Investing in cost-effective promotional items for your agency to give out to clients and prospects is a great way of creating brand awareness and helps to build a solid customer base while driving customer loyalty. Having a branded item from your agency helps the consumer recall your name and your business for months after your interaction took place. If the item is something thoughtful, useful and well made, it's something your client could keep on hand for years.
Most businesses lean toward a promotional item that can be used daily or at least on a regular basis. Things like pens, calendars and mouse pads are popular but for more impact, your business might want to be a bit more creative. We think the following items bring a unique flair to promotional giving and will bring your agency a broader impact.
1. STUFFED ANIMALS
Ok, this may not make much sense at the jump, but what's the main thing people love to talk about? THEIR KIDS. That makes a stuffed animal an excellent conversation starter AND a bit of a suck-up item as well. If you have an animal in your logo or as a brand mascot, research the cost of some promotional stuffed animals to throw at a client or prospect to bring home for their kids. There's a good chance that that stuffed animal will be around for a long time.
2. PORTABLE PHONE ACCESSORIES
We've all found ourselves in desperate need of a cell phone charger at one time or another. Whether you're on the road or you're home and all of yours have mysteriously disappeared, everyone needs a few extra ways to get a charge on the go. Whether it be a portable charger or an adapter for your car, these are great, everyday, REALLY useful options for promotional items.
3. TRAVEL COFFEE MUG
People are serious about their coffee these days and many don't leave home without it in the morning. Giving clients a promotional travel coffee mug means you're helping them save money by making coffee at home in the mornings and it also means they'll be thinking of you as they get their morning pick-me-up.
An umbrella, especially a high-quality, compact one, makes an excellent promotional gift for any client. Something that they can keep in their car, or even in their work bag, that they can quickly grab in the event of unexpected rain means they'll be thinking of you and silently thanking you for keeping them dry.
5. REUSABLE SHOPPING BAG
Ok, it's not sexy, but guess what... throwing one or two of these babies in the back of your car can be a real game changer when it comes to saving some extra change and saving the planet every time your client goes shopping. And if it's insulated?? HELLO! That baby might just become a brand new part of your client's regular beach gear.
6. HAND SANITIZER
Since March, hand sanitizer has become a seriously hot commodity. People are being sure to have enough sanitizer on hand and readily available wherever they go. This means that branding travel sized hand sanitizers is a huge win right now since people simply can't have too much of it.
7. USB FLASH DRIVE
This is another item that may not seem like an every day one, but when you're in need of one, you're REALLY in need of one and it seems like there's never one around. Having a branded USB drive to give to clients shows that your agency is tech-forward and is there to help you transfer files whenever you need to.
8. INSULATED WATER BOTTLE
Since Yeti and Hydroflask have stepped onto the scene, keeping your drinks cold for as long as possible is all the rage, and since these are expensive products, providing customers with a comparable promotional item will turn heads. Do your research on price to make sure the quality is good enough for the cost and see how your clients and prospects respond to getting one. No one will ever turn one of them down.
9. REUSABLE STRAWS
Paper straws are one of the latest victims in the quest for the world to go paperless. And rightfully so. But that doesn't mean people don't miss the comfort of a straw that doesn't disintegrate 5 minutes into an unsweetened iced tea. Branding packs of 3 or 4 plastic or stainless steel reusable straws is a great way to get clients and prospects grabbing for your item non-stop whether they're home or on the go.
10. BUSINESS CARD HOLDER
Investing in and branding some durable business card holders is a great idea because it becomes a talking point when your client pulls it out to give a card to one of their contacts. They also show your clients that you know they're out there doing business the same as you are, which creates an even playing field and fosters trust.
If you're looking for promotional items for your business, you should always consider something that ties in with the products you sell, first and foremost. If you can't find a direct link, going with something from this list is sure to have your clients sticking with your agency for the long haul and will have your prospects calling you to close business.
Giving back to people in need in your community is not only a wonderful thing to do during the holidays, it's also a way to get your agency out and about, meeting new people and making a positive change in your area. Not only will your team be working together for good, you'll be putting your best foot forward in terms of community outreach. Acting as a cause-driven "corporate citizen" builds trust and respect for your brand while making a difference.
