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Agent to Agent: A New-fashioned Old Agency

George Nordhaus 2014 Cropped 166x200.jpgBy George Nordhaus

One hundred and one years ago, in Concord, Massachusetts, an independent insurance agency was founded. It took the name Appleby & Wyman.

Today, the agency, headquartered in Beverly, Massachusetts, still has the same name despite having acquired a number of other agencies over those years, having changed ownership and management as many times as would be suspected and serving over 10,000 clients from its two offices (the other is located in Westford, Massachusetts).

The moving force in these last three decades has been A. Carmen Marciano. In 2007, Carmen, with the help of his two daughters, Lisa Marciano and Christine Sciola, decided the firm was going to jump into the rapidly changing communications and technology fray, and create a marketing program that immediately became a model for any agency management who wanted to survive and excel in this wild marketplace.

The First Step: An Interactive Website

Appleby & Wyman made the decision to involve everyone in the agency who was in any way involved in sales and marketing to participate in the planning and execution of its new aggressive marketing activities.

A review of the Appleby & Wyman website illustrates a few of their marketing moves.

ApplebyAndWymanWebsiteScreenshot.jpgI interviewed the sisters, Lisa and Christine, and following each were their comments about various features of their website: In demonstrating their site, the sisters said, “We not only use our website as the cornerstone of our marketing efforts, but we also employ multi-media to communicate our message to our clients and prospects.” Here are some of their comments about various aspects of their website:

Voice-over Introduction to the Site: A professional actor doing a voice-over introduction to our website and to the succeeding sections sets the scene for each, and it is unusual enough to get compliments from our website visitors.

Live Chat Line: Works best for personal lines and small commercial. We get about 15 questions a month….and after the communications we get an email with the comments. We attach that to the client’s account in our agency management system.

Schedule an Insurance Review: Just another way of requesting a review of their current program…a bit more subtle approach than “Request a Quote.”

Quote Requests: We get a decent amount of quote requests….and we do track those on which we close…or not.

Client Resources: Some people want do things online, some don’t. We just want to give them the option. We also link them to certain insurers we represent.

Claims Assistance: Our “how-to” on this section is helpful. But we also connect our clients directly with their insurer for use on weekends, nights, whenever we are closed. It lets the carriers get on the claim that much faster.

About Us: Among other information, we have an employment opportunities section listing various openings (there are six positions on it now). We are always looking for great additions to our 40-person staff...but we also think it helps our image to know that our visitors are seeing that we are aggressively growing to better serve them.

Overall, we have had great experience with our website… and we are constantly updating it.

Appleby And Wyman Blowfish Screenshot .jpg

The Growing A-W Advertising Program

The agency holds a monthly marketing meeting, attended by a varying number of staff members, including any who are running their increasing number of “niche” selling campaigns.

One unique tool that A-W salespeople use is a personalized PowerPoint presentation. It can be emailed to prospects, used as an IPad presentation, and for new prospects it is used on-site as an introductory tool.

The agency runs a variety of printed ads in local newspapers and other hard-copy advertising opportunities.

Here is an ad featuring their brother, David, who is on the “Wicked Tuna” TV show. Local people love to see their neighbor as the star, and the sisters say they get lots of comment on these ads.

One of the reasons they can advertise so extensively is that they are utilizing every opportunity to take advantage of insurer co-op advertising dollars. “It’s free dollars and it doubles what we can spend,” say the sisters.

Conclusion

When asked to describe their advertising and marketing goals, the sisters replied:

“We are constantly looking for ways to promote our brand, our agency, and our producers. To further that goal we work with AgenciesOnline who helps us create cross-sell, account rounding, risk management and market specific programs.

We find that mixing the distribution of our messaging not only provides awareness of the Appleby & Wyman Agency, but also has resulted in growing our agency production across multiple channels.

If we had to conclude with just one major goal that is being accomplished it would be that we are building lasting relationships…and in that we feel that we are, happily, succeeding.

We’ve gone a long way since 1903…but there is no end in sight.”

George Nordhaus is chairman of AgenciesOnline. For many years he has been considered one of the leading professionals in insurance agency marketing. He is a former EVP of two agents’ associations, creator of Insurance Marketing and Management Services, author of eight books on marketing, and is the host of “Monday Morning”, a weekly-recorded miniwebinar. Mr. Nordhaus has earned numerous awards and honors from a wide array of insurance bodies and was inducted into the Tennessee Insurance Hall of Fame. He and his firm, AgenciesOnline, work as providers of complete marketing systems for agencies. AgenciesOnline can be found online at www.agenciesonline.biz.