Delight your audience with content
We get it. You’re an insurance agent, not a marketing expert. However, to grow your agency in today’s insurance landscape, a great content marketing plan is more important than ever.
What’s the best way to engage your audience? How do you find inspiration for content? Where do insurance consumers want to be found?
We’ve invited some of the most seasoned insurance marketing experts to discuss content marketing and guide you in creating your own content marketing plan. Watch this critical discussion and learn how an integrated content marketing strategy can grow your agency.
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Joel: Hey, everybody. Thanks for jumping on. I personally couldn’t be more excited to be on this call. I think we have an outstanding panel to have an outstanding conversation about real content. What do we got here? We still got people logging on. We’re bang smack on the time, depending what time zone you’re in. While we’re waiting for everybody to finish logging on, I’ll just do a quick introduction of those folks that have agreed to be on this panel today. On my list here is Manny. We’re going to skip you, we’ll do the ladies first, Manny, so take a seat, buddy. Of course, we have Ashley Fitzsimmons, who is the customer experience manager at Ohio Insurance Agents Association. Ashley, thanks for joining us.
Ashley Fitzsimmons: Excited to be here.
Joel: Awesome. Awesome. We have Tia-Marie Gagnon, the marketing manager at Chalmers Insurance Group. Tia, glad to see you.
Tia-Marie Gagnon: Same to you, Joel.
Joel: Of course, Sarah Green, who is the marketing manager at– I’m never going to pronounce this right, Sarah, so why don’t you just say it?
Sarah Green: Ferranti-Graybeal Insurance.
Joel: That’s right. That’s where she’s at. Of course, we have Manny Barbosa, who is senior digital marketing trainer at Safeco Insurance. Thank you, Manny, for jumping on.
Manny Barbosa: Sir.
Joel: Let’s get right into it. I think we make a few assumptions when we talk about those of us that are in into content marketing and into marketing, that we just make the assumption that people know what we’re talking about. Let’s just back it up and maybe take it down at a basic level, what defines content marketing? We don’t necessarily need a dictionary definition here, but in your opinion, or in this industry’s opinion, what is it? What defines content marketing? Ashley, why don’t you go ahead and start with that one?
Ashley: Yes, content marketing, you’re just basically exactly what it says. You’re creating content that appeals to the target that you’re looking for. If your target is people in their 40s that are settled down, I’m talking personalized, obviously, you’re going to create– You’re not going to put a picture of like an 18-Wheeler truck out there to try and get them attracted to your agency. You’re creating content that is going to directly appeal to the type of people that you want to come into your agency. That’s the easiest way to put it. Content marketing is not intimidating. It shouldn’t be intimidating. It’s just the words that sound intimidating.
Joel: Got it. Tia?
Tia: Yes, definitely. Most simply put, you are marketing, so you’re attracting and retaining your clients to your agency. Ashley’s right, you’re creating that content that’s specifically tailored to your target market. For Chalmers, we have different departments, the content that we create for personalized versus commercialized, versus our niche markets, is all different.
Joel: Got it. Manny?
Manny: Yes, I think couple words that I often hear associated with it is valuable, relevant, and timely, as well. I think what really I see is the big difference between what is standard or typical marketing at marketing and content marketing, is really that there’s less of a focus on just saying, “Hey, come buy for me.” Which is kind of the way that a lot of people are used to seeing or thinking of advertising, so to speak, but content marketing really doesn’t take that approach. It’s much more of an indirect approach.
The focus is more on providing that relevant information, sharing who you are, really getting a little more personalized with that particular client or target market to give them something that they truly want. It’s less of a direct ask, and more of an indirect approach to it. It’s definitely giving more of what the client needs first, instead of trying to take what you need first, which is the sale. You want the sale, we’re going to get there, but we’re going to take a little bit of a different approach, instead of just going in and saying, “Hey, how you doing? You want to buy something from me.” That’s kind of what I think about when I think about content marketing.
Joel: Sarah, anything to add?
Sarah: Yes, just a little bit off of what Manny said. The way that I approach it when I’m writing content, whether it’s for the website, blog, or social media, is more from trying to– I’m trying to spin things now to more of an educational. Something that they need, or that they want, really providing them with value, especially in the niches that we’re trying to develop. Coming from more of an educational standpoint, providing them with something, so then they’ll come and, Michael taught me this years ago, present yourself as an expert.
Joel: Yes, for sure. Absolutely. Certainly, everybody touched on this. Manny, you really get into it, so I’ll let you lead off with this part. The value of– For an insurance agency specifically of content marketing versus standard marketing strategies, is one better than the other or just is there a value of content versus standard?
Manny: I think there’s certainly a time and place for both what we’re referring to as standard marketing, more of that, just billboard, that direct ask. I think there’s a time and place for that, but in today’s world, we’re seeing less of a focus on that because the reality is, is none of us like to be sold, right? We don’t like when we’re feeling we’re sitting down and being sold to. Especially because what that makes us feel like or can make a lot of us feel like is that, “You don’t really care about me. All you want is the sale. So why do I want to work with you?” Maybe some people don’t care about that, but we’re finding that more and more of the population is changing, and that they do want connection.
They want to know who you are, they want to know that you’re part of your community, things like that. What content marketing really does, is it creates a stronger connection to your consumer, especially for independent agents. You’re really in a unique position to really blow that out of the water because you’re up against these really large competitors that are spending billions every year on marketing, but you know what they don’t have? They don’t often have, most of the time, those local offices. They didn’t grow up in that community. They don’t understand the people who live in that community, but you do.
