ITC Press Releases
|For Third Year, ITC Named Top Technology Provider by Insurance Business America
ITC, a provider of websites, marketing, comparative rating and management software and services, announced today that for the third consecutive year they were named a top technology provider by Insurance Business America readers.
POSTED JUNE 21, 2018 10:00 AM
|ITC Launches Data Analytics Portal for Insurance Carriers
ITC, a provider of websites, marketing, rating and management software and services, launched TurboAnalytics, its carrier insight portal, today.
POSTED APRIL 12, 2018 11:00 AM
|ITC Receives Majority Equity Investment from Accel-KKR
ITC, a provider of websites, agency marketing, comparative rating and management software and services, announced today that it has received a majority equity investment from Accel-KKR, a leading technology-focused private equity firm.
POSTED APRIL 04, 2018 10:00 AM
|Third Annual InsurTech Scholarship Open for Applications
The third annual InsurTech Scholarship is now open for applications for the 2018-19 school year.
POSTED JANUARY 30, 2018 9:00 AM
|Single Sign On Now Available on TurboRater
ITC's comparative rating system TurboRater is now capable of single sign on.
POSTED DECEMBER 12, 2017 9:00 AM
|ITC Adds Syndicated Blogging to Insurance Website Builder
Now available in Insurance Website Builder's Platinum and Emerald plans... syndicated blogging.
POSTED DECEMBER 07, 2017 9:00 AM
|ITC Adds Multiple Filters to AgencyBuzz
ITC announced today the availability of stackable multiple filters in its automated agency marketing system AgencyBuzz.
POSTED OCTOBER 26, 2017 9:00 AM
|ITC Named a Finalist for Digital Service Provider in the Inaugural Insurance Business Awards
ITC named a finalist in the Best Digital Service Provider category for the 2017 Insurance Business America Awards.
POSTED OCTOBER 13, 2017 9:00 AM
|Meghan Axtman Wins the Second Annual InsurTech Scholarship
Congratulations to Meghan Axtman, a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, on winning the 2017-2018 InsurTech Scholarship.
POSTED OCTOBER 10, 2017 9:00 AM
|Second Annual InsurTech Scholarship Open for Applications
The second annual InsurTech Scholarship is open for applications. Deadline to apply is September 15, 2017.
POSTED JULY 17, 2017 9:00 AM
|What is Your Why?
There is a common business saying that people like to do business with people they like.
What this really means is people are more interested in you and why you do what you do rather than what you actually do.
Or, put another way…
“People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.”
Author Simon Sinek described this more in his book Start With Why and TED Talk on the same subject. It’s worth a watch when you have 18 minutes:
The Difference Between What and Why
I have two ways I talk about what I do. I might just say I work for a software company in the insurance industry. Or, I may say I help independent insurance agents be more efficient and successful.
The former is the fastest way to end a conversation. The latter is more engaging.
The first is more focused on what I do. The second is why.
Talking about what you do doesn’t differentiate you. And, frankly, it can be a bit boring.
When you start with your why, you are sharing your passion. What gets you out of bed in the morning. What gets you excited.
People respond to passion. Far more than they would when you talk about the what. Because when they see your passion, they know you’re going to care about them too.
Your why is your story. It’s your purpose. Your why is what makes you different.
Sharing Your Why
If you’re not sure what your why is, start with these questions:
- Why do you keep showing up every day?
- What do you do that gets you excited?
- What problems or challenges do you enjoy solving?
Keep digging until you find the story that best illustrates why you do what you do. Keep reflecting on what makes you and your story unique.
Once you have identified your why, it’s time to start sharing it. There are many places you can use your why and tell your story.
- In the content of your insurance agency website.
- When networking and building relationships with referral sources.
- On social media.
- In any video or email marketing you do.
- When talking to prospects so they know why they should choose you.
Your why needs to the center of your agency’s message everywhere.
But, don’t just say it. Show it too. This is where video and social media can really help out.
Your why is your passion. It’s what inspires you. It’s what keeps you showing up every day. Show your passion, and you will succeed.
I believe in the value and importance of the independent insurance agent channel. And, I want to help agents and brokers be more efficient and successful in achieving their goals.
This is my why.
What is your why?
POSTED SEPTEMBER 25, 2018 9:28 AM
|5 Simple Ways to Give Your Agency Website a Boost
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a continuous process. But, there are things you can do on your insurance agency website to help with your search visibility. Today, I will talk about strategies you can put in place to help generate more traffic over time to your website.
1. Write a Blog!
Content is very important to search engines. Their primary purpose is to give the most relevant answer to a user’s question.
If your website has content for consumers who search for topics related to insurance, this can generate traffic to your website. With blogging, you can create relevant content to cater to your target audience.
If you have an Insurance Website Builder site, you have a default blog page available. It has all the features you need to create your own blogs. Just go to the blog option within the Administration Console.
