If you weren’t convinced your insurance agency needed to adopt digital practices pre-Covid, then I’m sure by now you’ve decided to dive in. Even if your insurance agency has adopted digital activities and technology there is still a question of what next.
There’s no denying that Covid shook things up. But if we are being honest, we know that the business landscape has been changing for quite some time. Consumer behaviors and expectations have been evolving and while it’s been slow, those who are not positioned well may not fare well in the future.
In order to survive, you will need to adapt. If you want to grow then you need to position your agency to see this growth. Today, we are going to discuss how your insurance agency can position itself for success in 2021.
(Need help planning your 2021 Strategy? A free strategy call can help point you in the right direction!)
Be Where the Consumers Are
Modern consumers want everything instantaneously and they expect it to be accessible wherever they are. Unfortunately, many insurance agencies are not positioned to accommodate the wants and needs of many consumers.
Today, consumers can have movies streamed directly to their TVs, groceries and food delivered to their door at the touch of a button, they can bank at any hour of the day in their undies but they have to take time off work to get in touch with their agent.
In order to do business effectively in 2021, we need to react to consumer’s needs when they are thinking about it. Even if that means being available at 8 pm on a Sunday.
There are two ways we can do this.
- Omni-channel Distribution
This is the process of communicating with consumers wherever and whenever they want to be communicated with. This is where your digital marketing strategies come into play.
- Can consumers find you on Google?
- Are you available on social media if they need to send a message?
- Can they ask a question on your website at 3 am?
- If they prefer the phone, is there an easy way to call you?
If you’re new to digital, omni-channel distribution may seem like an impossible feat, but it’s what the consumers expect and want.
- 24/7 Technology
Having digital technology in place provides convenience for the consumer but also helps you to create an omni-channel presence. With the use of modern technology, your agency can be available when and wherever consumers want to engage with you.
Here are examples of digital technology that allows your agency to be available 24/7:
- 24/7 client portals
- Mobile apps
- Automation and autoresponders
You may not want to answer phone calls at 9 pm on a Wed or 7 am on a Saturday but technology caters to consumers who need those types of business hours.
State Farm’s slogan is “like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.” They made this real by providing 24/7 customer support (remember Jake from State Farm?)
Most insurance agencies pride themselves on service. But when it comes to doing business most insurance agencies’ service is convenient for the agency but not the consumer. If you want to grow you need to be where consumers want you to be.
Understand the New Rules of Digital
Over the past decade, the digital landscape has been constantly evolving. Covid-19 hitting the world accelerated changes and forced businesses to adapt. This changed how consumers behave and how they interact with businesses.
Your agency may already have a digital presence, but just being on Facebook and having a website is not enough. You must understand the new rules of digital.
These aren’t exactly new rules coming on the scene in 2021, but rather where the digital marketplace has been leading businesses to over the past few years.
Have A Focused Approach
In the early years of digital, it was relatively easy to grow a digital presence and see results. When our insurance agency stepped into digital marketing in 2012, we didn’t know what to do so we took a shotgun approach. We created some blogs, a few videos, we tried different email campaigns, etc. And it worked! At least for a short while.
Fast forward to now. In order to succeed in this new digital landscape, you need to take a focused approach. Digital competition has grown, technology is everywhere, consumers have less trust for business than ever before. It’s not enough to be involved in digital marketing and sales, you need a focused approach to communicating with consumers.
Who do you want to reach, how are you going to reach them and with what message?
Send the Right Message to the Right Individual at the Right Time
With so much information and content coming across our brains every day, consumers have begun tuning out messaging that doesn’t appeal directly to them at that moment. Because of this, your emails, social posts and content are being missed.
It’s not enough to post on social media or send out a newsletter. You must get the right message to the right individual at the right time.
While it sounds impossible, it can be done with automation, segmentation, personalization and thoughtfully produced content focused on individual niches.
A major challenge I see in the insurance industry is the lack of strategy when it comes to digital adoption and positioning. There’s a lot of insurance agencies who have jumped into digital marketing and sales practices which is good, but they do so with no rhyme or reason. Like I mentioned before, just having a digital presence is no longer an adequate strategy.
How is the tool or process you want to implement going to make your phone ring? What’s the ROI of what you’re currently doing? It’s easy to spend a lot of time, energy and resources on digital processes but not see a return.
You need to understand why you are implementing certain tools or processes but also measure and readjust based on the results.
Determine What You Need to Succeed
Consumers want individualized messaging and want you to be available when and where they want you to be available. One way to do this is to staff your agency 24/7. A better way to do this is by putting tools and processes in place.
I would really love to give you a piece of content that highlights the exact tools and processes you need, but the truth is that it’s different for every business. Your insurance agency’s needs are going to be different than the peers you’ve known and grown with your entire career.
I can’t give you your exact needs through this blog, but I can give you the steps the discovering your needs.
Have the Vision
Where do you want to take your agency? What do you want your agency to become over the next several years?
Having a vision in place for what you want your agency to look like and how you want to be able to interact with consumers will help you discover the right tools and processes.
Once you have a vision you can start creating a plan of attack.
Create the Plan
Based on your vision, what goals do you want to accomplish? Reverse engineering your goals will enable you to clearly see what steps need you will need to take in order to accomplish them.
Also consider the roles of each team member and what they need to contribute in order for the plan to work.
Your plan should include the strategies, tactics, and responsibilities required for achieving the vision.
