ACG - Agency Consulting Group

The PIPELINE

A national monthly newsletter for agency principals dedicated to agency management topic

MARKETING USING EMAILED NEWSLETTERS

If you knew the names, addresses and phone numbers of 500 people who were unhappy with their current insurance provider, what would you do with the list?

Most agents quickly respond that they would send an introduction letter to those “potential” clients to assist them with their current insurance product or provider and offer several alternatives that could ease their pain.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly where most agents would end their marketing – a passive letter inviting the person they already know is unhappy to call the agency and use their service as an alternative.

A Pro-Active marketing campaign would touch this special list several times, each time telling them of another difference between your agency and their current product or provider. A really Pro-Active Campaign would have calls being made to try to touch the unhappy insured knowing that once you talk to them your chances of converting them to a client becomes much greater. And the Agency Consulting Group, Inc. client who subscribes to the Asset Protection Model of Relationship Selling would see the prospect several times a year for several years, building a relationship with each visit until the prospect becomes a client.

However, the reality of marketing is that we rarely find a list of people who are known to be unhappy with their current situation and are open to changing agents. That’s why so few agents market at all. We don’t know to whom to market, what product to market, or how to attract people who may not be displeased with their current insurance provider to become our clients. This is also the reason that the direct writers depend on huge advertising budgets and shotgun marketing of their products to everyone in a community often enough to hope that when the customer is at the point of looking for a change they are reminded that the gecko or Flo or some organization can help them at that moment.

This form of shotgun mass marketing is very expensive, very time consuming and very inefficient. We are literally killing forests of trees to send envelopes that rarely even get opened.

But the Internet has opened new avenues of communications with your clients and with your prospects that can create opportunities IF you manage the process properly.

The process involves newsletters and blogs that connect with likely prospects and provide them with sufficient value that they form relationships with you and choose you to become their agents when the time is right for them.

For many years we have encouraged agents to create a regular form of communications between the agency and the clients and prospects. While your life revolves around insurance, your clients’ and prospects’ lives do NOT. So whatever you send them must appeal to their general interests with a “sprinkle” of insurance sufficient to remind them that you are the expert in the field and that you remain concerned with their asset protection and their best interest.

We have written our own newsletter for insurance agents for over 30 years, a labor of love, but a labor nonetheless, concentrating the content of what we think will appeal to insurance agents. You have a focus on growth, helping your clients, supporting your staff and making a profit. So we concentrate our efforts on those topics within the virtual pages of the PIPELINE every month.

You are in a different situation because, unless you are a specialty agency, your marketplace is wide and varied. If you are a community agency, the common interests of your prospects are in community issues more than insurance issues. They are interested in sports and weather, in local schools and community events. So the best newsletters concentrate on things that the readers are sufficiently interested in to open the email or mail and skim through the content. By doing so they form a tacit relationship with you and they recognize your name, associating you with both insurance and with the community. You should author at least one article each issue related to insurance that will strike home to the readers. This may be weather related if you are in an area prone to weather-related risks or it may be more general or specific in nature.

But we have been strongly urging our clients to end print publications in favor of email newsletters (let’s save what forests we have left) because of the marketing statistics that can be gleaned from the effort.

Subscribers – The heartbeat of your agency is comprised of the community of qualified insurance buyers that live in your marketing area. You would love to have every one of them receiving your email every month. So you should be exerting every effort to get your own clients’ emails and to provide your newsletter to as many people as you can enroll.

Subscribers are NOT yet your prospects. The first level of your prospects is comprised of the subscribers who actually OPEN your email. They have enough interest to scan the subject line and look at the list of articles that you are providing in that issue. We recommend that you provide a list of article names and lead-ins (one or two lines explaining the articles) that they can click through to read the actual articles.

Your Second Level Prospects are the READERS, the people who actually click through to one or more articles. These are the folks who have gone from passive recipients of emails to active participants by linking through your email to the newsletter, itself.

Your active prospects are the list of people who have read the specific articles that you have written about an insurance subject. These folks are interested enough to have read your work and could become your clients if you touch them enough.

In the old days when we published paper newsletters, we could not know how many people were even reading the paper, rather than lining their cat’s litter boxes with them. We certainly couldn’t tell if our words had any impact on their choices of insurance provider. Today, the advent of services like Constant Contact (we use them) provide valuable statistics that can be used to hone and target our marketing efforts to better serve those prospects who are actually interested in the products and ideas that we provide within our articles. It is amazing how much data is available to be mined for even casual newsletter publishers.

If you use Newsletter Marketing as a vehicle for generating new prospects for your agencies, we recommend using a service like Constant Contact (there are many similar services available) and we urge you to actually study the statistics that they provide for you. This can convert an informative newsletter into an active prospecting tool to drive new customers into your agency. Most agency owners have been frustrated by a lack of sufficient growth. They know if they could just meet and become friends with more people, the result would be steady and progressive growth for their agency. This is one vehicle that could generate that relationship with an ever-growing population. Call us 800-779-2430 to discuss creating a Newsletter Marketing Program with either pre-constructed newsletters that only need you to personalize them for your marketing territory or with your own creations that are tailored to your community and customer and prospect base.