Blog within the administration console
To get some ideas on what kind of things you can write about, check out our monthly content idea blog series.
2. Connect Your Website to Google Analytics
You’ve heard the statement data is king, right?
Google Analytics is a free and powerful tool that tracks traffic coming into your website. You can use it to collect data about your insurance website. Find out the types of people visiting your website, or the highest-performing webpages. To start using it, you must connect Google Analytics to your website.
If your agency has an Insurance Website Builder site, it is simple to connect this to your website and start tracking today. Within the Administration Console, find the Web Statistics section. From there, paste and save the Analytics Tracking Code (it would look something like UA-700000-11) and you’re done!
Having this tool set up will give you valuable insights into the performance of your website and see where you can make improvements over time.
*Web Statistics section of administration console
If you want to learn more about some of the data you can get by default on Google Analytics, check out my last blog about The Top Google Analytics Reports for Insurance Websites.
3. Add a Partner
Backlinking is when another website has a link that leads back to your website. Backlinks are important because they signal to search engines that your website is considered valuable to others. They are also one of the top two ranking factors in SEO.
There are many ways to obtain quality backlinks. But, one simple strategy is to create partnerships with other businesses through a partners page.
To add a partner to your Insurance Website Builder partners page, go to the Partners and Local Resources section within the administration console. Fill out the information within the Add Partners area. To create the backlink, just ask your partner to do the same on their website.
*Partners and Lead Resources Section of administration console
4. Create a Google My Business Listing
Have you ever done a Google search for a service, and a map appears listing different businesses within your area? This is a free product called Google My Business.
Google My Business allows a business with a physical address to create an online listing. The listing includes information like business name, phone number, website URL, photos, and etcetera. For a local business like your agency, having this listing can lead more users to finding your website.
If you don’t already have a Google My Business listing, use this link to set one up today!
5. Get Testimonials on Your Website
Getting reviews from your clients is a great way to showcase your brand. But, it is also another way to help with your SEO efforts.
If you have a Gold or above grade Insurance Website Builder plan, your agency’s testimonials page integrates with the lead generation website IWantInsurance.com.
So, when a customer leaves a review on your testimonial page, it updates automatically on IWantInsurance.com. This creates a backlink, which as mentioned previously, is a major indication of quality to search engines.
What are some other ways you use your agency website?
POSTED SEPTEMBER 24, 2018 10:39 AM
|ICYMI: Search Marketing For The Short And Long Term
Navigating your search marketing journey starts with setting the right strategy. But search strategies are not one-size-fits-all.
The time horizon of your search strategy can have a big impact on your revenue. To get the best return, you must leverage short and long-term search marketing.
In this Masters of Marketing webinar, I examined these two search marketing strategies. I also looked at how your agency can best use them for sustainable growth.
I’ve included a short summary of my presentation below. To learn more, watch the recording here or review the slides below.
The Essence of Search Marketing
The goal of search marketing is to boost traffic to your website. But getting to the mountaintop isn’t easy. Agencies must prove their worth by demonstrating their relevance and authority.
This looks different in practice, depending on time horizon. Short-term search marketing focuses on satisfying immediate transactional search demand. Long-term search marketing casts a wider net. It focuses on satisfying searcher needs before they’re in the market for your services.
Here’s a closer look at each strategy.
Short-Term Search Marketing Strategies
These strategies focus on a compressed buying cycle. They allow your agency to appear for consumer searches that lead to immediate action.
If someone is searching for a quote, a short-term strategy could drive them to your agency. They can then request a quote in that same web visit. And you can see a direct tie between that potential revenue and your search marketing.
Short-term search marketing tactics include Technical SEO tweaks, content optimization and review management. They also include key topic selection for the website. (Check out the presentation for an explanation on why topics are better than keywords.)
Short-term search marketing strategies are most effective after an agency launch or rebranding. In these scenarios, your new website won’t be visible on search engines at first. But short-term tactics can send your rankings skyrocketing.
Still, short-term strategies lose momentum later on. The market you serve with these strategies is also limited and commoditized. And success can vary depending on seasonality and other cyclical factors.
Long-Term Search Marketing Strategies
These strategies focus on an extended buying cycle. They encourage your agency to help consumers before they even think of shopping for a policy.
Let’s say someone searches for home maintenance tips. Under a long-term strategy, your agency would provide a resource satisfying this need. If this resource shows up in search results, the consumer can get the immediate help they need.
The consumer might not request a quote in that moment. After all, they’re more concerned with fixing up their home. But when they’re ready to shop for a policy, they could come back to your agency. And they might not even bother to shop your competitors.
Long-term search marketing strategies focus on brand building and resourcefulness. The idea is simple. If you prove your worth before a consumer is in the market, you’ll be top-of-mind when they shop.
