For many companies, creating local vs. national vs. Brand-wide marketing strategies can be a major pain. Marketing teams are disrupted by misaligned management and strategy. It can be a total nightmare. Fortunately, in the insurance agency vertical; the dire need to implement a strong local marketing focus is impossible to ignore.
Captive agents must, of course, be mindful of national brand guidelines and rules, but the available assets outweigh any obstacles put in place.
Independent agents have free reign, and therefore must have processes in place to generate results that are both measurable and actionable.
In either case, the only constant in marketing is change, and revamping our local marketing strategy is something that deserves consistent, periodic attention.
Here are five strategies that agents can use to shake things up!
Localize Your Website
The success of insurance agents is inherently tied to the locale of the agency. If you're licensed in multiple states- you still have to be able to provide a local touch, or else your competition can expose that potential disconnect with the community. If you fall into the other, larger bucket: writing policies in Texas pretty much means that you sell policies in Texas. What’s more, agencies even struggle to compete in other major state metros. Can a scrappy San Antonio-based agent make waves in the Dallas market? Sure. Will it be easy? Absolutely not.
With that in mind, it becomes evident that local marketing efforts need to be present on insurance agency websites. Your website might as well be your digital storefront. Remember your first job working at a local shop? Whether you were bagging groceries, cleaning cars, waiting tables or selling TV’s; it’s likely that your superiors made it clear early on that appearance matters. Just as you wouldn’t want the brand new floor model or store counters collecting dust, you cannot lot let your agency website fall behind. Shoppers notice. Customers look elsewhere.
Consider making sure that your web page has a specific local callout right at the top. This example from The Thompson Group is fantastic. Three office locations, right at the top with all services rendered directly below. As a shopper, I can immediately diagnose how “local” the agency is, and make a decision on whether or not they can help me with the services they provide.
Have a Social Media (Engagement) Plan
Confession time: We’re all a little guilty of over-advertising and under engaging on Social. Especially Facebook. It can be incredibly tasking to convince higher-ups that there is value in spending time on social media, not creating ads. Measuring ROI for Advertisements is (for the most part) a clean process. Measuring the value of engagement is a much softer science, but it can pay dividends.
While there are several reasons to justify spending time on social media engagement, let’s boil it down to just one truth. Your social media presence is another reflection of your brand. Your brand is your reputation. Therefore, a sloppy social media presence is just another way that you can damage your reputation online. The two big “no-no’s” of social media online for brands are:
#1: Not having a social presence
#2. Having a “bad” presence
Let’s move forward assuming that you’re sold on having some form of Social Media presence online. Good. Now you may need to be convinced that simply having company pages and advertising from said pages is not sufficient. Look at it this way. The brand that only advertises online sends this message: “Hey, we sell stuff, and we think you should buy it” over and over and over. If you are neglecting opportunities to create thought leadership, opportunities to listen to customers, or failing to to add the human element to your brand - you’re unknowingly making your business seem robotic, inauthentic, and borderline fraudulent. Yes, it’s not necessarily fair to be accused of what amounts to not conducting business just because you don’t post on Facebook, but with big goals come big responsibilities. Ignoring these issues will not make them go away!
Content: Think Globally, Act Locally
While you certainly stand to gain from launching a local, focused communications strategy, that does not mean that it’s wise to ignore global assets and thought-leadership. Some of the most impressive localized marketing campaigns come from some of the world’s largest brands. At the same time, national brands frequently fail at localized marketing efforts.
Coca-Cola was able to unite their international brand under the “One Brand” strategy while maintaining local brand-integrity. By creating ad variants using locally relevant casts and culturally connected vignettes, the brand giant was able to leverage the weight of what it means to be Coca-Cola while creating localized experiences at the same time.
Create Local Advocates & Partnerships
Some brands go together like peanut butter and jelly, peas and carrots, lamb and tuna fish?
Or like RedBull and GoPro. There are clear opportunities to form simpatico relationships for your agency. Auto Insurance Agents should be familiar with the local automotive dealership landscape. Home/Renters agents must have relationships with local real estate companies. Multi-line agents should, of course, know the full local landscape inside and out. At the end of the day, insurance is a part of the property acquisition process. Those who work locally, alongside that process, and are not directly competitive should be in your address book.
