Growing an insurance business is a tough task in any economy, let alone in times of recession. Still, there are right and wrong ways to prospect and successfully target new customers to grow your business. You'll be up against telemarketers, direct mail, television ads and even your potential clients' own family members in the process, as each of these act as influences on your future customers. In order to grow, an insurance business must learn to distinguish itself amidst all the clutter.
Determine your marketing budget. This number should be calculated taking into account the commission structure in place for your sales agents, as well as the cost of doing business, both of which vary by company. If you have an established agency, you should know the average cost to acquire a paying customer and recognize that this cost may be incurred both by paying your sales team and by mailing several hundred solicitations to prospective customers.
Segment your ideal customers. If you manage a life insurance agency, your ideal customers are likely very different than if you manage an auto insurance agency. Know who your customers are and know how their purchase process works. This is what truly sets a successful agency apart. Using this information, you will be able to pull your customers out of the general public. For example, if you are trying to grow a life insurance agency, you may want to focus on the population nearing retirement. Life insurance is more of an identifiable need at that stage in life, and the urgency of that need is not likely to go away during a recession. Whatever segments of customers you choose, know that you will need to have a tailored marketing approach for each. One size does not fit all.
Target your ideal customers. Once you know who your customers are, you must determine the best way to reach them. Again, this varies by industry. If you are selling auto insurance to teenagers, you may decide to sponsor a driving safety program at a local school. If you are selling life insurance to professionals, you may decide to start a LinkedIn online profile to advertise your services across your network.
Reach your customers through multiple forms of media. Advertising works because it's memorable and repetitive. The same tactic should be employed when reaching insurance customers. Knowing how your customer's purchase process works and how she reaches a decision becomes pivotal. Is the decision to purchase a policy made by the actual policyholder or by some other interested party? Ensure that you know how to effectively target the policyholder AND the decision-maker, if they differ. Sometimes a carefully worded letter in the mail can provide language that is simultaneously suited to each of the stakeholders involved. Other times, you may need to employ different types of communication pieces to reach every stakeholder. If the decision-maker is a workaholic, you may not get to talk with her. The ability to represent your company and services professionally, across many forms of media, proves important if you are limited to email or even voice mail messages.
Ask for referrals and then network. In no industry is networking as important as in insurance. You should set a personal goal to get five new referrals from each contact that you speak with. If you have just successfully sold a life insurance policy to a married couple, ask them for their brother's, sister's or co-worker's contact information. You are providing a service to the uninsured, and if your new customer has been convinced of the value of insurance, it's likely he will be a good ally to have when it comes time to approach a family member.
Cultivate your existing customers. More and more people are wary of the marketing tactics that companies employ. However, existing customers usually have no problem talking with you. Come up with a reason to reach out to them. Perhaps you are checking in to ensure their policy is still meeting their needs, or perhaps you want to verify that the address on file is still accurate. Try to determine if there is a new insurance need that has developed since the last time you spoke with them. Whether or not the customers repurchase, you are planting the seed for next time that they do need additional coverage. Your customers should know that your agency is the one that can handle their insurance needs regardless of whether it's now or five years down the road. Recent research from the Database Marketing Institute shows that the value of upselling to an existing customer is increased retention on an existing policy, and the average insurance customer purchases as many as six times during her lifetime. This is all the more reason to talk to your existing customers and talk to them often.