Long-term search marketing tactics include in-depth content creation, brand promotion and link earning. These tactics focus on building lasting consumer loyalty. And they can boost your agency’s Customer Lifetime Value.
Long-term search marketing strategies can lead to a consistent revenue boost. You can attract consumers who stay with your agency longer. And these loyal consumers can refer friends and family to the agency.
Still, long-term strategies demand persistence. You must put in a significant upfront investment, with no guarantee of a return. It’s also difficult to track your success, due to the longer buying cycle.
Putting It All Together
So, how do you best combine these strategies?
Start with short-term search marketing. It provides a great foundation. And it can lead to early success.
Then, layer long-term search marketing on top of the work you’ve already done. You can reap the benefits of broader success, without risking any of the gains you’ve already made.
Balance the short and the long-term, and your agency will be a force online.
POSTED SEPTEMBER 20, 2018 11:50 AM
|How Customer Service Affects Search Visibility
What comes to mind when you think of search marketing?
Do you think of keywords? Of links from relevant websites? Of blogging and content?
All these elements can move the needle for your website. They can increase search visibility. They can boost traffic to your website.
But what if I told you there was another element that mattered more? A foundation you need in place for any of the above tactics to work?
Well, it’s true.
Here’s why your agency’s customer service level will make or break your search visibility.
Make your bed.
Your parents might have told you this when you were growing up.
To instill habits of presentability and attention to detail.
Tidiness removes unwanted distractions. It helps build favor among others. And favorability is critical in a business setting.
Your agency’s customer service level is its bed. If you keep it presentable, you can build favor among consumers. If you let it get messy, it can turn potential business away.
It doesn’t matter how great your rates are. It doesn’t matter how many carriers you write. It doesn’t matter if you bind policies in-person, on the phone or through the internet.
Consumers are watching you. Listening to you. Evaluating you.
If you don’t make customer service your top priority, you’re lighting cash on fire.
Where Customer Service Meets Search
The opportunity great customer service provides agencies today is larger than ever. So is the financial risk tied to poor customer service.
The internet has magnified the importance of good service. And, search marketing has raised the stakes by a factor of ten.
How so? Consider this.
In previous generations, a cluttered office desk might have deterred walk-in prospects. A customer service representative who was rude on the phone might have heard a dial tone in response.
Poor decorum hurt agencies. But not at scale.
Lost opportunities only spread as far as the jilted consumer could carry them. The consumer would turn elsewhere, and tell their friends and family to do the same. Each bad interaction would cost the agency a handful of prospects, at most.
Today, consumers can share their bad experience with the world through the internet. The costs of poor customer service can be catastrophic.
Why? Because other internet users aren’t the only ones paying attention. So are Google and Bing.
Search engines take consumer sentiment into account. If consumers show affinity for an agency, search engines might rank it higher. But if they run for the hills, search engines might demote the listing instead.
How do Google and Bing track consumer sentiment? They don’t tap your phones or have employees secret shop your agency. But they do look at interactions with your online properties.
That means looking at your review profiles on such sites as Google Maps, Facebook and Yelp. It means monitoring dwell time on your website. (That’s how long consumers spend on the site, and which pages they visit.) And, it means noting mentions of your agency across the web.
These interactions don’t provide search engines a 360-degree view of your agency. But, they do provide accurate insights on the level of your customer service, both online and off.
After all, a bad customer service experience offline will often end up online. And, a stellar offline experience can lead to an online shout-out.
You can see how critical customer service is to your revenue potential. Great customer service can boost your agency’s visibility, revenue and referral pipeline. Poor customer service can corrode those three areas.
Leveraging the Upside Of Customer Service
So, how can you make your agency presentable? How can you turn consumers into raving fans? How can you ride the wave to greater visibility and revenue?
Establish the following processes.
- Demand excellence. Make delighting customers your agency mission. Train your staff on proper etiquette. Demand the same of new hires. Record office phone calls and run quality assurance on them. Spend time in the office observing the behavior of your agents and CSRs. Success on the bottom line starts with setting a strong foundation on the front line.
- Respond fast. Consumers expect courtesy from businesses they interact with. But they also expect speed. Make sure your staff can respond to quote requests and inquiries in short order. And if many consumers reach out with the same concern, address it through your website.
- Build a network. There may be times when a prospect doesn’t like your coverage options. Or situations where you determine that a prospect isn’t a best fit. Treat these lost revenue opportunities as an opportunity to earn future business. Connect with business partners who serve the markets you don’t. Set up a cross-referral program for these situations. If that’s too ambitious, agree to recommend each other’s agencies. If you can provide consumers with answers time after time, you can excel at customer service. Being helpful can build goodwill and earn you future business.
