How to Run a Facebook Contest (and why)

facebook contest Many of the businesses I work with have Facebook pages, some don’t post frequently enough to get a lot of engagement, others post a lot, but haven’t seen the engagement and activity they would like. What can be done to generate more interest in their page? Successful Facebook marketing is not about blasting your fans with business information, but creating community and being useful so they share it with others.  In all likelihood, the fans you have, especially in the beginning, are already customers.  Your goal is to provide them value and information that they are willing to share with others like them, who will come to your page, engage and eventually become a customer as well. In the beginning, engagement and community can be really hard, and one way to create some excitement about your page, increasing likes, comments, and shares is a contest. Recently, I was able to pick the brain of the marketing director of successful agency, and he gave me several tips he has implemented that has made contests an important part of their Facebook strategy. Tips to Run a Facebook Contest 1.  Make the contest duration short.  Usually several days to a week.  Admit it, your attention span is short, and so is your customers, the shorter ones create more activity.

For example, you might post this on a Thursday: “You have until noontime on Monday, [Month & Day] to leave your comment, and if you’d like an additional entry, share this post!”

2.  Give away Gift Cards from $30 – $50 to restaurants, movies, gas, car wash, etc. 3.  Team up with local businesses to help you promote.  If there are any businesses you currently insure or geographically close to you that offer gift cards or certificates, give those away as part of your contest.  If that business has an Facebook page, ask them to promote. 4.  Use engaging pictures on your contest.  I am a fan of Photopin to find great royalty free pictures. 5.  Ask for comments or an answer to a crazy question.

Here’s an example:   [Insert Pizza Picture]   “We’d love to hear what your favorite pizza topping is, so be sure to let us know in the comments section! In return, you could win a $40 gift card!”

or

“[Agency name] would love to know what your favorite summer activity is, so be sure to let us know in the comments section! In return, YOU COULD WIN $50!!”

6.  Think Community Charity.  For a month give a donation to a local charity of a $1 for every new like. Anytime you get a new like, announce it in the Facebook feed, and gave a running total of how much money you are generating.  The key is to partner with a local charity that can help you promote it.  $1 may not be enough to generate activity, but this agency generated almost 80 likes in a month. 7.  Get employees to promote.  This is big.  Every time they do a promotion, they make sure that any employees active online will share the contest through their social networks. 8.  Include a disclaimer.  You can not run a contest that appears that it is endorsed or generated by Facebook.  If you are really concerned about all the legal disclaimers, then you can a Facebook app.

Example:  “This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. You understand that you are providing your information to [Your Business Name] and not to Facebook. The information you provide will only be used for the [Your Business Name] and related communications.”

9.  Celebrate the Winner.  As soon as the contest is over, announce the winner immediately.  If you have them come by your business to pick up the gift, take their picture, and ask if you can post it.  Make a big deal about it, and have fun with it.

Here’s a complete example: how to run a facebook contest   So what are you waiting for!  If engagement on your Facebook page has been a problem, try out these tip, and let us what kind of response you get in comments below.  Also, what has been your experience with contests? Be Productive, Theron Mathis P.S.  A great thank you to Matthew House at Preferred Insurance Center for spending time letting me pick his brain about his agency marketing.

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

More Referral Strategies for Your Business

referral giftOver the past month in researching the ways that successful insurance agencies and businesses have garnered referrals, there are a handful of specifics that I have hinted at but never fleshed out.

In this post, I am going to give detail to those strategies.

1.  Make it easy for customers to refer.  Businesses that are successful at generating more referrals create templates that customers can use.  They give the words to say.  This really works well with email.  You can provide a message that they can easily forward onto their friends and associates.

2.  Generate testimonials.  This is more of a passive referral, but can be easily mined from customer experiences.  Anytime a customer has a positive experience with you, whether it is through a new purchase, a service experience, or a positive claim process, ask for them to provide a testimonial.  Surprisingly, this can be hard for a customer, but you can help.  Ask them to describe their experience and what they liked, then type it up for them, and ask for their stamp of approval to use.

3.  Strategic Partnerships.  I touched on this in the first referral post.  Find business and associations that you can help and they can help you.  In personal lines, credit unions, realtors, mortage brokers, financial planners, boat dealers, motorcycle dealers, etc are perfect partnerships.  On the commercial side, join associations that fit niches you write.  Offer to promote their business on your website or in other marketing you do.  Being a referral giver is often primes the pump to receive referrals.

