Marketing for growth at every agency stage

Whether you’re just getting started, actively growing your book of business, or maintaining a mature portfolio, a strong marketing strategy can help you achieve your goals. 
As important as benefits are to hiring and retention, it seems like selling them should be easy; but every benefits advisor knows this is not true. Selling benefits is one of the hardest things to do in the insurance business.
The most critical aspect of your job as a broker is to introduce companies to products that benefit them and their employees. But with this responsibility as your main focus, how do you find new clients, develop leads into customers, or increase your revenue to support a growing business? 
Strategizing and planning your marketing to meet the changing needs of your agency can drive more success than you might imagine. 
If you are just getting started or actively growing the number of groups in your book of business, don’t overlook the basics.

Ask clients for referrals – Referrals are still the number one means of generating quality leads that turn into closed sales. Never be afraid to ask your clients for the names of other companies that might need your services.
Follow up on past referrals – A past referral may not have become a regular client for a number of reasons. Don’t dismiss these referrals unless you have specifically been  told to go away. Follow up and maintain contact with past referrals by placing a casual call or sending an email every couple of months.
Make use of networking – Networking is another tried-and-true strategy for discovering new clients. Attend Chamber of Commerce events or volunteer with local civic organizations. Networking is one of the fastest and most effective ways to generate new leads.

When you begin to hit your stride and have built a solid business filled with strong client partnerships, there are many other marketing strategies that can help you retain and grow your business simultaneously. 

Create an online presence – We live in a digital world, and it’s important to have presence and compete online. If you don’t have a website, hire someone to build one. Work with an SEO specialist and digital marketers to make sure your website produces results. Connect as often as you can online, and you’ll start seeing those new clients come to you.

Be a source of information – Employee benefits are complex and confusing. Employers are constantly looking for information they can pass along to their employees. Be the broker who explains things in terms real people understand. Educate your audience with insurance tips, share best practices, answer frequently asked questions, and highlight client testimonials. Keep the content informational and relatable (not sales oriented) and make sure to share content in person and online on your website.
Utilize social media – Social media is a virtual gold mine of new leads. If you’re not on social media yet, join in. It’s a platform through which you can develop your brand and an avenue through which you can educate your followers about who you are, what you do, and how you can help them. Best of all, it’s the perfect tool for establishing authority within the insurance and benefits industry.

LinkedIn: LinkedIn is the primary social media platform for business professionals. It’s where you can make connections with industry colleagues and employers alike. LinkedIn also offers the opportunity to join professional groups where you can participate in potentially profitable discussions.
Facebook: Facebook is an easy decision because it’s the undisputed champion of the social media world. It allows you to easily connect with friends and family members who may need your industry expertise and services. The three keys to Facebook marketing are avoiding long-winded posts, making regular use of images and videos, and offering a variety of content to keep things fresh.

Leverage testimonials – The only thing better than a single referral is a happy client testimonial that serves as referral to many prospects. Ask your best clients for a written or video testimonial on how your services positively impacted their business and employees. This feedback serves two-fold for you: It’s the humblest way to share your client successes with a future client, and the feedback helps you identify your greatest strengths that you should promote. Testimonials are highly effective in recruiting new clients because the prospect hears why they should work with you from another business facing the same employee benefit decisions.

As your book of business matures, it’s time to pursue new avenues of growth. As you get to know your clients better, you have opportunities to introduce new product lines, explore product innovation in your portfolio, and engage with your clients in new ways. But how do you know the best approach for so many different clients? It’s time to let your years of data work for you, and your clients. You can use it to measure your sales efforts, such as how often you close deals and how effective your marketing efforts are.

Understand your client needs – By analyzing your customer data, you can identify new opportunities to market to your clients. Data will help you understand your clients and whether they are happy with the products and services you offer. Through data, you can also help your clients establish their priorities and determine what is most important to them and their employees. By sharing products that have met similar needs for other clients in your portfolio, you’ll see improved retention and increased sales.

Improve your business processes – When used to its fullest extent, data can help you improve service, increase retention, and drive sales. You can utilize data to determine how well you are retaining existing clients. Overall, analytics are the best way to establish what is working and what’s not so you can find ways to perform better.

When you’re able to access, analyze, and action the right data, you can grow your business and increase sales!
Laura Clenney, Vice President, Marketing Services, leads BenefitMall’s marketing and product development strategies.

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