the resource BLOG
Being an independent insurance agent is a rewarding career, but the challenges that can come with marketing yourself and rising above the competition can be daunting. There are some clear and actionable strategies you can put into place to attract more clients and market yourself effectively.
When you think about the insurance products you offer, think about the target audience you want to focus on. If you only sell senior healthcare products, you want to make sure your message is targeting the senior demographic. If you sell Life insurance and Annuities, you have a much broader demographic that you can target. The goal is to reach your target audience with content that is meaningful to them.
People research everything online and that most definitely includes insurance products. If they stumble upon your website and you have little to no valuable information to share with them, they will quickly move on. Make sure your website is up to date, has a clear call to action, has your contact information easily accessible, offers the ability to run quotes, has informative information that educates the visitor about the products you offer and be sure your website is mobile-friendly. These are hard, fast rules that you need to have implemented. If your website isn't current and leaves the visitor feeling that you're not an expert in your field, they will not do business with you. You have one time to make a first impression, and your website is it.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a complicated and ever-changing process that search engines continuously tweak. If your website isn't getting much traffic, then it may be time to consider working with a professional. Ranking high in search results takes a lot of work and it's not something that happens overnight.
Meet Them Where They Are
Think about the age of your clients. Baby Boomers who are enrolling in Medicare do more online than you may give them credit for. They bank online, have social media accounts, shop online, research online. Millennials, X-Geners and Gen Z do everything online. I personally, don't remember the last time I picked up a newspaper, listened to the radio, wrote a check, used cash or walked into a bank and I'm Gen X. The point is, people do things very differently today vs. 10 or 20 years ago. It's crucial to pivot and meet people where they are.
Free advertising exists and it's available on your social media accounts. Sharing relevant, educational, informative content vs. the standard, run-of-the-mill content churned out by every other agent is what will set you apart. Paid advertising on social media will get you even further and it won't break your budget.
Running ads on Google is a whole other game that is best left to the professionals. It's a complicated bidding process that no amateur should enter into. If you want to run ads on Google, be sure to research a marketing firm that can assist you with that and be prepared to pay for that service. There are many facets to running Google ads and where they will be displayed, as well as many types: search ads, display ads and video ads to name a few.
Don't let the agent down the street take your clients away from you because you don't have a marketing strategy in place. Be vigilant with your efforts and reach out to us if you need assistance. In this day and age, it's imperative to take the reins and make marketing an integral part of running your business.
On May 9, 2022 CMS put into place the following rules for marketing and communications with regard to offering Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans for 2023.
When marketing Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans the following language must include:
“We do not offer every plan available in your area. Any information we provide is limited to those plans we do offer in your area. Please contact Medicare.gov or 1-800-MEDICARE to get information on all of your options.”
The message above must be:
If you're using marketing materials this AEP be sure to update them or request marketing materials from us with the disclaimer above. It's crucial to be compliant and be sure to follow the rules put forth by CMS.
You are NOT required to use the disclaimer when meeting with a Medicare beneficiary in person, if you only sell plans on behalf of one carrier, OR if you sell plans on behalf of more than one carrier and you sell ALL commercially available MA or PDP plans in a given service area. Additionally, it's always best to include “Not connected with or endorsed by the United States government or the federal Medicare program.” on any marketing materials you use.
Learn more about the CMS Communications & Marketing Guidelines.
Download the Agent Dos & Dont's from CMS.
Additionally, recording of all phone interactions between agents and consumers discussing MA and PDP must take place and recordings must be stored for 10 years. You should record ALL calls in their entirety beginning on October 1, 2022.
You must record all your calls with every beneficiary in their entirety. This includes all inbound and outbound calls including lead generation, marketing and the enrollment process. If you call an existing client or receive a call from an existing client and you believe that the call may lead to enrollment, then you should record the call from the outset. This can include: lead generation, marketing, discussing different plans, mid-year reviews, Medicare educational discussions on options, annual check-ins, or any other topic that involves the selling/enrollment of a Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug plan.
Many states require that consumers be notified that their call is being recorded. As a best practice you should tell the consumer at the start of each call that the call is being recorded and explain to them why the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has put this rule into effect. Make sure the notification is documented on the recording. If a consumer stays on the line, they have consented to the recorded call. If they don't wish to be recorded, then it's best to politely end the conversation.
“I understand that you may not wish to be recorded; however, new government regulations require certain calls with Medicare beneficiaries be recorded. In order for me to my due diligence and be compliant I must get your permission to record our conversation. The purpose of this rule is to ensure that the information that I give you is accurate.”
Read more about the CMS rule here...
How am I going to record my calls?
New call recording capabilities will be available in MedicareCENTER and will include the following:
What else can you do in MedicareCENTER ?
By utilizing our MedicareCENTER, you will be compliant and will have access to all of your clients' information. To learn more and get registered for MedicareCENTER, please visit our MedicareCENTER page.
Should you choose to use a different vendor for your call recording, please keep in mind that you are responsible for entering into an agreement with that vendor and paying for their service.
