Why should the marketplace do business with you above any and all other options? If you can’t answer that question, all the marketing tricks in the world are just that – TRICKS. This agency principal, Grant Botma, understands that lesson. In this episode of The Connected Insurance Podcast, Grant very generously shares the insights he’s used to accelerate his agency’s growth including:
- Precisely how he created a customer journey that guides people from ‘stranger’ to ‘Raving Fan!’
- How Grant’s agency gets a 90% response rate (yes, an unheard of 90%!) to his messaging.
- A comprehensive review of the various technologies that Grant’s agency uses – and how they use them to generate more new business and to keep clients longer.
NOTE from Michael Jans: After interviewing so many industry Thought Leaders, I wanted to ‘touch ground’ for our listeners for a while and deliver solid, tactical and practical tips that you can put to work quickly and easily. I interviewed three ‘marketing masters’ and asked them to share a realistic review of ‘what’s working now’ in their agencies. Please don’t miss this series… and be sure to buckle up. Each of these guests is a master in their own right!
What are other agents & brokers doing to thrive? What are the biggest trends affecting the retail insurance agent & broker? What are the most important strategies and tactics you need to grow faster? Find out here in the Connected Insurance Podcast, where Michael Jans discusses the biggest issues affecting the independent insurance agent and broker with the industries leading figures.
One More Thing! What do you think? How will you and your peers use this to grow your agency or brokerage? Share your thoughts in the comment section below, subscribe to get updates delivered to you and *please share this if you found it informative.
[Transcript] Grant Botma – Founder of Stewardship (moneywellrooted.com)
Michael: Grant Botma, how are you?
Grant: I’m doing well, Michael. Thank you for having me.
Michael: Thanks so much for joining us. Grant, I think I’d mentioned that you were nominated to be a guest on our podcast series. I’m pretty sure the person who suggested you was one of the digital marketers of the marketing specialist at Safeco Insurance. You got some people there who really like what you’re doing. Then after that, more than one listener said, “Hey, can you get that guy?” Thank you very much for joining us today. Grant, if you’d be kind enough, let’s start with a little thumbnail sketch. Who are you and how did you get to be who you are today?
Grant: Yes. I’m humbled to hear that other people would suggest to have me on the show. To be honest, I’m just another business owner trying to figure it out. I’m grateful that you’ve me on and honored. Answer any questions, share any of the successes and failures that I’ve had along the way. Yes. I’m a business owner in Arizona. I own an independent insurance agency but also a mortgage brokerage, and an investment advisory firm. As a whole, my company which our community knows as a Stewardship, we do home loans insurance and investments.
I started these businesses about 12 years ago. Through that 12-year journey have grown to where we’re at right now. In total, we have a team of just over 20 people. Each person has a specialty or an area of expertise as to how they’re serving other people in our community, whether that’s they specialize in doing mortgages, or PNC insurance, or health insurance, or state planning, or investments. That’s how our team is comprised. Yes, that’s what we are.
Michael: Okay. All ready. I do want to dive into some of the really fun, interesting, and intriguing tactical things that you’re doing. Before that, let’s take a strategic overview. Your agency or your conglomerate, it’s a little bit different as you and I have talked about before. Back in the day, a lot of my clan in the early day. I’ve been in the industry probably, well, twice as long as you have. Back in the day, it wasn’t uncommon for particularly the small town PNC agent to also do something else to be the real estate agent, or in one case as I’d mentioned to you.
I had a client in a small town who was the PNC guy, the real estate agent, and the bail bondsman. He had his fingers all over the place and all sorts of pies. In this day and age, I do see much, much less of that and I tend to see more focus. Talk to us for a moment about your decision to– I’ll put it this way. To not just be a PNC insurance agency, but also to have a couple of other businesses that in their own right can be pretty demanding, what’s the story behind that?
Grant: Well, the story behind it is, I wanted to help people. As I was in going to school, I was playing basketball at a small Christian college in Arizona. I was also working as a mortgage loan originator. That was when the subprime boom and everything was going. What I was experiencing was there were people that were getting loans done at this place that I was working and their lives were being altered because of their finances. The relationships that they were having with their spouse or their kids was changing for the negative as a result of negative finances.