Your family businesses, in some cases, that have been passed down over generations. That’s something to really tell and talk about. That really shows and builds and inspires trust and loyalty before you even get the sale. That’s ultimately what you want to do with content marketing. That’s one of its strongest points, is that it allows you to inspire trust and loyalty with consumers before they’re even your clients, so when the time comes when they do need that service, they’re going to think about you. Think about those clients today, because they have a lot of options out there, don’t they? Why you? Ultimately, it comes down to you. It sounds a little bit cheesy, but it really is you. It’s you and how you are that differentiating factor compared to all these nameless, faceless businesses out there.
Joel: Ashley, I’m going to let you chime in on that, and then Tia and Sarah, I’m going to ask you guys just a little bit separate part of this question, so don’t jump right in, unless you really feel like you need to, but Ashley, go ahead.
Ashley: Yes, Manny hit the nail on the head there. Look at it this way, if somebody told me, “Hey, there’s this awesome new bar or restaurant that you need to try out. You need to go here.” Maybe I didn’t see any like, maybe I saw a billboard for it or something before, but if somebody suggests it to me, the first thing I’m going to do is I’m going to go online and see what does their website look like? What does their Instagram look like? Is their Instagram just like pictures with words on it that say, “Oh, we’re having a special tonight.”? Or do they actually have physical photos of the inside of the place, physical photos of the people working there?
That’s going to already create that relationship and set that standard for me before I even go there. People need to realize that, yes, people say, “Oh, my best form of advertising is word of mouth.” Fantastic, but what if that word of mouth then gets that person to go online and look you up before they even get to you and you don’t have anything on your site? You don’t even have a website, period, or maybe you have an Instagram that’s using all stock photos, or pictures from your companies that they give you? That’s great that you’re at least trying, you’ve started, but now you need to start putting pictures of you and your agency and your lives there because people are going to connect to you. It’s going to resonate with them. They’re like, “Oh, they’re involved in their neighborhood or their community, and they’re giving back. That’s the type of person that I want to work with.” That’s going to attract them to go into your agency and take that next step after that research phase. You really have to start nurturing the relationship before that relationship even exists and before you even know that they’re looking at you.
Joel: Awesome. I couldn’t agree more. What I want to ask, Tia and Sarah, just because you two are working in agencies, and one thing that both Ashley and Manny really kind of talked, it’s about profiling you. What are you about? Your personality. I know both of you work with– You’re not what I would define as small agencies. Do you have a strategy around profiling maybe the you personality of that agency? Tia, if you want to go first, go ahead.
Tia: Yes, definitely. It’s all about sharing our mission, our company values, our culture. You don’t want to go on to our Facebook page and see articles that are all about workers comp or all posts saying, “Buy from us today.” That is so repetitive and so annoying. I wouldn’t want to check that out. I want to see my agent out in the community, doing something really cool. Like helping their favorite non-profit, or going to an education class, or sharing an educational piece that they put together. Why rent us? I want to see what truly sets apart my agent from everybody else, and welcomes me in and draws me in. I feel like I’m a bigger part of that community.
Joel: Got it. Sarah.
Sarah: Everything that Tia just said. One other things to that, I mix it up a little bit on social media. We do birthday shout outs, and sometimes we do family pictures of the agent with their family at the lake for the weekend. We try to make that connection that they’re real people, and that they’re out and about in your community. They’re going to the same lake that everybody goes to in the summer, and they’re going to the same restaurants. They’re doing that they’re going to the fair just like you are. Those kinds of things.
Sometimes I throw some humor in there, and I’ll post a funny video or a meme, and some they get crazy, crazy reactions. Now I have to remember the market that I’m dealing with, which is Northwest, NorthEastern Oregon, and they’re all cowboys. One of the memes that got crazy response was making fun of man buns. Because you’re not going to see a cowboy with a man bun. I do throw some humor in there, and I’ve had comments like, “Who runs your social media? They’re hilarious”. I’m like, “That’s me.”
Trying to make that connection, because a lot of times, and I’m just strictly talking about social media, a lot of times people, go to social media to be entertained. They want a good story, they want a good video, they want something that’s going to make them laugh. If I’m just posting about, “Hey, we can save you money on auto insurance because we have X amount of carriers to run your quotes through.” People are like, “Skip.” They just scroll right by, and it’s like Manny said earlier, it’s asking they want to be directly asked for that sale. You’ve got to set them up and let them get to know you first. Sorry, social media tangent there, but yes, that’s how I do things with our content in that respect.
Joel: No, that’s awesome. You feel free to go on whatever tangent. I was just worried that Manny was going to jump off here that he was obviously quite offended about the man bun thing.
Manny: Naturally, yes.
Joel: With that said, in expertise, there’s all this talk everywhere, is about platforms. It seems we talked about that at length, and so what platforms? Social media, and to me, there’s more than just social media. There is your website, there’s email, there’s texting. Maybe specific examples, or just some real feedback or where you’ve maybe seen an agent or an agency getting the best feedback. Tell me about what platform you think is the best aside from it depends on the agency. If you give us an example of where this worked well for your agency, Sarah, Tia or maybe Ashley, and Manny, where you’ve seen an agent have success doing something on a specific platform. Sarah, go ahead.
Sarah: Clearly, I’m going to say Agency Revolution. It’s the company I worked for for 10 years. Now I work for an agent that uses Agency Revolution. In other words, I use Agency Revolution on the client side of things. As far as a platform for marketing for campaigns, the Agency Revolution system works the best for me. Because we get the most results, honestly, from the cross sell and the account review. What I’ve done is I’ve combined the two, and I always try to put myself in the consumer’s position.
