The U.S. is now experiencing soaring inflation, supply chain disruptions and geopolitical crises — indicators that the economy is heading for a recession. What can insurance companies do to prepare?
Sell Smarter with Insurance Agency Buyer Personas
What are personas and why would my insurance agency need them? The fact is, buyer personas help you sell smarter by focusing your resources and messaging on attracting the clients you want. Buyer personas for your Insurance Agency are easy and inexpensive to create and require only your internal staff.
Buyer Personas, Defined
A buyer persona is an archetype of a business’ ideal client, customer, or visitor in a specific market segment. It’s an amalgam of details about the buyer’s background, motivations, interests, preferences and habits. Marketers have been using them for years to target (or micro target) potential buyers with tailored, personalized engagements. And you don’t have to be a huge global brand to leverage this marketing tool. Buyer personas become essential as you engage prospects via multiple digital channels like your website, social media, and email.
Think about your sales pitch to the founder/CEO of a successful, multi-generational construction company (Owner Owen). Now, imagine you’re addressing a young entrepreneur starting a tech consulting business (Startup Shauna). Even if they’re buying the same policy, there are major demographic and psychographic differences between the two prospects. One-size marketing does NOT fit all.
But you know this! No doubt you have a vivid image of each buyer in your head right now, because you’ve been at this long enough to know the pain points and sweet spots of pretty much everyone in your sales funnel.
A buyer persona just takes this mental image a step further. It formalizes what you already know about your clients/prospects, and adds other important insights to distill it into identifiable “types” (known as personas) so that everyone in the agency is working from the same model and script.
Meet Owner Owen and Startup Shauna
Owner Owen is the patriarch of a family business. He’s likely in his 60s or 70s. His business is well established, with annual revenues of $12 million. Owen’s getting ready to retire and pass the reins to his son. Owen has purchased numerous insurance policies over the years–he’s a savvy consumer. Where would you likely reach Owner Owen? (Hint: Not on social media!) And how would you talk to him about the coverage he needs, given his goals?
Startup Shauna is also a business owner. But she’s in her 20s. She is borrowing money from her parents to fund the business. She rents an apartment and will be working from there (at least to start). This is Shauna’s first experience buying any insurance beyond auto. She needs lots of education. Where would you expect Shauna to research business insurance? What concerns might Startup Shauna have that Owner Owen would not?
Research, the Foundation of Buyer Personas
A good buyer persona is based on a combination of quantitative and qualitative data. You already have demographics: age, income level, occupation, geographic location, etc. in your AMS, CRM or files. This is an opportunity to round out what you have with valuable insights about the person behind the purchase.
Here are three typical methods of gathering additional information for buyer personas:
1. Your agents. They have a wealth of details about who is and is not buying and why.
2. Interviews and reviews. Connect one-on-one with clients and prospects who are happy with your service. Their perspective is invaluable in crafting marketing messages aimed at similar prospects.
3. Analytics. Powerful free tools like Google Analytics show you who’s visiting/engaging with your website and social media pages.
The persona development process itself provides insight into where buyers prefer to access information about insurance and your agency. One might go to social media whereas another might prefer traditional media. Probe to understand how they think, what they like, their hobbies, where they travel, etc. This will likely uncover cross-selling or upselling opportunities. And don’t forget to ask what they look for in an insurance agent!
How Many Personas Should You Have?
There is no magic number. You could have two or you could ten. It depends on your agency’s book of business and how you segment your markets. You can create personas by product line, by industry type or company size, by location, generation, and/or any combination—whatever makes sense for your agency.
Where Do I Start?
There are tons of free templates available online that can help you determine what information to include and how to get started. Not only will you uncover a goldmine of actionable information about where/how to reach out and what content to direct toward each buyer persona, but your team will love contributing to the project. In short, buyer personas help you appeal efficiently to the right people and increase insurance sales.
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Going Beyond The Terms and Services For Your Clients
Your Clients Mean the World to You and Your Agency, Be Sure They Know It!As we approach the holiday season take the time to identify your key clients and reach out to them with a handwritten note, letting them know how much you value their business and relationship. Taking five to ten minutes and collecting your thoughts can pay significant dividends for your agency and adds another differentiator to your business. Even if you don’t have the resources to fully apply The Pareto Principle (also known as the 80/20 rule, which states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes) to your client base select your top five and go from there. To make your gesture even more impactful, start sending notes outside the regular holiday season. The reason for this is that it’s unexpected and will catch the attention of your insureds and not get lost in the holiday shuffle.
Want To Track Those Efforts?For those that want to track their ROI it can be as easy or as complex as they would like. A good place to start is recording the clients that are receiving personal notes in a CRM and compare their engagement with your agency (renewals,m social posts, industry events, referrals) with those that aren’t receiving any personal messaging. As you get more creative with your nurturing strategy be sure to record your activities in detail, this will help build a strong baseline of your efforts and allow you to optimize your strategy in 2020. As you continue to invest in client-facing services such as chatbots, app portals, and digital payments don’t forget to invest in your relationship with your clients.
