An essential marketing tool that every insurance agency should have is a marketing communications plan. One of the weaknesses frequently identified in an agency SWOT analysis is the lack of such a plan. (If you missed my earlier posts on the SWOT analysis, you can click here to learn about SWOT and how to use it.)
In my opinion, three imperatives make up the backbone of any effective marketing communications plan:
- Showcase your expertise.
You’re an expert in your field, but do your clients know this? You don’t want them to think you’re just an insurance order-taker. You want them to think of you as their trusted advisor. You need to carefully consider how you present yourself and your firm in everything from the designations you display to your choice of communications media.
- Provide excellent customer service.
Among other things: identify and anticipate client needs; be a good listener; make customers feel important and appreciated; under-promise, over-deliver; treat your employees well and create a culture where good customer service comes first.
- Communicate with customers regularly.
Insurance experts used to recommend that agents contact clients at least seven times a year. Safeco, for instance, recommends that agents “touch” clients 12 to 24 times a year. How many times do you contact your clients every year? And remember, sending invoices doesn’t count! You want quality communications to help you stay top of mind with clients and prospects.
What do I mean by “quality communications”? Here’s a list of some of the resources available for achieving contacts or “touches” with your clients.
- Calendars — what better way for people to see your name everyday!
- Phone calls — twice a year to check up on any changes the client may have overlooked
- Invitations to seminars or webinars — events hosted by you, where you demonstrate your knowledge and expertise
- Brochures and postcards — focused on specific cross-sale products
- Client appreciation cards — celebrate birthdays, holidays or send a thank-you for a referral
- Social networking —Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter— blog-posting is great for this
- Newsletters — probably the most useful marketing tool in your kit.
Different situations suggest different tools. Of course one of the most convenient communications tools is your client newsletter. Unlike phone calls or even social media, it doesn’t require much of your time, yet it makes your branding visible on a regular basis and demonstrates your expertise.
One easy way to plan your marketing communications is to create a calendar of contacts or “touches” for the year. You can use this calendar to mobilize your people and resources to achieve your communications goal. Getting your newsletters out is simple if you use a turnkey publication, like Smart’s client newsletters. But the other “touches” take careful planning and preparation.
If you’d like to see an example of how a communications planning calendar might look, you can download one I made up here. If you would like a blank version of this template so you can prepare your own communications planning calendar, you can download it here.