Plans, Tactics and Shiny Objects

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EP 58 - A Business Needs Prospects To Grow

What is the best way to find them? Is there a magic formula? That’s what we’ll be exploring in this episode of The Business of Insurance Podcast.

If you are responsible for business development in your firm, then this episode is for you.

In many of the insurance groups that I’m in, the one topic I see the most discussion around is marketing. It’s one of those aspects of being in business that people need to know about, because without some sort of marketing, there won’t be any business coming in the door to pay the bills.

In the insurance industry, there are some people talking like the’ve discovered America, when in fact, a lot of ideas have been happening for decades. Sometimes they are given a new name, sometimes there’s a new spin on how to deliver, but bottom line, there’s not a lot that’s new in marketing in the past few years.

If you are new to owning an insurance business, it might seem new to you, but most things that people are doing in marketing today have been around for at least 10 years and longer.

With that being said, technology is constantly changing therefore how we implement our marketing is always evolving.

Adding marketing to your business with success is another story.

I think it’s important to say that marketing and sales are two different things. Marketing is the tactic to bring awareness and for getting the phone to ring, sales is getting someone to give you their credit card or payment information. Sometimes they are considered one, but in my opinion, they are two different skill sets. One person can and sometimes needs to do both, but without marketing you might not have any sales.

You’ve heard me say this in other episodes, but you need a marketing plan and you must watch out for the shiny object syndrome.

If you aren’t familiar with the shiny object syndrome, it’s when you hear of a new idea and want to implement it, without exploring if it will work with your current marketing plan.

Let me explain a few concepts:

Understand that a marketing plan, ,also known as a marketing strategy (see I told you some things just get a different description but they mean the same thing) - but a marketing plan is something you create to implement and measure. It’s a road map. It shows what you want to do and when and how to get people to notice your business.

Let’s just say that you are creating a marketing plan. In your marketing plan, you might decide to focus on referrals. Included in your plan around referrals would be the types of referrals you are going to develop - maybe you’ll create some mailings or a system to get them from current clients, maybe you’ll implement a plan to go to different networking events to meet new people, maybe you’ll implement a plan to reach out to CPA’s and develop relationships with them in hopes of getting referrals.

Each of these ideas around referrals is a tactic, but you need a plan to make sure you get those referrals.

If I were to ask you how you were going to get new business and you said referrals, that’s great but how are you going to do that?

That’s where your marketing plan comes into play.

Let’s break down the three ideas I just gave you, referral from clients, referrals from networking events and referrals from strategic partners like CPA’s and bankers.

  • If you want to get referrals from clients, you might want to print cards that say The Greatest Compliment I could ever receive is a referral from you, my client. You might decide that with every new client you get, you send this card to them 2 weeks after the close of business.
    • Maybe you will also send a postcard 6 months after you get each new client reminding them how much you appreciate their business and that you are never too busy for their referrals.
    • With this one idea -you need to design the piece or pieces, have it printed and then establish a system for them to get mailed.
    • You also need to establish a tracking method so that after 12 months you can see if it was successful.
    • You also want to make sure you block time on your calendar to revisit it after 6 months to see how consistent you’ve been at executing your plan just for getting referrals from your clients.
    • It’s great to create a plan but if you don’t execute it, if you aren’t evaluating the data, you are kinda wasting your time!
  • Now let’s talk about using networking as a way to generate referrals
    • Will you join organizations? Which ones? Trade associations, local chambers, community groups?
    • Will you get involved?,How much time will that take and do you have the resources to manage it,
    • How many events a week or a month will you attend,
    • What follow up plan will you have for the people you meet after attending those events and
    • How will you measure your success?

As you can see, creating a plan can be involved. In my opinion, the more detailed it is in the beginning, the more you will see and you can measure the success.

I’ve brought up measuring your success a few times already in this episode. It’s important. There’s a saying in the marketing world...if you aren't measuring, you aren’t marketing. I think it is very appropriate for business!

Before I talk about another term that is essential in marketing, I want to introduce you to our podcast sponsor. They actually tie in nicely with what we are talking about today as they are another marketing idea for you to explore in your business. The concept isn’t new, but it’s a new platform to help you personalize, automate and stay top of mind with prospects and clients. It’s called Insurancemailboxpower.com. It’s a card, post card and gifting platform with a built in lead development system. Today we’ll talk about the birthday card feature. What if you started sending birthday cards and half birthday cards to all of your clients, friends and referral partners? You can put their name on the front and the inside, insert your signature and also brand the card with your contact information on the back! There’s no ‘hallmark’ on the back or anyone else's information….just yours or whatever you choose to put there., I like to put my logo, web address phone number and tag line on the back as another message branding my company.

