Word of mouth is great for small businesses BUT is not acceptable for young startup companies looking to expand and dominate a new marketplace.
Truth be told, referrals aren’t always the best types of customers – especially if the person referring them got a deal. You then start to attract people who are looking for a deal as their ‘bargaining chip.’ It is also hard to scale and grow a business if you rely solely on word of mouth referred leads when you rely on customers to spread the word. The better method is to focus on generating new leads while also leveraging your existing customer base. Having an online lead generation strategy with proper execution is very valuable to a local business.
The key word is ‘dominate’ because that is what the new business in 2016 is going to need to strive for (especially online) to capture their customers attention and be top of mind.
When it comes to getting more business from the younger audience (who make the decisions and possibly have their parents do the negotiating if not themselves) is through the web.
The phone book still works for certain niches and industries but just isn’t convenient enough and nobody sits around looking up insurance in a phone book. The ROI is not as long-term.
Companies in the insurance industry will better connect to the younger audience through social media, mobile, and being easy to find.
One of my own initial impressions of an insurance salesman or company is ‘pushy’ with a common objection that may come to mind being ‘we don’t need it right now but will call you when we do.’ Of course they rarely ever call because a big part is a timing issue. The person who tried to sell you something without providing enough value or information probably didn’t leave a lasting impression. Did they care? Doesn’t matter – honestly. There are many other insurance reps that care. So how do you stand out? You want to have a more efficient online marketing system and focus on inbound marketing so people can come to you.
A website in 2016 is almost as important as your physical location. The value of online real estate in Google (yahoo, bing as well) is highly underrated. The cost is substantially lower yet the ROI can be significant. Investing money only makes sense to do when you know there is some hope to see an ROI in one form or another and being able to track or scale your investment accordingly.
When you don’t invest in the online real estate for your target locations, your competitors will. When it is left for too long, it can be even more difficult to make a change.
So all objections that either an insurance rep, salesman, or company is valuable feedback that many insurance companies simply aren’t listening to.
So how can insurance companies appear less pushy?
The solution is to give value and educational content to the prospect to create awareness, build trust, and then have a means for staying in touch (online).
Easier said than done right? Most companies try these things without a clear cut strategy and no idea if it will even work so they won’t even start.
Of the 10 that try it, 8 will see no results, of the 2/10 that sees results, 1 will stop once they get comfortable. The other person who keeps going will eventually take over the other and be the only person left getting a lot of new (non referred) customers to their business.
There is a longer sales cycle to selling insurance than a commodity as the new consumer likes to have choices and make decisions. BUT…
There are ways to shorten the sales cycle as well as improve conversion rates, spend more on advertising because you have a positive ROI allowing for scalable expansion, fill in the gaps to remove doubts in the customers minds, and make it clear that your company is a good choice.
It is a myth that people will only go to the best company. If that was the case then there would only be a few companies and not thousands of insurance companies and agents.
Convenience, trust, knowledge (be the experts), and integrity are pretty important and how your online presence presents that information in 10 seconds is all it really takes.
Demonstrate those things, have rapport, show the customer that they are in good hands and make it easier for them to make a decision to choose you as their provider so they can get what they want. If you are unable to do those things then you are doing them a disservice and may have only wasted their valuable time.
As a customer, how do you know which company to pick? As a good rule of thumb, don’t go with your gut feeling alone. Know who you are dealing with – i.e. is it a salesperson or the expert who will be handling your insurance paperwork and negotiations? Look for both positive as well as negative reviews. When speaking with the agent, are they fully listening to you and understanding what you are really saying? Most salespeople are too busy thinking about what they want to sell and hammering prospects with the benefits without honing in on the core thing that the prospect wants e.g. what is most important to them. If you mention that the safety of your family is paramount and the insurance rep is going into detail on how much money you will save and barely talking about your safety concerns then you may consider ‘looking around.’ While I know it is time consuming and can be a pain, I do recommend shopping around and getting feedback from multiple companies when there is no clear-cut ‘winner’ that stands out above the rest. Finding a provider can turn into a long-term relationship and it is in your interest to deal with people who know you rather than finding a replacement every 5 years (or even more frequently). There are many more things to look for and ways to pick a provider that aren’t mentioned here. The key thing to keep in mind is that you want to work with someone who has your best interests at heart, that cares, and is an expert in their field.
An insurance company can have the best product but terrible customer service would put it under a company with excellent staff and an average product or service.
Like real estate, insurance is a people business and people do business with people they know, like, and trust. So why so many insurance companies continue to get this wrong is beyond me.
Focus on giving real value to people and your business will inevitably grow – and that is part of marketing.