Category Archives: Social Media

Why You Need Google Plus and How to Get Started Today

medium_6714960287Why do you need a Google+ page?  I get asked by agents on a regular basis about where to start online marketing.  To be honest, I am biased toward Facebook and Content Marketing through blogging.  I really believe if you have someone in your office that can be committed to curate and create content, and your current website allows you to post content (if not, please change) do it.  Content marketing has the ability to let you compete against big marketing insurance budgets.  You can dominate search in your geography and become an expert in whichever insurance niches you write.

I love Facebook because I know it.  It was my first social network, and I have helped agents setup pages, find content, create contests, etc.  Even if your agency is not on Facebook, I guarantee the majority of the people in your office are on FB, and everyone has a basic familiarity with it.  The learning curve is small because someone you know, if not yourself, knows and understands Facebook.  All you need to do is to learn the marketing side and adapt to your business.

Over the last couple months, I have seen the power of Google Plus.  It is incredibly versatile, feels more professional, and engagement is easy.  I found creating active engagement on G+ is much easier than it is on Facebook.  

So why should you have a G+ page?

1.  It is Google.  You can’t fight city hall.  If you spend any time in online social media circles, you are bound to find people announcing and celebrating the demise of Google+, however, these voices are dying out.  

Google will not let this network die.  It continues to grow.  They have integrated a Skype-like feature called Google Hangouts that allow group video chat.  Functionality continues to increase.

Admit it, when you search on the web.  You probably go to Google, and if you don’t you call web-searching “googling”.  They own search, and being part of their system will only help you.

2.  SEO, SEO, SEO.  If you don’t know this term yet, it stands for Search Engine Optimization.  Basiclly it the practice of doing things online that will help your customer find you.  When people search for you, what you sell, and where you sell, can they find you online.

Sadly, many of agents I work with can’t even be found online even if their name is entered into the search bar.  Google+ can change that and change it quickly.

Google places G+ activity into their search results, and probably gives greater weight to this network versus posts created in other networks.

3.  Your activity will have wings, and won’t die quickly.  If you post on Facebook, you must post frequently, primarily because your post only has a shelf-life of about a day.  After that people will no longer see it.  It won’t show in their news feed anymore.

With Google+, your posts become part of search, and live longer on the web.

I have seen this for myself.  Weeks after I have posted on Google+, I can still get traffic from that post.

 How do you start?

Ok, now that you are convinced that it is worth jumping into this network, how difficult is it to setup a page.  It’s incredibly easy.  I just set one up for one of my agent’s in about five minutes.

  1.  Go to Google+ for business.  

google plu

2.  If you don’t have a Google account then you need to create one.  Basically, you are just setting up a Gmail account.  This is not hard, and the system will prompt you how to do it.

3.  Add a profile photo if you have one, but this is not necessary for the page.  

4.  Choose your category.

Google plus create a category

 5.  Add Info.  Post basic information about your business including office hours, and you are finished.  

 Google gives you the ability to share your page with contacts, and this could help jump-start your network.  

If you don’t have G+, run, don’t walk to your favorite browser and set it up!

Be Productive,

Theron Mathis

P.S. Bonus Content:  Having the G+ page will help, but ultimately if you decide to make this part of your ongoing social media marketing, you need to post.  Here are a couple extra tips:

1.  Multiply your work.  If you are using a social network today, like Twitter or Facebook, replicate those same posts on G+.

2.  Streamline your posts.  Use a scheduler to get your posts from one spot, to multiple networks.  I use and love buffer.  Buffer let’s you post something once, and then it schedules the posts for you on various networks.  With Buffer, you can use Facebook, Twitter, and now Google+.

3.  Suggested Resources.  There’s a lot more you can do with G+ to create engagement and increase your brand presence.  The quickest way to pick up these skills is to check out Social Media expert and fellow insurance professional, Ryan Hanley.  He has written extensively about G+.

 

 

photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc

Why Your Insurance Agency Blog is Your New Phone Book Ad

insurance agency blog

During this month of digital marketing, I have discussed two social platforms: Facebook and Twitter.

While those have the ability to create engagement with your target market, and help you understand their needs and interest, blogging great content helps you create your own 21st Century Yellow Page Ad.

You remember the Yellow Pages?

