Would you rather do business with a faceless corporation or a local agency that understands your needs and is a well-regarded member of your community? The answer seems obvious, and it’s precisely why community engagement works so well for your independent agency.
It’s not enough to be a community member. You have to be a community activist. Unless people see you reaching out and actively engaging with your community, they won’t know your brand or the solutions you provide. It’s up to you to engage, prove you care, and show why your agency should be the obvious choice.
Many agencies have discovered the power of community involvement. There’s a lot of research that makes it clear that social responsibility is a key factor in modern consumers’ buying decisions. 87% of consumers say they’re willing to buy a product or service based on a company’s advocacy concerning a social matter.
Supporting your community helps your audience feel good about working with you, and it allows you to promote your agency in a way that’s enjoyable and uplifting. It also provides content topics for promoting your agency brand online without talking about sales.
What is Community Engagement?
Community engagement is connecting with people and organizations, supporting local groups and initiatives, and building personal relationships at the local level. Grassroots marketing — like supporting a local ball team or networking with other local businesses — has always been effective. But digital marketing, social media, and other technology can make local marketing seem outdated, so it’s easy to rely only on the latest and greatest marketing tools like Spark™ to grow your agency.
Independent agents rarely have large marketing budgets, so every dollar counts when you’re building your brand. The good news is that community engagement for businesses like local insurance agencies is cost-effective and sustainable. Community outreach increases visibility and positions your agency as an integral, and trusted, part of the local fabric.
When you turn your focus to the community that supports your agency, your investment in the things that matter to your neighbors, friends, and customers will pay big dividends. What other marketing tool gives you a healthy ROI for your marketing budget and helps you do good things for your community?
Consider Agency Revolution customer Brown Insurance Group in Indiana. Brown supports close to fifty charities and social groups through volunteer work and donations. Furthermore, they’ve organized their own clothing and food drives to help members of their community in need, using their office as a drop-off location for donations. They use their newsletter to promote and support charities that matter to their agency and the community they serve while providing fuel for an active Facebook page.
Another favorite example of an agency engaging their community is Michigan-based Apple Insurance of South Haven. This Agency Revolution client created a mascot—a cute apple worm named Safety Sammy—to be the face of their community outreach efforts. Apple Insurance has created a series of coloring books designed to teach children about topics such as fire safety, bicycle safety, winter safety, and more.
They donate these books to local schools and make them available to download for free on their website. School children also receive Safety Sammy plushies. And the agency made a full-size Safety Sammy costume that a member of the agency wears at events like the South Haven Police Department Bike Safety Rodeo. The efforts to teach children in their community about safety even got Apple Insurance a feature on their local news station.
When it’s time to buy a new homeowners insurance policy, who do you think the residents of South Haven will think of first: the gecko talking about saving you 15%, or the Apple Worm working with their local police department to teach their children to be safe?
Initiatives like these from Apple Insurance of South Haven and Brown Insurance Group go a long way to establish goodwill with the communities their agents and brokers serve — while providing ample content for marketing emails and social media posts. You don’t have to support every local charity or create a mascot and matching coloring book series to engage your community. Corporate social responsibility and community engagement go together perfectly.
Start small and focus on issues and charities that matter to you and your team. Talk to the people in your community and find ways to make your agency become a name associated with solutions for the issues that matter to your community.
Community Engagement Ideas for Independent Insurance Agents
Treat Every Local Interaction as an Opportunity to Build Relationships
Community engagement doesn’t have to be a carefully executed marketing campaign — it only has to help the community and get your name out there. And you don’t have to rub elbows with the “right people” to make it work. The person who cuts your hair, fixes your modem, or bags your groceries could be your next lead.
Attend and Sponsor as Many Local Events as Possible
Whether it’s a little league playoff weekend or a chili cookoff at the local fairgrounds, there are plenty of opportunities. If you have a staff, it’s essential to get them involved as much as possible. You’ll build goodwill in the community and provide opportunities for your team to help the local community.
So how do you determine which business community engagement marketing efforts will give you the most bang for your buck (or time)? For the greatest ROI on your community outreach, select sponsorship opportunities that meet these three criteria:
- Minimal cost of sponsorship (either in money, time, or both)
- Maximum number of attendees
- Minimal number of sponsors
While many sponsorship opportunities in your local community won’t meet these guidelines, it’s worth the effort to seek out those that match them most closely. You may already practice community engagement to a degree, but the power of building a strong local presence for independent agents shouldn’t be underestimated.