Powerhouse insurance marketer George Nordhaus just finished a tremendous two-part series on the two biggest threats facing insurance agents: the commoditization of insurance and the growing relationship deficit (not building and maintaining enough strong ones with insurance buyers). Agents readily acknowledge these threats and always pledge to address them – but regrettably ignore one of the most powerful weapons in combating both: social media.
The threats of commoditization and the relationship deficit are two sides of the same coin. Strong relationships keep the lines of communications open and head off misunderstandings and perceptions that insurance is a one-size fits all proposition. “Just go to the store and pick the cheapest brand off the shelf, they’re all the same“ is a common view. Successful agents continually reach out to prospects and policyholders alike to lend a hand – not just to handle a claim or sell a new coverage — but to also offer a kind word, a helpful tip, a sunny smile, and create a palpable sense of empathy.
An agent’s relationship with a policyholder is not a transaction. It must be built on continual communication, not just the occasional telephone call (often just before renewal) and infrequent face-to-face contact.
Why Social Media?
Because today’s insurance buyers are bombarded every day with more pitches, offers and come-ons than ever – on TV, radio, smartphones, and yes, social media ads. Some of it is noise, certainly, but some of it also hits home, if for no other reason than sheer saturation. So what do many independent agents do? They complain about commoditization and about not having enough time to build relationships. The fact is, however, prospects and policyholders are just as time-starved as agents, which is why they are increasingly turning to digital tools to help them find, evaluate, and buy from carriers which make it easy. It’s utter madness for any agent to ignore social media for that very reason. No agent, no matter how industrious and well meaning, can keep up if they insist on playing on a field that’s shrinking fast.
It’s also not enough just to have a mere presence on Facebook or Twitter or any of the other social media sites that buyers use. A generic “we have great people and great products” bromide that many agents use just doesn’t cut it. To stand out from the Flos and Gekkos as well other independents, agents must generate and maintain distinct, memorable and unique social media images that resonate with buyers and stand apart from competitors. In short, agents need to wear their personalities on their sleeves. And ironically, that should not be as hard as it sounds. After all, every agent worth his or her salt got there because of a dynamic, energetic, can-do personality. It is just a matter of transferring it to a digital platform.