As a local agency, maintaining current clients and finding new leads is an ever-changing challenge. In the competitive landscape of insurance sales, companies like Esurance and Geico are stealing large chunks of the marketplace, often providing discounted pricing and excellent coverage.
In this environment, then, it’s up to your skills as a de facto small business owner to reel in clients in creative ways. The best businesses in these situations focus on creating a local brand for themselves.
Building your brand is more than creating a fancy website and a cool logo. It’s about reaching out to your customer base and letting them know what sets you apart. Give your potential clients the full experience, establish credibility in your niche market, and most importantly, spread the word.
Here are several ways to harness the distinctive benefits your agency has to offer and set yourself apart from the competition in your local area.
DON’T TRY TO COMPETE WITH GEICO. FLEX YOUR STRENGTH AS AN INDEPENDENT AGENCY.
Today, many people looking for new insurance don’t fully comprehend the difference between buying insurance direct from the provider and buying it with an agent. They see the price tag of some of the less expensive policies on direct buy insurance websites and think they’ve found a loophole in the system by cutting out the middleman, ostensibly you.
In fact, just a little bit of education can reveal that purchasing insurance direct from an insurance provider actually has a lot of drawbacks. It’s up to you as a local independent agency to inform current and potential clients of the many benefits you can provide from your unique position.
Focus on the following:
- You’re local. You live in the communities where they live.
- You’re real people. You’ll meet with them in person, face-to-face.
- You’re a “one-stop shop” for insurance. You offer several different types in one place for ease of shopping, purchasing and policy maintenance.
- You’ll advocate on their behalf. You have their best interests at heart, unlike bigger providers.
- You bring knowledge to the table. When people buy insurance on their own, their knowledge is limited, which could lead to poor purchasing decisions and problems with claims and limits down the line.
- You offer amazing value. Even with the commission you earn, the value you provide is much better than that provided by direct-buy companies.
- You’re always there. When it comes time to make a claim, you’ll be there to assist with the process.
- You provide a constant relationship. Even if they decide to change policies or drop or add coverage, they can stick with you as their go-to insurance provider.
SPREAD THE WORD WITH EVENTS, DEALS, AND GIVEAWAYS.
In order to establish yourself in the community, it’s critical to engage with local individuals and businesses. While you may assume that open houses, deals, and giveaways aren’t the way to cut it in marketing anymore (most advertisers focus on online strategies these days), this isn’t about getting people to buy randomly from your establishment.
Instead, it’s about building relationships, establishing trustworthiness, and connecting with local people in a way that makes them see your value. Because, believe it or not, there are still many people out there who are willing to pay for quality care instead of run-of-the-mill service that has the minor advantage of being cheap.
We recommend the following to get more involved in the community:
1. Stay up-to-date on community events.
It’s important that your agency name be featured regularly on parade floats, at local baseball diamonds, and at seasonal festivals and other events in your community. Get involved, start assisting with event organization, or consider hosting and sponsoring your own events.
2. Establish or strengthen your relationship with the local chamber of commerce.
They’re the keeper of information about local events, festivals, charity opportunities, and often, people who are actively looking for insurance.
3. Offer giveaways, deals, and open houses.
Get people into your agency. That’s the first step. This strategy is old school, but it’s effective at a consistent rate. Have pens, keychains, and magnets made, which advertise your agency. Give them away. Have a bake sale fundraiser. Offer discounts and seasonal specials.
Lastly, do advertise and connect with people online. Community involvement will certainly go a long way in strengthening your agency’s brand, but you need to have a strong web presence as well.
Start by securing a well-organized, easy to use website that features “responsive design” (able to be used seamlessly on multiple platforms and devices). Next, work on your social media presence. Finally, update your website and social media sites regularly — ideally, with useful information that locals can actually use.
By doing all of these things, your brand will become more visible and well-respected within your community, the perfect avenue for securing new clientele and hanging onto the current clients you value.