There’s two schools of thought on this. My school of thought, the way I run with it is, when does it make the most sense for my agent to ask me for another piece of my business? Well, it makes the most sense upon renewal, for me. I’ve combined the two campaigns, and so I have a bunch of I have an auto no home renewal, at home no auto. I have a commercialized no workers comp, commercial lines no general liability. What it does is, I can say truthfully in the subject line, “Hey, your renewal’s coming up. We’ve been reviewing your file, because your renewal’s coming up. Number one, do you want to set up a time to talk about your renewal? Number two, as I was reviewing your file, I noticed that you have home with us, but you don’t have your auto. Would like us to give you a quote on your auto to see if we can bundle, to see if we can save whatever it is. Just respond to this email.”
I’ve been told by my staff that that campaign is our most successful. That’s one of the campaigns Agency Revolution is super easy to set up. That’s one of the campaigns, one of the marketing campaigns that can show it’s so hard to show ROI sometimes with marketing. That shows bottom line true ROI that my boss can see that that system is actually working for us and bringing money into the agency. That’s one of the campaigns that we use that brings us quite a bit of return.
Joel: Awesome. Unsolicited, I’ll just say unsolicited testimonial there.
Sarah: I’m loyal for life.
Joel: Quite unique. Sarah is now a client of Agency Revolution. I’m proud to say that I work here, and for eight years, I was a client of Agency Revolution, and she was establisher, she was my client success manager, so that’s funny.
Joel: Tia, tell us about platforms, and once again, I’d love to hear about a success story beyond social media. Something rather unique that you think that you guys are doing that helps you stand apart.
Tia: Yes, definitely. We are AR users as well, and I think, yes, it’s been amazing. Because I feel like behind that platform, it’s all about supporting our front lines. We’re helping in marketing land, we’re helping push a consistent message, a consistent timely message out to the masses where our front lines can’t necessarily get to every single client all the time, or in a consistent manner. It’s really helped us change that and change the way that we are creating that community or that conversation with our clients. It’s a two-way conversation rather than us just talking at them. Like Sarah said, you need that support.
Joel: Absolutely. Two-way conversation, that’s a big part of it regardless of what platform, whether it’s social or whatever, the idea of a two-way engagement conversation, I think is what wins. Tia, it sounds like you have something to add to that, so go ahead.
Tia: Yes, it’s all about building the relationship. You’re not just speaking at your clients or potential clients. We find that most of our business is referral based. To be able to support that, we have to have a great client service experience. We tout that, we pride ourselves on that. We want to make sure that we’re delivering on that, and AR helps us do that. As far as social media, we’re on Facebook, LinkedIn, and we address those audiences differently. On Facebook, folks want to see their agents, they want to know what’s going on in our culturally, what’s up at Chalmers. On LinkedIn, it’s more about the successes of our agents, and the successes of our agency in the community. What we’re doing out and about, and that works too.
Joel: That makes a lot of sense. Manny?
Manny: When I think about what content works best on which platforms, I always start with the way most people seem to think about things. When it comes to business, a lot of people, there’s a lot of factors involved in how they choose business. I usually say it comes down and boils down to two most basic points. The first one is, do they like you, and do you know what you’re talking about? That’s the second one. If you’ve got those two, you’re doing pretty darn well.
Each platform is going to be good for one or the other, in some cases, both. Social media, just like Tia-Marie was saying, which is great, it’s a great way to showcase your agents, build personal connection with them. That’s really that, do I like you piece there that you’re meeting. It’s a great tool for growth, but it’s even better for retention with your existing clients. I’ve worked with a lot of independent agents over the years, and that’s where we’ve learned so much of what we teach, is from agents out there, and what they’re doing successfully.
I think about agents like Castle insurance, James Castle, over in Sequim, Washington. He does things like The Wolf of the Week program which he started, which celebrates local high school students in his community. They do this whole thing where they profile them, they do a writeup in the paper, they have t-shirts, they put them all over social media. It’s just really great way to support the community, has nothing to do with his business, but he lives in that community, and he really is supportive of the young folks in school systems there, trying to do their best and make their way.
Sequim is a small town. Doing things like that really starts to build a strong connection to that community, and wouldn’t you know it, that post, when I looked at it, was blowing up. I had over 100 likes, I had a bunch of shares, a bunch of comments. How do you do that in a small, tiny, little town like Sequim, Washington? But he does. But there’s plenty of other examples like that because they’re sharing that personal aspect of it, which is, “Hey, I’m part of this community, I care about this community.” That’s branding for him. Ultimately, it’s that spiring trust and loyalty with potential consumers out there? It sure is.
They may not need his services now, but they might in the future. When they do, they’re likely going to think, “Yes, that one dude who does The Wolf of the Week, he’s an insurance person, right?” That’s the way it works. You’ve got other platforms that can work really well across the board like video. Vidoe is all the rage. They say in the next couple of years, 80% of the internet traffic is going to be video. When I think of live video, it’s like 20% or something. We have a lot of folks out there who want video. It’s easily consumable. You can get it anywhere. It’s a great place to do two things, get people to say, “Hey, I like you.” And get people to go, “Boy, they know what they’re talking about.” Those two things I keep drilling down too because in video, you can sit there and they can see your personality, just like all the folks on the call today can watch our personalities and go, “Boy, Manny, he needs to relax a little bit.” Say things like that.