Find the Appropriate tools
Once you have a vision established and a plan to achieve it, then you can identify what tools are necessary for the job. Think about what tools are required for you and your team to carry out the plan and think about the tools necessary to measure your progress.
Warning! Don’t get sucked into what other people are doing. Have the vision, plan, and then put tools in place.
Get Acquainted with the New Age of Sales
We can’t discuss a changing business landscape and not address sales. Insurance agencies are sales organizations after all.
In the digital age, buyers have a lowered trust of salespeople and if/when they want to speak with sales it is on their terms. So how can your sales organization continue to sell while catering to this new generation of buyers?
Understand the new roles of sales and marketing
Where marketing and sales were once siloed departments are now becoming blended. With the availability of information and digital transparency, consumers are more dependent on marketing for buying decisions than sales. This means that marketing has taken on a bigger piece of the demand generation and sales has become more consultative in nature.
Sales and marketing both have a role in starting the conversation with prospects. Think of 1) demand generation from a marketing standpoint and 2) prospecting from a sales stand point. However, in both cases, marketing is often needed to help move the conversation along. Whether it’s a marketing-generated lead or a sales generated one, marketing content and messaging is often required to aide the buyer in their decision. It’s only once the buyer understands their needs and wants to take the next step does sales fully take over.
Integrate marketing into the sales process
Buyers want a consistent experience. This means sales and marketing need to have integrated roles and a unified message. It also means that the lines between marketing and sales will be blurred when it comes to the customer experience.
We must think in terms of both the sales funnel and the sales journey. The sales funnel is the different stages a prospect will go through (stranger, prospect, lead, opportunity, client, etc.) and is clearly defined. While the sales journey, on the other hand, is how a prospect moves through the funnel and is much more nuanced.
This means that sales must integrate marketing into their sales process to effectively move prospects through the funnel.
Standardize procedures and communications
Insurance agencies need to keep score. There should be agreed upon standardized procedures, communications and workflows.
Thinks such as:
- Callback and follow up time
- Handoff procedure from marketing to sales
- Agreed upon qualified lead status
- Lead nurturing and follow up procedures
Understanding buyer behaviors and standardizing procedures allow your agency to keep the ball rolling and avoids missing opportunities. It also keeps both departments accountable to each other and accountable to the needs of the agency.
Realistic Habits to Adopt in 2021
There are two things to think about when we think about 2021. Where is the marketplace going and how can we cater to new buying behaviors? Also, think about how to connect with consumers in the and post Covid-19 era.
This could mean a lot of things to you, but one thing it means is that you may need to develop new digital habits. Here are the new habits you should look to adapt.
There will be a pendulum swing where people want to hug, but then we are going to stick with the digital habits we’ve picked up over the past several months.
This includes video conferencing, digital meetups, instant access to content, and of course doing business digitally.
Make it easy for people to meet with you
Do Something Different or Creative
Marketing has taught us a lot about human psychology. Billboards were great but then people started ignoring them. Banner ads were popular early on, on websites but then people developed banner blindness. Social media ads worked wonderfully but even with studies and improvements, people clicked less and less on digital ads.
However, when you do something different and creative it immediately snags the attention of consumers. Attention, after all, is what marketers are battling for in this modern digital society.
Create Experiences that are Both Physical and Virtual
The digital world has become a reality for most of us. For many of us, our virtual and physical worlds have become blended. This may not be as intuitive as a virtual clothing store but it’s the idea of meeting all the needs of a client.
The best way to close a client is in their living room across the table over a cup of coffee. But with challenges like Covid, it’s not possible. Or is it?
We’ve attended luncheon demos where our host bought everyone lunch but provided a virtual demo. I’ve also had my monthly Beer Club with friends over Zoom.
Think of ways to bring both of these worlds together. It may be a lunch and learn over zoom or it may be a physical world marketing tactic (such as direct mail) that connects their virtual world (such as a virtual tour).
Engage and Educate with Content
This was, is and always will be a winning strategy for doing business. The form in which it takes however may look different. Content will still be king in educating and engaging buyers moving forward.
If you’re not already, your agency needs to create content that is important to your buyers. This needs to be done in blog form as well as video form.
I know many insurance agents do not like the thought of creating content because it takes too much time or it takes away from their daily normal activities. But the truth is, content gets us back to our initial roots of being a trusted advisor.
Want to succeed in 2021 and beyond? Become a trusted advisor in your chosen vertical. Want to become a trusted advisor in your vertical? Create content around topics that are important to that audience.
Planning Your 2021 Strategy
We covered many different areas of what you should focus on moving forward.
- Understanding your buyers and creating the right messaging
- Creating an omni-channel distribution strategy
- Adapting the right digital practices, tools and technology
- Evolving your sales strategy
- Positioning your agency with the new rules of digital
I know. It’s a lot to take in, especially if you’re standing at the starting line. But this is not a big project you do all at once and then you’re done. Instead, you are working towards developing new practices.
Positioning your agency doesn’t start with a new purchase it starts with a plan. And here are the steps to creating your plan.
- Start at the 10,000 ft. view and reverse engineer your goals.
- Identify your mission vision and value statements
- What’s your purpose and goals?
- Who is going to help us achieve these goals?
- Validate the goals. Don’t just say grow 10% – how are you going to grow 10%?
- Identify your ideal client
- What are the tactics, strategies and tools you need to reach your ideal client?
- What’s the action plan to put your plan into motion?
Positioning your insurance agency to see success in this modern digital world may not happen overnight but it is something you can start today.