As I dove into that and really did my research, I saw that man, money is a big deal. It can be something that can hinder relationships, but it can also be something that can uplift them. I decided I wanted to be a place where people could go to have their finances handled well, whether they needed it or not. There is not one person who comes to my office or is a customer of ours that finances a result– The finances that we’re doing for them are not going to be a part of their financial troubles.
I just had a desire to make an impact on people’s lives in that way. Yes, I could have done it just with a mortgage, but they were also having issues with insurance. All of us have a story as to why we got insurance and mine had to do with my brother. He was in an accident, it was his fault. It was an accident, so obviously he didn’t do it on purpose. He didn’t have any update to any of his insurance since he was 16-years old.
When the accident happened, he was married and with kids. He didn’t have the right coverage because he didn’t know and it demolished him financially and it impacted his relationship with his wife and kids. Then I saw other people who had after the crash their 401(k) is demolished and then that hassle impacted relationships. The stories go on and on and on. Essentially, I just experienced a lot of different people having a lot of different financial issues and I wanted to help. I guess I’m arrogant enough to think I know how to do the right way.
Michael: [laughs] I don’t know if it’s arrogance, but you started in the mortgage space?
Grant: Right. I started as a mortgage loan originator when I was 19-years old.
Michael: Okay, got it. All right. The PNC agency, actually, how old is that?
Grant: PNC agencies is about 10-years old.
Michael: Okay. I’ve been in the industry more than twice as long as you have, but you know some things that I want you to share with the rest of our listeners. Let’s talk about your- Share with us your approach to connecting with the marketplace today. Like you said, 10 years ago, I don’t know if you advertised in the Yellow Pages? Yes, no?
Michael: [laughs] Okay. All right. Well, it’s been fate now for a while, so just curious. Some of the old school methodologies of connecting to the community, connecting to the marketplace, you may not even have ever practiced those and the fact that you have never had a Yellow Pages that kind of speaks to that. You have from the inception a relatively modern approach to connecting with customers and prospects. Yes?
Grant: Yes. Our focus is the experience. I believe that people are wired to share experiences in communities. There’s a reason why social media blows up, right?
Grant: What essentially everybody’s doing is the sharing and receiving experiences. What I saw is I could control portions of people’s experiences as I was working with them and they were becoming or are a customer. What I did early on is took time to think through every step on a big scale and on a small scale all the experiences that a customer may have from the time that they’re discovering us, from the time that they’re deciding to use us, and from the time that they’ve already they’re delighting in what we’re doing.
Michael: You have actually begun to map the customer journey?
Michael: Identified people that are in the field call like what you’re identifying moments of truth so those points of contact where you have an opportunity, and you use the word “delight,” right?
Michael: Yes, okay. Love the word and when the insurance industry can deliver, it’s magical. If you would share with us what some of your insights were about that from your point of view the optimal customer journey.
Grant: Yes. I’d say, first off, if you’re a business owner and you haven’t taken time to discover what your customer journey to look like, you’re missing out. Because whether you intentionally ahead of time nap that out or not, they’re going to have experience.
Michael: They’re going to have a journey, right?
Grant: They’re going to. Why not start thinking ahead of time about what you want that journey to look like. Specifically for insurance, while I was going through this customer journey mapping, I found that the when the proposed insured was looking to receive quotes from us, the time that it took my staff to create the proposals right to the time that it took the consumer to respond to the proposal, was so terrible.
That’s because we were doing it just like everybody else. We were sending a really long email, typing something out, attaching something that they didn’t understand. That the experience they deserve, right? I developed this technology that allowed us to send them a text message that says, “Hey, you know that proposal we promised?”
“Yes.’ “Available here. Click this link.” They click the link in the text message and then it opens a webpage with an infographic-style proposal that clearly shows them all the options that we’ve put together for them in a way that’s easy to read and understand, but more importantly, allows us to connect with them personally by embedding a video at the top of that proposal of us and going through the proposal with them. That was one of many points throughout the insurance customer journey that we thought was something that we could improve, it helped us tremendously.
Michael: All right. I’m going to break this one down because I counted three media, so to speak. We’re talking about the beginning of the relationship. I mean, they’ve reached out to you. Somewhere along the line, they became a prospect then they wanted a quote this person, right?
Michael: Boom. Instead of an email in this case, text message?