It also gives you a chance to really address issues that are relevant to people in your community, especially if they’re insurance-related, especially before a storm, if you’re down in the Southeast Florida, a lot of hurricanes. We’ve got agents like Shaun Murphy down at Pablo Beach who does this in such a great way. He’s always doing his videos, talking about what you need to know before the storm hits, what do you need to do afterwards to mitigate damages.
These are really locally focused and smart ways to connect with people, to show you care, and to show you’re part of the community, you know what’s going on, you live in Southeast Florida, you know what’s going on with those storms, you know how that affects the community. These are all great ways that you can start to use those different platforms based on what you’re trying to do, build connection, share what you know. We can go on from there, but that’s just a few points.
Joel: Ashley, go.
Ashley: All right. I want to do a little sidebar here and say– Let me just give a quick little background. Before I started working for Ohio Insurance Agents Association in January, I was an independent agent for the last almost decade. I know it’s hard to believe, I look so young, but I was in your shoes, I get it. Let me just tell you that before I started really focusing on what I’m doing today, which is helping independent agents, like myself, get over this stuff, things like campaign, words like platform or drip campaign, are super intimidating.
Let me just say, 80% of our constituency in Ohio are third, fourth-generation family agencies that are maybe five, six employees. I was also on the board in Pennsylvania, and that was the same concept. I would venture to say that there are plenty of people listening to this right now that are sitting there going, “This is really a great information, but I’m overwhelmed and I don’t where I’m going to start with a platform when I have to go out and I have to do the marketing, and the accounting, and I have to go and buy the toilet paper and I have to go and vacuum.”
I get it, and I want everyone to just take a deep breath and realize, listen, you can do this, you don’t have to jump in, you don’t have to dive in headfirst. You can do it in pieces. I want to say, one of the platforms that you guys should consider doing is going to help your retention and help your current customers and help you round out your book, and not necessarily be doing it marketing on social media. That’s your Net Promoter Score, and that’s something that’s incredibly important that I’m amazed that not a lot of people are familiar with, and not a lot of people utilize.
People always say, “Isn’t that what Google reviews are for?” They’re not, because a Google review is something that happens after you’ve already provided that service for someone. That is a service, and that’s a reactional thing, whereas customer experience and Net Promoter Score is going to be something that you’re already doing in the beginning. You want to beat them to this, you want to make them feel part of your agency, you don’t want them to come to you with a problem, you already want to have that problem solved before it even happens.
You definitely want to be proactive on this, and Net Promoter Score will help you do that. They’re going to say why they like you, and you’re going to get the responses back that say what you could be doing different, and you could alleviate those problems and alleviate that lost business before it even happens, because oftentimes, you lose that policy and you can’t get it back, but you find out what happened and it’s already too late. But with Net Promoter Score, they’re going to tell you what’s wrong and you can save them before you’ve even lost them. Proactive versus reactive.
Joel: Absolutely. I love the sidebar, which makes me think of a question. If I’m the person sitting on the other side of this webinar listening and it’s like, “Yes, this is all great ideas. Thanks, Manny, thanks, Ashley.” You’ve got a great TN sir, you work for agencies that have a marketing person. I’m the agency owner, and I got renewals to work on, and I got this and I’ve got to clean the toilets, and I’ve got to file the paperwork and get that transaction done. Where do I have the time to do all this?”
Ashley, you make a great point that it don’t have to be social media, but I think it’s super easy to have super effective content marketing in this day and age. Every one of us– Sorry, this is where I go on a tangent, I guess. You have a phone, you have a computer, just tell the world what you’re thinking, or the conversation you had recently. Just some thoughts on that about the whole idea that you need to have this professional-looking content to send it out. Ashley and Manny, both of you going like this, and then Tia stares like, “Yes, you all do, yes, yes.” Maybe let’s just go round quicky, just some quick thoughts on that. Ashley, we’ll start with you.
Ashley: Case on point. When I came here, I was always terrified to do video. That was my thing. I just didn’t want to do video. I’d rather stand in front of a room of people and talk, but when you put me behind the camera and the light goes on, I just become awkward. I don’t understand it. I’m getting better. When I came to Ohio Insurance Agents Association, we came up with this idea to do Whiteboard Wednesdays, and obviously I have to be behind the camera for that.
Luckily, we have some awesome people there that are really great with video and they made it look super fancy. I slowly obviously started seeing our views go down a little bit every so often. We still get a lot, but our first one was like, it just took off. A couple of weeks in, we came back from Agency Nation’s Elevate, and we wanted to make a quick video, and we just did it from my iPhone. The quality was not good, we got our point across, you could hear us. That video that we recorded with my iPhone and all of 10 minutes and didn’t practice and posted it, got so much more attraction than some of my fancy Whiteboard Wednesday videos that still have great content.
I really think that the more real that you are on that video, is obviously going to resonate with people more. You’re not sitting there all dolled up. You might have chickens in the background that are making noise. You might have the recycling guy that just came down the hallway making noise. It’s not fancy and nothing is moving on the screen.
Joel: Sarah, do you want to add in, or maybe your chickens have something to add or maybe you do, go ahead.
Sarah: They’re adding. I’m hoping that you guys can’t hear them because they are loud this morning.
Sarah: Yes, what Ashley said, that’s what I was trying to say bout the man bun thing on social media. Not all my posts are professional,
but I find that most of, and it depends on the platform, but most of the post, the unprofessional posts, are the ones that get the most likes, the most shares, the most reactions, the most– they’re tagging their friends in the comments because they think it’s funny or whatever resonates with them. Yes, Off the Cuff LIVE, putting yourself on their level. Then when you throw things at them like those educational pieces or the other things that don’t normally get as many likes or shares, I feel like they’re going to be more receptive too.
