Several years ago when I moved my agency out of our downtown location, I took the opportunity to go through the boxes and boxes of agency records that had been relegated to the basement. One of the gems I found was a letter written by my grandfather to a carrier, relaying a question from a policyholder.
I looked at the dates on the correspondence and marveled at the patience clients had in that day. The time between when my grandfather’s letter was sent and when the response was received was two weeks. The client was happy to wait that long for his answer. There was no long-distance calling, no email, and certainly no Google!
Today, our clients expect answers right away. Agencies that aren’t responsive don’t survive.
It’s the same with our marketing. Where — and how we market our agencies is changing with lightning speed.
In the past, we’d meet with the yellow pages representative, choose our ad size, approve the ad layout, and then be done with it until the next year.
Print, television, and radio ads took a significant amount of effort and expense. If done at all, they were done once, and used over and over.
Compare that to the dynamic marketing we have with online media now.
Not too long ago, online marketing meant banner ads or other static ads on a website. Every visitor to a website saw the same thing.
Now, many of the ads you see are customized based on your past search history, demographic data, and your location.
The ads are more targeted to your interests and needs… or at least your past searches.
Have you ever visited a website and then seen the ads for that site on nearly every other website you visit? The website used a “pixel” to identify you, and then used a process known as retargeting to follow you around the Internet, urging you to click on their ad.
It may sound a bit creepy, but it’s the most effective method of online marketing today.
Google search results are dynamic too. Google’s ever-changing search algorithm looks at how recently a site has been updated, favoring those that have new content.
If you’re not posting fresh, high-quality content, you’ll see your site drop lower and lower in the search results while your competitors, who are updating their sites, will rise in the rankings.
Recently, Google also started penalizing websites that weren’t mobile-responsive. Even if your prospect is searching for you on a desktop computer, you’ll fall lower in the search results if your site isn’t easily viewed on a mobile device.
And while it’s still important to use the keywords and key phrases your prospects use in their online search, SEO (search engine optimization) is much, more than just keywords now. Ignore the changes and you’ll be left behind.
As recently as a month ago, if you did a Google search you’d see paid ads on the right side of the page. Now? Gone. Overnight, the online ad game has changed too.
When Facebook first came on the scene, it was dismissed by many businesses as a waste of time — somewhere to post pictures of your cat or your dinner. A few early adopters saw the potential and started using it as a marketing tool.
Then almost overnight, Facebook developed a method to very precisely target your ideal prospects. Facebook ads soon displaced posts as the most effective method of lead generation. Meanwhile, dozens more social media platforms sprung up, each with unique marketing tactics.
Today, Facebook Live, Periscope, and other platforms allow you to interact in real-time video with your prospects and clients. What’s next?
If it sometimes feels like the world is moving at a much faster pace — it is. We’re not just seeing new media platforms; the way the platforms themselves are being used is constantly in flux.
Marketing is no longer static. You can’t just set it and forget it. It must become part of your daily activities.
While marketing your agency in today’s world may be more involved, the leverage is much, much greater. We now have the ability to precisely target our very best prospects, and nurture the relationship until they are ready to buy from us.
That’s the one thing that hasn’t changed — at the end of the day, it’s all about building relationships. And isn’t that worth your time?
Don’t miss Charlotte’s webinar, “3 Effective Agency Sales Funnels,” on June 22nd – part of the Know & Grow webinar series. Click here to register now.
Charlotte Hicks Crockett, CPA CIC AAI ARM
Charlotte is a third-generation insurance professional. She was the principal in Glasgow Hicks Company, now Aquesta Insurance Services, in Wilmington, North Carolina. Charlotte is the co-author of A Business Success Journal – Straight Talk by Real People and author of the upcoming book, The Nowpreneur Manifesto.
She currently serves on the Board of the North Carolina Insurance Underwriting Association and is a Past-President of IIANC. She has also served as the Secretary/Treasurer of the NC Surplus Lines association, Secretary/Treasurer of the Upper Delaware Captive Insurance Company and on many industry and nonprofit committees and task forces.
Charlotte is the founder of Nowpreneur, which gives entrepreneurs who are frustrated with outdated, time-consuming, and costly prospecting methods, customized marketing strategies that deliver a steady stream of high-quality prospects to their businesses. Charlotte has worked with clients all over North America and as far away as South Africa, Slovenia, and Russia. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.