Grant: Yes, but we are trying to–
Michael: What anecdotal feedback or what is your observation been about that?
Grant: We get a much larger response, over 90% response rate to text messages versus email. More importantly, at the speed at which people are responding is dramatically higher.
Michael: Got it. Now, if they don’t, like the 10% that don’t get back do you then, you’ve got their mobile number, presumably, you call them?
Grant: Yes, correct. There are lots of ways that you can follow up but as what that tells us is that, “Hey, they may have not been as interested in the proposal and we initially thought, or maybe we have the wrong number, or–” There’s a lot of different things that could flow through into that. The whole part of it is the mindset that we had while creating the customer journey was about, how can we meet the customer where they’re at? We were sending an email in language they didn’t understand, with an attachment they didn’t understand through a medium that they didn’t necessarily want to open.
People engage in their cell phones in text message every day at multiple times throughout the day, so why not meet them where they’re at? Yes, there are some customers that are out there that want all the details about the proposal and we, as insurance professionals, need to advise them well on all these coverages and teach them about some of these things but we need to do it in a way that they’re going to receive it. YouTube videos are watched like crazy. If people want to know how to make something, or cook something, or build something, they go to YouTube, they watch a video. Why are we not going to do the same thing to teach them about their potential insurance policy that we want them to buy?
Michael: I’m going to click through these media so that the text message has a link to a proprietary website. It has an infographic of their proposal. Is there a YouTube-based video, or you’ve got some kind of video that they can watch?
Grant: Yes. We use a free video recording software called Loom, www.useloom.com. That allows you to just record your face and also what’s on the screen at the same time. We then take that embed code and then we embed that video on the proposal.
Michael 2: Got it. Loom, folks, for people who are not familiar with it. I have it and I can’t remember if I’m using the free version or the premium version but, either way, it’s not much. It really is a pretty nifty tool. In any case, the infographic, I assumed that you’ve got probably several that are– and you pull out the right one like, “This guy needs this one and this person needs this one,” or how do you do that?
Grant: Yes, the way that it works is when you’re creating the proposal, it’s a simple form that you fill out where you are. First is saying what type of proposals do you want to create for them. First, you choose a personal or commercial line. Then, based on what you choose, personal or commercial lines, you then choose, “Okay, what do I want to put packaged together in this, say, personal lines proposal?” and I can click through Health, Life, Auto, Home, Umbrella, Flood, and whatever.
Let’s say we’re doing an Auto, Home, and Umbrella. Click those three and then it automatically renders in the proposal just those three that I’ve clicked. Then I can move which one I want to lead with. We’d like to lead with Home, so then you put Home at the front of it. Some people like to lead with Autos, they can put Auto in the front of it. Yes, that’s what you do.
Based on the type of insurance that you are proposing they purchase, the proposal is put together in that manner. In addition, the proposed designs can be picked dependent upon the customer. You might know that this person is very much used to a certain type of design based on their age, or demographic, or psychographic, and you can pick a different design-type based on that.
Michael 2: Did you build these, or have these built from scratch, or are you using an existing technology?
Grant: No, I built it from scratch. We used it at my agency for several years. Our numbers were increasing significantly because we basically cured that bottleneck of the time it takes to create proposals and the time it takes for consumers to respond. More importantly, because that experience was so unique and the customers had never experienced something like that before with insurance, we use that as an opportunity to ask them to share their experience.
Not only are they receiving and having this experience, but we are also asking them to share that experience on social media and with other people that they know and that they have influence over, which then increased our referrals. Our business was growing and these carriers were coming to us and saying, “Hey, how are you guys doing this much business with such little staff?” When I showed them the software, they’re like, “Hey, you should probably sell that to other people.” Starting in January of this year, I white-labeled it and I’ve made it available to agents now. [crosstalk]
Michael: Before we’re done, we’re going to make sure that we have an opportunity to talk about that.
Michael: Regarding these infographics, are they adjustable so you can really customize it? Presumably, it identifies the premium, it identifies the limits and maybe some of the exclusions. How much detail does it go into?
Grant: You can put as little detail as you want or as much detail as you want. The design of the infographic is for three different personality types. One is for the person who just wants to know the price. We all know those types of customers that are out there. As a result, the infographics have the carrier name and the price involved. Then, underneath that is where you’re able to put in the coverage limits, exclusions, and the notes.