Joel: Sure. Manny, you’ve been animated while this whole thing is entering. Tia just wait, Manny’s got something here.
Manny: I’m always animated.
Tia: I’m going to give Safeco plug [laughs].
Manny: That’s right. Historically, I think we all know this, the insurance industry has suffered from professionalism-itis. We all need to feel like we need to be as buttoned-up as possible. We are not humans, we are automatons. That is not the way people want to do business with you. There tends to be a little bit of that, we have to be perfect, and we don’t. When we can let down our guard a little bit and allow people to just see us who we are, we really can get pretty far and make lots of inroads with our consumers out there.
When I look at– video is a really great place to do that because historically, video has always been very professionally done. It was always lights, camera, action, all that stuff, but in the last 10 years, with the advent of mobile phones really blowing up, what we’ve seen is that there was more of a bend towards of what I call the on the street type of video, which is, just like Ashley and Sarah were saying, it’s not as produced, and it’s really not necessarily supposed to be. It’s just supposed to be you saying what you’ve got to say and let’s just get on and get on with it.
I think to Sarah’s point, when you are doing personalized content like that, that has nothing to do with insurance, sharing moments out in the community. Hey, we’re out here supporting this organization today and posting videos like that. When you do get on there and do a video about an insurance topic that you’ve been getting a lot of questions on lately from consumers, that’s probably and other people have that same question, and you go on and do that in video, you’re doing it with personality, so now they’re more willing to listen to you. It’s just not some boring like words, you’re reading texts, because blogging works too. I don’t want to knock blogging, but when there’s video, they get to see your personality. They get to see who you are infused with your knowledge. It goes back to what I said before, do they like you? Do you know what you’re talking about? If you can show those three things, video is a great place to do it, then you’re really going to make some pretty big inroads with consumers.
Joel: Awesome. Tia.
Tia: Yes, definitely. I’m kind of learning this too as I go. I recently took the safe go marketing class, and it was all about being like awesome. That was our thing the entire six-month course. It’s just about being more comfortable, letting people see that you’re not perfect all the time, and letting people in. Just like everyone said so far, you can be out of the race and be sweaty. You can do a live video and people will just like, it’ll resonate with them. They’ll be like, “You’re a real person, you have kids, you have chicken.” You’re sharing more of yourself, and that’s why they’re doing business with you anyway. They don’t really care about the coverage. They probably don’t understand it. You’re the expert in that. You’re there to advise them, give them the educational pieces, but also they want to know that you’re a real person.
Joel: [crosstalk] Go ahead. Sorry, Ashley.
Ashley: No. I’m just thinking I’m cracking up because I’ve touched on this before in other podcasts that I was involved in, but like you’re talking about, they want to know that you’re a real person, and that what they’re seeing on the screen is actually what they’re going to get when they come into your agency and the same personality, and it’s just like online dating.
If you’re on there and you’re swiping through people and you see these pictures like, man, that guy is really good looking. Then you realize like, okay, that picture was from 2006 when he had a six-pack and now he doesn’t have that anymore. You go on the date and you walk in, you’re like, “Okay. Did you forget to bring the Valencia filter or whatever it is from snapchat or whatever or Instagram with you?” That’s exactly why you need to put stuff on Instagram and put stuff on Facebook and stop overthinking it. Just take a photo of anything and put it on there so people realize, okay, this was just last week. They are staying up to date, they are out in the community, and it’s not from 2006 that they last got their company photo taken. I was laughing when you said be more real.
Joel: I can’t help but add my personal experience in this. Just recently, about unprofessional, Tia brought up the idea of being sweaty and having kids and stuff. I wanted to start doing some videos myself. I talked to insurance agents all day, every day and I do these 60 second kind of, hey, this is a conversation I had this week, and then no big secret, a kind of let myself go here physically. I decided that I was going to do something about it because I have young kids and I was out in my garage on my tread climber that I probably should’ve been using for a long time and I was an absolute mess.
I sat there and I was like, I won’t do this myself, but if I know that there’s a world out there, LinkedIn, that’s going to hold me accountable, I know that I don’t want to let people down every week when I get to create this video, so I created this video, which is me a sweaty, total mess in my garage, bikes hanging on the ground, awful. Probably mosquitoes flying around, and I recorded it. The amount of views of that video is astronomical, and I can’t see it being that interesting. Seeing some bearded, overweight guy who just got off his treadmill, but it’s added so much more attraction at kind of unprofessional level. The amount of traffic to my LinkedIn page now is unbelievable clearly because I did this very personal in-depth about me exposed video. I can’t think that every agency out there could maybe do the same thing.
Tia: Joel, you’re awesome, and you’re so lovable. That’s why.
Joel: I do try. Let me ask you this. Let’s get more into a couple more questions that I’ve seen here and I have some written there. Is it okay to reuse content? If I did a cool video a year ago, would you say that it’s okay to reuse content? Given the content strategy is all about what’s relevant today? Sarah, we’ll start with you on this one.
Sarah: Well, can you just expand on that? Sorry, something came up on my screen. I’m trying to get rid of it.
Joel: Is it okay to reuse content? Would you ever think that it would be okay to reuse content, or is there a time period where you may consider reusing content?
Sarah: As far as website content or social media content or?
