The new normal is something out of a George Orwell novel, or so it seems. The vast majority of the population are donning face masks as they scurry in and out of businesses and are spending an exorbitant amount of time at home and on their devices. It's a strange, new world we live in, and in order to continue to grow in the insurance industry, it's important to utilize the digital world to its full potential. Below we'll cover some important tools you should be using in order to keep your business connected and growing during these challenging times.
In a relationship business where the idea of meeting face to face is no longer feasible, it's important to utilize video chat and messaging tools to keep in touch with existing clients (if you aren't already doing so). You've worked hard to establish good working relationships with your clients and you don't want those to fade away now that you can no longer meet in person. There are so many communication tools that work easily and well and the best part...they're free. Zoom is one of the most popular video tools out there, but Skype, Google Meet and FaceTime are very user-friendly and they all get the job done well. (And FaceTime isn't just for mobile devices, if you have a Mac, you can use FaceTime with your clients on their Macs or their Apple mobile devices.)
Your older clients have adapted and have learned how to use the online world to feel connected. They know how to order groceries and takeout online, they now communicate with family members and attend church digitally. They access Telehealth resources and meet with their physicians via video chat. They get their prescriptions filled online and delivered to their homes. They've learned to embrace technology out of necessity and without technology they would feel lost. It's important to remember that your clients need to hear from you, and by embracing these tools, it makes staying connected and conducting business easier than ever.
Reviews & Online Presence
During these challenging times, it's important to have an updated website and a robust social media presence. 90% of consumers use the internet to find a local business and 82% of consumers read online reviews before they decide to do business with someone. If your website doesn't reflect current information and you have no online reviews, consumers will move on to the next insurance agent in their Google search. An online presence is absolutely critical now more than ever. Your existing clients will benefit as well. If they have questions and can find the answers on your website, that's one less phone call they have to make. Your website and online reviews reflect your business, so you want to be sure your online advertising is an accurate representation of your services and your reputation.
Email marketing is not dead and it's a fantastic way to let your clients know you're thinking about them. There are numerous email marketing providers out there and Mailchimp is one of the most popular services. They offer a free version for small businesses which will allow you to upload up to 2,000 contacts, give you access to their content studio, numerous pre-built templates and even automation. Sending out informative pieces or updating your clients about important news is made easy with a service like Mailchimp. Constant Contact is another robust email marketing service that bases pricing on the number of contacts you upload to their system. You'll get access to marketing automation, mobile-ready templates, reporting and many other features.
Submitting Electronic Business
The beauty of technology is that it allows for so many things to get done faster. This includes submitting applications, receiving payments and getting answers to questions. When you submit your business online and stop the dated paper applications, your underwriting gets approved more quickly, which means your policies get approved faster, which in turn means you get paid faster. It may seem daunting at first to make the switch from submitting paper applications and doing things the old fashioned way, but when you submit a few e-Apps, you'll get the hang of it in no time...and wonder why you haven't been doing business this way sooner. The electronic application also ensures you complete the app properly. It reduces the possibility for errors and omissions and it frees up your time to work with even more clients. Your clients can sign their applications digitally and get their policies faster than ever. Hands down, it's just a win/win for everyone.
The New Normal Isn't All Bad
The concept of social distancing isn't something that normally comes to mind when one thinks of the insurance industry. It's tried and true ways of meeting face-to-face for decades across from the kitchen table or in the client's living room is now a thing of the not-so-distant past. However, with this new normal, it's important to realize that business doesn't have to grind to a screeching halt. By implementing the use of technology in your every day business life you'll find you're actually better equipped to manage and even grow your business. How long this will be our new normal is very uncertain as COVID-19 rates continue to climb, but one thing is for certain, technology will continue to keep us connected and will be our best resource for accomplishing all that we need to in order to thrive.
