Times are tough. We all should have taken actions yesterday to put our businesses in a better position today. Well since we are already past that point, then what can we actually start doing now? There are very few short term fixes out there. However, in this article I attempt to list 5 tips that are low hanging fruit. What that means is that these are tips that you can take actions upon today, cost you nothing to less than $20, and more importantly you should see some results within a short period of time.
1) Don’t Cut Advertising Expenses
To stop your finger from bleeding, would you cut off your arm? I would like to think that the answer is a quite obvious, “no”. A lot of times when we need to tighten the financial belt at the office, one of the first items to go is advertising and marketing. You are actually curing a symptom while making a bad situation worse (my finger’s not bleeding because, well, it was attached to my arm) rather than attempting to fix the problem (the bleeding finger). So what we need to do is become a lot smarter about our advertising and marketing. Instead of spraying a money hose blindly at advertising efforts, you need to create ways to track the direct response from your advertising efforts. Without data about your advertising, you cannot make intelligent decisions about spending money. It starts with one simple question you need to burn into every Agent and CSR at your office: “How did you hear about us?” It’s so simple, yet it can reveal so much. If you are spending equal amount of dollars in radio, newspaper, and telephone directory and call-ins are saying they heard about you on the radio, what does that mean? It means that only 33.33% of you advertising dollars are generating you revenue and you might as well be throwing 66.66% of that budget into a fireplace with the same result. Rather than cutting your advertising budget, refocusing 100% of your ad dollars in radio should statistically triple your revenue at no additional cost. And it can all start with a simple question.
2) Mine Existing Business
Most Insurance Agents have a gold mine of business sitting on their desks that just falls through the cracks and never turns into premiums. You can capture this business with a less than $10 investment at your local office supply store. The solution is implementing a Suspension File System. It works like this: All Agents and CSRs have access to a common filing cabinet. In the cabinet there is a folder representing every month covering a two year time frame from this month. As your staff gets quote requests they cannot sell at this point (for example, the prospect’s existing auto policy doesn’t expire for another four months), the staff member puts a sheet of paper with the client information, files, and that staff member’s name in the suspension folder representing four months from now. All you need to do is have the staff review the prospects sitting in the suspension file every week and then you will never have a prospect fall through the cracks because of a lost note sitting somewhere on someone’s desk. All potential business can be seen by Managers, Agents, and CSRs.
3) Maximize Web Site Exposure
Web sites are often overlooked as an active marketing medium. Many Agency owners take a fire and forget approach to their web sites — once they are built, they are never touched again. What you have to realize is that a web site is a 24/7/365 brochure that is actively and consistently viewed not by visitors, but by search engine crawlers! So when a prospect visits a search engine and types “car insurance orlando florida”, there’s a good chance that you will appear and you may get business. This type of marketing is called “organic searches” and the best thing about this marketing is that it’s 100% free! The only cost to you is making sure your web site is up to date, error free, and has all the right things tweaked so that the search engine crawlers find your site so yummy and filled with information that they eat up every word on your pages. Besides maximizing your web site for search engine crawlers, you should be marketing and branding your web site in every piece of advertising associated with your Agency. The general rule is that if you print your phone numbers on it, then you’ve got to print your web site on it.
4) Use existing technology
If you are currently using a Multi-Rater or an advanced Client Management System, you may want to take a look at the latest evolutions of their products. Many of these vendors have launched or developed online versions of their tools that allow you to embed their technology in to your own web site. What does that do for you? It will allow prospects to not only automatically enter themselves, 24 hours a day into your system, but it will give your web site the ability to quote online. If you go this route, then also be sure to promote your new 24-hour quoting ability in all your advertising. You are no longer limited to doing business at regular office hours, and you did it without making any staff increases. What if you do not have a Multi-Rater or Client Management System? Believe it or not, there are some initiatives in motion by non-profit associations such as The Professional Insurance Agents of America to provide Independent agents with affordable access to such technology. These incentives are backed by the power of cooperative advertising
5) Look for inexpensive alternative marketing
The Internet has given way to incredible marketing opportunities for Insurance Agents. With a little bit of research, you can find some advertising opportunities which are free or next to free. I do not suggest paying any outrageous fees for any online directory listing. Remember, at some point this has to translate into revenue so the less we are out of pocket, the better our Return on Investment. So the first thing you should do is get your agency listed in online directories. Even though these sites may not be frequented by your prospective visitors, they are frequented by search engine crawlers — the more web sites out there that link back to your site, the higher you get listed in organic search engine listings. You may want to spend a little money to get a better quality listing, but how much should you spend? I can’t tell what your top end limit should be, but I do have a secret web site that is sitting at the low end of the dollar range. It’s a brand new site and concept for car insurance selling exclusive zip code listings at $2.50 per year! That’s right, for the cost of a fancy cup of coffee you can market your Agency for a whole year! The site covers every zip code in the USA and only allows for 10 agencies per zip code. I suggest you check them out yourself to determine if it’s worth a try. Click here to visit the site at http://www.CarInsuranceRivals.com.