Joel: Yes, all of the above. I think depending on the situation and just looking for your honest feedback on that. Your job is to create new content. Would you ever consider reusing content if its situation was right?
Sarah: Well, if the situation was right, the first thing I would consider is relevance. For our niches, every six months, I’m rewriting the page on the website because I want to make sure, first of all, it has to do with Google rankings, but I also want to make sure that all the information on there is still correct because things change so much in our world of insurance and in the niches that we have for our company. I might reuse some of the content that’s on that current page if it’s still relevant. If it’s still relevant to the market, it’s still important that our consumers, our prospects know that information and have that information, then yes, I would. Would I ever post the same picture on social media? Probably not. I just wouldn’t, but again, as far as actual content for the site, for blogs, it’s possibly as long as it’s still relevant.
Manny: Yes, absolutely. I think just like kind of teeing off with Sarah, some content, absolutely, others, not so much, but you’ve got to remember, people don’t see everything you post all the time, or whether it’s a blog or a social media post or whatever it is, or that you send via email. They often say what seven times seven ways the way people consume information. Reusing some content can absolutely make sense. Not everything you create is– It can continue to be timely, is my point. You can create content that can be timely year after year because that same topic might come up over and over again, but to Sarah’s point, if you just took a photo of you at this local event volunteering two days ago, I don’t know if I’d reuse that six months from now. It’s not as relevant to the time. Relevancy, timing absolutely makes a whole lot of sense. There are some kind of media that you can create that are specifically to be used over and over again. Some agencies do this.
I think it’s Chris Parodies who does it. I was talking with him about a week or so ago. They do like welcome videos that they’ll send to new clients a couple of days after they’re brought on board. They’ll just continue to reuse that and they may eventually edit it and update it so it’s not too outdated after a year or two. They’ll use that for a while before they have to go in and redo it. That’s an example of how you can purposely reuse the same content again and again, because in that case, you’re not sending it out to a broad audience. You’re sending it to a new client every time, but they are only your new client once, right? You’re going to get that and then they probably won’t ever see it again. You just got to think about the context of what you’re doing with that. Some content absolutely can be relevant over and over again, especially if you’re blogging on certain topics. Certain topics don’t ever change. If you’re talking about mitigation of storms after a hurricane, that’s not going to change, it’s probably going to be the same mitigating factors, related to wind and rain and flooding and things like that.
Tia: Yes, totally. If you can create an evergreen piece of content and use it over and over or dissect it if you have a longer video and you can take bits and pieces out and put a different spin on it, tailor it to a different audience, go for it. It’s efficient. You’re your one-man show, and you’re trying to populate all of your feeds and deliver timely content to multiple audiences, then yes, do it.
I am guilty, I do share the same social media posts sometimes, or the same photo, if it applies to different situations. If it’s my team, and I have a really great photo of my team with their t-shirts on and they’re doing a volunteer event, I’ll probably use it a couple times until I get another one that I like better. Yes, I think–
Joel: Absolutely. Ashley– I’m sorry, Tia, I just jumped in on you again. My bad.
Tia: No, I was ending. I was just saying go for it.
Ashley: I’m going say why reinvent the wheel? Like I said, the four of us on the screen, we do this every day. That’s our job. To help create new stuff, but if I’m sitting there as an agent, and I have all this other stuff on my plate, don’t reinvent the wheel. If you have something that’s appropriate three or four months from now, then just reuse it. It’s not making you any less good at what you’re doing. It’s just you’re using what you’ve already have. You’re not reinventing the wheel and not stressing yourself out because you don’t have additional content to post. I’m notorious on my Instagram right now.
I think if you scroll through it, there’s a photo of Ryan Hanley and his brother in law and I walking out of Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, and I’ve used that probably six times. It’s by far, one of my favorite photos. Every time I post it, I posted different– Something that I’ve learned from that situation, or something that resonates with me that reminded me of that situation. Every time, it still gets more and more likes. If you have something that means a lot to you and that you feel brings value to what you’re trying to get across to them, then do it. I think one thing we can touch on here real quick, back to the, “You don’t have enough time,” and, “Where do I create this content? Where do I get this content?”
I’m sure, everybody that’s sitting there has their cell phone right next to them right now. If you’re going to the gym, let’s say you’re going to YMCA, and you’re walking in one morning and they’re your client, take a picture of the outside of the YMCA, put it on your social medias, state that they’re doing great things. It doesn’t have to be a plug for you. When you plug other businesses in your community and you tag them and you’re saying, “The YMCA is doing something really incredible right now. Go check them out.” The YMCA is then going to plug you and everybody that follows the YMCA is going to see you, and they’re going to be like, “Man, that’s really nice. I want to do business with somebody that gives back to their community.”
Another little quick tip that I’ve learned is that, don’t take photos, take videos. If you’re going to take a picture of something, have somebody just start your video, hold it up, everybody smile, everybody do something fun real quick, and you can scan through that and pick out whatever image that you want. It can look, everybody’s posed, or can look like everybody’s talking and animated. You can have content for days.
If you just go to a networking event or something, just start taking video. Obviously, make sure everyone’s okay with your taking video. Don’t be a creep, like in the corner doing it, but you’ll have content for days. Maybe you don’t post it today, you post it three months from now and say, “Hey, we were involved in this networking event.” You’re not being deceiving because it’s three months later, it’s just you didn’t find it valuable to post it at that exact minute. You can literally, I don’t want to hear anybody ever say, “I don’t know what to post. What content, where do I get it?” Because you can be getting it right now.