4.  Creative Offers.  This can be sticky in the insurance industry due to rebating laws.  Most state DOIs have limits on how much you can gift a customer or lead source, and they only allow you to give based on the referral and not whether you sell it.  One agency I know did this, and found himself paying for terrible referrals, names on napkins and bogus phone numbers.  He cleaned this up by requiring qualified referrals.  The customer had to allow him to quote the business before a referral gift was given.

There are more things we can do for referring customers that provide a value.  Charity promotions are a great method.  For every referral written you give 1% of the premium dollars to charity in the referrers name.  You can provide seminars and workshops.  In PL, this is easily done for banks, credit unions, and realtors.  I have done this one behalf of agents within realty companies, and it has created nice referral streams.

Don’t be afraid to spend money to generate referrals.  This should be treated like any marketing effort.  If you know the value of a customer, then it is easy to figure out your money limits.  For example, if you have 750 customers that generate $100K in revenue, then each customer is worth $133 annually.  So you know, that your budget should allow you to spend at max. $133 to acquire 1 customer.  Spend less if you, but you know where you can’t go beyond.

5.  Local Media Resource.  Develop relationships with local journalists at the daily paper, local news, or business papers.  Curate insurance news and send their way.  Become the spokesman they go to when they have insurance questions.  This becomes free promotion, and makes you a trusted source of insurance.  

6.  Social Media.  This is really an extension of the old-school print testimonial.  You create online communities where you share experiences and information, allowing people to create reviews on your business.  Reviews become the social currency that their friends use to make buying decisions.  Don’t look on social media as some high tech foreign concept.  It is just a powerful way of generating testimonies and referrals.

I hope you enjoyed this series on referrals.  Our email newsletter should hit inboxes within days, detailing next month’s topic, and sharing some referral data that didn’t make it into the posts.

What has beneficial for you in generating referrals?  Comment below.

Be Productive,

Theron Mathis

 

photo credit: NMinTO via photopin cc

Make Your Agency Referral-Worthy

Referral ConfidenceThe previous post, Improving Your Best Source of Business:  Referrals, was posted on a G+ community page and insurance professional, +David Berry, commented:

“I’ve never asked for a referral in my life. They just come because I’m good at what i do and am a master at seo, blogging, and social media. Perhaps I’m just spoiled, but it’s the truth.”

I have a feeling if David needed to ask for a referral, he would, and would do so fearlessly, with full confidence that he deserved it.  The confidence that he projects in his ability to offer incredible value to his customers is the magnet that sends referrals to his door.

Whether we ask or not, we need referrals, or our business would dry up.

So what can we do to do to become referral-worthy.

Confidence!

Do you have confidence in your ability to dominate your market.  How do you know if you and your office have confidence to ask for referrals?  No one is embarassed to ask.  One major way of combating fear is knowing who you are and why you are valuable as an agency because of the value you create for your marketplace. 

How do you create a culture in your agency convince of their unique value?

1.  Interview Your Best Customers.  These are the ones you wise you could clone, and guess what you can.  Their friends are just like them, and clones are what you will get.

Take them to lunch or dinner.  Ask, “Why do you do business with me?”  Of course they will say “service” or something generic and meaningless.  Ask, “Why is that important to you?”  A flood gate of data will rush out with specifics that matter to the customer.  Keep asking why, until you have reached the bottom.*

2. Interview Your Staff.   Ask you staff to brainstorm individually without filters as fast as possible in order to generate as many ideas as possible no matter how ridiculous or stupid.

Have them refine the list to at least five ideas?  Then coming to the group, begin sharing ideas (including the customer feedback), refining the best ones with commentary from the group.

Try to determine 3-5 things that set you apart and make you better than your competition in your market (your ideal customer).

3.  Tattoo your value on your agency’s soul.  Build some structure around those items to further ingrain their truth in your company psyche.  Find examples of you doing those items, look for testimonials regarding those items.  Have you received praise from companies and customers on your items?

Come up with as many anecdotes and testimonies as possible.  Use these to convince yourself and your people that this is really you.  This is what makes you different.  This is your brand and you can shout it proudly to everyone:

“If you want these things there is no agency better.” 

“If you have friends that need what we do, and we are great at it, you have told us, so then send them our way.”

Embarrassment and fear evaporate when the proof of your excellence is shouting at you. 

Be Productive,

Theron Mathis

P.S.  What makes you stand-out among your peers?  What do you do that generates confidence within your agency?

*idea taken from The Power of Why by C. Richard Weylman.

photo credit: mahalie via photopin cc