Most of us are aware of the Ps & Qs of social media when it comes to our own personal use whether we choose to abide by them or not, but using social media for business is a whole different ball game. It's easy to make a misstep here and there despite our best intentions or those of our staff. At times we get lost in the content and maybe we even feel comfortable enough with followers to let our guards down a bit, and that's when accidents can happen. Here's a quick reminder on a few small social media mistakes that can create big problems.
#1 - DON'T QUIT
The first thing to know about running a business account is that it's a marathon, not a sprint. On a personal account, posting a picture of your kids in the park or some yummy looking tacos from your favorite Mexican place could get you lots of regular engagement from family and friends. This isn't the case when you're posting for customers with a marketing strategy in mind. You have to be prepared for some trial and error. Also, remember that social media is more about simply posting. You have to dedicate time to engaging with followers and other accounts if you want to see your own engagement start to grow.
#2 - DON'T GIVE AWAY ANY COMPANY SECRETS
When we get into a rhythm and start connecting with followers on our social media accounts, it's easy to get a little TOO comfortable and sometimes disclose info that should really ONLY be inside info. Agencies and agents should be very clear about information that is strictly proprietary and not meant for public knowledge. Talking about business partners, secrets specific to your agency or one of your agents, or your company's growth strategies is a BIG NO-NO.
#3 - DON'T GET LIPPY
Part of running business accounts is remembering that they're BUSINESS accounts. You wouldn't want to post anything that you wouldn't say or speak about in person with a client. You want to make sure your business is always represented in the best light, so steer clear of bad language, overly controversial topics and gratuitous self-promotion. Also, make sure you're using lingo that your audience understands. Too much insider talk can alienate followers who have no idea what you're talking about.
#4 - DON'T LET NEGATIVITY FESTER
Social media is loaded with "trolls" or people who have no issue with leaving negative comments on your posts or negative posts on your pages. Be sure that you or someone in your staff is in charge of always keeping an eye on follower engagement and posts that you may be tagged in so you aren't being pulled into something that you don't want to be a part of. Be prepared to deal with a negative comment calmly and offline, if possible. If it starts to get out of hand, don't be afraid to remove it. Your accounts are your space and, ultimately, you and your staff get to decide what lives there.
Social media is a must for your business. There's no way around it at this point. But there are lots of ways to make sure you're using it properly and to your advantage. Follow these tips for avoiding commonly made mistakes and you should be well on your way to successful social media marketing for your agency.
Hurricane season typically lasts from June 1st-November 30th on the east coast, but if you live in an area that's susceptible to hurricanes or if you insure people who are, it's vital to be prepared well before a storm hits. With the technology we have today we're fortunate to have a safe heads up when a storm is on the way, but there are things you can do ahead of time that will help the people you insure.
UP-TO-DATE CONTACT INFO
Take some time during the spring months to have someone in your office reach out to clients who could be affected by storms. Making sure you have everyone's most up to date contact information and that they have yours will help to make any kind of emergency assistance for your policyholders a little more seamless should the need arise.
HAVE AN INTERNAL PLAN
You and your staff should have plans in place for servicing clients in the path of a storm. Everyone should be made aware of what the plan will be internally to help clients and handle calls as they come in. If your business is in the path of an oncoming storm, make sure they have plans to evacuate and to stay in touch once they've left. There should also be a tentative plan for returning to work if there will be a disruption in work hours.
PREPARE A CHEAT SHEET
Have someone in your office research and compile a list of pertinent toll-free carrier numbers and links to storm-related online emergency resources. You and your clients don't want to be stuck in a situation where they're searching for numbers and links in the midst of chaos. Sending this info out to clients who could be affected by the storm is a great way to show them that you're there for them ahead of time and prepared to assist if need be.
TAKE TIME TO REMIND
Spring is another great time to reach out to policyholders reminding them of the details of their coverage. If it's not time to renew, you'll just be calling in to touch base and make sure they understand the policy as it is. If it's time to renew, it will be a helpful reminder that certain policies don't go into effect until a certain number of days after they're written.
AUTOMATE TO SAVE TIME
Having emergency emails, texts and voicemails set up before a storm hits is important. Automation software is a great way to prepare, store and then disseminate information that should go out to potentially affected policy holders. It's also a great time saver so that you can reach multiple customers at once rather than reaching out to everyone individually.
Being proactive and following these steps will serve in saving time for your staff and showing your clients that you're ready and able to serve them in case of an emergency, especially if you and your agency are also in the path of an oncoming storm. It's never too soon to take the proper steps to safely protect yourself during and after a hurricane.