Consider running a campaign with the local auto dealership where you will pay for the first oil change if a customer signs up with your agency. It would add a relatively small cost to acquire, as you will likely fetch a price closer-to-cost for the work, and you will have free cross-promotion. You could have an entire sales floor pitching your agency at every close. If that adds too much cost to your acquisition program, consider offering a monthly prize (LED TV’s are all the rage in this space) for one lucky vehicle purchaser. No, you’ll not likely get the attention of every salesperson, but you could get your name and number on collateral, at a much lower cost to acquire.
The same strategy can be used with body shops, detailing companies, local parts stores. The list is limited only by your ability to connect the dots between services you provide, and other community enterprises.
DTA: Diversify, Test, and Adjust Your Marketing Spend
Diversifying your marketing spend is paramount to implementing an agile marketing plan. If you have 100% of your marketing budget invested in one channel, you’re doing it wrong. Even if you go 50/50 on billboards and Facebook ads, you’re doing better, but you’re still not learning as much as you could be about potential channels. Even if you are happy with your lead-gen efforts, you could be missing out on the most efficient and voluminous opportunities for growth. The scariest part of having all of your eggs in so few baskets is that when (not if) the efficacy of this channel decreases, you will be poorly equipped to evolve and rebuild your customer acquisition machine. Agents working alongside you who have been meddling in what you once thought was a silly fad could see large boosts in lead volume, leaving you like an old dog without new tricks. Just as with personal finance, diversifying your marketing efforts helps protect you from unpredictable fluctuation. Planning for change allows you to mitigate risk and power through changing tides.
Testing is a major key to an efficient, diversified marketing plan. When setting up a brand new marketing plan, KPI's need to be established. What is the budget for this channel? What is the target's current stage of the buyer’s journey? What is the ROI on this campaign? Some of the channels you pursue will answer these questions with precision. Example: What is the ROI on LinkedIn ads? Simply take your total LinkedIn spend over a period, divide by the number of customers. Divide the average value of clients by the average cost to acquire (previously calculated) and you have a quick understanding of ROI for that campaign. Even though some marketing investments are inherently difficult to measure, it’s critical to identify and report on KPI’s for your more complex performance indicators as well. If you throw a dinner party at your office, you need to track every expense from the event and roll it into the cost to acquire all leads, and eventually customers that you bind as a result. One of the most critical aspects of testing is to implement surveys, questionnaires and feedback opportunities. These data points help you to better understand where your customers come from and allow you to give proper credit to the channel that brought them in the door.
Adjust your marketing spend to keep the funnel flowing. If you have already set up several marketing channels and tested their efficacy and impact on your agency, naturally, you would want to adjust your marketing spend accordingly. The very basic principle here is to continue fueling the programs that work and to cut funding from those that are failing. This process as a whole (D.T.A.) allows you to pull away from a passion-project and try to understand why it might not be working. Every business owner can get overly attached to a slogan, piece of creative, or marketing channel. Instead of completely ditching an idea and potentially losing valuable data, you can reduce spend to $0 and put poorly performing campaigns in the sandbox while you strive to make improvements. Your DTA iteration process should look something like this:
Localized marketing has arrived. Like any change/trend, localized marketing has had its critics. Today, the largest companies, even international brands have adjusted and invested significantly in local marketing campaigns. The insurance agent has a uniquely vested interest in launching successful local marketing efforts. Captive agents have the backing of their national brand assets to leverage, and independent agents have the freedom to improvise and act quickly. By launching a diversified plan that fits your business needs and aligns with your brand, your agency’s reputation can build measurable credibility within your community.
That wraps our discussion on optimizing your agency for local marketing. Be sure to stay tuned as we release more tactics and strategies to help you improve your agency marketing efforts. As always, if you would like to learn more about the topic - contact the author.
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About the Author
Matt Desilet is a creative marketing leader. Before EverQuote, Matt lead marketing and engagement at two Boston-based startups. At EverQuote, Matt focuses on finding ways that insurance agents can grow their agencies. Matt does his part by collecting and creating content that focuses on prospecting, sales, business operations and retention. Four essential components of the insurance agent's toolkit. When not in the office, Matt loves to travel, record music, and eat delicious food. Most of these adventures are made substantially better by his better half. As a Rochester, NY native; Matt will happily talk about Garbage Plates, Buffalo Wings, and ‘Bills football. Myers-Briggs personality type: ENFPFollow on Google Plus Follow on Twitter More Content by Matt Desilet