- Spread the word. If you master the first three steps, you’ll be on your way to mastering customer service. But if the online world doesn’t know about your stellar service, you won’t reap the full benefits. Ask new customers to leave reviews of your agency on Google Maps and Facebook. (Yelp prohibits review solicitation.) But be strategic! Ask for reviews after binding a new policy. Consumers are certain to be happy with your agency. And they’ll have had recent exposure with your customer service.
- Grow your base. Encourage customers to refer their friends and family to your agency. Make sure to include the topic of customer service in your request. Here’s an example: If you enjoy the service we strive to provide, we’d love it if you referred your friends and family. A message like this boost your referral count, if it’s backed up by consistent, stellar service.
These tips might not seem like traditional search marketing tactics. They’re not.
Still, they can be the fuel that powers your agency’s digital marketing engine.
If you commit to them, time after time, you can see your online visibility skyrocket. If you neglect them, your agency will get stuck in its tracks.
Don’t sleep on customer service. There’s nothing soft about it.
POSTED SEPTEMBER 19, 2018 9:59 AM
|4 Common Misconceptions About Email Marketing
Some may believe email marketing is an archaic way to reach your customer. Or, that no one likes finding spam in their inbox. The good news is, they would be wrong! Email marketing is an effective tool to stay connected with your audience – when it’s done right. With that said, let’s dive into some common misconceptions about email marketing.
All email is spam.
A lot of people starting out in the email marketing world may think all email marketing is spam. You may believe that recipients despise receiving marketing emails. Or, they immediately hit the SPAM button instead of engaging with your emails.
This may be true in the case of bought email lists. Those recipients aren’t expecting your email and have never interacted with your agency.
Well-curated email marketing isn’t considered spam at all. In fact, according to the research firm Marketing Sherpa, over 90 percent of US adults like receiving promotional emails from companies they do business with.
If you are buying or obtaining email lists in an unethical way, sending them an email may be spam. All email address should be obtained by your company through legitimate means. Your audience should be expecting to hear from you. This means that at some point, they signed up to receive email correspondence from your brand.
Email marketing can’t compete with social media.
You may believe that social media is the number one digital marketing tool. But don’t forget: When you use social media marketing, you are at the mercy of that platform’s algorithms. An algorithm often decides when messages reach your audience.
As for email, you are using a well-established medium to reach your customers. If you play your cards right, it is more than likely that your email will be in your customer’s inbox. After all, billions of emails are sent, received, and opened every year.
People get too many emails already, and yours will get lost in the storm.
This is a common misconception in the email marketing world. But according to SalesHub, 60 percent of consumers actually receive six or less marketing emails per day. In fact, out of that 60 percent, 40 percent receive three or less emails in a day!
As for getting lost in the proverbial storm, there is a way to avoid this predicament too. Email marketing platforms (such as AgencyBuzz) can track when recipients open their email. The platform then uses this information to send future emails around this time. This makes it less likely that your email will become buried or go unseen. It will actually be sitting at the top of their inbox when they open it.
You may think unsubscribes are the worst thing that could happen to you in the email marketing world. This is not so. Unsubscribes are actually a good thing!
When a contact unsubscribes, they remove themselves from receiving further content from you. This means your list is honed toward customers interested in your product. In turn, you can focus on building a list of contacts who appreciate your content and offerings.
Unsubscribes also save you money. Email platforms may charge by the amount of contacts you have on your list or by how many emails you send. Either way, unsubscribes prevent you from wasting a valuable spot in your client list. That spot could be filled with someone who is open to your product or service.
POSTED SEPTEMBER 17, 2018 9:23 AM
|How to Optimize Your Videos for Search Engines
Recently I've had many agents ask how to optimize their videos for Google. It's a valid question. Video and YouTube is one of the fastest growing social platforms out there.
Today, text and pictures don't grab people's attention like they used to. Agents are turning to video to engage customers and keep prospects on their website.
In this blog, I am going to go over how to optimize a video for the search engines. Let's assume the video will be on YouTube. It is the most popular free platform to upload and distribute videos. And, most importantly, Google owns YouTube.
Remember: No matter what, we have to start with good quality content. It doesn't matter if we optimize the video perfectly. If the video low quality, the viewer will stop watching. So, make sure you have good content, clear sound, bright lighting, and the right length of time.
1. Title and Description
Much like regular search engine optimization, SEO for videos also relies on title and description.
Search engines can't read videos. That's why they depend on the video’s title and description to tell them what the video is about.
Your title should be descriptive, yet succinct. Do a little research to see which keywords would be worth adding. Your description should have more information about the video. Or, links to more resources. You should include a link to your website, and if necessary include your social media links.
2. Attractive Video Thumbnail
Once you've uploaded your video, YouTube allows you to choose a thumbnail. Don't just go with the default one. Try to choose the best one.
You also have the option to upload a customized thumbnail. All you need to do is verify your account. These eye-catching graphics would help you increase views. If you were to embed your video on your website, users would be more likely to press play.