Some would say that the world sees every insurance agent as Ned Ryerson from Groundhog Day, but the truth is that insurance agents offer something much more important than information on coverage amounts and annual premiums. Anyone who thinks that selling insurance is simply quoting rates and writing policies is missing the big picture. What insurance agents are really selling is the American Dream.
The American Dream, or the ideal by which equality of opportunity is available to any American, allowing the highest aspirations and goals to be achieved, is what we all strive for. When someone comes to an agent seeking to protect what they've earned in their life, what's theirs, they're the one providing them with the protection and the security that comes with it.
Everyone tries to achieve a level of happiness and comfort in their lives. They work tirelessly toward it from early adulthood and onward. No wants an unforeseen accident, a natural disaster or an illness to come along and take those things we've worked so hard for away - sometimes in the matter of minutes. When customers go to an insurance agent looking for answers and access to ways to help keep those things safe and the agent is able to give that to them, that's more than merely providing a service.
Most sales gurus talk about listening to what a client needs in order to really understand how to serve them. Selling insurance is no different, except for that, most agents already have an innate understanding of what their client is seeking, because they're most likely seeking the same level of security for their own lives. Their homes, their health and the health of their families, their cars which provide them the freedom to go out and achieve their goals and enjoy them along the way.
Clients are coming to their agents looking to find that understanding. To know that they're concerns and precious belongings are going to be treated the way the agent would want theirs treated. They're seeking a level of humanity and respect that comes with providing them with the policy, not someone treating them like a number or a monthly goal needing to be reached.
If all insurance agents were simply a Ned Ryerson, overly eager, just looking to get another name in their book of business, we doubt much insurance business would get done. Because if we think about someone handing over their most prized possessions for an agent to take care of, they're not going to hand it over to just anyone. They're going to trust that American Dream of theirs to someone who believes in it, who cares about it and who wants the same exact thing as they do.
Online 101 For Insurance Agents
Whether you're an OG insurance agent or you're just starting out, being online is no longer an option - it's a must. Simply put, without an online presence in this day and age, you're less likely to stand out and be able to compete with other brands and businesses that make themselves readily available for customers online. It's imperative that setting up a proper website, social media accounts and branding be done if you want to really get in the game. We've put together a few basics that every agent should treat as vital steps in their business and marketing plan. Check them out!
STEP ONE - BUY YOUR ONLINE DOMAIN
Make sure you do an online search and are able to secure a domain URL that matches your business name. If you can't find a URL that matches 100%, that's OK, but it should be something as close as possible to your business name. Make sure you use a legitimate web hosting platform for your site, meaning you'll have to pay for it. A free web host will likely take advantage of your visitors to promote itself.
STEP TWO - GET A GOOD LOGO
A logo is your first step in branding your business so it should be something well-designed and proud of. It will appear on your website, your social media accounts, your letterhead, your business cards, promotional merchandise, etc... so you want to make sure it looks professional and represents your business properly. But don't worry. You don't have to shell out thousands of dollars to a graphic designer to come up with your logo. There are plenty of graphic design apps and online tutorials that can help you create a logo for yourself if you can't afford someone to do it for you.
STEP THREE - BUSINESS ADDRESS AND PHONE NUMBER
A lot of agents, especially agents starting out, will use their home address or personal cell phone number as their contact info, but those should both be avoided. First, when someone is looking to stop by or send you something, they want to see a legitimate business address, not a PO Box or a residential address. UPS and Fedex have ways to provide you with a business mailbox if you need. And registering a new business phone/phone number, your business will appear in online directories, making it much easier for people to find you and identify you as a legitimate business.
STEP FOUR - HAVE A MEDIA KIT
Having a polished, up-to-date collection of your business and marketing information shows customers that they're dealing with a professional. Your kit should contain a bio, your company history and profile, relevant photos and organizational facts about your business. Even if this is only a page or two, it's a great resource for people who are looking to quickly get information about you.
STEP 5 - KEEP TRACK OF WHAT MARKETING IS WORKING
Once you step out and start prospecting and promoting your business, you'll want to keep an eye on what's bringing in business for you and what isn't. This is an important money and time saver because otherwise you could be spinning your wheels, losing money and missing valuable opportunities on something that isn't working for you. Don't be afraid to ask clients what guided them to you and what didn't.
These are just a few very basic tips to get yourself started out. Once you've taken care of these items, it's time for you to become active on your social media accounts to begin building relationships which should gain you momentum both online and offline. There are tons of opportunities to market and branch out to customers, but not until these steps are complete. Good luck!
