Marketing for personal lines has become increasingly harder over the years.
Customers squashed telemarketing sales. Fewer people have land lines, so it is harder to find a person’s number. Many go unlisted, and this makes them hidden. Many people will just not answer the phone if they don’t recognize the number.
Door to door is really not cost effective because of the return on investment.
Direct-mail still works, but you need to a lot of it, as well as time and money to get your copy just right.
Email marketing is amazing, but for it to work without becoming a spammer, you have to capture emails from current customers, prospects, and potential lead sources.
One method that has a low barrier to entry, but can generate almost instant returns is marketing to lenders and realtors.
When a customer buys a home, he is more likely to allow his insurance to be shopped. To find and interact with those customers, you have to get to those involved in the transaction.
Realtors and lenders are the perfect people to insert you into that transaction.
This is not a secret anymore. I would bet these businesses sees more insurance agents today than they did 10 years ago.
It’s not impossible to stand out among this lead-source, but it takes a little more thought and strategy than it used to.
1. Think like a glass rep. Every week your agency gets 1 or more glass reps soliciting business from you. I am sure there are a couple of these vendors that you really use, and encourage your customers to use. But why? Why are there some vendors that you use and others you don’t? Think through this question. It will help you develop a strategy to improve your own marketing with realtors and lenders. The good ones are consistent marketers. Someone in your office needs to be that person. Print out a 5 mile radius map of your agency and all the realtor and lending offices within that scope. List them out, then make a plan to consistently visit these offices.
For example, maybe you can only spare one day a week to this type of marketing. Grab you list, start from the top, and start visiting. See as many as possible in the time you allotted yourself. Check each off, and make notes. Next week pick up where you left off and do the same. Eventually you will get to the bottom of your list. Maybe it will take you a month or two, but once you reach the bottom start over.
Being a consistent face and voice in their business will help you understand them, and allow them to be comfortable with you. I guarantee that many of your competitors make one or two visits, then quit, when no business starts flowing.
2. Leave- Behinds. These don’t have to be complicated, but are markers of visit. They are footprints and clues you were there. It can be as simple as a business card. The only problem with cards is that they are easily thrown away. Notepads are great because they get used, and if they are sticky get posted around an office. Pens tend to hang around as well. Food and candy jars are always appreciated. If it’s your first visit, take their card and then email them a followup note after you get back in the office.
3. Ask for business. Of course you are going to do this. But most people ask for it in the future: “When you have something you are trying to close, please give us a shot at quoting it.” Add the present. “When you have something, we’d be happy to quote it for you. Are you working on something now I can look at for you? Is there something I can take back to the office, and get you an answer today?” I worked at an agency where we did a lot of this type of marketing, and when we started asking for something now and not in the future, we often walked out with quotes in hand. Sometimes all you need is a chance to generate future streams of business.
4. Find the right person. Knowing the decision maker is one of the keys to sales. It is no different here. Someone in the office you are visiting has enormous influence, and can usher you into that position of influence as well. The secret is knowing them. This can be difficult to discern on a first visit. Once you figure it out, begin a relationship of trust. This will allow you to create a mutually beneficial partnership going forward.
5. Be a sponsor. Lenders and Realtors are sales organizations. They do regular sales meetings, sometimes weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc. Ask to sponsor their meetings with food or giveaways. Most will let you speak for 5 to 10 minutes if you are bringing something to the meeting. This is something most insurance companies will comp for you as well.
6. Find a need and meet it. This one takes time, and you will rarely discover on the first visit. You need to build trust and find the right people to talk with. But every organizations has needs. These are the gaps and struggles inside their business. It could be anything from sales training, access to information, marketing relationships, etc. Over time look for these needs and get creative on how to help them. One agency I know found a smaller realty office that was trying to grow. Their marketing wasn’t great, but they were trying hard. The agent partnered with them for a trade show, splitting time and booth cost. You can bet the agency got the majority of their leads.
7. Pay for it. Agents are scared to do this, but every day they pay for radio spots, direct mail, yellow page ads, internet leads, telemarketing leads, xdate sheets, etc. It’s the same thing. The only thing you need to worry about is not making the payments contingent upon selling the business. Most if not all Departments of Insurance outlaw this.
I’ve seen two effective ways agents have done this successfully. First they pay a dollar amount per lead. You have to run some ROI calculations to determine your maximum spend; based on close rates, average revenue, average retention, etc. Also it needs to be attractive enough to make a difference as well. This works. The other is to do contests. Within an office, give a gift card of a substantial amount to the realtor or loan officer that sends the most leads in a month.
Make sure you stress they need to be a qualified lead. You don’t want to get a name and number, call the customer, and have them act surprised at your attempt to quote their business. I know some agencies require a list of information to make the quote valid.
8. Lunch & Learns. This strategy is highly effective at getting you in front of groups. Realtors and Lenders give misinformation about insurance to consumers all the time. Be an expert and give them information they can use with their customers regarding insurance for their property. You are not trying to make them an expert, but it empower them with a couple accurate talking points. Plus if you are providing lunch, most people will give you the courtesy to listen for a while.
Before you reinvent the wheel, grab a company person’s wallet and their powerpoint library. This is an easy spend for most company folks. They may even throw in gift cards for a drawing. Also, they might have presentation already created about property insurance. This saves you some time. Gather the business cards of everyone there, and send them a followup note, if you really want to impress.
If you networked with other agents for any length of time, this strategy is one frequently mentioned as a personal lines growth driver. It may feel like everyone is doing it, but I promise few are doing it well. Schedule your marketing, be consistent, ask for opportunities, and repeat.
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