Wow, sure didn’t see that one coming.
I mean, we knew 2020 would have the usual challenges… plus all the extra stress of an election year.
But the government shutting down businesses? People forbidden to gather in person? Even the business ritual of a friendly handshake being shunned as toxic?
Not on the radar.
Turns out InsurTech wasn’t the biggest disrupter to the insurance industry in 2020 — a global pandemic was.
Agencies started working remotely. So did customers and prospects. Trade shows, conferences, business mixers… all were either cancelled or held online.
Face-to-face interactions become rare… and behind a mask more often than not.
Overnight, the primary tactic used by insurance agencies to get leads and customers was shut down. Producers were relegated to phone calls or video chats.
What we hoped was temporary dragged on… and on… and on. Even when things started opening back up, many prospects were nervous about non-essential face-to-face meetings.
And as the pandemic continues… so does the risk of slow — or no — organic growth. Every day brings news of more businesses closing, especially in market segments most impacted by government shut-down orders.
So what’s the answer? What do you need to do to ensure your agency survives and thrives in the next year?
First, let’s look at the three mistakes agency owners are making as they try to generate new business in the current economy.
Mistake #1 — Doubling Down on Producers
The temptation is to double-down on old tactics. After all, it worked for years. If producers would just make more calls, see who they can, push for more referrals, everything will be okay.
Except that it won’t.
Old paths don’t lead to new opportunities.
The events of 2020 have fundamentally changed how we do business. Especially those businesses that depend on face-to-face sales to get new customers.
I know what you’re thinking, “But insurance is a relationship business! We have to build relationships in order to sell our services.”
Insurance is a relationship business. And the most cost-effective way to build relationships now is online.
Which leads me to…
Mistake #2 — Throw More Money at SEO/Video/Social Media/Ads
But wait… didn’t I just say you should be building relationships online?
But the key phrase is “building relationships”.
There are a ton of online tactics and they all can work — when used at the proper time in the proper way.
Throwing more money at online tactics without a solid strategy won’t help you build relationships, get more leads, or get more customers. In fact, those tactics could be driving prospects away instead of building a relationship of trust.
Tactic-focused marketing will help you spend more money. And that’s not our goal!
Mistake #3 — Do Nothing
Hope alone isn’t an effective strategy.
Things aren’t going to go back to the way they were before the pandemic. You can’t just wait this out, thinking things will get back to “normal” soon.
Truthfully, they were already changing before the pandemic and agencies who recognized this had a big advantage going into 2020.
Those agencies saw organic growth during the pandemic. What did those agencies know that gave them the edge?
Let’s dive in and see…
Digital Marketing is Now Primary
The pandemic shifted team meetings, conferences, and schools to online platforms.
Millions of employees transitioned from working in an office to working online from home.
Zoom became more valuable than Exxon Mobil.
An analysis done by McKinsey & Company reported that e-commerce in the US experienced 10 years of growth in just 3 months.
Bottom line, you must be able to reach your prospects and customers online.
But it’s not enough to just be online…
It’s Still All About Relationships
You wouldn’t walk up to a stranger and ask them to buy insurance from you before you’ve even given them your name. That’s like talking about what you’re going to name your kids on the first date. Creepy!
No, normal conversations begin by introducing yourself and finding out a bit about each other. Once you’ve established understanding and trust, you then have the opportunity to present your offer.
Trust might also be established because your prospect saw a speech you gave, read an article you wrote, or heard about you from a friend.
What’s the most effective way to show them your authority now? Online videos, blogs, articles, posts, and recommendations.
While nothing replaces face to face interaction, one advantage an online presence gives you is the ability to reach more people in less time.
It also lasts longer — prospects can find your blogs, videos, and social media posts as long as you leave them online.
The Key to Building Strong Relationships with Buyers
Whether you’re building a relationship with a potential buyer online or in person, there’s a universal truth — if you don’t follow the same steps as any normal human relationship, you fail to build enough trust for a lasting relationship.
In his book Intimate Behaviour, Desmond Morris outlines the stages of intimacy when developing a normal human relationship. One of the most interesting findings was that while it may be possible to skip one stage without damaging the relationship, skipping two stages was considered assault!
So what does this have to do with business relationships?
Turns out, everyone we do business with is a human. And humans want to be treated as, well… humans.
You’ve probably had the experience of dealing with a high-pressure salesperson. There was no question that their only goal was to make the sale. What you wanted or needed didn’t matter — only that they got your money.
Sure, even obnoxious salespeople make the sale sometimes. But they never establish a relationship of trust that’s the foundation of customer loyalty.
We can do better.
You see, it’s not about the number of “touches”. If it was, you’d have bought that extended warranty for your car by now.
It’s about the right interactions at the right time in your prospect’s buying journey. The message at each stage is different because the relationship at every stage is different.
Think about your best customer. Would you walk up to them and introduce yourself as if you’d never met? Of course not! Once you’ve established a relationship, your interactions are different.
When you develop the relationship appropriately, the sales conversation becomes more natural. You’re not trying to drag them into the sale. Instead, buying becomes the next logical step for them.
Making Your Marketing and Advertising Dollars Count
Once you’ve defined your customer’s journey, you can match your marketing and sales tactics to the stage where they have the most impact. You won’t be wasting money by saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Or even the right thing at the wrong time!
The final piece of your marketing system is to measure the key indicators at each stage of the customer journey so you know what’s working and what needs improvement.
Good key indicators are more than just knowing your number of leads, proposals, and sales. They give you insight into each interaction with a prospect or customer. And they let you know where there are bottlenecks or roadblocks that inhibit sales.
Organic Growth in Any Economy
When your marketing strategy has all three elements: a documented customer journey, properly positioned tactics, and the right analytics, you’re positioned for predictable, profitable growth with integrity.
“The wind and the waves are always on the side of the ablest navigator.” – Edmund Gibbon