When you go to insurancemailboxpower.com, you can get a free 14 day account and utilize all of the products available. Put $10.00 on to your account for postage and send a few cards to yourself so you can see the quality! They have a ton of online training available so you don’t have to feel lost when you sign up . Check out Insurancemailboxpower.com and see how you can stay top of mind with your clients and referral partners. Tell them Debbie DeChambeau sent you!

Now another term to be familiar with is marketing tactic.

A tactic might be the networking piece I mentioned above, maybe it’s email marketing, direct mail or just door knocking. The tactics are the items in the plan that bring awareness to your business and hopefully make the phone ring.

Here’s where things fall apart and this isn’t just for insurance professionals, this happens to a lot of people and businesses.It’s a big reason why people hire coaches!

This is what is known as the shiny object syndrome. Did you jump on clubhouse when it was all the buzz? Did you jump on tik tok with videos. If they were in the plan you created, great. But I’m guessing if you said yes to jumping on Clubhouse, it wasn’t really part of your plan, there was just a lot of buzz about it and you didn’t want to miss out. Maybe you went back and modified your plan, which is perfectly ok, but hoping on and saying your business need s a presence there is what I call the shiny object syndrome.

I’ve been teaching about social media since 2005. First We talked about LInkedIn, then Twitter, then FB. Then Instagram, Mixed in there was get on YouTube,your website needs to be mobile friendly, get online reviews, buy online advertising. I’ve talked about and taught about all of these over the years.

The reality of it is, if it’s not part of your plan, you don’t need to jump on. Maybe you evaluate it to see if it make sense but don’t jump on just to jump on. If you have plenty of business, if you have extra dollars to throw at it and you have a lot of extra time, then be my guest, but most people aren’t in the position to throw a lot of dollars or time at something with no plan.

There are things going on in the insurance industry that some people think are new and trendy but honestly, they've been thriving in other industries and they are just catching on in the insurance industry.

So let's talk about what's been around for awhile.

  • Podcasting
  • Email marketing
  • Referrals
  • Direct mail
  • Advertising
  • Creating events / Speaking for leads
  • Trade show booths
  • Writing a book
  • Developing Courses
  • You tube
  • Video
  • Social media -groups The new kid on the block

I’ve talked about a lot of these tactics in different episodes of The Business of Insurance podcast and I’m sure we’ll talk about them more in the future!

When it comes to marketing your business, I caution you about trying to do everything on your own. When you have a lot of time and not a lot of money, it might make sense to do this, but you have to pay attention to the ROI.

Honestly, if you are in business, you must think like a business owner. The business owners that see the most success are the ones that can delegate. Do you need to know how to create a podcast….it won’t hurt, but think about how long it will take you. Researching equipment, sound strategies, editing, promotion, and the list goes on. Hiring someone to do it for you will get it done faster; do you need to know how to create email campaigns? It won’t hurt, but you could be attending a networking event or making 10 prospect calls in the time it would take someone else to create the email for you.

If you are new to the business and working for yourself, please take some classes on how to run a business. Your local SBDC, SCORE and WBC are great resources. Go to SBA.gov for local information.

If you aren't sure who to hire to help you with your marketing, ask other businesses in your area for referrals. Join a mastermind group - just make sure it’s not all insurance agents! Create your own board of advisors. It's also a way to make other business connections.

Most business owners figure out too late that they should have a marketing plan. They realize too late that if they had had a plan they would have seen greater success sooner.

I know this because I’ve worked with many many business owners over the years. It’s the feedback I get the most.

So to recap what I hope you’ve taken from this episode - create a plan, map out the details of the plan. Set time through the year to review the plan and then modify the plan as needed.

Most importantly, avoid the shiny object syndrome. If a new marketing idea becomes all the buzz, evaluate it carefully to see if it makes sense in your business. Make sure you have the budget and staff to execute the concept properly.

Ok, before we wrap up, I’m working on developing The Business of Insurance group on FB. I’d love for you to join. I really want this group to be for business owners who have opened their doors. It’s a place to offer support, inspiration and idea sharing, not a group for recruiting, selling or asking about coverages. There’s plenty of groups out there for that. There’s a link in the show notes or you can seach for the group on FB.

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SPONSOR

This episode of the Business of Insurance Podcast is sponsored by Insurancemailboxpower.com

Stay top of mind with your clients and referral partners by landing in their mailbox, not their inbox where you might get lost in email jail!

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ABOUT THE HOST

This episode of the Business of Insurance podcast is produced and hosted by Debbie DeChambeau, CIC, AAI, CPIA - an entrepreneurer, business advisor, insurance professional and content creator. Her goal is to inspire you to think differently and explore ideas that disrupt the status quo.

Debbie has an extensive business and marketing background with a focus of helping insurance professionals be more successful.

She is the co-author of Renewable Referrals and produces three other podcasts, Business In Real Life and Divorce Exposed and Seniors We Love.

Connect with Debbie on LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram.

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