June 19, 2014
June 19, 2014
I have said many times: consumer-buying habits are changing dramatically — both for individual consumers and business consumers.
A larger percent than ever of individuals are starting their purchasing research online. And if you’re not findable online you are invisible to a growing segment of the buying public.
This is why I believe that every producer in an insurance agency needs to have their own branded website.
I understand that most producers have relied on the agency to create the agency website and enhance the agency’s Internet presence. And that’s worked fine for the last 10 years. But consumers continue to change and if producers want to continue to be successful they need to begin working on mastering their own Internet presence.
Producers can no longer rely solely on the agency to market the products and services they offer. Producers need to work on their own personal brand in their own personal marketing so they are visible to the prospects and clients they want to do business with.
People buy from people they know, like, and trust.
The best way to help people know who you are, begin to like you, and learn to trust you with their financial resources and future is to demonstrate your expertise online. And one of the primary ways to do that is by creating a personal website.
Your website may be the most intimate way you touch your reader or sales prospect. It is also the platform best suited to educate prospects on why you are the authority on insurance protection and the person they should work with.
In a recent presentation I was talking about the advantages of creating a virtual agency. I gave a couple of examples of successful agencies that have no physical office. During the break, a participant approached me and asked if I would be willing to share contact information for these agents. I did give him the contact information.
I found out later that the participant did try to contact one of the agents. The agent in my example sent me an email asking me about this particular person and where I had seen him. He could not find any information online about this particular agent. It caused him to question whether he should respond to the email or not.
This is one simple example of the negative consequences of not showing up online. I am absolutely convinced that prospects search for information about you online before they ever agree to allow you to take up their time by setting an appointment.
Creating your own personal branded website is easier than you think. Begin now to take those steps to create the website and then add articles and information that show your expertise.
In today’s world, technology is making everything easier, more efficient, and less expensive. Unfortunately, one area where technology efficiency has not impacted the insurance industry is in the active use of electronic signatures. This is unfortunate, as significant productivity gains and expense reductions can be achieved by the widespread use of electronic signatures for most insurance transactions.
While many agencies have heard of electronic signatures, many questions still remain. Is a digital signature truly legal? Will it hold up in court? Are cloud-based digital signatures secure? What choices do I have for e-signing documents?
Effectively managing group benefits is a problem for many agencies. Now there is a new kind of agency management system that is specifically designed for the group insurance vertical and is built entirely on the Salesforce.com platform. The application is listed on the SalesforceAppExchange platform, and is called BenefitsGuide. Highlights include:
It follows logically that brokers who use BenefitsGuide are able to:
Sometimes you have to break things. Shake it up. Bust it up. ‘Cause that’s where the breakthroughs live.
–Randy Gage, author, Risky is the New Safe
Over the past few years it has been intriguing to watch the decline of well-known brands and companies: Blockbuster, Nokia, BlackBerry, Best Buy, Borders, and Kodak. These are just a few names of companies that are filing for bankruptcy or experiencing significant declines in revenue and/or market share.
One lesson that can be drawn from how these companies handled change is that there is a significant danger faced by dominant firms that refuse to cannibalize themselves—to give up existing sales in order to position themselves with the next generation of products and services. Kodak invented the digital camera yet was unable to cannibalize the profits from its film business to invest in new digital technology. Management reluctance ultimately led to Kodak’s demise.
Giving up what’s making you money sounds much easier in theory than it is to execute. To paraphrase author Steven Pearlstein, “The key to success in such a fast-changing environment…[is] keeping a mind open to numerous possibilities, having the discipline to experiment with several conflicting strategies and moving quickly to embrace one of them when the direction of the market becomes clear.”
Perhaps the best way to handle this dilemma is to devote a certain percentage of your time to developing what’s new, be it mobile delivery, a new product, or new audience.
Randy Gage, in Risky is the New Safe, provides five marketing lessons for entrepreneurs who may not want to play it safe. They also apply to the insurance industry:
Gage titles one chapter in his book, “Move Fast and Break Things.” That was the mantra of Mark Zuckerberg and the Facebook family, he says. The insurance industry tends to not want to break anything! This is a new skill many of us might have to learn.
A more realistic mantra might be to “Move Fast and Try Not to Break Everything.” And: “Keep an Open Mind.”
The reason these businesses don’t change fast enough is because what they do is still working.
–Alan Wurtzel, former CEO of Circuit City, and author of Good to Great to Gone.