Years ago vendors would stop in your office, and show you data on customer usage of a book with numbers by category.  A customer could look up Insurance and find you.  You could separate yourself from the competition by the size of your ad.

Then one day you realized, I don’t use the yellow pages anymore.  Neither do my friends.  Neither does anyone in my office.  If we need something, we “google” it.

If you do this, your customer does as well.  So when they look for insurance do they find you.

Your website is probably not enough to create an ad big enough for customers to find, but your insurance agency blog can be.

Step 1:  Make sure you site has the ability to “blog”, and it can be indexed by Google.

Step 2:  Find niche topics that you can create content around so that customers can find you in your local market.

Specialty Lines are perfect for Digital Marketing.  Trying to compete with Progressive and Geico online around the keywords “auto insurance” is difficult, but you can dominate search in your market by becoming a specialist in boat insurance in [insert your city], or how about condos, or motorcycles, RVs, classic cars, jewelry insurance, etc.

Granted you won’t make much money selling $200 cycle policies, but the customer traffic this segment can drive to your agency can be huge.  Because of course you won’t just sell a motorcycle policy, you will ask about home, auto, etc.

So how do you do this?

  1.  Write articles around specialty lines & other niches using keywords you research through Google Adwords.

  2. Borrow content from your company partners.  Most have a handful of articles they don’t mind you taking and editing.

  3. Find a dealer partner or other business that is willing to provide content for you, and then you both benefit.

  4. Use your niches.  When it comes to creating content to drive traffic to your agency.  Brainstorm your commercial niches, and think how you can write about their special insurance needs.

  5. Use Slideshare Think of this as online Powerpoint.  If you have created any insurance presentations dump them into Slideshare, and embed it into your site.

  6. Don’t forget video.  Video your customers, your referral sources, the customers you want and talk about their needs and how your products match their needs.  A big key with video is to make sure you add some text so Google can index it, and don’t forget to put on Youtube as well.  In fact, share it everywhere you have a presence.

  7. Create a content calendar.  Develop contenting can seem overwhelming.  It is one more item to add to your bulging to-do list.  The secret is the content calendar.  Create 12 themes, and assign them one to a month.  Announce it to your staff, and ask for them to begin giving ideas for each of the 12 months.  It will fill up quicker than you think.

You have the power to now be your own Yellow Pages.  Take advantage of it, and being scripting out ideas on a calendar, and start today filling in with your expert content.

Be Productive,
Theron Mathis

photo credit: funkeemunkeeland via photopin cc

Here’s a Method To Help You Discover If Twitter Is For Your Agency

When I think of the major social media networks, there are the big 4 that have an impact on how Insurance Twitter Helpyou do business.

Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, & Google +.

I know there are others such as Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, Vine, SlideShare.  In fact, a few agencies are already creating great strategies around these networks as well.

They can all work for you.

The big key is knowing where your customers are.  Let’s begin with Twitter.

Twitter is a quick 140 Character micro-blogging site, where you can share content.  Usually it is used to point people to content (in a form of a link) that you have found that is useful to their lives or business.

The way you engage on Twitter is to ask questions, and respond to others tweets.  You can respond by hitting reply or simply addressing them with their @ handle.  It’s almost always better to interact specifically rather than send out general questions or comments.

If your audience provides valuable material, share and comment on that as well.

To keep from spending too much time on a site like Twitter use an scheduler, because like the rest of the internet, it’s easy to chase the rabbit down the hole only to look up and see hours have passed.

The two schedulers I use are Buffer and Hootsuite.  Buffer is nice because you can pre-set a schedule of when you want your tweets to post.  From there all you do is fill it with content as you find it, then Buffer releases it on schedule.  The other place to schedule posts is Hootsuite.  I typically don’t use Hootsuite to post but to use as my command central to monitor those I follow, and see if there is any engagement of my tweets.

Don’t let the scheduler make you lazy.  I have done this.  People will engage with your tweet, and you will never respond or enter their conversation.  In the beginning, you want to thank everyone who retweets you or comments on your tweet.

My guess is most agents that start Twitter don’t do this.  How do I know?  I have tested it.  I have replied or retweeted content from agents that I know personally, and no response happened.  Even when I saw them at their office, they didn’t mention the interaction.

I really believe Twitter allows you to become a quick expert.  This could be around a niche you service or as a community connector.

