Episode 081 — The Digital Broker Podcast

“What’s Next?” Forward Thinking In Insurance Agency Marketing


On this episode of The Digital Broker, Ryan Deeds interviews Justin Lair of Agency Revolution about the digitization of an insurance agency’s marketing process. By listening to this episode, you will learn:

  • Which outdated habits of classical agencies are their downfall
  • What sets forward-thinking agencies apart from classical agencies
  • How forward-thinking agencies drive retention and close more business thanks to social mediaemail marketing campaigns, and website design
  • How to take customer touchpoints more seriously

Insurance agencies can be divided into classical and forward-thinking.

Classical agencies, as the name implies, are tied to the way they’ve always done things. They might have a website, but they don’t do much with it. They let their producers and word of mouth do most of the marketing. They like to call customers on the phone instead of emailing them, even if the former takes more time. These agencies are the least likely to survive—usually, a disadvantage associated with their ways catches up with them. Is it wise, for example, to build your marketing on the prowess of one or two producers? What would happen if they left?

Forward-thinking agencies can also be tied to traditional ways of doing things. What sets them apart is how they think. Forward-thinking agencies have decided to look ahead, to ask, “What’s next? How are we going to evolve?” They’ve decided to build to scale, the most reliable way to drive growth and consistent performance. And when forward-thinking agencies have made those decisions, Justin Lair is one of the guys they go to.

Justin is a Business Development Manager at Agency Revolution, a company that provides services to insurance agencies who have decided to modernize, digitize, and, well, revolutionize their marketing. But the revolution needn’t happen all at once. “My role is to talk to each agency, to see where they’re at and what they want to do,” Justin tells Ryan Deeds. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Every agency is different, or has a different idea of what they consider ‘marketing.’ We don’t get too crazy making changes all over the place. We’re more likely to recommend incremental changes.”

One of those changes might involve social media. Many agencies overlook social media, believing it to be irrelevant to their bottom lines—but the data suggests otherwise. Justin alludes to research that suggests that 79% of Millennials are inclined to select an agency through “digital engagement.” “Think about that,” he beckons. “Millennials, who are perhaps the most populous generation today, are choosing their insurance agency because of what they see on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. If you don’t do social media, you’re blocking out a whole generation. If you’re only focusing on your +60-year-old clients, you’re not going to be in business much longer.”

Valuable as social media can be, there is no downplaying the power of a strong website—and not just because a website attracts leads and generates quotes. Websites are key to engendering brand awareness. “A website is supposed to build trustdemonstrate a reputation, and engage with current and prospective customers,” Justin says. Users have become accustomed to gauging the quality of an agency through the quality of its website. “I want to have a good interaction with a website. I want to know that I can access it on my phone, that I can find my agent on there.” For these reasons, Agency Revolution equips agencies with ready-made website designs. It also assists agencies with email marketing campaigns, another vehicle for brand awareness. “That’s why the biggest Fortune 500 companies are doing it. They send out massive amounts of email because one out of every 10 is going to get a glance, and that glance proves something.”

When you and your customer glance at each other, that’s called a touchpoint, as we’ve studied in the past. “We need to think about what we’re doing to grab attention,” Justin reminds us. Telephone conversations, revered by many agents and brokers, are overrated, he says. “A lot of people get excited at the prospect of calling every single customer, but the customers don’t.” Most people don’t want to have a telephone call, he says—but they do want to hear from their agents. The goal is to design smart touchpoints: appropriately timed, convenient to the customer, and based on things that the customer wants to hear.

“Let’s make touchpoints real,” Justin says. “Let’s send something that is beneficial to the customer—things like, hey, thanks for the business, or, hey, if you need me, reach out this way. Usually, the customer needs us during a claim, so let’s send something that comforts them and makes them feel like they know what to expect during that process.”

Chinese philosophy teaches us that “a thousand mile journey begins with a single step,” and Justin echoes this wisdom by reminding us that “forward-thinking agencies are killing it because they’re taking one more step forward.” If you suddenly think about everything you could do better, you’ll get overwhelmed, become paralyzed, and take no action. So heed Justin’s advice. Take one step. Take one action. Take a look at what you’re doing, and how you could be improving it. After all, the “revolution” most important to our lives—that of our planet around the Sun—takes a whole year to finish, one day at a time. You’re under no pressure to go any faster.

If you’re looking for inspiration, or you want to discuss your progress with a community of agents and brokers who can keep you accountable, join our Digital Broker LinkedIn group, where you can also chat with Ryan Deeds, our guests, and other listeners of The Digital Broker.

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