As I've stated before, Google can't read video, so we need to help it along with a transcript. Depending on the type of video, you may already have a script.
If not, you can find a service like Speechpad that will transcribe a video for you at a reasonable price. You can use the transcript in the video description, or on the webpage where you've embedded the video. The text will include keywords, which is great for attracting the search engines.
4. Call to Action
At the end of your video, and at the end of your description, ask viewers to do something.
You've heard YouTubers say it all the time. Now, you need to do it too: “Like, subscribe, comment, or visit our website.”
Any of the first three actions sends signals to YouTube that your video is relevant and useful. This goes to my earlier point of creating content good enough that viewers would want to engage.
5. Add an End Screen
Adding an end screen allows the viewer to continue the journey they started when they began watching the video.
YouTube allows you to add cards to videos. These are images or links that allow you to interact with the video. The difference is they only display at the end of the video.
This is when you can take the viewer to your website or landing page to track leads.
I hope these tips have encouraged you to try making more videos. Optimizing them for search engines is not as difficult as it seems. Don't forget to recommend, share, comment below if you liked this article!
POSTED SEPTEMBER 12, 2018 9:26 AM
|This is the Way: Ashley Fitzsimmons, Beyoncé of Insurance
“Insurance Agent just wasn’t cutting it for me,” said Ashley Fitzsimmons of Fitzsimmons Insurance Agency. “I wanted something attention grabbing. I wanted something that said: I’m taking this industry to the next level and I’m not afraid to let people know I love it.”
Thus, the Beyoncé of Insurance brand was created.
“When I say: Sexy, exciting, rewarding, challenging, what’s the first industry you think of?” said Fitzsimmons. “Not insurance. We need to shed the ‘pale, male and stale’ title!”
Fitzsimmons found her way into industry through a path many agents relate to: Family.
“I’m fourth generation,” said Fitzsimmons. “Had you asked me during college if I’d ever go into the family business, my answer was always no.”
Today, Fitzsimmons is grateful her family talked her into giving insurance a try. They told her starting out wouldn’t be easy. But there’s nothing Fitzsimmons loves more than a challenge. She made a point to cultivate relationships and soak up as much knowledge as she could to gain client trust.
She recalls witnessing her first total loss, which was the moment she realized she could truly make a difference in people’s lives.
“I cringe when I see fire trucks driving by our office,” said Fitzsimmons. “And on this particular day, there were a lot.”
It was during hunting season and the weather was rainy. After determining the fire’s location was a client’s cabin, Fitzsimmons immediately drove out. All that remained was a wood stove in the middle of the pile of ash.
“Although I couldn’t magically fix everything with a wave of my hand,” said Fitzsimmons. “I was able to stand with my client and let him know I was here to help. He still tells people about that day, and how by simply caring and doing what I would have wanted someone to do for me, it made the situation better.”
When asked what she loves most about the industry, Fitzsimmons says although being able to educate her clients is gratifying, she also enjoys her peer group of fellow agents that have become like family.
“I have met so many incredible individuals in this industry,” said Fitzsimmons. “Not all superheroes wear capes. Some wear high heels, dragon leggings, goddess costumes, crazy socks or drive really awesome blacked out Wranglers. But what all of these superheroes have in common is their love and passion for the industry and each other.”
This is the way Ashley Fitzsimmons works.
Forest City, Pennsylvania – I’m about 25 miles north of Scranton, PA, and of course, I’m a fan of The Office!
Beyoncé of Insurance – Wearing heels and closing deals.
One word that describes how you like to work:
Creatively. Connect with me on LinkedIn and ask me what I mean…
Current mobile device:
13” MacBook Air
Project(s) you’re currently working on:
I’m actually currently working on writing a book – but I don’t want to give anything away just yet!
Accomplishments you’re proud of:
The last year and a half has really been incredible. I’ve been asked to speak at multiple conferences, including Gary Vaynerchuk’s Agent 2021 this past January in Miami as well as Elevate in Cleveland this past June. But the most recent exciting accomplishment was finding out last week that I’m 2018’s National Outstanding CSR of the Year. It still hasn’t set in that I’ve won this amazing award yet!
What are your goals for the next 12 months?
Implementing new processes/systems to help streamline agency workflow and client touches. Rather than typing out long emails when following up on quotes or claims, I’ve created images using Canva and send that out instead both via text and email. I’ve had great responses to it. I’ve also embedded Calendly into our agency website to direct clients to choose the best availability times for them instead of playing phone tag. These are such simple yet effective things that everyone can do!
What are your biggest professional challenges?
Definitely balancing everything. I’d like to think I’m a pretty great multitasker and organizer. But no matter how good you are, you can’t do it all. Sometimes I take on took much and find myself overwhelmed. It’s important to recognize when this is happening and simply slow down.
What do you like most about your job?