Certainly giving back can be done all year, but many people focus on donating to charities and helping out during the holidays since it's a time when people's needs tend to be highlighted. Here are some excellent ways for you and your team to get involved and make a difference this holiday season.
HOST A HOLIDAY RELATED EVENT
Hosting or sponsoring an event that brings people together and offers ways to help the community is an easy way to raise awareness for local causes. It doesn't need to be something major. You can host a community coat, food or toy drive. Food drives are popular because food can be divvied up into complete meals and delivered to local families who may be without a holiday meal.
Many businesses also put up a tree in their office with ornaments or tags containing items or gift requests from local shelters. Business patrons can choose something from the tree to bring back to your office, that your staff can then deliver to the shelter for their use.
VISIT LOCATIONS WHERE PEOPLE MAY BE WITHOUT FAMILY
Most people are used to large, festive gatherings during the holidays and while this year we're learning that many of us have been taking the opportunity to spend time with our families for granted, some people don't have family or friends to be with this time of year at all.
You and your team could plan a trip to a local nursing home, hospital or shelter to spend time with patients whose family either live far away, or who have none. Loneliness is at its peak this time of year, so remember that money isn't always the most important thing you can spend. Time with someone who is lonely can sometimes make a bigger difference.
VOLUNTEER AT LOCAL FOOD PANTRIES AND SOUP KITCHENS
Designate a morning, afternoon or evening for you and your staff to take the helm behind the stove or the counter at a local soup kitchen. Most soup kitchens and food pantries are run by churches, schools or other non-profits who are always in need of help, especially during the holidays.
If you wanted to take it a step farther, pick one that your team could visit once a month. This provides your agency with the opportunity to promote what you're doing so that you can ask others to join you by either donating food to the food pantry, or offering time of their own to help.
ADOPT A FAMILY
As an agency, you're likely dealing with people who are on the more fortunate side of life. People who own their own homes and cars. People who can afford things others may not be able to afford. It doesn't hurt to let customers know that your agency is always looking for families in need to help out. Many people are not likely to ask for help, but that doesn't mean that the community isn't aware of who is in need. You and your staff can organize donations of clothes, household goods or even money within your agency that could make a big difference to a family or two in your community.
Not only will any of these opportunities to help bring your staff closer together while getting yourselves out into the community, but you will be adding to the holiday spirit by helping those who are less fortunate than yourselves. If that isn't a win-win-win combination, then we don't. know what is.
This post, written by Susan Tompor, originally ran in the Detroit Free Press
Many people could be a tad more willing now to book a flight or trip, given the ongoing good news about progress toward COVID-19 vaccines. Lingering uncertainties and spiking coronavirus cases in some areas, though, might drive you to think twice and hedge your bets by spending extra cash on travel insurance. But is it worth the money?
It might be — but it might not.
To be sure, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday urged travelers to stay home for the holidays. The reason: Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths are increasing. Millions, of course, traveled by plane for Thanksgiving in spite of a similar warning.
Dig deep into the details
"No one should assume that COVID is part of a travel insurance policy," warns Carmen Balber, an insurance expert and executive director for Consumer Watchdog, a nonprofit group based in Los Angeles.
"The No. 1 warning for any travel insurance purchase is read the fine print. It's so crucial in travel insurance because there is no standard policy."
Typically, travelers early in 2020 weren't covered if a trip was canceled due to COVID-19. But much of that has changed since the pandemic began in the United States and now many travel insurance plans will include some coverage related to coronavirus.
Not all policies, though, will treat all the risks associated by the virus the same way. And it's up to the consumer to make certain that any travel insurance policy that is purchased specifically mentions COVID-19.
"The big catch is: 'What emergency is covered?'" Balber said. Most policies are going to cover a death in the family. Many times, policies will cover serious illness of you or a spouse, and sometimes a job layoff or issue.
Many policies may treat COVID now the same way the policy would treat another illness but it's best to check. So if a parent dies two days before a big trip to Florida or France, you might be able to get your money back.
Many times, travel insurance will have a medical benefit, which can range from $25,000-$100,000. And the plan can include emergency evacuation coverage and may cover certain medical costs. But the policy might not cover the costs of transporting you home.