We've all set goals for our careers or for our businesses and sometimes, once we reach those goals, we aren't sure what to do next. Easily lost in maintaining the daily chaos of doing our jobs or running a business, it's easy to forget that we should be setting goals continuously, always giving ourselves and our employees another milestone to hit.
From creating a goal-driven environment to nurturing business relationships so that they can continue to grow into more opportunities, there are lots of ways to stay focused on growth, but these 3 strategies are what we recommend.
INVEST IN YOURSELF AND IN YOUR EMPLOYEES
If you're looking for your business to always be growing, you've got to be prepared to help the people in your business to grow as well. Taking advantage of and offering continuing education opportunities is crucial. Sign up for seminars and industry events that will help you and your team develop new ideas and motivate performance within your agency.
Also, be sure you're properly invested in the best staff for your business. Setting up the proper support team with the proper training is your best bet at success, for your business, for your employees and for yourself.
MAKE MARKETING A PRIORITY
A lot of business owners think that they can get by with grassroots marketing and by taking a more passive approach to reaching new customers, but don't be fooled... thoughtful, successful marketing may cost you. You should be willing to pay for a marketing plan and lead generation tactics that work. Finding the right marketing strategy may take some trial and error, but once you've identified your target audience, you're more apt to make more meaningful contacts instead of wasting time on prospects that aren't going to turn into clients.
ACCOUNTABILITY ABOVE ALL
To keep everyone on track, you're going to want to pay close attention to the numbers. Making sure people are meeting their daily, weekly, monthly and/or quarterly goals is imperative. And when they don't make their goals, finding out WHY is even more important. Addressing ways in which you can turn performance around for someone who is missing the mark is a great way to show that you're invested in their success AND a way to keep them motivated to get their numbers moving in the right direction.
There are lots of big picture things you can do to keep your agency and your employees in it on an incline. But don't forget that there are smaller, every day things that you can do to keep things moving for your business. Being willing to spend time and money to give your employees the best support you can, and keeping close watch to see where help is needed, are great first steps in the right direction.
Everybody's Networking For The Weekend
Weekends hit different in 2020. With all of the new, exciting challenges this year has brought to us (sarcasm), it seems like each week is roughly 265 days long. But alas, it's Friday and if you're like me, you plan on making the most of the weekend.
While you may not plan on pounding the pavement looking for leads and/or potential new business contacts, you should always be open and treat each social outing as an opportunity to meet people who you could one day do business with. It just makes sense. Here are a few of our favorite networking tips to keep in mind if you're out and about this weekend.
Tip #1 - The ABC Rule - ALWAYS BE CARRYING
Business cards. Always be carrying business cards. You don't have to roll out the door with 100 of them in your wallet, but it's great practice to always be sure there are at least a few with you at all times. You never know when you could meet someone in need of your specific services. And don't be shy about giving them out. You don't have to be pushy, just say "Hey if you ever want to connect, let me know!"
Tip #2 - ASK PEOPLE FOR THEIR CARDS
If you've been having any kind of meaningful conversation with someone who you can see doing business with in the future, asking for their card is a great way to give you a leg up in the networking game. When you get home, write a note or two on the back of the card they gave you. Anything that has to do with what you spoke about or something interesting about them that you can use later on in a business call.
Tip #3 - INTRODUCE PEOPLE
A huge part of networking is being seen as a networker. People often think it's all about who you're meeting and who they know, but it's also really important to be someone who connects new people to each other. This puts you in the mix of several circles and creates more opportunities for you in the long run.
Tip #4 - TALK TO EVERYBODY
If you're in sales, which all agents are, you should have been blessed with the gift of gab. This makes networking easier for you than someone who is more on the shy side. If you see someone at an event who seems to be shrinking into the background, walking up to them and introducing yourself is a move that means more than you know. It gives you an opportunity to get to know them and then introduce them to anyone you think they should connect with.
Tip #5 - BE YOURSELF
Listen, it's the weekend. It's always ok to be casual and in lots of times, it's preferred. People are often more loose in unexpected networking situations than they are in formal ones, so take advantage of being yourself and really get to know the other person. Being at ease will make the conversation flow more freely and could lead to more interesting places.
Yes, the weekend is the time to ditch the suit and tie and get out there to relax, but keeping your eyes open for new opportunities and being open to speak to new people is a natural part of any good salesperson's personality. If you're headed out this weekend, be sure to bring your cards with you and be yourself. You just never know when it could pay off!
TOP 5 MYTHS ABOUT BEING AN AGENT
It's easy for people to assume certain things about having a career in the insurance industry but as we all know, you never really know what something is like until you've done it for yourself. Some of us may have gone into the industry with preconceived notions of what it would be like based on growing up with parents who were agents, or based on stories shared by friends who are agents now.
