prospective inquirers.

Software solutions like Agency Revolution’s Fuse™ and Attract™ packages are the perfect solution for the agency that wants to pair the efforts of an internal employee with automated software to increase the reach and impact of their marketing efforts. By employing an automated process, you can provide a higher level of valuable service at scale, which still feels personalized.

Click here to listen to the entire conversation with Chuck Blondino. His insights and statistics gleaned from the survey will be a significant eye-opener when it comes to planning your own connected marketing strategy.

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