I participate in a lot of online insurance groups and communities and keep hearing the same thing- “Carriers need to blaze the path of digital marketing for their agents.” “Carriers must do this.” “They must do that.” “They must show their agents how it’s done and how to do it.” “They need to help their agents get online.”
No they won’t. Not even close.
The only thing insurance companies HAVE to do is
- Make sure their loss ratio is under 100%
- If they’re a stock company, satisfy their shareholders.
When it comes to insurance agents and digital marketing, most agents have seriously unrealistic expectations about the marketing our carriers are willing and able to help with. And it needs to stop. Because we’re only hurting ourselves in the long run.
We need to get real folks. Insurance companies have their own company to market and run. They can’t possibly market ours too. It’s just not possible.
We constantly say the carriers HAVE to be the ones to make the changes. And I say that’s never going to happen. They throw a bone out every once in a while- like “here’s a vendor we’re working with for agency websites, go check them out.”
But to have a true conversation about marketing mix, the digital sphere and even some technical nitty-gritty? Never gonna happen.
Insurance Agents and Digital Marketing-Here’s why insurance companies can’t help
(pssst, it’s not all doom & gloom- keep reading and there’s good stuff at the end. Promise).
They’re just now beginning to learn about digital marketing
The insurance industry (as a general rule) has always been so far behind on technology that it’s become a running joke. Seriously there are some days I’m waiting for them to announce the return of the stone tablet and abacus.
Most are just now dipping their toes into the digital marketplace. They’re starting at square one, getting set up on social media, understanding the new rules of marketing.
Now just understanding that we’re no longer in a push marketing world, but instead our customers are dictating the messages they want to hear.
Insurance companies are notorious for just blasting out messages. Imagine their shock in realizing this no longer works. That they have to pay attention? And ask questions of their customers? Oh My God, you would have thought they discovered the moon was in fact, made out of green cheese.
When they’re just now beginning to dip their toes in the online world, how in the world can we expect them to teach us? Not possible.
They have their own brand to build
If one non-captive carrier has 400 agencies, that translates to 400 DIFFERENT brands. How easy do you think building marketing for each of the 400 brands would be? Do you think the carrier has the time and resources? Again, not possible. Why do you think co-op marketing has always been considered the holy grail by insurance companies? Because it’s one-size-fits-all.
Insurance companies are starting to figure out how to build their own brands- what message they want to share with their audience, their unique selling point. Since insurance (mostly auto) has become so commoditized, they really have their work cut out for them don’t they? They have double the work- break out of the commodity marketplace and show why they’re better than the rest.
How much time do you think that leaves for us?
They don’t have the time to learn about our agencies (I mean really learn)
It’s always been a slippery slope, and kind of backwards really- for the insurance companies that use agents, we’re their customer. And then the policyholder is our customer. But the companies spend a buttload of money learning about the policyholder and not so much learning about us.
Again, it goes back to the 400 agencies idea. When you have 1 District sales manager for 100 agencies, the chances are good there won’t be much one on one time. So it’s really doomed from the start. Although I think the whole company sales rep. field is often a waste of time anyway.
Most of the execs that work in an insurance company have never worked in an agency
If I’m wrong here, someone please correct me, but I have a strong suspicion that I’m right. It is simply impossible to fully understand a situation unless you’re in it. If you’ve never been there, you don’t know. Much like when someone dies and you say “I know how you feel”, when in fact, you’ve never had someone close to you die.
So quite frankly, they have no clue what it’s like at your place. And when you don’t understand, you can’t help. It’s that simple.
Insurance Agents- I’m telling you this because I don’t want you waiting for the insurance companies to take action. YOU, and only you, must take action.
When it comes to insurance agencies and digital marketing- your carriers can’t help you. You’re going to have to do the work. You’re going to have to figure stuff out for yourself. Does that suck? Maybe. But if I waited for the insurance companies to take action, I’d be broke. Or dead.
I did it. I dipped my toe in. I started writing. I started learning some basics about SEO, how to craft a blog post, interaction on social media and about 500 other things. I certainly don’t know everything. But I started. And I keep learning.
Luckily, there are AMAZING people online that are more than willing to help you. You just have to join the conversation. Again, how do you think I got this far??
Here’s a list of groups, communities and individuals I am so pleased to be associated with. And I don’t recommend anyone or anything I don’t believe in. Please join and connect with any and all on this list. And I’ll be right there with you 😉
Insurance Inbound Marketing Community– a forum for insurance professionals to share ideas on harnessing the power of inbound marketing, content marketing, social media marketing or anything else related to growing an insurance business online.
Seriously- an amazing community. Open discussion, lots of questions asked & answered. Very helpful. And few big egos. If you’re not on G+ yet, this is the way to dip your toe in. Sign up for an account and join the community. Now.
DIMA (Digital Insurance Marketing Academy)
Two trusted colleagues (Jason Cass and Brian Appleton) just rolled out the red carpet for this program, and several of the instructors are close industry friends. Friends like Ryan Hanley and Brent Kelly. I know of what they speak and know that all of them have the field experience putting their concepts into practical use. No theory here, just real-life application.
Hopefully soon I’ll be joining the ranks of instructor as well. Fingers crossed 😉 You can visit DIMA here (note, this is an affiliate link and I get paid if you sign up. But you know me by now- if I don’t believe in it, I don’t promote it).
Other Online Colleagues and Friends
This list is by no means inclusive, but here’s some of the insurance folks I’ve gotten to know well online, who also do a bang-up job with social media- Linda Rey, Joey Giangola, Chris Paradiso, Rick Morgan, Pat Alexander, Jim Schubert, and about a billion others.
It’s your turn. And with the resources above you’ll be fine.