Surviving as an independent agent isn’t just about maintaining your license through the right insurance CE classes. You also need to stand out from your competitors—and bring in new business. Generating new business isn’t easy—especially for new brokerages in a highly competitive market. Here are a few basic ways you can get started in promoting your business—and making sure it thrives.
Know your audience. Who’s your target market? If you offer commercial insurance, you should know the types of businesses most likely to need your product—and what companies in your area are potential customers. If you offer long-term care insurance, you could be targeting recent retirees, baby boomers, and families caring for elderly loved ones. Knowing your customer is the first step to developing marketing materials that will reach them.
Raise your online profile. It’s crucial these days to be searchable on the web. Develop—or hire a web development company to create—a professional-looking website with a strong sales message targeted to your specific market. Be sure you’re visible in local searches for your type of insurance market—check out SEO articles and educate yourself on the topic before considering hiring an SEO expert.
Establish a social media presence. If you establish a Facebook and Twitter account, you may be light years ahead of your local competitors. These sites allow you to keep in touch with your target market—people who choose to follow you because they’re interested in your industry or products—on a regular basis. While they may not immediately email you for quotes, you’ll stay top-of-mind with them—so if they do need insurance, you’ll probably be the first company they think of. Check out some online resources for getting started with Twitter, Facebook, and social media in general.
Know your strengths. If you want to develop a strong sales message, you need to know yourself and your place in the industry. Who else is your potential customer considering when shopping for the type of insurance you sell? What do you differently than these competitors? What do you have to offer that your competitors don’t—and is this something your customers care about? Know what you do well—and emphasize that in your marketing materials.
Get involved. Don’t just sit on the sidelines—get involved in your community. Join your local Chamber of Commerce and get to know other business owners—some of them may be potential customers. Partner with a local nonprofit to sponsor a community event that attracts people from your target market. There are plenty of ways to reach out to your target market on a local level.
Develop business partnerships. Do you sell long-term care insurance? Get in touch with local assisted living communities—offer discounts to their members in return for a discount from them for your clients. Do you sell auto insurance? See what kinds of mutually beneficial partnerships you can drum up with local car dealerships. Partnerships could range from simple mutual advertising—just displaying a brochure from your partner on your desk in return from them doing the same—to joint promotions or discounts. These partnerships can generate leads and new customers for both partners.
Surviving in a difficult economy isn’t easy. But no matter how tough the recession is, both companies and individuals still need insurance. Know your market, know how you differ from your competitors, and raise your profile—both online and in your community. If you do, you’ll have a strong start in getting your insurance agency off the ground.