That’s for the second person who wants to know price and the carrier, but they also want to know a few details. For maybe engineer-type customer or someone who’s very analytical to these proposals, you can also attach the actual document from the carrier or custom document from your agency. All they do is click a link in the proposal and then it opens on their cell phone and they can analyze it to their own desire.
Michael: All right. Very good. That presumably is early in the customer journey. I’m actually going to ask you to go chronologically before that. Before they jump into your marketing funnel, they need to know about you, they need to have awareness and interest. How do you generate that? How do you communicate with the marketplace in general so that they’re stimulated to jump inside your funnel?
Grant: The first thing that we do is we train our customers to let them know that we need and we rely on them sharing their experiences with others. We say that statement many times throughout the journey. Then, at certain and specific times throughout their purchasing journey, we ask them to share the experience.
Michael: Is that “ask” done verbally? Is it done when, for example, a customer service rep is talking to somebody, or do you also ask digitally?
Grant: It depends upon the journey or the experience point. An example might be, at renewal, we requote all of our customers with all of our carriers every time and we resend them a new proposal that’s digitally done in this way, just to point. They are so delighted by that immediately after the renewal experience has ended even if most of our customers decide to stay put and they don’t make a change.
Even after that, we’ve now earned the right to ask them to share that experience. We simply send them an email with links to make it easy for them, say, “Hey, click here and write a Facebook post” or “Hey, click here and write a review on our website,” and then the reviews on our website then can push to Google, or Facebook, or wherever else.
Either way, we’re asking them to share those experiences on areas that they’re already sharing experience. Right now the bulk of that is happening online, whether that’s Yelp, Google, Facebook, social media because that’s where our customers are living.
Michael: All right. I want to synthesize or summarize what I’ve got so far. At the very core of this thing is they have to have a delightful experience near the beginning. When they engage in a real business relationship, they have a good experience, it’s unusual, it’s unique it’s clearly better than the average insurance experience.
That’s the core. Now because it’s a good experience, you’re capable of generating referrals and reviews probably. Reviews on Google or Yelp and referrals and people might share their experience, which then generates more leads and people are willing to jump into the funnel, right?
Grant: Yes. It’s more than just creating the experience. That experience again has earned us the right to ask for referrals, but this is the important piece. It’s throughout the customer journey, we’re training them that we’re going to ask them for referrals, that we’re going to ask them to share their experiences. That way, when we do ask them, they’re not surprised.
Michael: All right. If I were a new person, how are you going to indoctrinate me to that philosophy? How do you tell me that? How do you train me?
Grant: It’s done in a very, very simple and right way. Let’s say you’re a proposed insured or proposed customer. You want to know a little bit about who you’re going to potentially do business with, so we share a part of our story of who we are and why we exist.
As we do that, we communicate like, “Hey, look we do this to our customers, we do that as you heard from so and so, so and so for the customer that you refer us to. This is a type of experience that we create for people. I as your dedicated adviser through this process, I’m not going to be working a whole lot and spending a lot of time energy and money on do marketing efforts, I want to be focusing on you because that is what you deserve.’
Michael: Okay, well said.
Grant: Because I’m focusing on you and that’s what you deserve, I’m going to need your help later to help grow my business. All I’m going to ask for you to do at some point is to share the experience you have, even if it’s bad. If you don’t like the experience I’m giving you, I want to know about it and I want you to be honest with other people as you talk to them as well. My commitment to you is I’m going to focus on you, I’m going to focus on advising you well, giving you the best experience possible. It might a good doing [crosstalk] this on my relationship and we do it that way.
Michael: Folks, write that down because he just gave you the script.
Now you’d mentioned your story. What is your story? How do you describe that?
Grant: Depending on the customer and the level that we feel like they want to connect, I guess I should back up here. Our goal is not to share our story and invite people into that, that’s not what customers want. We have to position ourselves as experts that are willing to guide them through their story, where they can invite us in. We want to tell our story in a way that says to the person subconsciously, “Hey, we’re safe. You can invite us into your story. You can invite us into what you have going on in your life.”
Michael: How do you how communicate that safety in a way that it’s not just a word or intellectual, but it’s actually something people feel?
