Mar 18, 2020
EP 44 - Things are changing rapidly with the coronavirus, so as business owners, it's time to pivot. It’s time to focus on your business even though everything around you might seem a little crazy.
If you have been in the insurance industry for awhile, this is not the first time we’ve hit a rough patch. While this one might be more severe, we’ve had situations in the past that have had a big impact on business.
In the 70’s we had the oil crisis when gas was rationed. We could only purchase gas on odd and even days, depending on how your tag ended. We didn’t have the internet then, so if you were in sales, you couldn’t really go see people if you ran out of gas. It could have become an excuse to not sell if you didn’t plan accordingly.
In the early 2000’s we had .com bubble, the 9/11 attacks and around 2007/2008 we had the subprime mortgage crisis.
All of these recessions impacted business.
While not every business survived, most people bounced back. If they didn’t stay in their current profession, they found another.
Those that thrived, invested in marketing. They didn’t panic; they didn’t go into wait to see what would happen mode, they took charge and put their name out there.
What is happening today with Coronaviris is unpresented, yet, we will all bounce back. Business will continue, particularly the insurance business.
As insurance professionals, we are needed more now than ever.
As business owners, now is the time to focus on your business.
I’ve done a few episodes on marketing, but today, more than ever, it’s essential that you ramp up your marketing efforts. This is what will separate the winners from the losers.
If you listen to the news too much, it can paralyze you. Minimize the amount of time you spend on social media. I’m a big music person, so my solution is to crank up the music and dance like nobody is watching!
I’m not saying ignore the news because it is changing so rapidly, we need to stay on top, But you can listen for 30-60 minutes and know everything you need to know for the day. Or you can go to your favorite news publication and read 2-3 articles and be well informed.
I’m a believer that you want to first start with the business that you currently have.
No matter how many clients you have, pick up the phone and call them. Start from the back of the alphabet! Divide the alphabet between different staff members. Set a goal for how many calls a day you want made, and when you want all of the calls completed. In my opinion, the sooner the better.
You might get some push back about what to say. Start with, Hi!, we are here and wanted to make sure you are ok. If you need us, give us a call.
Sure, you can send an email, but it’s not as personal. They will remember you for calling and checking in on them.
Depending on how long this goes on, you might need to make the calls 2-3 times.
In business it costs more to onboard a new customer than it does to keep an old one. That is why I recommend focusing on the current customers first.
As you talk with them, you’ll get different concerns and then as a company you might find a way to address them. Some of the concerns or questions that are asked could be used for marketing pieces in some of the examples I’ll be suggesting in a few minutes.
So have a system to track the calls that have been made and the feedback, concerns, questions that are asked. Then do a recap with your staff. If it is just you, do your own analysis!
I believe in the next 10 days, you should be ramping up one or more marketing campaigns. I would suggest a 3 prong approach at first because this is not the time to sit back and wait.
I’m going to provide some suggestions that aren’t super expensive to implement. Other than time, it doesn’t cost anything to call people.
Virtual Education Sessions
Personal lines could do sessions on proper nutrition. Partner with a nutritionist and have a conversation about staying healthy when confined to the indoors. Bring on an estate planning attorney to discuss wills and medical directives, bring on an accountant to talk about how this might impact personal taxes
Commercial lines - Bring on an business attorney and talk about business planning; bring on an accountant to talk about financial management and find a marketing consultant to talk about marketing.
Most of the ideas I’m going to mention in this episode would be great tips for your commercial clients and prospects.
This is a great time for you to be offering valuable information! It doesn’t have to be just about insurance!
You can use platforms like zoom, go to meeting or webex. It’s my understanding that some CRM’s have a platform built in. I have’t seen that but if your CRM has something built in, take advantage of it!
Now is the time to start doing some advertising. I’m going to start with online but I also think there are other ideas that will also work.
Online will be Google, FB, LI, IG and Twitter. Other platforms as well if they are relevant to your market such as Yelp, Angie’s List or Manta might be worth investigating. Google, FB and IG are ideal for personal lines. They can be used for business but I’d do a lot of testing before throwing money towards them when you are trying to attract business clients.
If you want commercial business, Google and LI will be your ideal platforms.
My recommendation is that you hire someone that specializes in this. If you want to learn to do it in house, there are classes you can take but I’d suggest hiring a marketing consultant to work as an outsourced CMO for a few months until you have it down correctly. You can waste a lot of money doing it wrong.
It’s not hard but you need to have the foundation right before investing the money and that’s where the CMO can help. If you want some direction on where to find people that offer this service, reach out to me, you can find my contact information in the show notes at Thebusinessofinsurance.com
I’m not a big fan of advertising in magazines or newspapers, unless it’s a specific trade magazine. For example, if you are targeting golf courses, advertising in a golf magazine is worthwhile. But advertising in the local glossy magazine might not get you the ROI you are looking for.
