An Insurance Agency Marketing Plan For the Web Centric Marketing Era

Insurance agencies, like any small business, need a concise and achievable marketing plan. Today, however, we should modify this statement to read; Insurance agencies require a concise, achievable web centric insurance agency marketing plan. I’d also add that this insurance agency marketing plan should target lead generation oriented activities, or at least, a large component of the plan and associated budget should focus on lead generation to ensure optimum effectiveness and return on investment for the agency producers.

What type of insurance agency marketing plan does your agency create each year? Is it a comprehensive and detailed plan that is 10 or 20 pages long or a more concise one to five pages? Is it part of an annual business plan or a five year strategic plan? Agencies approach business planning, budgeting and marketing from a wide variety of perspectives. For the purposes of this article, we’re going to drill down to a marketing specific plan, then further to a web centric agency lead generation plan.

There are many marketing related activities which fall under the insurance agency marketing plan umbrella. Some of these (listed alphabetically) include:

· Association Memberships (Chamber of Commerce, etc.)

· Blogging

· Brochures

· Client Testimonials

· Club Memberships (Golf, Tennis, Other)

· Direct Mail

· eBrochures

· eMarketing

· ePublishing

· Events (for both clients and prospects)

· Networking Organizations

· Newsletter

· On-site Seminars

· Pay Per Click (Google PPC Campaigns)

· PR and Client Testimonial Creation

· Promotional Items

· Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

· Social Media Marketing (Facebook, LinkedIn)

· Telemarketing

· Trade Shows

· Traditional Advertising (Magazines, Yellow Pages, Radio, TV)

· Web Seminars

· Website

· White Papers

That’s already a long list, and we’re just getting started. Smaller agencies can’t tackle all of the activities above, in fact, they should only focus on a few of these each year, and many would agree that they should focus on lead generation oriented activities which will help keep their pipelines full and active. Let’s review some of the better lead generation activities from the list above:

· Direct Mail

· eMarketing

· Pay Per Click (Google PPC Campaigns)

· Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

· Social Media Marketing (Facebook, LinkedIn)

· Telemarketing

· Traditional Advertising (Magazines, Yellow Pages, Radio, TV)

· Web Seminars

· Website

Granted, networking oriented activities can generate leads, though these should be pursued in the normal course of business in a manner most comfortable to the individual producer. Thus we are focusing on quantitatively oriented (easily repeatable and highly measurable) lead generation activities. This list is more manageable, but still needs to be culled to ensure proper focus on the respective lead generation activity. A decade ago, traditional advertising, telemarketing and direct mail might have been the preferred path for most agencies. Today, only one of those activities should remain on our list, and as you will see below, the remaining items are all web marketing centric.

· eMarketing/Web Seminars

· Pay Per Click (Google PPC Campaigns)

· Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Blogging, ePublising

· Social Media Marketing (Facebook, LinkedIn)

· Telemarketing (for smaller profile prospects)

· Website

Our insurance agency marketing list has now been culled to a manageable level. You may have noticed that eMarketing has been paired with web seminars. This is because many insurance agency marketing experts find a higher response rate to eMarketing initiatives when leveraging educationally oriented webinars as the primary call to action. SEO, search engine optimization for insurance agencies, results in the organic display of your agency website at the top of the search engine rankings (Google, Bing or Yahoo search engine results). You probably noticed that this is now bundled with blogging and ePublishing, since those elements are often necessary to achieve page one search engine results. Organic SEO is a gift that keeps on giving; it does not require fees every time a prospect clicks on your name. PPC, or Pay Per Click ads, appear at the top and side of the Google results, and require that your agency pays anywhere from $1 to $5 per click, depending upon the competitiveness of the search term, regardless if the prospect who clicks is qualified or not. My recommendations for a lead generation, web centric plan would typically include the following:

· eMarketing/Web Seminars

· Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Blogging, ePublising

· Social Media Marketing (Facebook, LinkedIn)

· Website

This is a manageable list for almost any agency, and a cost effective outsource if the agency lacks the internal expertise to accomplish these tasks. A professional up to date website is essential for any insurance agency. The website should be optimized for your specific keywords (benefits, workers comp, truck insurance, etc.). Your insurance agency SEO initiative may need to be regionalized or localized (workers compensation Massachusetts). Social media marketing, a presence on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. is fast and easy for most agencies. Blogging and ePublishing require more time, but are essential for most agencies. Fortunately agencies can often leverage their blog content and publish it in well known, online article directories. Lastly, a successful eMarketing and Web Seminar campaign can often yield the best results for insurance agencies. An ideal series might have 5,000 targeted emails combined with a monthly webinar. Be wary of email list brokers advertising inexpensive email lists. We’ve seen agency lists where the first and last names are merged into one field and many of the emails are [email protected] or [email protected] type emails, a definite problem when it comes to professional eMarketing. EMarketing is both an art and a science, agencies must ensure it is done properly, professionally and obey the CAN-SPAM act.