Whether you should jump into Twitter is really determined by whether your target audience already lives there.  If they are not there today, don’t write off this service.  Check it again in six months, trends change.

How do you find if your target audience lives on Twitter?  The easiest way is to run email list of your current customers through their “Find Friends” service.  This service pulls email from Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, & AOL.  If you use one of these services, then by clicking one button Twitter will scan all your contacts for Twitter uses, and from there you can follow them.

Many of us don’t use these services and rely on Outlook or a similar email client.  Don’t worry there is a back door way to get your contacts to Twitter (assuming you have your Twitter account set up).  Here’s the steps:

  1.  Export all your Outlook contacts to a *.csv file and save it to your Desktop for easy retrieval.
  2.  Open a Gmail Account at mail.google.com.
  3. Once open click “Gmail” on the left hand side of the page so that the “Contact” option appears.

Twitter

  1.  From your Contacts page, click on Import Contacts…

twitter import

  1.  Choose the file you saved from the desktop and now all your Outlook contacts are loaded into your Gmail account.
  2. Let’s go back to Twitter and the Find Friends back.  Now you can click Gmail, and your Twitter will magically search for your contacts.

This will help you find out real quick if any of your audience is present on Twitter.

From here do some search on Twitter advanced search features.  Maybe one of your niches is Engineering Firms and your agency is in Indianapolis.

Type “engineer” into “all of these words” and “Indianapolis” in “near this place”.  Then hit Search.

Insurance Twitter Advanced search

 

When I did this search, several individual Engineers showed up, along with 2 firms.  Granted  I waded through some junk, but I was able to find people to follow had this been my niche.

At this point, let’s assume, you found people in your niches and referral sources.  Many of your customers were online, and you followed them.

One of the nice unwritten protocols of Twitter is that when you people follow, if your profile looks legit and doesn’t feel spammy, they will follow you back.

Begin tweeting content that your audience finds valuable.  This may take some brainstorming, but shortly you will know if your content is getting traction by replies or retweets.

Make sure your profile includes a link back to your website so interested followers can find you.  This is critical if you expect your activity to create referral sources.

If you need more information on using Twitter, one of the best “Get Started” guides has been written by Michael Hyatt at his Intentional Leadership site.

Give it a try.  An hour or two should get you familiar with Twitter and whether your customers and prospects live there.

Be Productive,

Theron Mathis

Question:  Let me know if Twitter has been an effective marketing tool for your business?  If so, do you have any tips?  

P.S.  Here are other resources on Insurance Agents using Twitter:

5 Ways I Use Twitter As An Insurance Agent

How Insurance Agencies Use Twitter to Effectively Generate Leads

How Should Insurance Agencies Use Twitter?

How to Create Facebook Tabs to Drive Traffic to Your Agency Webpage

So, you have a Facebook page, you are collecting likes, and you post a couple times a week.facebook

Is it bringing you any business?  Are you getting calls?  Is your website getting hits?  If so, can you track it?

Ultimately, you want your page to generate business, but after spending a handful of minutes surveying insurance agency pages, it is very hard to find their agency website or quote engine on their page.

Make sure you have an easy way for customers to get to your website, and if you quoting features on your site, you can set up easy links to do that as well.

The best way to do this is to create Facebook tabs.

Facebook tabs are across the top of the page under your banner.

Facebook Tabs

 

Here’s how you can create tabs that send customers to your website.

1.  Go to your agency page, and make sure you are using Facebook as your business and not your personal page.  Click the gear.Create Facebook Tab #1

2.  In the search box on the top type “Static Iframe Tab”.  You will get a list of options. Each one is a different way to create tabs.  The one I Iike best is Static HTML Iframe Tab by Woobox.  Click “Go to App”.Static iFrame Capture Search

 

3.  Facebook will give you a message sending you back to your personal page. This is fine.

4.  You will see a screen asking you to install page tab.  Click “Install Page Tab”.

Install Page Tab

 

 

5.  Next, you must choose which Facebook Page to add the tab.  Choose your agency page, and click add tab.

6.  You will go straight to Tab Settings, where you will create your tab.  The first thing you will do is to change the “Page Source” to URL.  This will create a page within Facebook.  Rather than redirecting the customer out of FB to your site, your site will open up right into a FB window.  Facebook marketing experts swear that keeping people in FB is where they want to be rather than sending them out.  By having your site inside of FB, it gives a level of credibility.Create Facebook Tab

7.  In the URL field, insert your main website address or whatever address on your site you want people to go to:  www.myagency.com

8.  Make sure all the “gate” questions are marked “off”.

9.  Change the Tab Name to Website, Instant Quote, or wherever you redirect the user.Tab Name & Image

10.  From here, there’s only one more major step, Tab Image.  Click Change Tab Image.  Then choose the file containing your agency logo.  Then hit Save Settings on the bottom of the page.

