"Help! How to implement these conference notes?"
This past week I attended the conference Elevate 2018 hosted by Agency Nation. I had a great time! I had a chance to catch up with so many people that I've only met online and I had a chance to meet a lot of new people doing some amazing things. I also learned a LOT and took a TON of notes.
The location was great, the staff was fantastic, the meals and after conference meet ups were beyond my expectations. Overall the event was very well executed. From pricing, to speakers, to accommodations, to entertainment everything was phenomenal.
But beyond the great people, stories, food, new ideas and strategies there was a murmur of discontent. A familiar mutter that I've heard time and time again over the past couple of years. And I think my new friend Craig expressed it best "I wish someone would just show me!"
Conferences are great, but they may not be the best place if you are looking for someone to show you how to implement strategies step by step. In this blog. I want to help agents understand how to keep the fire burning and to begin implementing the ideas in their notepads and thoughts generated from webinars and events.
The Problem/Dilemma with Conferences
Let me start off by saying I have no problem with conferences. As a matter of fact, most of my growth in marketing has come from conferences (shout out to content marketing world for being my first marketing conference!) But for agents looking to learn how to implement digital strategies they tend to fall short.
For starters, agents must understand that conferences are designed to open your mind to new possibilities and motivate you, not to walk you through strategies step by step. In this setting it is nearly impossible to learn perfect implementation because too many people are in different journeys, need different levels of help and are all doing something different.
This does not mean that you can't walk away with things to implement. In fact, it's probably going to take me at least the rest of the year to fully implement what I've learned at Elevate (seriously you should see these notes!). But for agents who have not gotten started or see this impossible task in front of them and have no idea where to start, they need something different.
3 Ways Agents Can Learn to Implement Digital Step by Step
Before we get into these different ways agents can actually adopt digital strategies I want to say that these take effort. They will take effort from either your carrier or association and the agencies as well.
Agents need to stop hoping someone can come along and magically make them know digital. They need to take practical steps on their own. This comes in the form of learning beyond what their carriers provide, doing what they can within their agency today and conversating with carriers instead of grumbling behind their back that they don't do enough. This could also mean responding to the annoying surveys from your associations and carriers when they ask what's important to you, going out of your way to try something new, and even being willing to spend (and potentially lose) some money while you figure it out.
Associations and carriers also need to invest in the agent's education and implementation by teaming with implementation specialists, investing in personalized workshops and potentially changing their co-op structure. Like agents, carriers lean on the risk averse side and don't want to try something new until it's proven. At the speed business is moving, that is way too slow. Stop waiting for proof or a formula that will say if agents invest X amount into A then they will see a return of Y. It's not going to happen. You have to be willing to open the doors of the unknown in order to let opportunity in.
You have a team of smart individuals, it's OK to try something new and take a risk.
Take a moment and reflect where you are in this. Are you resistant waiting to have the answer before stepping out, or are you willing to do your part to learn?
Now, on to how you agents can implement digital in their businesses.
Attend Specialized Workshops
The first way for agents (and carriers) to learn digital implementation is through specialized workshops. Now I'm not talking about these workshops where someone comes and lectures at you for 2 hours then you leave. I'm talking about a workshop where the attendees dive in with their own computers and build it themselves with the instructors help.
These workshops can be get started workshops, blogging workshops, email marketing, sales management, planning, etc... Any specific activity that agents want to implement could be done within a workshop.
A warning for those attending and organizing workshops. Standardizing workshops makes sense from a time management stand point and to cater to a large group of people but they are not nearly as effective as a customized workshop.
We personally, offer complete customized workshops because it was the only way we saw it would work.
Agents, if you want to learn something right away, then join a workshop. If your carriers or associations do not offer them, then put on the pressure to bring someone in.
But don't just wait another year until a workshop makes it your way, while you wait, invest in your agency.
Hire an Implementation Coach
If you want to implement a digital strategy but do not want to wait for your carriers or association to respond then hire a coach. And notice I did not say outsource your marketing. Hiring someone to do your marketing can get expensive and the results often stop when you decide to stop doing business with them.
Hiring a coach to train you on how to implement digital within your agency means that your agency will have continued success in implementing and in a more cost effective way long-term.
A coach can show you what to do, then give you the best way to go about doing it. What you learn will be ultra tailored to your agency which means you are getting the most bang for your buck. There is also a sense of accountability because there is no one to blame if a coach tells you to do something and you don't do it.
However, just like a personal trainer, if you hire them and choose to make the wrong choices, you will not have anything to show for it.
While coaches give you the most specialized and effective training they also come with a price tag to match. We have gotten carriers to pay our coaching fees for some clients but that is not always the case. This might be an option if your carriers are willing.
But if you want to go completely zero budget, there is one more way to learn to implement digital for your agency.
Implement Digital Yourself
Most of the agencies who are having success now, took the reigns themselves years ago and are now seeing the fruits of their labor. I think too many agents are afraid to try it by themselves because they think they will somehow look bad or are afraid to lose money.
In all honesty there is no better way to learn then trying it yourself because you are completely immersed in the process. When you begin this journey you are constantly researching, studying, trying new things, and with that comes scraped knees, but you walk away knowing.
With all of the information online, the stories you've heard, the conferences you've attended, and the people willing to talk if you reach out and ask, there is no reason why one can't learn to implement themselves.
Again, it is sometimes an ugly process, but many of the people we see as leaders in the industry jumped in, fell down and learned to implement in house.
(Here is a video that helps guides agents to get started and begin implementing)
Patience is the Name of the Game
There is so much at the forefront that it is creating chaos. AI, social media, video, Youtube as a community, blogging, email marketing, Google, Insuretech, and all the different digital tools and nuances. There is so much in front of us that it makes us feel as though we can never catch up and that we will never be able to implement everything.
What really is happening is that we are experiencing "choice overload." We are overwhelmed with all the potentials for our business that adapting seems impossible. When we see different agents with advanced strategies it seems as though we will never be able to compete. We need to ignore the noise and focus on our customers and potential customers' needs.
Here is what you need to do.
First, find the 1 thing (yes I said 1) that will have the most impact on your business and clients. Implement that. Then, 3 months, 6 months, or however long it takes to have fully and successfully implemented that, implement the next most impactful digital strategy for your business.
Then begin finding complimentary pieces that will continue this process. Next thing you know, 2 years from now you will be a well oiled machine, fully capable of meeting your clients' needs and expectations regardless of what others are doing.
But the key to all of this is patience.
Don't be overwhelmed. You have everything you need at the tip of your fingertips. You can do it! You're not alone. Let me know if you have any questions.