Again, you need to carefully read that policy. Look closely at exactly what's excluded from coverage and when. An event that is not listed on, or not described in, the policy is not likley to be covered. "People are surprised when a family emergency doesn't qualify," Balber said. Even so, she said, the concerns about the virus could give people more reason to consider buying travel insurance, depending on how much money they might lose if the trip had to be canceled.
Some countries, such as Costa Rica, are requiring that travelers have health insurance to cover any COVID-19 related medical treatment or quarantine lodging while in Costa Rica, according to the U.S. Embassy in Cost Rica.
Not every dime you spend will be covered
Remember, though: Trip insurance only covers the money that you cannot recover elsewhere. If you cancel a hotel but they refund 90% of your cost, you typically can recover the other 10% from the insurance. No double dipping.
And even more important: Buying just a basic plan isn't going to help you recover costs if you're just skittish and want to stay home if the area where you're traveling has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases.
Know what your airline, others offer
Take time to first read the rules set out by an airline.
Delta Air Lines, for example, notes that if you purchase a ticket now through Dec. 31, 2020, the airline has waived change fees for all domestic and international travel, even if you’re scheduled to travel next year.
Tickets purchased between March 1 and December 31, 2020, can be changedwithout a change fee or Award redeposit fees for a year from the date you purchased it.
If you wait and buy an airline ticket on Delta in January 2021 for U.S. domestic travel, you could rebook your flight without a change fee for most U.S. domestic travel and U.S. domestic award travel, but that waiver excludes Basic Economy fares. SkyMiles members may change or cancel Award Tickets before departure. No longer will changes and cancellations made within 72 hours of departure result in the loss of miles, with the exception of Basic Economy fares.
If you cancel your Delta ticket, you’ll receive the value in the form of an eCredit, which can be used for one year from the original ticket issue date without a change fee, according to Delta spokesman Drake Castañeda.
In addition, you might want to look at what could be covered by your credit card. Some credit cards offer good travel insurance benefits; others offer nothing. You need to review the exact rules there, too.
Take time to compare travel insurance
Overall, it's wise to compare what's being offered through specific policies. Websites, such as TravelInsurance.com and SquareMouth.com, can help you study various policies and rates for trip insurance. In general, rates reflect the cost of the trip and the ages of those who are traveling.
"In most cases, an older person is going to pay more than a younger person," said Stan Sandberg, co-founder of TravelInsurance.com.
Sandberg said some travelers might want to buy insurance even if their only cost of the trip is the flight — say they're staying with relatives — because of some extra coverage relating to lost baggage, medical care or trip delays that require staying longer in a location. It is possible to buy a medical trip policy only.
The typical trip cancellation plan runs somewhere from 4% to up to 10% of the travel costs being insured. On a $1,000 trip, for example, the cost could range from $40 to $100.
What if you want to back out for any reason?
Some travelers might want to add what's called a "cancel for any reason" optional upgrade. But it's a pricey add-on.
“Cancel-for-any-reason” policies typically allow cancellations up until two days before departure and offer up to 75% reimbursement of the cost. Some less expensive options only offer 50% reimbursement.
"It creates a bit of an option or hedge if you will for those who are really skittish about traveling during COVID," Sandberg said.
"Cancel-for-any-reason" coverage might add another $35 to $50 on top of the insurance cost for a $1,000 trip. Sandberg said an enormous level of cancellations took place in the summer, as might be expected. He's noticed an uptick in interest in travel insurance but admits that overall interest in travel remains down, compared with a year ago.
Some people may be more willing to book a trip for 2021 or 2022 as they feel more confident that the virus is getting under control, particularly if the vaccine starts being offered, he said. Yet Sandberg stresses that it's important to buy travel insurance when you book that trip.
You don't want to play a wait-and-see game and then try to buy travel insurance when you see cases spiking in the area where you plan to travel. It's too often too late to buy insurance once it's known that a disaster, such as a hurricane, is on the way to an area. And you want to avoid getting tripped up by the chance that an illness could be pegged as a pre-existing condition and then you'd be denied coverage.
"You can't buy car insurance after you've had the accident," Sandberg said.
Everyone's writing their lists and checking them twice this time of year and with the pandemic on another upswing, people are looking for unconventional ways to shop and impactful ways to give right now.