There is nothing better than when a client genuinely thanks you. That is the best feeling in the world. Some write thank you notes and some simply look you in the eye and say, “Thanks for taking the time to explain all of this to me, I feel like I understand it for once.” Their gratitude is priceless.
Aside from your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without and why?
It’s not necessarily a gadget. I ALWAYS have a notebook or a notepad on me. I carry a notebook around with me and jot down ideas or quotes or just random thoughts as they come to me. If I don’t do it right when I’m thinking of it – they’re gone!
What are the top three apps you use on your phone?
Instagram, Pinterest and the TouchTunes/AMI app. Want to mess with someone? When your friend is standing at the TouchTunes Machine picking out songs, open up the app on your phone and pay extra to override their song with something like “Kiss From a Rose” and watch their face as they scan the bar to see who thinks they played it.
Describe your workspace.
Minimal. I’m currently on a minimalist kick. Clutter is the enemy and I try my best to leave my desk at night organized and clear. It starts my morning off right the next day!
How do you manage your to-do list?
Pick your daily top three. Don’t try and conquer the world. Giving yourself smaller daily goals to achieve will help you be more successful.
What’s your best time-saving tip or hack?
The way you communicate with clients can save you a ton of time. When’s the last time you ACTUALLY listened to a voicemail on your phone? How many times has a client called back and said ‘I saw you called, I didn’t listen to the message, though’. I’ve learned giving clients the option of texting me or utilizing the chat feature on our website will save a TON of time. No phone tag. No drawn out conversations. Straight and to the point – appreciated by your clients just as much!
What’s the first thing you do when you get in the office?
While I’m firing the system up, I sit down and make a list for the day of what I need to accomplish. I’m a very visual person – I have a notepad I do this on daily and I cross things off as I go. After I finish writing out the list, I highlight the three most important things that need to be completed before I leave. Having a top three helps keep me focused and makes the list seem less intimidating.
What do you listen to while working?
Boring, I know – but just the local radio station. Not everyone loves Africa by Toto as much as I do…I think the aggressive transitions on my iPhone from Annie Lennox to Drake would be frowned upon.
What are you currently reading?
I have a tendency to read multiple books at one time. Currently, I’m going through The Four Hour Work Week, Unf*ck Yourself and Mindhacking. I will say, though, that this year so far, my favorite book has been The Power of Moments. I would highly suggest everyone to add that to their list!
What’s your favorite blog and/or podcast?
My all-time favorite podcast was season one of Serial. I started listening to that and couldn’t stop. Anything true-crime related really grabs my attention. And for those of you who know what I’m talking about… I don’t think he did it.
Coffee or tea?
Completely depends on my mood. Right now I’m on a big green tea and honey kick. Some days I skip them both and start the morning out with a mixture of water, Himalayan Pink Salt and lemon thanks to my good friend, Woody Brown.
What are you watching on Netflix right now?
Season Two of Ozark
How do you decompress?
I love the outdoors and I love the water. A lot of this summer has been spent on one of two lakes in our area. Kayaking, paddle boarding, boating, you name it. As I’m writing this, I’m sitting at Lake Wallenpaupack watching the sun set!
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Lately, the jaws of life…
Who are your business idols and why?
Everyone in the #5amclubins. Every person in that group is incredible in their own, individual ways. They pick goals, hold each other accountable and crush them. And the best part about it is I get to call them all my friends.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
You’ll never be caught up. This sounds depressing, I know. But it’s true. I was stressing one night a few years ago about how much work was piling up. I remember my grandfather looking at me, smiling (which of course got me fired up) and he simply said ‘take a deep breath and go home. I learned a long time ago that you’ll never fully be caught up.’ There’s always going to be filing to do or an account to quote. Don’t stress. Keep pushing through!
If you could switch jobs with someone, who would it be?
I don’t think I would switch jobs – I would create a mega agency/consulting firm with all of my favorite insurance agents!
Who would you like to see in a future This is the Way post?
Meg Ashmead Pacella of Ashmead Insurance Associates
POSTED SEPTEMBER 11, 2018 9:38 AM
|How to Determine Your Agency's Design Style
I'm about to rock your thought process on design.
Did you know design isn't just about pretty colors and good images?
Design is about making a connection.
Your agency's design style isn't limited to your logo and brand colors.
Creating a visual personality that builds connections is just as important.
The biggest influence on consumers when they make a purchase is emotion. Check out this article from Psychology Today. They mention, "Rich and powerful representations of a brand include its personality."
Consumers can perceive the same personality characteristics in brands as they do people. So, here are two ways to determine your agency's design style to make emotional connections.
Tried and True: Be You
Many of ITC's clients are small- to mid-sized agencies that are owner-operated. Maintaining that type of agency takes hard work, dedication, and personability. Often, just being yourself already has the qualities of a great brand!