Fourth Generation Insurance Marketing Organization
Chooses Integrity to Build on Family Legacy
DALLAS – April 14, 2020 – Integrity Marketing Group, LLC (“Integrity”), the nation’s largest independent distributor of life and health insurance products, today announced it has acquired The Brokerage Resource, an insurance marketing organization headquartered in North Carolina. As part of the acquisition, Sam Corey, III, will become an owner in Integrity. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
The Brokerage Resource is recognized for their knowledge and experience in the life and health insurance space. They are experts in the ever-changing senior healthcare marketplace and are a national leader in Medicare Supplement insurance. As such, they hold advisory positions on numerous national committees. The Corey family has worked in every facet of the insurance business, from underwriting and knocking doors to administration and owning an insurance company.
“Across four generations, the Corey family has made a significant impact in the insurance industry, and we are honored to have been chosen as the platform of choice to help The Brokerage Resource’s next phase of growth,” said Bryan W. Adams, Co-founder and CEO of Integrity. “Integrity is excited to continue partnering with great companies such as The Brokerage Resource, enabling us to expand our footprint to serve more consumers who need our services now more than ever.”
“By joining Integrity, The Brokerage Resource becomes part of an organization that is revolutionizing the industry, all while focusing on serving more Americans,” said Sam Corey, III, President. “Once I sat down with the Integrity team, I was so excited to learn about economies of scale and the fact that I could run my own organization while benefiting from the resources available. It all made sense, and I knew that I had to be part of what was being built.” Sam further explained, “We are a family business and now we get to be a part of a bigger family.”
“In times like these, being part of a strong partnership with diversity and scale is more important than ever before. By joining Integrity, you’re able to diversify and grow at a faster rate with more resources behind you,” said Sam Corey, Jr., Founder of The Brokerage Resource. “We are so much stronger with Integrity than alone on an island as an individual agency.”
The Brokerage Resource retains focus on strengthening its agent network spanning 50 states, all while building carrier relationships that take advantage of Integrity’s best-in-class capabilities. This includes support in compliance, human resources, IT, marketing strategy, social media, operations, and access to exclusive products, including compliant electronic enrollment technology for Agents to use. All employees of The Brokerage Resource are immediately eligible for company ownership through Integrity’s Employee Ownership Plan.
“The importance of a strong partnership and collaboration cannot be underestimated in today’s world,” said Raymond C. Richard, Managing Partner at Integrity and Co-founder of The Pinnacle Benefits Group. “As part of Integrity, The Brokerage Resource gains the ability to scale and diversify its product offerings, which leads to faster growth and greater breadth in the marketplace.”
While experiencing triple-digit growth across the platform, Integrity plans to continue to expand their partnerships in the life and health insurance industry as well.
About Integrity Marketing Group
Integrity Marketing Group, headquartered in Dallas, Texas, is the leading independent distributor of life and health insurance products focused on serving Americans. Integrity develops exclusive products with insurance carrier partners and markets these products through its distribution network that includes other large insurance agencies throughout the country. Integrity’s almost 1,000 employees work with over 250,000 independent agents who service over 5 million clients annually. In 2020, Integrity expects to help insurance carriers place $2.5 billion in new premiums. For more information, visit www.integritymarketing.com.
Jamie Stum, Public Relations Specialist
Eric Pederson, Vice President of Business Development
Integrity Marketing Group
Samuel C Corey III
Sam is a Managing Partner of Integrity Marketing Group and President of The Brokerage Resource where he leads day-to-day operations. As a fourth-generation insurance professional, you can say insurance is in his DNA.
Sam pivoted to the family business to work side-by-side with his father, in 2003 after having had a successful career selling high purity gases and publishing an international magazine.
Sam became sole owner of The Brokerage Resource in 2017 focusing primarily on Medicare Supplements, but also expanding product lines and drastically growing life and annuity production with the skilled and experienced team at The Brokerage Resource.
