Most independent agents have small offices with fewer than 10 employees. Budgets are usually stretched, and there’s not always a lot of money available for marketing.
In fact, Katie Lundin at AW360 cites a lack of budget as one of the top five marketing challenges for small businesses in general. But of course you need to bring in new leads to grow your business and solidify your position in your market.
So, what can a savvy agent do with limited financial resources?
It turns out there’s a lot. Here’s a mix of both digital and offline techniques that will take your marketing further even when your budget is tight.
Leverage Online Reviews
Bryan Caplan writes on LinkedIn that nearly all (97 percent) consumers today read online reviews prior to making a buying decision. Not only that, 85 percent trust online reviews just as much as they would a personal recommendation from a friend or family member.
With numbers like these, online reviews are perhaps the most effective digital marketing technique pound-for-pound. This is certainly something you’ll want to take advantage of.
Review sites are completely free to use and easy to join. All you have to do is spend some time filling out your business information, and your company will appear in the database.
As for specific sites to target, the ReviewTrackers team recommends starting with Google because two-thirds of customers are likely to check online reviews on Google before visiting a business. You can claim your business here.
Heidi Abramyk at Vendasta highlights the other top review platforms, which include:
- Yellow Pages
- The Better Business Bureau
- Angie’s List
Get your business listed on each to maximize your opportunities.
Use Social Media to Attract Younger Customers
This makes sense. Alex York points out at Sprout Social that 88 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 use Facebook, and 59 percent of the same age group uses Instagram. Having an established presence on networks like these is an excellent way to find and engage younger customers.
Nixon Perinchery at Amplispot provides some nice examples of agents using social media effectively. He mentions one particular agent who has a LinkedIn following of more than 4,700 people and says that this is the equivalent of having another office with prime real estate in a town of 4,700 residents.
As Koeleb Salter mentions in Entrepreneur, the three main keys to social media success are to add real value by posting insightful content, being consistent with your posting schedule and actively engaging your community.
Take Advantage of Video
Online video is huge right now. Carla Marshall writes in Tubular Insights that roughly 80 percent of all Internet traffic will be video by 2019.
This makes it an incredibly potent strategy for marketing. In fact, the Wyzowl team reports 76 percent of businesses that have used video have reported an increase in sales.
When it comes to independent agents, this can often be the catalyst for a breakthrough. Case in point: A study by Vertafore discovered that fast-growing insurance agencies are much more likely to use video content throughout their websites. They elaborate by saying that agents primarily use it for:
- Customer testimonials
- Explaining the types of coverage offered
- Descriptions of coverage
- Discussing which customers are best served by the agency
You can also create your own YouTube channel to build up your customer base and develop deeper rapport with your audience. Joey Giangola mentions in Agency Nation that he produced nearly 200 videos for his family’s insurance agency and found that focusing on YouTube was wildly helpful for expediting its growth.
The best part is video has never been easier and more affordable to produce. Entrepreneur Bianca Te Rito points out that the three essentials — an HD video camera, tripod and lapel microphone — can be purchased for less than $200 total.
Try Guest Blogging
Guest blogging can be powerful way to drive traffic from an established website or influencer while demonstrating your expertise in the insurance industry. If you’re struggling to bring traffic to your website, this is one of the best ways to go about it.
For a list of insurance blogs that accept guest posts, check out this resource from the Top Insurance Blogs team.
Seek Out Referrals
One of the most powerful marketing tactics is referrals. The Extole team points out that people are four times more likely to make a purchase when referred by a friend, and customers acquired through referrals have a 37 percent higher retention rate.
There’s just something about using the existing leverage you have with satisfied customers to bring in new ones that never goes out of style.
And as John F. Carroll highlights in Insurance Splash, there are numerous ways to go about it. Some specific ideas he touches on include:
- Asking for a referral immediately after doing a favor
- Creating an email signature that allows recipients to forward your contact information
- Handing out two business cards — one for your customer and one for them to hand out
Participate in Community Events
Odds are the majority (if not all) of your customers will be local. One of the best ways to tap into a local market is to look for community events where you can discuss your business. Joy Gendusa offers some examples in PostcardMania:
- Volunteering at a local non-profit
- Holding safety events (e.g. demonstrations on car seat safety)
- Getting a booth at festivals and other events
Not only is this helpful for getting your name out there, but it’s a great way to create goodwill within your community and establish trust — something that’s vital in the insurance industry.
Give a Talk
Although this may sound a little intimidating for some, giving talks at local colleges, organizations or libraries can be brilliant way to reach new customers.
Here’s an example of how this might work: First, pick a topic that you’re highly knowledgeable on such as homeowner’s insurance. From there, contact a local institution and offer to give a free speech, seminar or tutorial on that topic. For instance, you might discuss:
- How to choose the right homeowner’s insurance
- How much coverage customers need
- How homeowner’s insurance claims work
By providing helpful information and lending your expertise, this would allow you to quickly build your authority and potentially send a nice stream of leads coming your way. A talk allows you to boost your exposure and reach new customers at the same time.
When it comes to establishing credibility for yourself as a speaker, the SpeakerHub team offers some solid tips, which include:
- Find relevant facts and statistics to prove your points.
- Throw in relatable stories and humor when appropriate.
- Use visuals like slideshows to make it more engaging.
It doesn’t get much cheaper than knocking on someone’s door.
It’s important to note that for door-to-door to work, you need to prospect for the right types of insurance. Glen Shelton at Lead Heroes says people at home tend to respond best to four types of insurance:
- Final expense
- Medicare supplements
- Mortgage protection
- Critical illness
Spending Time Rather Than Money on Marketing
There are plenty of marketing tactics available to independent agents that can be highly effective without costing a fortune. The common thread running through each? It’s about spending time rather than money. By targeting the right online and offline techniques, you should be able to drum up new business with minimal cash expenditure.
Images by: langstrup/©123RF Stock Photo, 2nix/©123RF Stock Photo, kasto/©123RF Stock Photo