How does this translate into your agency's design style? Well, look at what got you to where you are today. Do you remember people's birthdays, or that customer recently had a baby?
Remember, emotion is the biggest factor. Use your email marketing system to send customers a congratulatory email. Or, set up a birthday campaign for your customers. Make sure each email is nicely designed and matches your agency website.
Do you already have a logo ? That's great, but design trends change every year. You don't need to update your logo every year. But, every five to seven years, take a critical look at the icon, fonts, and shape and make necessary changes.
Does your style change to mesh with your customer base? Curating an agency style that is specifically customer-based will work best for you.
If you cater to an older crowd, make sure to use legible fonts in your marketing and communications. Serif fonts (otherwise known as the ones with feet) are great for older users.
Use a professional color palette. Blues and greens are very popular in insurance. Keep a more buttoned-up look at the office since older consumers tend to prefer face-to-face interaction.
For a younger clientele, you can get away with more fun fonts and design elements. Don't go crazy with comic-sans, but a distinct style is a must. And, you can even take a chance with the colors: Try purple or orange.
With the younger crowd, social media is a necessity. Make sure your appearance on those platforms matches your style.
No matter the generation you work with, keep your agency design style consistent. Everyone is looking for an emotional reason to use your agency, so you must find a way to accomplish that.
Having a specific agency design style is very important. This is how you will make that emotional connection with prospects and customers. Whatever your agency style, use it to make a lasting, positive impact on your customers.
POSTED SEPTEMBER 10, 2018 10:10 AM
|Search Marketing For The Short And Long Term
How agile is your search marketing strategy?
If you’re like many agencies, your strategy focuses on instant returns. You aim to capture consumers looking to buy insurance at the moment they’re searching.
But if you devote yourself to serving these consumers online, you cut out a broader market. One that’s more lucrative and easier to close.
How can you have access to this market? You can start by diversifying your approach.
Join us in our next Masters of Marketing webinar. SEO Consultant Dylan Brooks will cover short and long-term search marketing strategies. This includes:
- Benefits and drawbacks of each strategy
- Tactics that work best for each strategy
- How each strategy affects your lead and sales funnel
- How to combine these strategies for competitive advantage
Register to attend here. Then, join us on Thursday, September 20th at 12:00 p.m. CT for this free insurance marketing webinar. See you there!
POSTED SEPTEMBER 07, 2018 9:56 AM
|How Your Insurance Agency Can Use Facebook Groups
What are Facebook Groups, and how you can use them to grow your agency?
A Facebook Group is Facebook’s version of an online forum. These subgroups within Facebook can be created by an individual or a business within Facebook’s platform. Therefore if you have an account or business page for your agency, you can create a Group.
Groups can be open for anyone to join. They can also be closed, but discoverable, which means you have to approve all members joining. They can also be secret, otherwise only found with a link.
For businesses like your agency, they are a powerful tool! Here are a few of their uses…
- Customer Benefit – As an insurance agent you can post detailed explanations about coverage, local news, or use it as a Q&A option.
- Gathering Members/Attendees – You can use Groups to build attendance and interest in an upcoming event you will be attending, hosting or sponsoring. This works particularly well with local events.
- Promoting Others – Work with your partners and help promote their business. But remember, you are not there to sell yourself. The Group’s purpose is to engage with your members as though you were in a room, having a conversation.
- Promoting New Lines of Business – You can use the group to announce new lines of business or market. Or, use it to promote any agency news.
Creating a group on Facebook is fairly easy. These are the main decisions to make at each step…
Naming Your Group
Let’s think about this for a minute. You don’t want to confuse the group with your business page. So, leave your agency name out.
Will you have different groups for different lines of business (auto customers, home insurance customers, etc.)? That is an option.
Do you have multiple locations? Maybe you should create groups based on location.
Or, maybe you just want a general Q&A type group. That group could be titled Ask Your Agent. The important thing is to think about what the focus of the group will be and who you want to target. Then choose your name.
Selecting Group Type
Public, closed or secret? Again, before deciding what type of group to create, you have to think about what you want from the group.
Public groups allow anyone to join, and everyone can see what you post.
Closed groups allow anyone to ask to join, but you can approve or not approve any request. Only members can see the posts.
Secret groups allow only members to see posts, and the group cannot be found in a search. Secret groups are usually used for things like high level coaching or financial planning. They’ll have very specific members. This type of group can sometimes be monetized, but you also have to offer high level service to that group.
Customizing Your Group’s Appearance and Settings
Just like your agency’s business page, you should include a banner or header image for your group’s page. Your group cover photo should be 828 x 315 pixels.
You can use free online services like Canva.com to create your image. But, keep it true to your agency’s branding.
As you customize your group, you will be asked to select a group type. This will let Facebook know how to categorize your group for search results. Complete the description, tags, locations, and web and email address settings to finish of the customization.