11.  You will now see the tab on your main Facebook page.

Try it out, and let us know what you think.  

If you have been successful using FB or have used tabs differently, let us know.  

Be Productive,

Theron Mathis

Best Business Podcasts for Agency Success

Do you listen to podcast further your business skills & success? Podcast

If not, podcasts are a great way to digest new content and enroll in automobile university (in the words of the late, great Zig Ziglar), and below you will find the best of business podcasts to help grow your insurance agency.

If you are new to the technology, podcasting is best explained as internet radio, but in the live streaming car radio variety.  They are episodic ranging in length from 10 minutes to an hour.  Anyone with a simple piece of software can record a show, save it to a file, then upload it to the net.

You will be amazed at how well produced some of these shows are and they are FREE!

If you own a smart phone of any variety, you have the ability to download and listen at your leisure. You can search iTunes and subscribe to every episode via your phone or iDevice.  For anyone with  a Droid, there are popular services such as Stitcher that you do the same.

Even the clunky Blackberry has a Podcast app built it.  It’s a little more work to subscribe.  You have to do some copy and paste of RSS feeds, but you can make it work.

If you need more help setting up your device, let me know in the comments, and I’d be glad to help.

I subscribe and listen to a wide variety of podcasts, but below are my business and insurance recommendations.  I would love to find more specific insurance related ones, so if you know please comment.

podcast 3

Here are my recommendations to you:

The Accidental Creative (iTunes / RSS):  The Accidental Creative is great for the business person looking to spur their own creativity in order to generate marketing ideas.  Full of excellent, short interviews.

The Advanced Selling Podcast (iTunes / RSS):  Two Sales Trainers and Consultants from Indianapolis provide short pithy tips for producers and managers on how to become better sales people.  Beyond the practical nature they will make you laugh.

Best Day Insurance News from AM Best (iTunes / RSS):  These are daily podcasts from AM Best, aggregating the latest in insurance news.

Beyond the To Do List (iTunes / RSS): This newer podcast interviews people across business channels around becoming more effective and productive at their daily work.

Content Warfare Podcast (iTunes / RSS):  Hosted by a fellow Insurance Agent, Ryan Hanley, Ryan rarely talks insurance, but he does gives tips on how he has applied the principles of content marketing to his business.  Along with his great tips, he secures excellent interviews with people who are successfully doing content marketing as well.  On an aside, his intro music is great.

The Entreleadership Podcast (iTunes / RSS):  Every business person should listen to this one.  This comes out of the Dave Ramsey organization and specifically from the business training he developed.  Episodes begin with a snippet from one of Dave’s business talks, then the host, Chris LoCurto takes over interviewing some of the best business minds of our day.  Recent interviews have been with people such as John Maxwell, Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn), Mark Sanborn, Michael Hyatt, Patrick Lencioni, Robin Robins, Lisa Earle McLeod, etc.  If you enjoyed the interview, Chris LoCurto does and extended interview on his personal blog, and you can subscribe to that one as well.

Duct Tape Marketing (iTunes / RSS):  John Jantsch, of Duct Tape Marketing and the Referral Engine fame, runs this podcast.  This contains very practical marketing advice, discussions of social media, and referral generation.

Office Hours  (iTunes / RSS):  Dan Pink is a social psychologist, who has done an incredible amount research on how people are motivated, why they purchase, and how we can become better persuaders.  These are inconsistent, but when he release one, you will enjoy it and find plenty of truth to apply to your work.

Insurance Marketing Blog Podcast (iTunes / RSS):  This is a relatively new podcast.  John Carroll of InsuranceSplash has wonderful discussions of online marketing specific to the Insurance Industry. 