Grant: Ideally, it’s connecting them with the person or the individual that has referred them to us. If not there, then it’s about really hitting home on some empathy, meaning we’ll communicate something about, lets just say, insurance, or say something in our script like, “Look, we understand that the previous insurance company that you worked with didn’t make you feel valued. We think that’s just plain wrong because you pay your premiums on time, every time. That’s why we, as your independent adviser, have structured our business this way to help you in this other way, and lead to it from there.”
It starts with empathy of why we understand their frustrations, understand their struggles, or understand whatever problem it was has made them reach out us. A problem they believe that we could potentially meet and then we communicate after that empathy our authority on how we are able to meet that problem.
Michael: Got it, well done. All right. Let’s say now I’m a delighted new customer. Now I suspect that unlike a lot of other insurance agencies, it’s not going to be a year before I hear from you again?
Michael: I’m going to have ideally some sense of the fact that you’re present in my life, and that you do matter, and you do deliver delight and perhaps meaning in the relationships. How do you do that? How do you maintain a presence in the lives of your customers throughout the year?
Grant: First off, we enter their information into automated campaigns such as birthday cards and different things that go out, almost everybody does that stuff. The next thing that we do is we have people on staff that are looking at our customer social media profile to see if there’s anything that we can celebrate with them. An example, we might have a customer whose son just graduated in karate from white belt to yellow belt and we’ll all send the boy a card with some candy. [crosstalk] good job, stuff like that.
Michael: Man, customer for life. [crosstalk] You have somebody who’s on your team who’s responsible for buzzing through customer Facebook pages?
Michael: What do you do? You connect, you follow your customers through your business page or–?
Grant: No. On Facebook, all of us as advisers are going to try and friend these people on Facebook directly. We’re going to be social on social media and that includes friending people that we are starting new relationship [crosstalk]
Michael: Okay. Now, do you have a Facebook page for the agency?
Grant: We do and that’s another part into answering your question about how we’re going to connect with them afterwards. We’re going to add their information through some targeted Facebook advertising to them as customers that’s going to communicate to them a couple of different pieces of content that we send out. Every Monday, I do a Facebook live video where I talk something about finances.
Every Thursday, we send out edited video where we’re talking more about some finances. Then every Tuesday, we’re doing a blog post. Essentially, the purpose of this stuff is to communicate that we are their guide, we are their expert, we are their steward in this journey, in this story of theirs. This is constantly showing up in their feed on a weekly basis so they’re seeing our logo, they’re seeing our faces, they’re seeing our great content, and they’re able to engage with that.
Michael: All right. I want to make sure everybody got that. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday boom, boom, boom. Facebook Live, Monday. Blog post, Tuesday. Edited video, Thursday. Right?
Michael: I’m going to throw one more on because I think you Instagram daily. Am I right about that?
Grant: Yes, I do Instagram stories everyday.
Michael: Talk to us openly about this, of the platforms that you use. We know you’re using Facebook and you’re using video on Facebook, et cetera. What kind of attraction do you think you’re getting from Instagram?
Grant: Well, when you do an Instagram story, it tells you how many people have at least looked at it. It’s a bad day if I don’t get at least 300 views on Instagram story that I have. Recently, I’ve been making my call to action, which is very important on every piece of content. Yes, I’ve got to have a simple clear call to action. On Instagram lately, my call to action has been sending me direct message. DM me with whatever questions you have and I probably average about 30 questions a day– [crosstalk]
Michael: No kidding?
Grant: That’s that’s where that they–[crosstalk]
Michael: I’m sorry. I apologize I missed this. How do they communicate to you directly?
Grant: On Instagram, you can send what’s called a direct message of Facebook. You can call it personal message, but that’s Instagram version of an email sent.
Michael: Is that in all of your Instagram stories or posts you’re putting your call to action?
Grant: Yes ,I always have a call to action in every piece of content that I have.
Michael: Sorry for interrupting. I’m getting excited.
Grant: Yes, every piece of content, we’re going to have a call to action. Typically, it’s one or two things. It’s on Instagram on the story that send me a direct message.
Sometimes it’s, “Hey, go to our blog.” A lot of times with these stories, I’m just rehashing content that I’ve already done. Rehashing content about a blog or maybe just a portion of the blog. Then the next day, I will do the next portion of whatever. We have Facebook pixels that are on each one of our website. Anytime someone hits a particular blog of ours, we know that they’re interested in, say, that particular topic which then allows us to send them more content about that topic.
