I have been in the health and life insurance business for over 20 years. I was working on some marketing plans and started to think about how marketing insurance products to prospects has evolved over the last twenty years. The thoughts spurred me to write an evolution of insurance marketing.
Going back to the early 1990’s, we insurance agents marketed ourselves and insurance products by cold calling or “walk and talk” we all loved so much and purchasing telemarketing leads. I still remember the mantra of “smilin’ and dialin’” all day on Monday because “so goes Monday, so goes the week”. Then, for the agents that were making some sales, we sent out mailers. Typically, “snail mail” as it is known today got about a 1% to 2% response rate. Because money was tight, we would call the other 98% and pick up about 10% more appointments. The key to all of these wonderful techniques was the fact that the internet did not yet exist and prospects needed an agent to explain insurance coverage’s because information was hard to come by other than through insurance brochures.
As technology began to become more predominate and affordable, marketing insurance products evolved to fax machines and autodialers. An insurance agent could pay a company and some even purchased them for themselves to blast fax machines with “catchy” flyers to spike interest. The autodialers could call multiple numbers at a time and when a live person picked up, the agent went into their best spill to set an appointment. It was all about “fishing” for people to sell an insurance product to and the really good agents actually ask for referrals. Most of the appointments were run at the place of business or the prospects home. The old mantra of “6 legs under the kitchen table equal a sale” meaning if both decision makers were there you would usually make a sale. Because these methods were not only used but abused, “fax blasting” and autodialers became outlawed by the regulators and new ways had to be found.
Today with the evolution of technology, the internet has become the marketing tool of choice. Yes, it evolves constantly as well. Every technique from emailing which is regulated by “anti-spamming laws” to websites, landing pages, blogging, search engine optimization or SEO is constantly used and abused. For the independent agent, the tool of choice is social media. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn are lit up daily with insurance agents trying to sell their products and services 24/7. Sadly, most agents really are clueless when it comes to using social media and by reading their posts it shows. But that is not going to deter them from blasting away. Why not, it is free? That is another blog entirely. Almost all agents today sell right over the phone via websites and e-applications where the client signs via email and they are placed in underwriting. No more “6 legs under the kitchen table” to make a sale.
Throughout all of this evolution I have found the one tool that has not changed in my twenty years. That tool is face to face networking. People still prefer to do business with insurance agents they know and trust. Building a good personal network of referral sources is the most valuable asset an insurance agent or agency can have. Too many insurance agents spend all of their time looking for “golden eggs” instead of finding a goose that can lay “golden eggs”.
Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Tim Wilhoit is owner/principal of Your Friend 4 Life Insurance Agency in Nashville, TN. He is a family man, father of 3, entrepreneur, insurance agent, life insurance broker, salesman, sales trainer, recruiter, public speaker, blogger and team leader with over 25 years of experience in sales and marketing in the insurance and beverage industries.