Do you have clients or colleagues doing podcasts? If they’ve been consistent, offer to be a sponsor for a few episodes. You want to be strategic with who they are targeting, but this is an underused way to advertise so it’s worth considering.
I know, you are probably rolling your eyes, but because no one is sending direct mail right now. Think about it. It’s the ideal time to get noticed. Trust me. Most people will be home right now. They’ll have a few more minutes to digest the mail. If you send the right mailers, you’ll see a response.
Now is the time to design, create and implement your direct mail strategy. How about sending a 12 month postcard series. Send this to your prospects. Work with a graphic designer to make it look professional or use Canva. Ideally you want it to be on the bigger post cards so that they stand out.
A few ideas, springtime gardening tips, summer grill safety,and home fire exit plans. They key here is that they don’t need to be about insurance. They can be about things that will be of value to the reader. Even better is tips that are worth saving so they don’t throw away the post card. Partner with a local retailer and offer a discount code on the card for them to make a purchase! Get creative!
If you have clients that can help, even better. For example, if you have a client that does home inspections, see if they’ll offer a 15% coupon to all of your customers for doing a deck inspection or a home inspection. People who own their homes should have them inspected every 5-10 years. (Most people think they only get inspected when they buy them, but things go wrong when they own them as well!)
Here’s another idea - partner with a local restaurant. Ask them to provide a recipe for one of their dishes, then ask them to provide a discount coupon for something. Maybe buy the dish and get a desert or side dish. It would be a great way to partner with a restaurant and help support them while marketing as well.
You could do the same type of partnership for your commercial clients. Do you know a small payroll service or business coach? Offer business tips and then a coupon for service.
You are adding value to your prospects while helping your clients as well.
All while creating unique marketing pieces.
If you are looking for ideas for the series of postcards that you are sending, refer back to the calls you make to your clients above. Ask them a few questions and I’m sure from those conversations you will get a lot of ideas for your postcard series.
This might be a time to implement an online review campaign. Many people will be home reading emails so now is the time to capture them. Consider platforms like Grade.us, Podium or Get More Reviews. If you want to do some research, look up ‘online review platforms or reputation management software and read some of the articles. Some of the well known platforms like Yelp and Angies list are pay to play meaning that if you don’t pay their fees, they won’t promote you. So proceed with caution with sights like that.
Something else to consider regarding online reviews is Google My business. If you haven’t set up your google my business page, do so now and direct your clients to leave a review there.
One of the platforms I referenced above will help with that. Where do most people do their searches today? Google! So it’s important that you are getting reviews on a google platform!
On a side note, and this is more for online management than anything, is to search your business name. Don’t go directly to your website, but search your company. Look at all of the directory sites, is all of the information consistent? Most likely, it isn’t. Spend some time making this consistent. If your company has the budget, look into Yext. It will make sure all of your directory sites are consistent. The issue with paying for this platform is that once you get it set up, you’ll need to keep paying because when you cancel, everything reverts back to how it was before you signed up with them.
If your company didn’t do email campaigns before, consider adding them to the mix now. Like with the postcards, they should be valuable. Don’t promote your agency. No one cares about that. What they care about is what you can do for them.
I’m winging a few of these ideas right now but for the next 4 weeks you could do the following:
Other ideas would be similar to the postcards. Normally I wouldn’t say send an email a week, but during these stressful times, if the content is valuable, you’ll be ok.
Watch the metrics, the unsubscribes and the bounces and manage accordingly. If too many people are unsubscribing, cut back. Also re-evaluate your content. On many platforms you can do A/B testing to a small sample to watch the metrics as well.
If you haven’t done any email marketing campaigns before, reach out to a marketing specialist for guidance. It’s not hard, but you really want to make sure that they are valuable. That’s where most people make mistakes!
Ok, I’m bringing up the podcast again. If you’ve listened to other episodes on marketing, you’ve heard me mention that a podcast is a great sales and marketing tool. You can sit in your office or your home and schedule podcast recordings all day long. Get a zoom subscriptions. It’s $15.00 a month. You might only need it for one month. If you can get 20 recordings done, you’ve put yourself in front of 20 prospects and created some great content for your website.
I haven’t gone into great detail about each of these marketing strategies, but I’ve given you an overview and some ideas on how to get started.
If I were to prioritize,
I know, it seems like a lot, but trust me, now is the time to be marketing! Now is the time to stand out.
Now is not the time to curl up under the covers and wait to see what happens.
You are business owners, managers and sales professionals. Business requires marketing.
Pivot and get started.
Thanks for listening. If you like the information, please share with another business owner or professional colleague.
Until next time, keep creating opportunities.
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This episode of the Business of Insurance podcast is produced and hosted by Debbie DeChambeau, CIC, AAI, CPIA - an entrepreneurer, business advisor, insurance professional and content creator. Her goal is to inspire you to think differently and explore ideas that disrupt the status quo.
Debbie has an extensive business and marketing background with a focus of helping insurance professionals be more successful.