Michael: I’m going to ask you to pause for a second. For the listeners who have no idea what you’re talking about. Okay. [laughs]
Grant: A facebook pixel– Facebook has a thing called Facebook Business Manager. To be honest, this is something that’s fairly new to me. It’s not like I’ve been doing this for years. I have someone on staff who manages our social media business advertising in Facebook. You can get a Facebook business page, which a lot of us have, but with that business page, you can also get into what’s called the Facebook Business Manager.
Facebook Business Manager allows you to create ad account and it’s ad accounts give you a piece of code. This piece of code, you copy and paste it on a particular web page. This code then tracks when people visit that web page, which then allows you to send them messages based on the fact that they’ve visited that webpage that we know the data allows people who [crosstalk]
Michael: Let’s see if we can– Let’s exemplify this. Let’s say, Michael visited Grant’s blog and you had a blog about– Give me a topic.
Grant: Okay. What was the blog that I did today? The blog I did today that got published was, “How to still have good insurance rates with a bad record.”
Michael: Okay. For the sake of discussion, let’s say Michael has a bad record. [laughs]
Michael: Okay. How do I know about that?
Grant: When did you do that through the call to action through either the Instagram video, or the Instagram story, the Facebook video, the blog, maybe a customer of ours, or maybe you know somebody who has a bad record so you shared or posted within the office. Somewhere online you got do it. [crosstalk]
Michael: I read your blog, and boom, because it has a pixel, it knows I was there, now what happens?
Grant: Based on the fact that you visited there are content and Social Media Manager will then say, “Okay, these people have visited this page and we want to make sure that they become customers of ours, so we’re going to send them more content about getting a better rate on their insurance,” or something that’s related to that. “Well, that the part of the funnel. We’ll continue to give them more information that the relationship with us can be trustworthy.
A lot of it, honestly, is after they view content with us, we want to hit them with authority. We want to hit them with testimonials from other people. We’ll be sending them pieces of information on Facebook that have testimonials of somebody saying, “Hey, we used Stewardship insurance and it was a great experience. They even recorded a personalized video during the proposal process in a way that I could understand. I saved X amount of dollars and it was Great.”
Michael: Okay, got it. All right.
Grant: Stuff like that.
Michael: That’s automated?
Michael: Great. When you say, “we can send,” essentially what has happened is you’ve set it up to happen?
Grant: Right. That’s a part of the customer journey to we’ve engineered ahead of time. This is what we want people to experience. This is what we want people to read. We want people to see, we want people to hear whenever they’re discovering during the discovery phase of the customer journey. This is what we want them to discover.
Michael: Got it. All right. Okay. Now, we’ve identified your use of Instagram, we’ve identified your really fairly aggressive use of Facebook. Congratulations on that. What about LinkedIn for the B2B commercial lines?
Grant: Yes. We have a LinkedIn strategy as well. Essentially, it’s the same stuff. It’s taking our blog posts, it’s taking our videos and doing different things and posting them strategically at strategic times throughout the weekend, especially it’s taking a lot of the same contents we do. [crosstalk]
Michael: Right. Let’s see, on Monday you’ve got that Facebook, you have go a live Facebook video. Do you maybe jump on if it’s related, there’s something that might connect with a commercialized customer? Do you notify people on LinkedIn about that or how do you drive people?
Grant: You know what, to be honest with you, I don’t know the specific strategy [crosstalk] or it’s public information. My contract employee who manage all that for me does it. As a matter of fact, I recently had another business associate come to me over the last week, he was like, “Hey, can I talk to you about your LinkedIn strategy? I want to make sure that we’re doing that. How exactly do you do it? What’s the science behind it?” In my head, I’m like, “I don’t even know, man, I’m just being honest.”
Michael: Okay. Well, obviously you’re pretty intimately familiar with your Facebook strategy, but you do use LinkedIn and you post on LinkedIn?
Michael: Presumably, that’s got more of a business flavor to it than the Facebook?
Michael: Okay, got it. All right. Any other technologies that you use for communications?