You could be videoing the screen right now and saying, “Hey, we’re learning about how to better market to our customers,” or something like that, and put it on your social media. Then you have to tag all of us in it. Take a picture of this screen, and go ahead and tag us all in it.
Joel: Sarah, it looks like you have something to add. Go.
Sarah: Yes, just one thing. I think we all, even us who do this for a living every day, we all come across that, like, “What am I going to post today?” I work three and a half hours away from the community where my office is located. I have admittedly, I’ve gone up to my garden, we have a big garden in my backyard, and I’ve taken a picture of something in the garden. I’ve posted it on Instagram, and then with the certain hashtags, I’ve gotten exposure to all around the state in Oregon. Oregon gardening, Pack Northwest gardening, Redmond, Oregon. Like Ashley said, I don’t ever want to hear you can’t find content. Go take a picture of your artichoke flowering, and you’re still going to get some sort of exposure.
Is it what you want? Is it conveying your company’s values and goals? No, but you’re still putting something out there and your name out there, and you’re reaching somebody that that can connect that will connect to that.
Tia: I think a great part of that too is like a scheduling. Marketing is a process. You’re trying to attract and retain your clients. It involves doing your market research, doing your needs analysis. How are you going to sell it? What’s your pricing? What’s your distribution? Creating that draw is just one piece of it. You have to figure out who are you marketing to, who’s your target audience, and then what content do they need or want, or what do you wish to share? Then scheduling it out. Finding a platform where you can kind of set it and forget it, or at least have it scheduled out in a calendar, an editorial calendar, so that you’re never feeling like, “Oh, no, what do I post?”
Because once you start it, you want it to be consistent. You want it to be timely. It’s definitely a process. It can be easy to share instant things that are going on, but I definitely suggest sitting down with the owner of your agency or owner of your company or your marketing management team, and figuring out what your goals are, and then tying it to your marketing, and how does that look for each quarter? How does that look for the year, into two years? How are your marketing plans going to line up? How are you going to get all that content out there? So you’re not stressing out.
Joel: We’ve got a ton of great questions here. We’ve got a ton of great questions. Let’s ask them. I think, Tia, you hit on a point in between. Ashley, we segue into this one really good. Mitch has a question, and I think this is a dandy. As a brand new director of marketing for an independent insurance agency, where’s a good place to start when it comes to content marketing? Ton of experience on this call of doing all kinds of stuff, but there’s a ton of great questions. If we can keep these answers moderately one to two minutes, so we can get through a bunch of these questions. If you were going to start content marketing today for an independent agency, Manny, where would you start?
Manny: I’d figure out what is the purpose or vision of the business. Because ultimately, that’s the foundation of everything you’re going to deliver through your marketing. That is your brand. It’s not your mission, it’s not the hard numbers and the objectives, everybody’s got that. That’s great. That’s why you exist as a business, but the purpose beyond the mission, what is it that you stand for in the community? Why do you do insurance? What matters to you? That’s the stuff that comes out in all the social media posts, and how you present yourself on your website. If you want to see good examples of that, Paradiso Insurance, of course, is a great example. Excalibur Insurance, they’re up in Canada.
Jeff Roy, they have an absolutely excellent, excellent purpose statement that’s embedded throughout. Same thing with Paradiso Insurance, but it’s really getting down to that. I find, when I talked to most independent agents, that’s the one thing they didn’t even think about. They got the mission down, but they don’t really know what they stand for. Then when they have to kind of work through it, they’re not really sure. That’s probably an exercise that you as a director, Mitch, would have to get together with that team, with your team, and figure out, “What is it we stand for? Why do we do what we do?”
It’s not about a paycheck. Yes, we work for a paycheck, got that. We can get a paycheck anywhere, but why insurance? What is it that gives you satisfaction at the end of the day? Why this community? Why is this important to them and to you? If you can define that, that starts to populate everything you do. I’ll be quiet, because I can go on and on forever.
Joel: Got it. Ashley, What say you? You’re turning back the clock to when you were seven years old? 10 years ago, when you were back at your agency? Where would you start?
Ashley: Yes, I would just say start asking obviously. If you’re brand new to this agency, you want to sit down with the people in the agency and figure out in the past what their customer journey has been like, and where has the business been coming from mostly? Is it word of mouth referrals? Do you need to focus on that type of things? Are you getting referrals from realtors or bankers? You need to figure out where their business is coming from, so then you can map out the customer journey, and do like a crawl, walk, run type of advertising where you just have to start off at basic and put some teasers out there, and then bring those people in and nurture them.
I would say if you’re brand new to the agency, you just need to sit down with the team there and get an idea of the current customer base, where they’re coming from currently, and what their customer journey is like before you even start targeting anybody.
Joel: Tia, where are you going to start?
Tia: Yes, I’m with Ashley on that one. You need to get the lay of the land before you do anything. Definitely speaking with your agents, they’re on the front lines. You can get the viewpoint from your management and leadership team, but you also need to know what’s happening on the front lines.
Actually, that was kind of why we started with Agency Revolution, was because we were listening to our AMS. They’re saying, “Hey, we’re getting all of this referral business. That’s where we redirected some of our marketing dollars so that we could get something to support them.” Start listening, and then create your plan.
Joel: Awesome. Sarah, Where are you going to start?
Sarah: Well, a little different for me because my boss was my client for nine years. I was his client success manager, I really had a good handle of what was going on, what the front lines we’re dealing with. I don’t really have anything more to add than what the three of those smart people had to say about where to start. They all had great advice.