While most of us are shopping online from the comfort of our own homes, few have probably considered making a phone call to their insurance agent and gifting someone they love with a life insurance policy. If you're looking to promote your life insurance products to your clients this time of year, here are a few excellent ways to market them.
BUYING FOR A CHILD
There's never a better time to buy life insurance for someone than when they're young and in perfect health. Young people have a better chance of being insured than older people because of illness and general wear and tear that happens throughout the course of a lifetime. By gifting a policy to a child or grandchild, you're guaranteed insurability because, god willing, the child is in excellent health.
BENEFIT OF A GUARANTEED PURCHASE RIDER
Sometimes, when giving life insurance as a gift, the policy may come with what's known as a Guaranteed Purchase rider. This means that the recipient, or policy holder, will be guaranteed the ability to purchase additional insurance at another time regardless of illness or medical condition. This is an excellent benefit as it allows the insured to continually add to the policy for years to come.
LIFE INSURANCE CAN BE USED FOR MORE THAN YOU THINK
Most people think that a life insurance policy can only be used in the event of the insured's death, however, life insurance policies can be used in other scenarios.
• RETIREMENT - Some life insurance policies offer the opportunity to build cash over time so that the resulting cash value can be used as a form of income when the insured retires.
• CHARITY - Having a life insurance policy makes the insured more apt to have the opportunity to make a larger donation to charity than would be allowed if they were not insured.
• COLLEGE - Life insurance can also be used to make tuition payment for the insured future family. This makes it an excellent gift for a child.
While many people wouldn't expect to find a life insurance policy under the tree, once all of the potential uses and benefits of receiving one are explained, most people would be thrilled to receive one. Since no one is able to tell the future, especially in these strange times, having a level of protection to fall back on will be more appreciated than usual.
It's December 1st and winter is upon us! In fact, many U.S. states have already seen snow which means prep on homes and properties in those parts of the country should be underway soon, if not by now. As an agent, one helpful thing you can do is make your clients aware of the steps they can take to protect their homes from common winter mishaps that can happen both inside and outside, leading to costly claims.
With homes and/or commercial property likely being your client's most costly assets, providing guidelines and info on prepping them for the elements will be greatly appreciated, especially in the event of a storm or subzero temps. Fall and early winter are the best times for clients to begin their prep so feel free to pass this info along with your offer to answer questions and help out however possible.
Clients should be aware of any damage to their roof or gutters leading into the winter season. Whether they could be susceptible to snow, heavy winds or rain, they'll want to make sure everything is free from potential flood damage and clogging. Make sure leaks and cracks are fixed and windows and chimneys are safely sealed.
PUT IT AWAY
Pack up and put away any seasonal furniture or electronics that may be outdoors and in use during the warmer weather, like grills, outdoor televisions or lawn furniture. The rain, wind and cold temps can cause unforeseen damage to these expensive pieces that you won't want to have to replace.
PREP FOR DEEP FREEZE
Frozen pipes, swimming pools, irrigation systems and outdoor faucets can pose major water damage threats to homeowners should they burst. Clients should be prepared to keep their thermostats at a temperature of at least 55 Fahrenheit and to leave faucets dripping to keep pipes from freezing.
YARD CLEAN UP
Trees on homeowner property should be trimmed, by professionals preferably, before heavy winds and snow or ice can collect, weigh down and weaken branches causing them to break, potentially creating damage to homes or power lines near the home.
SECOND HOMES NEED LOVE TOO
If you have a client who owns vacation property or if they're responsible for property they don't live in year round, they'll want to arrange for someone to check in on the property regularly to make sure there's no damage that's going unnoticed. If a pipe bursts, a roof leaks or a branch breaks onto the roof, the longer it sits, the more damage it causes.
DON'T HATE - INSULATE!
Having an insulation company do a walk-through to inspect that a home is properly insulated for winter can save homeowner's a lot of money on their heating and oil bills and prevent snow on the roof from melting which can cause leaks in the roof.
Passing along helpful tips like these could save your clients a lot of money in claims and damages. Showing them that you're looking out for them ahead of the fact and that you'll be there for them if they need you will show them that they chose the right agent to do business with.