The Agency Management institute emphasizes value added, relevant and practical topics for all agency owners and managers, producers, CSRs, and company personnel. This institute blends marketing and financial issues, and more agency management “tools” to enhance the daily work and experiences in insurance agencies. Whether you are a manager or have a manager, you’ll benefit from the practical information this program delivers.

Take advantage of the Agency Management experience to become more productive, increase sales, and reduce E&O.

Date: December 3, 2014
Event: CIC Agency Management Institute
Sponsor: The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research
Venue: TBA
Location: Richmond, VA
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.

Connected Cars

Chevrolet, AT&T and OnStar have come together to develop the connected car. Using the AT&T LTE network, the new service will feature a collection of apps focused on music, weather, news, and vehicle telematics. The OnStar 4G LTE service will also feature a Wi-Fi access point built into the car with support for up to seven devices.

The connected car

One of the interesting apps is the vehicle health app which shows any issues with your car from “oil health” to tire pressures. The app can translate the “Check Engine” light and error codes into something that you can actually understand. The Chevrolet AppShop will initially be offered in its Canadian and U.S. MyLink-equipped 2015 model year Corvette, Impala, Equinox, Volt, Malibu, Silverado and Silverado HD.

Connected cars offer us a picture of what the future might look like as vehicle technology continues to improve the driving experience as well as increasing safety.

Photo: Broadcom

Steve helps facilitate this invitation only meeting of some of the largest insurance agencies in the US.

Date: November 10, 2014—November 11, 2014
Event: Large Agents Roundtable Meeting
Location: Kansas City, MO
Public: Private

As small business enterprises grow in number, so do the opportunities for insurance organizations. Attending this seminar will help you stay current and profitable in the rapidly expanding market of small commercial to middle market accounts.

Date: October 7, 2014
Event: CIC Small & Middle Market
Sponsor: The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research
Venue: Westin Atlanta North
770-395-3900
Location: Seven Concourse Parkway
Atlanta, GA 30328
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.

Creating Marketing Systems

Every agency should be seeking ways to manage the marketing and sales activities within their organization. Following are some of my thoughts about what makes up a full prospect and client experience management system. These are some of the components that I see as necessary to adequately manage marketing activities for both new business and existing clients.

Customer experience management

Prospect Database: This is the basic level of contact and activity information on prospects. It is the first place to start and most agency management systems do an adequate job of allowing you to maintain this information.

Campaign Management: Campaigns allow you to create an automatic process that will put the producer’s name in front of a prospect consistently over time. Most prospects are not ready to buy on their first contact with your agency. This is not a new concept. As I was developing a new book of business in the early 90s, I used a campaign management process to mail a letter (it was the 90s!) every month or so to my prospects so I could stay in touch. I wrote a lot of business because I was slowly building trust and a relationship.

Marketing Automation: This is a broad term that identifies the ability for an agency to create a process that will gain a prospect’s attention, capture their information, and automatically follow up with the information they requested. Whenever you fill out a form on a website with your contact information so that you can receive information, you are participating in a marketing automation process. This type of marketing system will help fix the biggest marketing problem I see in agencies—follow-up failure. Follow-up failure is the reason most agency owners think Internet-generated leads don’t work.

Opportunity Management: Every agency sales manager should be able to tell, at any point during the year, if a producer is on track to make their production goals. Also known as pipeline management, information is gathered (by a producer or someone else) on the status of existing prospects, how likely they are to become a client, and the amount of revenue generated. This information allows everyone to know if a producer has enough prospects in the pipeline to achieve their production goals.

There are many different marketing platforms that agencies are using to try and help manage their prospecting and client account rounding process.

There is no agency management system that I am aware of that manages these steps well. This has been a frustration of mine for years. And, it’s unrealistic to expect your agency will have the marketing functionality you need in those systems unless the vendors provide an open and well-documented API (Application Programming Interface).

Vendors hold your data hostage. You should be able to “plug in” any third-party platform you think will work best. Salesforce.com is good example of what will happen when a company opens up their platform to any third-party developer at no cost.

Finding ways to effectively manage all aspects of the marketing and sales process—for both prospects and current clients—is a key to the long-term health of every agency.

How do you handle your marketing/sales process?

Smart Police Cars on Their Way?

The New York City Police Department has been testing a prototype “smart car,” outfitted with the latest gadgets in public safety. For example, it has two infrared monitors mounted on the trunk to record any numbers it sees — such as license plates and addresses. It has surveillance cameras and air sensors capable of sending real-time information to police headquarters.

New York City police smartcar

The smart car prototype has been on the road for about a year. When the scanner reads license plates it can then check the results against a database that contains the plate numbers of cars that are stolen, may have been involved in a crime, or have outstanding violations. A detector attached to the rear windshield can scan the air for increased radiation levels and send the results back to a command center.

No decision has been reached on when the cars will become available on a widespread basis.

Photo: The Wall Street Journal

Graduate Seminars feature a variety of topic selections along with real-life applications for the material. Use what you learn here to explain to your clients the presence of specified risks and the most effective methods for remedying them.

Date: September 16, 2014
Event: CIC Graduate Seminar
Sponsor: The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research
Venue: The Marten House Hotel
317-872-4111
Location: 1801 West 86th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46260
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.

The Polaroid Camera Makes a Comeback

I remember the days when you could use a Polaroid camera to take a picture and watch as the image developed. While those cameras are no longer available, the company recently announced its Polaroid Socialmatic Camera.

Polaroid SocialMatic Camera

According to the company, “Polaroid was the original social network: allowing people to instantly capture, print, and share life’s moments in a way that has never been possible before.” The camera will have a 14 megapixel front-facing camera and a two megapixel rear-facing camera. It will run on the Android operating system. With built-in wifi, it will be able to upload photos to the customer’s social networks. It is also Bluetooth enabled so it can send photos to a smartphone. In addition, the camera will also be able to print 2-inch by 3-inch sticker-backed photos.

It is expected to be available this fall.