Grant: Yes. Another way that we’re– Look, let’s just be real for a second about insurance. Margins are getting tight, [chuckles] carriers are lowering commissions, it’s getting tougher and tougher to profit. As a result, we as agency owners and agents need to be wise with our resources. We need to be able to do more business and less time than basically ever before. To me, that means you have to utilize automation whenever you can.
There are several amazing automation platforms out there. We use Infusionsoft, we really like that. Some people call it confusionsoft because it’s very, very detailed and confusing. For us, we really like it and it works well. Again, because we’ve mapped out our customer experience and entire journey, we can then look at that map and say, “These are areas where we can send automated communication.”
There’s a couple rules with automation. You don’t ever use it unless it enhances the relationship. If it’s not going to enhance the relationship with somebody, don’t do it. Additionally, if it ever is going to feel automated from the customer’s perspective, own it. Because if you try to make something not feel automated and send it off, if it’s one thing our generation does, it can sniff out bullcrap real quick.
Michael: Okay, very good.
Grant: They’ll say, “Hey, you know what, I don’t want to engage with that.” Yes, we use Infusionsoft and we automate certain pieces of communication. That dramatically lowers the amount of time that my staff to spend writing emails, text messages, making phone calls, sending voice messages and the like.
Michael: All right. I have one more question for you, Grant. It’s not a question, I’m going to ask you to say something. If you wanted to deliver a message to the insurance industry or to the retail insurance agent in general, something pithy like on a billboard, what would you say to the insurance industry right now? If you wanted to get their attention and say, “Doggone, let do this.” What do you want to say?
Grant: People make decisions based on emotion and experiences, but you need to proactively and ahead of time engineer and design what experiences and emotions you want your customers to have because they’re going to have the experiences and emotions. You don’t design it if somebody else’s designing it for you.
Michael: [laughs] If somebody else is designing it for you. Grant, this has just been a jam-packed conversation. I really want to express my appreciation for your generosity. Before we go, if somebody has a question for you, if somebody wants to talk to you about this super-exciting proposal software, which by the way I haven’t seen but you have got to show it to me at some point so I can talk about a little more intelligently. How can people make contact with you?
Grant: Yes. The proposal software is neotericagent.com, neotericagent.com. Neoteric basically just means a forward-thinking person. N-E-O-T-E-R-I-C, neotericagent.com. That’s where they can not only sign up for a free 30-day free trial, but you can also request a sample proposal to see what it feels like from the customers experience if that’s the type of experience you want to give people. That’s where they can go for that. I am going to be speaking at several insurance events here in the future.
I think I’m headed to an event in Michigan in a couple of weeks. I can’t remember what it was, I think it’s like a PIA convention. [crosstalk]
Michael: Okay. Terrific.
Grant: People are in town around that area are happy to chat with guys there up in Michigan. We’re going to the National IAOA Conference. I’m speaking there. I’m actually, at that conference, I’m giving everybody 100% of my automated journey. It’s going to be an interactive experience for people that are sitting in the chair and listening to the presentation, they’re literally from their cellphones are going to be receiving emails, and every text message and every voice mail that we send to people during the journey. They’ll be able to literally copy and paste it to their agencies if they want. If you guys are going to that, that I think it’s the end of January. You can go to iaoalliance.com for that and I’ll be there speaking. Those are a couple of different ways [crosstalk]
Michael: Yes, very good. I think that’s in Las Vegas.
Grant: Correct. Yes, Las Vegas. Yes.
Michael: Okay. An excellent organization. Grant, I know you’re in Arizona, you know I’m in Arizona, yes. I’m a little bit a ways away from it. One of these days I’d love to get you to the Kasita.
Grant: Arizona is the place to be, especially coming up quick here in a couple of months after the innovation conference. That’s when the weather gets good, spring training will be here. I got season tickets to Cubs Spring Training [crosstalk]
Michael: No way. Okay. I did pick up one Cubs. My brother is in town, so I picked up a Cubs Spring Training game last year. Perhaps I’ll see you out there.
Grant: Yes. Let’s make it happen. We’ll have to make it happen.
Michael: All right. Grant, thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure. I’m sure you’re going to get some emails or phone calls. I look forward to our next conversation.
Grant: Honored to be on. Any time I can be helpful in encouraging people, I’m going to do my best to be that. Thank you.
Michael: Thank you. Thank you.