I get frustrated by insurance industry digital marketing strategies.
It’s 2013, we’ve had widespread public access to the Internet for almost two decades now and digital marketing is still a mystery to most insurance industry professionals.
Why do I get frustrated?
Well… for those of you that don’t know, in real life I’m the Director of Marketing for The Murray Group Insurance Services, Inc. A local, family-owned independent insurance and financial services firm located in Albany, NY.
What I talk about here, on this blog, is battle tested strategies I’ve put into use marketing my insurance agency online. When I write about a content marketing strategy or social media network, it’s not some opinion I pulled out of thin air to gain traffic or sound smart. It’s because I’ve implemented the strategy or tactic inside a real, local small business with either success or failure.
…and being that my small business is an insurance agency, I’m in the unique position to have a qualified opinion on the level of effort and understanding put forward by my industry in marketing insurance products online.
Insurance Industry Digital Marketing
So here we are, more than halfway through the year 2013, and the vast majority of independent insurance agents, carriers and industry professionals still don’t have a grip on the ridiculously profitable opportunity that exists in the digital world.
The problem lies in where the pain is located.
Right now the pain is located with the boots-on-the-ground agents, not the insurance carriers and not the agency owners (often referred to as agency principals). Agents are baring the brunt of the digital storm.
The seeds of a decade of GEICO commercials commoditizing insurance products has taken root deep within the brains of American insurance consumers. Families (think home and auto insurance) are shopping their insurance more frequently, often based solely on price, with little to no regard for the value an independent insurance agent delivers.
The battle isn’t coming…
…the battle has already begun.
And we’re losing.
But luckily there are agents willing to stand up and fight back, Brent Kelly, Jason Cass, Chris Paradiso, Joey Giangola, Claudia McClain, David Berry, Carrie Reynolds and Keith Laskey to name just a few. Put on that list all the insurance professionals who frequent the Inbound Insurance Marketing community on Google Plus.
These agents are doing what most insurance industry professionals have neglected to do so far…
…they view selling insurance online the way an Internet Marketer would. Because that’s we are!
As an industry we’re so worried that by embracing digital marketing, using the tactics, strategies and tools of classic Internet Marketers, that somehow we’re giving away our value.
The Connected Generation consumer expects business to be done using the tools of 2013. Yet insurance carriers (and many agents) are still forcing their clients to use tools and methodologies from the 20th century.
We must stop looking at each other for the answer to marketing insurance online and study industries who’ve already been successful.
What makes the information product or course an Internet Marketer sells so much different from an insurance policy?
Both are intangible products promising returned value at a later date.
How I Would Change Insurance Carrier Digital Marketing
Sometimes I dream of what it would be like to work for a Travelers Insurance, Chubb or The Hartford. The things we could achieve with the budget and infrastructure of one of these behemoths…
…we could change the course of an industry.
I don’t work for a large insurance carrier, but if I did, here are three initiatives I’d put into place day one:
#1 Focus on Education
I would become a Wiki for every insurance product I sell. Not boring corporate insurance barf speak information… but real life, human beings talking about insurance products the way real people talk about things. I would pick apart every single concept no matter how big or small and explain its impacts on customers. I would do this in every content medium possible, video, text, podcasts and images.
IMPACT: By educating insurance consumers on their terms and in their language we’d be helping them become more comfortable with the products they’re buying. Making us a resource and not a transaction.
#2 Build Tools to Help Target Markets
I would then begin building resources around the target markets we served. If say, restaurant insurance, were a focus of our business, I would create products, services and resources beyond insurance. We want our clients to be successful, let’s help them become successful. Why not build the most robust Restaurant Safety course available online and offer it free… to everyone, client or not?
IMPACT: By providing resources in addition to insurance within target markets we become more than an insurance supplier. We become a trusted partner.
#3 Tell Client Stories
Finally, I would transform my field marketing reps from brochures delivers into content creation machines. With nothing more than an iPhone we can bring our insureds, agents and partners stories front and center. An insurance carrier brand should be about the clients and agents we serve NOT the products we offer. We’ll create our own news telling positive stories of insurance and addressing the negative head on.
IMPACT: By highlighting our clients and agents stories we’ll begin to change the belief that insurance carriers are the enemy and empower our clients to spread our message as they spread their own.
How do I know these strategies would work?
This is exactly what I do every day in my small, local insurance agency to outrank insurance carriers that make 100 times in a day the revenue we create in a year. You don’t need a huge budget to be successful.
So here’s the rub, as an industry we’re primed for success. Insurance industry digital marketing success is NOT unattainable, nor do we have to wait long to achieve results.
But we need leadership…
But it all starts with leadership, at every level and in every organization. The snowball is gaining momentum.
Thank you and Good luck,
I am Ryan Hanley
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image credit: http://society6.com/product/Stepping-into-mystery_PrintWhy Digital Marketing is Still a Mystery to the Insurance Industry (and how to fix it) by Ryan Hanley