Joel: Awesome. I think this ties into this weld. Jamie’s asked a great question, should agencies allow producers, account managers, BDMS, whatever we’re going to call them, CSRS, to run their own private social media website blog, separate from the agencies, social media? Sarah, maybe we’ll let you start with that one.
Sarah: I think there’s probably a couple of different schools of thought. Personally, maybe for some producers and not for others, we have, I’ll just give an example, we have a new crop agent, and he’s targeting PRF Insurance and hemp farmers here in Oregon. Absolutely, he needs to run his own account, and I’ve gotten him started on doing that. Farmers are a different breed than a lot of other consumers that insurance agents work with, and they are really personal. Their handshake. He absolutely has to have his own social media accounts so that they can get to know him as a person, not just the agency. They’re not doing business with the agency. They’re doing business with dial-in. That’s how they think and how they look at it.
Again, it’s kind of knowing your market and who you’re targeting and what you’re trying to go after. It might not be appropriate in some cases, but that is an example in my agency where it’s absolutely appropriate, and something that I push every day.
Joel: Tia, what about you? What about you guys at Chalmers?
Tia: Yes, totally. We have guidelines around it. You need to show people how to do it and just have certain standards. It’s like if you’re wearing a Trump shirt, I don’t want to see a picture of you out at a bar, you know what I mean? Or out drinking with your friends necessarily, but if you have some great content that you want to share, your social media, your personal social media is going to get away bigger response than anything that I post for you on our company page, because Sarah is right, they’re doing business with you, not necessarily the company.
Joel: Got it. Ashley.
Ashley: Yes, I 100% think that you should be able to brand yourself away from the agency. I’m not saying that you need to go and build your own book on the side and then peace out after that, but you are one big piece of the puzzle to the agency. You need to be able to show, obviously there needs to be some guidelines around it. You’re not going to go and do a keg stand and put that on there, but in my agency, we had 1.3 different generations in there.
It’s not going to work for Fitzsimmons Insurance to just post stuff because people my age aren’t just going to go and look at Fitzsimmons Insurance, but people my age that are the kids have maybe other policyholders that we have are going to look at Ashley Fitzsimmons’ page, and they’re probably going to find value in the things that I’m posting, whereas their parents might be looking at something different or just coming into the office.
I think that you’re going to expand your reach exponentially if you’re allowed to just go out and brand yourself within reason. I think if you have to worry about somebody representing themselves and not correctly on social media that maybe you didn’t make the best hire, to begin with, I think you’re going to hire the people that you think are going to do a great job at your agency. If you don’t think they would do well in that perspective and be respectful, you might want to question how they would act in other situations as well.
Joel: Very true. Manny.
Manny: I’m not sure if everybody can hear me, but I lost audio on this end.
Joel: He was good. You’re good now. I think we just heard you there. Do you need me– Do you know what the question was?
Joel: Did we lose Manny? I think we lost them. Well, this is an opportunity for us to talk–
Manny: Really, I’m back.
Joel: All right.
Manny: There we go. I lost audio for like a whole minute, and everything kind of froze, but I seem to be okay now. I missed the last minute.
Joel: We’re still working on feedback. Do you feel that agencies should allow producers from wherever within the agency to run their own social website blog, what have you?
Manny: Yes. I’m going to concur with what everyone else has said. Yes, they should be an option for them. I think probably one of the most important pieces with that is those guidelines being established, that often is missed. People just go and nearly do what they want. Don’t do that because remember, whatever the brand or the purpose, or the vision of the businesses, we need to be aligned with that even when we do venture out and do our own personal page, because you’re still reflecting on the agency. That’s probably the most critical thing, but we see agencies allow their producers and others to do that all the time. It’s more of our decision with any agency. I think Sarah, you made some really great points, depending on the audience, farmers, for example, but, yes, not something that is all that unusual to see.
Joel: Got It. If there was ever a jam-packed Webinar, this has got to be it. I think it’s safe to say that we could probably roll for another hour easily, but the reality is, we’ve been doing this for an hour. I am more than confident when I say there’s people on this call who have questions. Let’s do like the, around the horn maybe just, if someone wants to contact you, maybe the best way or two to do that. Tia, why don’t you tell us, if we want to find Tia, how do we find Tia?
Tia: Sure. You can find me on LinkedIn, or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m happy to chat. I love doing this kind of thing. Hit me up.
Sarah: You can find me on LinkedIn. You can email me at email@example.com. If you’re an AR client, you can find me in the fuse users group on slack, and we can chat back and forth. Whatever’s the most convenient way for you to reach me, and I’m happy to chat.
Joel: She is. Ashley.
Tia: You can obviously find me on LinkedIn, but sometimes I sometimes forget to check my messages because they get inundated with things and I missed the good ones. Your best shot is going to Instagram, and messaging me, and following me on there.
Joel: Up just a little higher. There we go.
Sarah: Here we go.
Tia: It’s hidden behind it.
Joel: Got it. Manny, how do we find you?
Manny: Yes, LinkedIn, for sure. Easy. Other one, my email here at liberty mutual, is manuel, it’s my full name firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can also say @safeco.com. Both of them come to my email, because Safeco, Liberty Mutual, so either one works.
Joel: Got it. Awesome. Once again, I apologize to everybody that we didn’t get your questions. There is a lot of them and they’re great questions. Feel free to reach out to whoever you want to ask those questions. I know they’re happy to help. The four of you, Ashley, Tia, Sarah, Manny, thank you so much for adding to this hugely valuable. Once again, have a great day. We’ll talk again soon.
Tia: Bye, thank you.