Finding Inspiration for Your Agency Outside Insurance
People have looked for inspiration for their business since … forever. It’s what drives creativity, injects motivation across members and most importantly improves the customer experience. In today’s world of content marketing and social media, there are some amazing individuals sharing their ideas and philosophies across a variety of mediums, all you have to do now is know where to look.
In this post we’re going to highlight three innovators outside the insurance industry that have helped redefine brand management, marketing, and entrepreneurship and explain why you need to take a moment and listen to their podcast or at least click around their websites.
Don Miller, Founder of Story Brand
Let’s start with Don Miller. His company is aptly named StoryBrand. Don’s premise is simple: “Clarify your message and grow your business.” Yep. Don’s a branding guy. I know, “branding” can be time-consuming and feels like something only huge consumer companies spend time on. But it’s really fundamental to every business – including your agency. Branding occurs at every customer touchpoint. It’s the connection you make that pulls customers to you instead of the competition. It’s the sense of caring customers get when they interact with you. And brand messaging is a powerful part of building and maintaining that impression and that connection over time.
So back to StoryBrand. What do they help their clients do? They help them “confidently create websites, emails, and whatever else you need, without spending a fortune on another consultant or agency.” See where I’m going with this? Don Miller is an expert at framing your message so that customers listen, and your agency grows. I tend to believe that companies like Berkshire Hathaway, Pantene, Intel, and Prime Lending wouldn’t be clients if he didn’t offer them something of value.
You can tap into the same advice the big guys are getting from StoryBrand for as little as … FREE. Like any smart marketer, Don Miller offers free resources like the 6-video series “Avoid the Marketing Money Pit” and even a “5-Minute Marketing Makeover.” There’s also an interactive online tool that lets you develop your own brand script. You can also subscribe to his podcast, where he interviews guests and dispenses marketing advice.
Bottom line: Words matter. Whether you’ve never thought about how to tell your agency’s story, or if you’ve struggled with crafting messages that connect and direct customer action, check him out.
Seth Godin, Founder of the altMBA, blogger, entrepreneur & author
Seth Godin is another favorite of mine. This former dot com exec is considered by many the godfather of modern marketing. Seth has 30 years of creative experience under his belt, and is still going strong. The word “prolific” barely scratches the surface. I’m talking about 18 best-selling books, 7,000 blog posts, 8 online courses, 1 marketing workshop, and 3,000,000 people attending 1,000 speeches. Oh yes, you can even join 1,900 graduates and get an “alt-MBA” online in 30 days.
This amazing marketer is an entrepreneur, an author, a speaker, but most of all, a teacher. He motivates and inspires people by “ focusing on everything from effective marketing and leadership to the spread of ideas and changing everything.”
So what game-changing strategy can Seth Godin teach you? It may start with a message as simple as:
“If marketing is everything that an organization does that changes perceptions, then leadership is the most important marketing tool. Doing the right thing is at least as important as knowing what the right thing is.”
“People are irrational and they usually make decisions that have nothing to do with facts. And yet we spend most of our time improving our facts and very little concerned with the rest.”
This latter quote is from a short article entitled “How to Run a Useless Conference.” Yet, I think you can quickly see how this concept can be applied to selling insurance by improving customer experience.
Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO VaynerMedia
And speaking of prolific sources, my final recommended external expert is Gary Vaynerchuk, aka Gary Vee. Gary is the chairman of VaynerX, a modern-day media and communications holding company, and the active CEO of VaynerMedia, a full-service advertising agency servicing Fortune 100 clients.
If you’re forward-focused and want to know where technology is heading, Gary Vee has some predictions. He’s been spot-on in the past. For example, in the late ‘90s, he identified the internet as a “land-grab opportunity” and transitioned his father’s local liquor store into one of the first wine e-commerce platforms, growing the family business from $3M to $60M over a 5-year period.
Gary is an entrepreneur, CEO, investor, vlogger, and public speaker. He’s another evangelist of “brand over sales.” But he can also teach you about leadership strategy and scaling your business. He’s huge on “patience” and “humility” as business virtues.
Like Miller and Godin, Gary Vee is a multi-platform content producer. He does podcasts, audiocasts, documentary videos and live events. Now, if the idea of a daylong immersive consulting workshop on paid media, influencer media, digital strategy, content production, personal branding, and platform strategy makes your head spin, I understand. That’s not your natural habitat. But it’s definitely Gary Vees. And he makes it all sound so common-sense and doable.
To get a taste of his style, I recommend you check out The #AskGaryVee Show on YouTube. You’ll see this high-energy, extremely charismatic business whizz in action. With 310 episodes to choose from, you could easily find yourself fully immersed and finally taking that deep dive into personal branding, digital strategy, etc…
If any of these outside-the-industry luminaries piqued your interest take some time and listen to what they have to say. I’ll be interested to hear what you think, and how you’re able to incorporate the wisdom of Don Miller, Seth Godin and/or Gary Vee into your agency’s practices.