A dedicated family man, Sam and his wife Allison live outside Raleigh, North Carolina, have two children and have been married over 25 years. An avid fisherman and golfer, Sam can be found on the golf course or in the Gulfstream fishing with his compadres in his free time.
If you're not on Instagram, perhaps it's time you downloaded the app and joined the other 500 million daily users? That's right. And overall, according to Instagram, there are 1 billion monthly users on the digital image and video platform. If that doesn't make you scratch your head and say "Where have I been?" maybe this will: over 50 billion photos have been shared since the platform launched in 2010. Brands are engaging with customers and clients on a daily basis, and that leads to more sales.
What should I share?
Instagram is where brands come alive with content. What do you share? That's easy! Pictures you've taken or curated, re-share customer content, videos, memes, quotes, there is no end to the types of content you can share. But keep in mind, you're promoting your brand, so think before uploading and pushing "Share".
Where and How do I share?
There are several ways to share content on Instagram. On your profile or via Instagram Stories or IGTV. If you share content on your profile, people who follow you or those who follow the hashtags you use, will see your content in their feed. This is a place to showcase your brand and let viewers see what you offer. Be creative, have fun and let your personality shine.
What are Instagram stories? Just like facebook, you can share content that only remains active for 24 hours. Haven't used Stories on facebook before? What are you waiting for? And you can cross-share on both platforms. Story content is typically content that you want to share that doesn't require a long shelf life. However, you can also promote content you've shared on your profile by sharing it to your stories as well. You can re-share content you see in your feed, and you can re-share content from other stories (if they're public and allow their content to be shared).
Should I be Public or Private?
Business accounts are public. If you have a personal account, you can choose to make it public or keep it private for just your inner crowd.
What is IGTV?
IGTV is also a standalone app that allows you to upload videos of up to an hour in length. It's similar to YouTube. However, it's also integrated within Instagram. Short videos that are 3-60 seconds in length can be shared on your profile or in your story. If you share a video longer than that length it will automatically be uploaded to IGTV. The amount of exposure you can get from sharing on both your profile and in your story and with IGTV will help you grow your agency (brand).
To hashtag or not to hashtag?
Once you establish what and where you're going to share your content, be sure to incorporate hashtags and tag relevant people or brands in your content. This helps broaden your exposure. Hashtags are a way to find content and many users follow hashtags as well as accounts. Consider coining your own personal hashtag.
Tagging accounts is different from hashtags. When you tag someone, you're mentioning them. It's just like when you mention or tag someone on facebook.
Don't forget to add locations to your posts and stories as well. You'll get more eyes on your content that way. And viewers in certain geographic areas will be able to see your content if you add your location to your story.
How do I know how my posts are doing?
Insights. When you set yourself up with a business Instagram profile, you'll get access to all types of analytics to see how your content is performing, who is viewing it and the activity it's getting. This helps you tweak your content and your posting times. And speaking of posting times, now would be a good time to take advantage of scheduling platforms like Buffer, Hootsuite, Later or SproutSocial to schedule out your content.
Once you've figure out the what and the where to post your content on Instagram, you now have to focus on the when. Yes, the when. There are preferred times to schedule out your content for maximum exposure. According to HubSpot, these are the best times to share on Instagram:
The heatmap below provided by SproutSocial indicates highest engagement times.
Should I Promote My Posts?
Promoting your posts (paid content) will get you even more exposure, and it's a good idea to think about carving out a little budget to promote certain posts that are important or that do well with likes and engagement. Again, you can promote your content on both facebook and Instagram which will give you twice the exposure.
Overall, sharing content on Instagram is yet another way to promote yourself and to get exposure. It's a free app and your posts can all be free, so why not take advantage of it?
How many times have you said to yourself "How do I get more leads without paying for them?" It's the never ending question that plagues insurance agents. You want your business to grow and don't know how to get more clients calling you. The reality is, if you're servicing your existing clients properly, they will do the marketing for you. Calling, mailing, emailing and even door knocking (yes some agents still do this) are all forms of outbound marketing. It's time to review your strategy.