Inviting People to Join
While it would be easy to invite family and friends to your group, they most likely aren’t paying customers. When inviting people to join, focus on those your group serves.
Consider sending an email blast through your email marketing platform inviting people to join your group. Be sure to include why it would be beneficial for them to join. You can also share a link to your new group on all of your social media platforms.
What will you post? When you post to your group, members will receive a notification, unlike when you post to your business page.
Even before you create the group, you need to have in mind what content you will share. Will it be inspirational, educational, entertaining or all of the above?
The content you share doesn’t always have to be original. You can curate content from reputable sources as long as it is relevant and useful to your members. You can use sources like Insurance Journal, BuzzSumo, Google News, podcasts, etc.
If you want a successful group, your members have to be engaged. Post things that will spark interaction and conversation among members.
Also, don’t be absent in your own group. Join in on the conversations.
There are a few types of content that are very popular in groups. Live Q&A sessions are one of them. As your audience grows, you can do a live session once a week to help and support your group members.
Polls are also a good way to not only get engagement, but get ideas on what type of content your members would like to see.
You can also schedule a daily theme. This is usually a certain day of the week where members can post about their business or share their latest blog.
Groups are a powerful way to establish your expertise and there are many ways to use Facebook groups. The important thing is to find a way to provide value to group members that will keep them active in the discussion.
POSTED SEPTEMBER 05, 2018 9:27 AM
News – Insurance Journal
|Congress on Track to Double Size of U.S. Overseas Investment Agency
The head of the main U.S. agency for aiding developing country infrastructure projects said on Monday the ability to extend funding for such investments is expected to double if new legislation is approved by the U.S. Congress. Ray Washburne, president …
POSTED SEPTEMBER 26, 2018 5:00 AM
|NAMIC Honors Rochman with Chairman’s Award
The insurance trade group National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies presented its Chairman’s Award to Julie Rochman, former president and CEO of the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, at the association’s annual convention in San Antonio. “Through her …
POSTED SEPTEMBER 26, 2018 5:00 AM
|Workers Overdose On the Job and Employers Struggle to Respond
PORTLAND, Ore. — Jimmy Sullivan prepared for his job as a bricklayer the same way every morning for years: injecting a shot of heroin before leaving his car. The first time he overdosed on the job, in 2013 at a …
POSTED SEPTEMBER 26, 2018 5:00 AM
|U.S. Safety Agency Targets Pilot Fatigue with Technology, Stricter Work Rules
U.S. accident investigators probing a San Francisco incident last year in which a jetliner was mere feet from landing on top of at least one other plane are poised to recommend new automated safety warnings and better pilot-fatigue protections. An …
POSTED SEPTEMBER 26, 2018 5:00 AM
|Georgia Jury Awards Family $31M Over Boy’s Botched Circumcision
A law firm says a Georgia jury has awarded $31 million to a boy for a botched circumcision he received as a newborn. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the award was handed down Friday in northern Georgia’s Clayton County. A lawsuit …
POSTED SEPTEMBER 26, 2018 4:45 AM
|Tennessee Drug Overdose Deaths Rise Again in 2017
The number of Tennessee residents who died of drug overdoses has risen more than 8 percent, setting another record in 2017. The state Health Department said 1,776 Tennesseans died from overdoses last year, the most since reporting began. The number …
POSTED SEPTEMBER 26, 2018 4:31 AM
|NutraRisk Adds Program for Recreational, Medicinal Cannabis Operations
NutraRisk, a division of Worldwide Facilities, has expanded its cannabis offering to include an exclusive cannabis program providing general and product liability for medicinal and recreational operations. NutraRisk can also place risks in the eight states where recreational cannabis is …
POSTED SEPTEMBER 26, 2018 4:23 AM
|Orlando Wants Pulse Nightclub Civil Rights Lawsuit Dismissed
The city of Orlando has asked a federal judge to dismiss a civil rights lawsuit that was filed on behalf of victims and survivors of the Pulse nightclub shooting. The Orlando Sentinel reports the lawsuit accuses Orlando police Det. Adam …
POSTED SEPTEMBER 26, 2018 4:22 AM
|Industry Vet Collins Opens Brightway Agency in Florida
Insurance industry veteran Ryan Collins, opened Brightway, The Ryan Collins Agency on Sept. 25, in Sunrise, Fla. Collins comes to Brightway with 15 years of industry experience at Progressive, Liberty Mutual, Safeco and Windhaven, where he rose through the ranks …
POSTED SEPTEMBER 26, 2018 4:16 AM
|Decision in Uber Employee Vs. Contractor Suit Cuts Driver Bargaining Power
Uber drivers seeking pay and benefits like those employees get were handed a big defeat by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday. A panel of court justices ruled that drivers must go through arbitration and could not continue …
POSTED SEPTEMBER 25, 2018 11:22 PM