Just like in every career, there are pros and cons that come with the business card, but that doesn't mean they're going to be the ones you'd expect without having done the job yourself. Here are a few busted myths about being an insurance agent that you can share with anyone who may be considering becoming one.
MYTH #1 - INSURANCE IS BORING
If you're an agent, that means you have a whole list of people you're servicing, which by design means you're going to always be busy. Every day you're responding to any number of unpredictable things that have gone in your client's lives which means every day will offer new challenges for you to tackle. Also, lots of agents aim to start their own agencies which means now you're not just an insurance agent, but you're a business owner. Running a business entails a lot more than simply selling insurance.
MYTH #2 - INSURANCE IS JUST A DESK, SALES JOB
Insurance is certainly a desk job, but don't most jobs come with a desk? And yes you're selling, but think about what you're selling. It ain't color printers, my friend. When you sell insurance you're giving people security to protect the most important parts of their lives. Their health and the health of their families. Their homes. Their businesses. Their transportation. Things that people build their lives around. In that case, there's no way you can refer to insurance as just a sales job.
MYTH #3 - AGENTS ARE JUST THE MIDDLE MEN
Having your own book means that you're in charge of proactively bringing products to your customers. Without the agent, there would be no way of knowing what each client actually needs. Agents are not simply robots who quote policies, they do so based on very real human need and understanding. And if you're putting the necessary emphasis on customer service, you'll see that nothing meaningful gets done without you.
MYTH #4 - THE HOURS ARE LONG
Sure, selling insurance may not be your typical 9-5 job where you leave your work at your desk when you walk out the door, but that's the case with a lot of careers. If you're called to help a client after hours, it's likely that they're dealing with some kind of emergency where you're acting as their lifeline to help and that's an aspect of selling insurance that makes it so important. When you look at the hours that way, it becomes an honor, not an annoying obligation.
MYTH #5 - YOU WON'T HAVE ANY SUPPORT
Once you become an agent, you become responsible for your own clients, that's true, BUT, it's in every agency's best interest to help their agents succeed. Most large carriers have a wealth of resources like coaching, online toolkits, and marketing support available for their agents to use when they're in need of help. If you make sure you do your research when becoming part of an agency, these resources are a great thing to look into.
These myths are easily debunked once you begin a career in insurance. Buckling down and getting in the trenches will tell you whether it's right for you, not stories from the battlefield that you've heard from other people. If you're thinking a career as an insurance agent might be for you, take the time to find out for yourself. It could just be the best decision you've ever made.
3 Easy Ways To Attract New Clients
We don't know many business owners who aren't always looking to bring in new business. As agency owners, we're always trying to expand by coming up with creative ways to market and reach new prospects. We don't get into business to serve a few people and then decide, "well, I guess that's enough". Most of us have long-term plans to run our businesses and the only way to do that is to consistently be bringing in new customers.
The struggle, however, is finding new customers when it appears the well has momentarily run dry. Luckily now, thanks to social media, there are more ways than ever to retrieve pertinent data and reach people who you may not have been able to reach prior. Here are a few ways you can think about trying to attract new potential clients.
1. SEE AND BE SEEN
Businesses can't sit back and expect customers to come to them unless they've done something to let them know they're there. Sure advertising and marketing are the basic ways of getting the word out, but there are lots of other ways to be seen. Get yourself involved in community events like hosting a booth at a street fair or sponsoring a 5K. Volunteer at events or for charities where people may not be aware of what you do. And after all this, make sure your website and social media accounts are 100% up to snuff so that when people DO reach out to you, you're easy to connect with.
2. PAY ATTENTION AND ASK QUESTIONS
We should always know what our competitors are up to because that's the name of the game. If a similar agency seems to be winning more business than you, try to find out how and why that is. What are they doing or offering that your agency isn't? Is it a customer service flaw? Is it a problem with your products? Don't be afraid to ask questions when someone turns you down. And likewise when you have a happy customer. Find out what it is that they love about doing business with you. This is valuable feedback that you should be highly interested in hearing so that you can change whatever it is that could be losing you business.
3. CELEBRATE WHAT SEPARATES YOU FROM THE REST
And we don't mean celebrate it like "Yaass girl! Rosé all day!" We mean, find what makes you different from your competitors and promote the hell out of it. Let it become your image so that people see the difference in doing business with you from the jump. Let it be something that drives you to create new, influential partnerships or interesting promotional events where you can stand out. You don't have to do exactly what someone else is doing to make your business stand out, you just have to highlight why the way you do it works.