How will your existing clients market for you, you ask? It's a process of nurturing them and educating them. Keep in touch with them, inform them of new products and services you offer. In essence, be their teacher. And what does this do for you? It lets your clients know that you're keeping abreast of market trends and products. You're coming to them with the latest in industry news and solutions. Bringing your A game to the table resonates with clients.
Word of mouth and influencers are two forms of marketing. But the reality is, they're both the same. Influencers typically work online and via social media. Word of mouth extends into the digital space and offline as well. If you take care of your clients, they become your influencers and spread the word that you are THE agent to work with.
Building your brand and your credibility comes from within. If you exemplify professionalism, integrity and wisdom, your clients will talk about you.
Another key component to this, is to focus on additional sales with your existing client base. Offering one type of insurance can be limiting, so if you feel you can take on new products, by all means do it! You don't have to offer every insurance product known to man; however, if you can assist your clients with an array of solutions, you'll have your own, private army doing your marketing for you.
Referral marketing is big in this industry and everyone asks for referrals. If your clients talk about you, they'll send referrals without you ever having to ask for them. They're doing the marketing work for you.
Incorporate inbound marketing with your outbound marketing strategy to allow your client base to grow. That means sending them informative pieces, and it doesn't have to be solely insurance-based. Including articles about retirement, nursing homes, social security and even protecting them from identity theft are all ways to enlighten your clients. The more you focus on attention and sales within your existing client base, the more you'll get in return.
It's crucial to stand out above the rest, and if you're sending your clients elsewhere to research Medicare or Life insurance or any other senior healthcare product, you're doing yourself a disservice.
You're the expert and you need to let your clients know why they should choose you. Marketing yourself and your services is vital to growing your business. If your tell clients to go to another website to research Medicare, the likelihood of them buying a Medicare Supplement from you is nil. After all, why should they? You didn't explain their options to them. They had to research for themselves and it's quite likely they will either A) buy from another insurance agent who will help them with their choices or B) buy direct from the carrier. If you're going to make them read up on Medicare or any other insurance topic that you're knowledgeable about, at least send them to YOUR website.
In order to market yourself, you need to let your clients know why they should choose YOU. What do you bring to the table that another insurance agent doesn't? What makes you so special? Your clients and prospects are online researching insurance agents and products, just as they're researching doctors, restaurants and real estate agents. And with that being said, having an online presence is paramount. Make sure your face-to-face presence is in alignment with your online presence.
Having a website is an expense I can't really afford.
You can't afford a website you say? Well let me tell you, NOT having a website is an expense you can't afford. You already know your clients are online doing research on an array of topics. If you don't have a website or even a micro site you're just losing out on potential clients. Websites don't have to be complex and expensive. They don't have to be chock full of bells and whistles. They DO, however, need to be current, informative and user-friendly. Your clients and potential clients need a way to research you and your expertise online. If you don't have that available for them, it lessens your credibility. You hand out business cards and brochures, right? Your website is your online business card and brochure. It's yet one more way to promote yourself. Your competition down the street has one, you can count on that.
Your website may not generate thousands of leads for you, but what it will do is increase your chances of being found more easily. And? It will demonstrate to your clients that you're on top of your game. When your clients can go to your website and read up on the services you provide, just as they would if you mailed them a brochure, they are more likely to refer your site to someone else who needs your services. How easy is it to send a link in an email? VERY.
Where do I start? Who do I hire to build my website?
We have a myriad of solutions to help you with getting your presence online. Be it with a full-blown website, a micro site, or simply claiming your business on Google and building a free site with Google's tools. Don't let the internet intimidate you from realizing your potential. Think of it as a giant encyclopedia, and you need to grab your page in it. You'll be glad you did. And so will your clients past, present and future.
Carolyn Portanova is the Director of Marketing at The Brokerage Resource and has been with the firm since 2012.