Mixergy (iTunes / RSS):  If you like interviews with entrepreneurs, this is your show.  The host, Andrew Warner, is a wonderful interviewer, pulling out the good and bad details of the entrepreneur’s journey.  You will leave each episode with actionable items that will make your business better.

The Smart Passive Income Podcast (iTunes / RSS):  This podcast is primarily directed at Internet Marketers (an industry that we as brick and mortar agencies can learn from).  Overtime it has morphed into general business tips regarding marketing and creating successful repeatable system inside your business.  Pat Flynn, the host, is a successful online business person, and he keeps these episodes lively and entertaining. 

Social Triggers Insider (iTunes / RSS):  Derek Halpern is an internet marketer who is obsessed with the psychology of persuasion.  Each episode will make you a better marketer and salesperson.

This Is Your Life (iTunes / RSS):  If you have never discovered Michael Hyatt’s blog, you are missing out.  He is the former CEO of book publishing giant, Thomas Nelson.  While there he became an uber-blogger, and remains an expert of productivity and creator a marketing platforms.  Recently he has expanded his blog to include weekly podcasts containing practical advice for any business person.

Zig Ziglar’s Inspiring Words of Encouragment (iTunes / RSS):  These are snippets from the late, great talks of motivator Zig Ziglar.  These are always wonderful pick-me-ups. 

Good listening,

Theron Mathis

P.S. Comment below with your suggestions.  Are there some you like that didn’t make the list?  What about devices or apps, any suggestions?

Google Reader and Your Insurance Office

Google Reader can be a powerful tool in your agency’s marketing arsenal. RSS Feed

Unfortunately, last week, I logged into Google Reader, and the unthinkable occurred.  A message appeared that Google was shutting the service down effective July!  Horror of Horrors.  Suddenly the internet was filled with a buzz over Reader’s demise.

Why is this a big deal?

First, many readers of Productive Agency, subscribe to the content through Google Reader and need a replacement (recommendations below).

Second, over the past several years, Google Reader is how I have read news regarding the Insurance Industry, Sales, Marketing, Agency Management, my favorite Sports Teams (Go Cards!), etc, then sharing it with agencies, peers, and social media.

Google Reader lives off of a technology called RSS.  RSS is computer code called a feed that website designers can use to share and publicize their content.  The feed for this website is http://feeds.feedburner.com/ProductiveAgency .

Every site on the web with changing content has a feed, and rather than coming back to that site again and again to look for new material, you can subscribe to a feed through a reader, visiting the reader for updated news.

Currently I subscribe to over 400 websites.  Some never or rarely update, but this saves me a tremendous amount of time.

If you don’t currently use a Feed Reader, but want to stay current on industry news, then a you will be well served. Not convinced?

Do you need content for weekly sales meetings?

What about material for your agency newsletter?

Are you ever asked to provide insurance info for local papers?

Are you struggling for content for Facebook, blogs, or other Social Media outlets, a reader can help?

So with the demise of Google Reader, what are the alternatives?

1.  The Old Reader

2.  NewsBlur

3.  Feedly

4.  Netvibes

5. Pulse

Each one of these have their own benefits, and shortcomings.  Currently the Old Reader is having trouble processing all those trying to migrate over from Google Reader.  Eventually this should be worked out, which will be good, because it has the closest feel to Google.

Depending on how you access the web is a consideration as well.  Are you always at a desktop?  Do you use a Mac or PC?  What about an iPhone, iPad, Droid, or Kindle?  Some readers have special apps and their readability may vary on each device.

So far, I like Feedly the best!  It was easy to move over my current subscriptions, the look is great, and there are a lot of features that make it easy to share information among other platforms such as Email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

The power all these bring to your Agency is that they can help you become a content expert among peers and customers.  To get a sense of how I use Feeds to share information, check out my LinkedIn page.  I post at least two pieces of Insurance/Sales information daily, and I don’t spend a lot of time scouring the web for the info. I let my reader do the work.

To Your Agency Success,

Theron Mathis

P.S.  What are your favorite sites and sources for Insurance Content?

 

 

 

Facebook Material – Infographics

Are you looking for Facebook material for your agency page?  Infographics make for great material, because people love images.  This particular one was done by an Australian insurance company, and is as humorous as it is funny.

Be on the lookout for infographics or make your own.

Source:  Dangerous distractions: Half of male drivers eye off attractive women