Finding ways to bring new business into your agency is often easier than you think. If you're struggling to find new clients, taking action is the first step. Try these 3 tips and go forth with the odds forever in your favor.
If you've ever ordered something from Amazon, you know what it's like to get emails asking you to review your purchase. Even if your purchase is a box of disposable silverware, they want it reviewed. You may wonder why Amazon's all up in your business about reviewing a $4.99 box of plastic forks. They're just forks, right? Yes, but no.
Businesses want you to review their product and your experience with their business because other customers will base their orders off your feedback. Studies have shown that as many as 90% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase or visiting a business, and they're willing to spend as much as 30% MORE at a business with "excellent" reviews. So Amazon wants your review of those plastic forks, because it's going to help build trust in their brand and highlight the experience their customers can expect from them.
You want your customers to do the same. You don't have to go after your customers with the full court press the way Amazon does, but you definitely want to get as many of them to leave online reviews for your agency as you can. Here are some ways to make that happen:
GIVE THEM A PLACE TO REVIEW YOU
If you're looking for online reviews, it means there's a place for your customers to leave you one. That means you'll want to showcase it on your website and include links to where customers can review you in the emails you send and on your social media feeds. Also, including a "call to action" on those mediums is extremely important. Have "LEAVE A REVIEW" buttons and links clearly marked so that your customers can easily add their insights when they're ready.
Don't be shy when it comes to asking customers to review you online. Post up signs in your office. Send emails asking for a review after important interactions with your agency. Include posts in your social media feeds asking customers to head to your site to leave their thoughts about the service you've provided them with. Sometimes all someone needs is a little nudge and you'll get valuable feedback for your business.
TELL THEM WHAT OTHERS HAVE SAID
People love a testimonial and they love a shout out. Showcasing a great review from a past customer is another way to get people to leave their thoughts on your site. Especially when someone sees that you're sharing customer thoughts on your Facebook or Instagram pages, customers are likely to be more motivated to get in on the action.
Ah, the old, you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. Offering your customers something to leave a review is a typical but great way to get them to do so. Have ongoing raffles that customers can gain entries for when they leave a review. Dangle special coupons or discount codes for clients if they leave a review. Maybe offer a a cool promotional gift for people who post their feedback on your site.
Online reviews are also a good incentive to keep your staff on their toes because your aim is to get POSITIVE feedback. The better the experience is at your business, the more positive feedback you'll get. And the more positive feedback potential customers see online, the more new customers will be drawn to do business with you.
Avoid These Home Hazards on Halloween
Of course we all know Halloween is a spooky time of year because of the ghosts, goblins and extra cavities, but most people overlook the hidden dangers that the season can post when it comes to their homeowner's insurance. Since the holiday means trick-or-treaters and their parents will likely be approaching your home, and in the dark of night, you're going to want to make sure you do a few things to keep your home and the kids in costumes safe. If your town is allowing trick-or-treating this year, you're going to want to plan ahead to keep visitors and your home safe.
Leave The Lights On
Make sure the outside of your property is well-lit on Halloween night for TWO reasons. First, trick-or-treaters and their parents should be able to see where they're going in order to avoid trips and falls on the way to and from your home. The last thing you want on a fun evening is something getting injured on your property. Second, a well-lit home is more likely to keep mischief away. Occasional eggings, shaving cream dousing and toilet paperings are tricks that your teenage visitors might try to leave on your property. Shining a light on your home will likely keep them away.
Stay Away From Flames
There are lots of LED alternatives to candles these days. If you're using decorations that light up, make sure you're using battery powered lights instead of candles to avoid potential fire hazards. If you ARE using light-up decor, make sure there's no threat of bulbs becoming too hot and igniting paper or other materials on the decoration.
Secure The Perimeter
It doesn't hurt to take a walk around your house before it gets dark to make sure there's nothing that poses a safety threat to visitors. Check for tripping hazards, hoses and cords that could pose a threat to someone and low-hanging hanging branches. Anything that looks like it could poke, trip or tie someone up accidentally should be taken care of.
Pets Are Best Inside
Even the sweetest and most mild of animals can get spooked on Halloween. Kids in costumes can easily freak out a normally calm dog and your friendly cat. The last thing you want is an animal attack on your property. Let the bats and spiders do all of the greeting at your home to keep visitors, and yourself, safe from any unpleasant accidents.
The best way to keep you home and all those who approach it looking for treats this Halloween season is to be prepared. Follow these simple tips and you should be in good shape on the scariest of nights!