If you have questions about this CMS rule, please reach out to us for further information.
Baby Boomers love Facebook and thanks to the pandemic more seniors are hanging out on there than ever before. If you're selling Medicare solutions to seniors and you're not using Facebook as a marketing tool, you're missing out. Sharing relevant content consistently and running targeted ads is an easy and economical way to get more leads. Ready to learn more?
Facebook's advertising process is straight forward and easy to work with. You must have a Facebook business page set up first. If you don't have a business page, it's easy to get that set up too. Once you have that up and running you can start advertising your insurance services. To run an ad, you're stepped through a series of questions which will determine what type of ad you want to run. You then upload your ad content, determine the audience, the price you want to pay and the duration of your ad. Once you finish that quick process, you then submit your ad for approval and within 24 hours (sometimes even sooner) you get an email alerting you to the status of your ad. Once approved your ad runs for the length you determined and will even cross post on Instagram if you have a professional Instagram account set up.
Running targeted ads on Facebook is easy and economical.
Still unsure? Feel free to download our Facebook Ads Quick Start Guide to walk you through the process. Screen shots and step-by step instructions will show you exactly what you need to do to target a specific audience in your preferred geographic area, and it will even show you how to drill down to target leads with certain life events or interests. This type of targeting will ensure your ad is being shown to the people you want to see it.
So now that you have an ad running, when will you start seeing leads? After your ad begins running, you can track and manage leads through the Facebook Ads Manager which shows you when someone has responded to your ad. It will give you a plethora of other statistics too, but for the sake of keeping this blog post simple, we'll focus on the main goal: leads! You download them via an Excel file and the important thing to remember is that you need to login daily to check for leads. Facebook will not email you when you receive new leads. So make it a habit to login to the Ads Manager to track them and download them.
What if you don't get any leads from your first ad? Don't despair. Much of marketing is based on A/B testing. And what that means is you have to test out your ad, just as marketers do to see what type of ad content resonates with their targeted audience. The fact that Facebook makes advertising economical and you don't have to pour thousands of dollars into an ad campaign, allows you to test your ads and tweak them when necessary. Marketing has many nuances to it, and lead nurturing can take time. But if you're willing to put in a bit of effort and take the plunge, you will see proven results.
A/B testing allows you to test out your ad content to see what resonates with your audience.
Hands down, Facebook advertising is the fastest and easiest way to get leads quickly. It's not a complicated process and it won't break the bank. Buying expensive leads from lead vendors can quickly add up, so if you haven't spent the time to learn how to advertise on Facebook, dedicate a couple hours to setting up your business page, creating ad content (or if you're one of our contracted agents, we'll create ad content for you) and go through the process of submitting your first ad. You'll be happy you did once those leads start filtering in.
You're scratching your head again. You don't know how to get more clients. You want leads to just magically appear. Well, here's the reality. That's not going to happen. You have to take action. Break down your day from the moment you get to your desk until you walk out of the office. What fills your day? Is it responding to emails? Is it client phone calls? Is it submitting applications? Is there a chunk of your day allotted for marketing? If not, then now's the time to carve out an hour a day to share some content or run an ad. You have to market yourself. There's no way around it unless you have an influx of clients and can't possibly keep up with all of their demands.
How do you do that during a global pandemic? You do that online. And yes, attention spans are shorter than ever these days because people spend hours scrolling through endless content. But if your content strikes a chord with someone and that person turns into a new client, you've started the snowball effect.
What is the snowball effect? It's exactly what it sounds like. Marketing takes time. There is no instant payoff, unless you happen to share something that goes viral and you're all of a sudden internet famous. And yes, that happens every now and then, but let's be clear, you do not want to base your marketing strategy on a hopeful post going viral. Marketing takes commitment, dedication and hard work. You have to be consistent and share content regularly.
What content do you share? Helpful, informative content that educates the consumer. Don't plug yourself non-stop. That turns off likely prospects. Share content that showcases your knowledge and your willingness to help others. Make it easy for people to click, read more, and get in touch with you. Consistency is key.
Running ad content on social media platforms (specifically Facebook) is economical and simple. It's not rocket science. Facebook does the majority of the work for you. And once you start running ads, you'll realize how easy it is. To be clear, it will take several tries before you figure out what content draws the most attention and what demographics to target. But once you get those clicks, which eventually turn into leads, you'll be happy you made the investment.
Where do you get the ad content? If you're a contracted agent with us, we'll help you with ad content. We'll work with you to create photo or video ads that will speak to people and will encourage them to learn more about your services.
It would be great if we could all get instantaneous results with our marketing efforts, or had an endless supply of money to fuel ad spend, but since that's not the case, we're here to work with you and teach you. The more content you share, the more people will become more familiar with your brand (agency) and will reach out to you when an insurance need arises. Remember, slow and steady wins the race.
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?
Carolyn Portanova is the Director of Marketing at The Brokerage Resource and has been with the firm since 2012.
1480 Chapel Ridge Road
Apex, NC 27502