Web centric insurance agency marketing is now a critical foundation for any agency wishing to grow, your agency should be well on the way to implementing these initiatives. That said, don’t attempt to do too many activities at one time, you’re better off doing a few marketing activities really well than accomplishing a dozen in a haphazard manner.

Boost Your Business With a Well Crafted Marketing Plan

A well crafted marketing plan is vital to any business growth, as it shows you how to attract and retain your clients. Marketing plans can offer you plenty of valuable info, from which other operational plans can be crafted.

If you want to get a marketing plan off the ground, but are faced with either time or experience constraints, writing a one-page plan is often the answer. It gives you a wonderful guideline for your business, and allows you to expand it at your own pace. A one-page plan is quick to draw up and can give you a marketing to-do list, as well as an overview of your plans as they currently stand.

If you are keen to begin creating one for yourself, without any help from a professional marketing firm, then bear in mind the following need to be included:

1. Target market: Your plan should have your target audience well defined. Include demographics like age, sex, location etc, and add as much detail as you can.

2. Goals: Your company’s long term and short term goals should be well defined. Select specific goals which are measurable.

3. Strategies: These of course will include all the strategies you will be using to implement your goals. Specific strategies are also known as tactics, and if used wisely, can help you rapidly advance to the next level. Break down your strategies into weekly, monthly, quarterly and half yearly tactics where relevant.

4. SWOT analysis: Write down your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. And conduct a SWOT analysis of your personality if you believe it to be relevant.

5. Industry trends: If your company will benefit by knowledge of industry trends, then this is the place to mark them down. It will help you track down your goals and measure your progress in comparison with your competitors.

To your marketing success!

© 2010 Usha Krishnan Sliva

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Pink Marketing Plan: Low Budget Sponsorship of Breast Cancer Awareness Charities

The month of October gives businesses the opportunity to demonstrate to the community the values they stand for. Regardless of the size of your business, this breast cancer awareness month offers a variety of opportunities to stand out and gain visibility through sponsored events. People around you will start recognizing your brand as a community supporter. This will act as an incentive for them to choose your business over others, which is the goal of your marketing plan.

Top rated suppliers of promotional products also support this cause. They donate a percentage of the sales, from the large selection of pink promotional items, to breast cancer research. This is a cause that concerns everyone and we should all get involved.

Ideas for October’s marketing plan:

1. Put together a team with you employees and their families and sign up for the breast cancer walk.
- This team building activity is very important now that the economy might not allow you to offer the great employee benefits that you would like to present.
- Some of your client’s and even prospects might be at the breast cancer walk too so you’ll score some points with them.
- Get custom T-shirts done for your team, which have a very large space to display your company’s logo and message.
- If you don’t have employees, you can invite business associates, your clients and your family, to form a team and include the T-shirts.

2.Broadcast the upcoming events in your place of business
-Put up a sign in your location, with information about the upcoming events in the community. Even if you are not assisting it will encourage others to participate.
-Take pictures of the events you attend, post some at your location and also in your company’s Facebook. It will prove to others that they can help too.
- Use Facebook and Twitter to inform everyone about your participation, and encourage everyone to participate as well.
-Remember, if you can’t afford to participate, broadcasting these events it’s still a contribution.
- Don’t let your contribution go unnoticed!

3.Sponsor a fundraising event at any level you can afford.
-Donate a pink theme item with your logo for the breast cancer walk or any other event. This will help your branding and the organizers will appreciate your donation.
-Donate a set percentage of your October sales to a charity foundation.
-If you are in retail, put a clear box next to the register and ask people to make a small donation in exchange of a branded pink item. If you want to go the extra mile, match every dollar you collect.
-Organize a fundraising between your business neighbors. Offer a prize for the company that accumulates the most funds, and donate all the collections to a charity foundation.
-Make sure your advertising is appropriate for your audience and make public how much you are collecting and giving to the charity.

Make sure you consult about the legalities by consulting with your attorney or contacting the local chapter of the Breast Cancer Association or American Cancer Society.
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