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How to Be the Agent of Record in Your Community

By Kelly Donahue-Piro

We hear all the time, “The local agent is under attack!” It’s almost like the zombie apocalypse has hit the Independent Insurance space. I’m not sure if we should all run for cover, convert our savings to gold or build a bunker. What I do know is there is one way to fight off an attack and that’s to be prepared to fight hand to hand.

Now, your agency may not have the marketing budget of a direct writer (but it would be nice, wouldn’t it?) or even the budget of some of your larger competitors. The best way to fight zombies is the best way to win your community; that’s good old fashioned hand to hand combat. It takes a lot of energy, strength and power, but if Will Smith can defeat aliens to give us Independence Day, I think we can still win market share even when our competition has a billion dollar marketing budget.

We have five steps to becoming the “go to” agent in your community, but stop reading right now if hard work isn’t your thing. You have to replace money with energy, TV commercials with networking, and cute spokespeople with the best insurance team on the planet. If hard work isn’t for you, we understand, but if you are looking to crush your goals (and world domination is a goal) keep reading.

Step 1: Clearly Identify, to the Smallest Detail, Who You Want to Attract

We all want people who pay their bills, right? Well, this is much more defined. When we work as an outsourced Chief Marketing Officer for agencies, we always start with outlining who our target is. It’s very difficult to achieve great revenue-generating marketing without being specific.

We start by working on a persona guide for the agency. This helps us get a clear picture of your best clients. It includes average salary/revenue, what their day is like, what’s important to them, education level and more. When we have a clear picture of who, we can then align the marketing to tell them why they should consider you!

We have an example of the personas we did for Paradiso Insurance as well as a blank template for your agency. You can download them by going to: www.agencyperformancepartners.com/2016-PIA-Agency-Marketing-Guide

Step 2: Clearly Identify Why You Are the Best Agency for Them

Long gone are the days of marketing based on number of years in business, great service and price. Today you need to be special. People still want to buy from people they like, so your main objective is to be likeable. More importantly, people want to know that you are their person and that you will take excellent care of them. So, for example, if you love writing families in a 15 mile radius of your office you should have the following:

●     Scholarship programs — college is on every family's mind.

●     Extended hours/weekend hours — it’s hard to speak to your agent when they only work when you do.

●     Teen Driving Guides.

●     A children’s play area.

●     Coloring books to teach kids about safety.

●     Pictures of your family on your website and in the office.

Little things can go a long way. Your main goal is to know your target and then explain why you can be the best for them, specifically.

Step 3: Build Your Brand

Explaining what a brand is can be a challenge. It’s like explaining love, unless you have been in it you can’t really clearly describe it. However, we describe brands as taking visual and written elements to clearly tell your target audience why you are for them. Brands help build morale, give the entire team something to be proud of and, quite frankly, make it so much easier to market your agency for the future.

We recommend working with a branding company that understands insurance. Many great branding companies can help you put together a branding guide with tag lines, colors, texture, tone and imagery. If you have never seen one, feel free to download a few samples from Paradiso Insurance and Holley Insurance from our website: www.agencyperformancepartners.com/branding-guide

Step 4: Get Your Team on Point

Now that you have a great brand, the next steps are to have your people live it out. This is your time to build processes and procedures that compliment your target market. Many agencies have procedure manuals, but we really need a customer experience guide. This includes how you answer the phone, thank you notes being sent, triggers to suggest other projects, automated emails and more. This is the top to bottom playbook for your agency’s success.

Now we need to include getting your team on point with training, routinely and religiously. You should be role playing and creating scenarios that challenge the team to respond how you want them to. Your brand cannot simply live on paper, it must be fully executed by your people.

Step 5: Go Tell People

Once your team and your brand is ready for prime time, you need an actual marketing strategy that says what you will do and how much to spend to attract the right people. Generally, marketing strategies should include traditional and modern techniques. Ultimately you need to layer on the approach to attract the right targets. One post card isn’t enough. You need multiple touch points today. Your office team needs to be out in the community generating buzz and bringing back contacts for the marketing strategy to nurture.

Fighting on the local side is critical, there is so much you can control to become the agent in your community. You need a clear tactical plan to help take your business to the next level. Please download our resources, it will help give you the starting point you need!

Kelly Donahue-Piro, founder and president of Agency Performance Partners, is a no-nonsense effectiveness expert who has helped hundreds of insurance agencies identify and capitalize on sustainable improvement opportunities. Her specialties include agency culture assessment and change; management and supervisory coaching and benchmarking; customer retention strategy development; digital marketing strategy, planning and implementation; and sales planning, management and skill-building.

Over the past several years, Kelly has worked with small businesses across the country to build and implement successful programs to boost revenues, profits and efficiency.  In 2014, she created Agency Performance Partners with a mission to “partner with insurance entrepreneurs who dream to take their business to the next level and beyond, by relentlessly pursuing excellence in world-class service and sales strategies.”