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ITC Press Releases

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
ITC Named a Top Technology Provider in Insurance Business America for Second Year
Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC), a provider of websites, marketing, comparative rating and management software and services, announced today that readers of Insurance Business America have named ITC a top technology provider for the second year in a row.

POSTED JUNE 26, 2017 9:00 AM
ITC Launches GAINSCO Buy Now in TurboRater for Websites in Texas
ITC launches GAINSCO Auto Insurance® Buy Now in Texas in its online consumer rater TurboRater for Websites to help independent agents compete effectively online.

POSTED MARCH 20, 2017 9:00 AM
Albert Appouh Wins the Inaugural InsurTech Scholarship
Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC), a provider of agency marketing, rating and management software and services, announced today Albert Appouh as the inaugural recipient of the InsurTech Scholarship.

POSTED NOVEMBER 09, 2016 9:00 AM
ITC Launches Homeowner Rating API for Online Agencies and Lead Providers
Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC), a provider of agency marketing, rating and management software and services, made homeowner insurance rates available via its web service-based rating API today.

POSTED NOVEMBER 02, 2016 9:00 AM

ITC Blog

5 Fast Facts to Know About FINRA 2210

By Ashleigh Rothhammer, ITC business development and marketing consultant in Denver, Colorado. Ashleigh is a millennial mother, boss and WIFS advocate.
 

legal pad
 

The insurance industry has not been quick to adopt digital marketing. But, the use of modern marketing platforms is growing. More firms are embracing social media, content production and other digital communications.

The growth in use of these platforms is good. But, it’s important to understand the rules and regulations FINRA and the SEC set forth if you have a FINRA license. When you understand the rules, you no longer have to fear this new way of connecting with your clients.

Below are five fast facts about FINRA’s rule 2210 that you must know.
 

1. The 3-2 Rule

You must keep a record of your use of social media and other marketing platforms for three years. The first two years must be easy to access.

Two examples of digital communications you must hold in reserve are interactive and static content.

FINRA does not have any opinions on how to do this. But, they do require that before you delve into these platforms, you have a plan to comply with these rules.
 

2. Content

Got blog? Content is queen, but consistent content is king. A good rule of thumb with any kind of content is if you can’t say it to a client, don’t say it to the world. You can find more information here.

There are two types of content:

Interactive content allows for back and forth commenting and does not require approval You can follow the same procedures as the electronic correspondence in Regulatory Notice 07-59. Examples: LinkedIn or Facebook posts, tweets and live chats.

Static content remains consistent until someone changes it. Examples: website content, advertisements, blog posts or articles.

Note: Both types of content are important. You can use both to market your business to a potential client or investor.
 

3. Third Party Contributions

According to FINRA 2210, customer or third-party contributions on your social media profiles are not firm communications. Thus, they do not need prior principal approval, content and filing requirements.

However, third-party contributions can become attributable to your firm under certain circumstances. Especially if your firm is involved in the preparation and endorsement or approval of the content, whether explicitly or implicitly.

So, be aware of your ownership. Make sure you are not entangled with posts that are not approved for your firm.
 

4. Testimonials and Endorsements

We all like to share the positive shoulder pats and high fives we receive from colleagues and clients. And, you can, if unsolicited, according to FINRA. The word here is unsolicited.

Opinions or comments published on a business website are not communications/testimonials of the firm or representative. It is crucial to know that if you share or like these comments or testimonials, you are adopting them as your own. They are then subject to supervision and recordkeeping requirements.

Check with your broker dealer for more information on testimonials and endorsements.
 

5. BrokerCheck

Effective June 2016, FINRA 2210 requires a firm to include a referenced hyper link to BrokerCheck Retail investors must be able to view it on any webpage that includes a professional profile of one or more registered persons conducting business with retail investors.

You can find more information about this rule here: Regulatory Notice 15-50.

FINRA has made it easy and created the content for linking to BrokerCheck. You can access this at www.finra.org but here it is for quick copying:
 

  • Check the background of this firm on FINRA's BrokerCheck.
  • Check the background of this investment professional on FINRA's BrokerCheck.
     

You can find more information about FINRA rule 2210 at www.finra.org. To make sure you stay compliant, use an insurance website company that does this every day. A company familiar with the industry has the knowledge and approach to help you.

Just remember. The agent down the street or across town will adapt to these new modern marketing rules and ways. They’ll build a website and use online marketing to get business. Why are you not doing the same thing?


Need website or marketing help? Request a free agency marketing consultation.



POSTED DECEMBER 13, 2017 9:00 AM
This is the Way: Parker Beauchamp from INGUARD

Parker Beauchamp of INGUARD is a fifth-generation insurance professional. While his friends were dreaming about becoming professional athletes or famous actors, Parker dreamed of insuring them.

Today, Parker boasts a pretty wild portfolio of clients and partners all over the world.

An enthusiast for all things alpine climbing, Parker had a revelation in 2012 during a climbing excursion in Peru while battling a virus. He realized nobody was coming for him. Just like his life, he had to chase after everything he ever wanted, personally and professionally, because nothing is going to come to him.

Parker’s favorite thing about the insurance industry is the people. “My co-workers, INGUARD’s partners, insurtechs we work with, carriers we’ve done business with for more than a century and a half: the people I get to work with make this job fulfilling.”

This is the way Parker Beauchamp works.

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Location:

Wabash, Indiana. Or on top of a mountain somewhere. Depends when you publish this.

Current gig:

CEO of INGUARD

One word that describes how you like to work.

Unapologetically

Current mobile device:

iPhone X

Current computer:

See above.

Project(s) you’re currently working on:

We recently launched our Insurtech Fellowship in our co-working space. Really pumped about it.

Accomplishments you’re proud of:

My hometown is having a resurgence: culturally, economically, and psychologically. We were hit hard during the recession. I’ve worked extremely hard since then, alongside other community members, to make Wabash more livable and attractive to young people. And, that work is starting to pay off.

What are your goals for the next 12 months?

Personally – climb every historic building in Indiana.

Professionally – ramp up our partnership efforts.

What are your biggest professional challenges?

Remembering my pace and passions are not necessarily always equal to others.

What do you like most about your job?

The people I work with.

 

Aside from your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without and why?

My Suunto smartwatch. It helps keeps me alive and comfortable climbing and training.

What’s the most recent app you’ve downloaded but have yet to use?

Netflix App. I’d rather watch BoJack Horseman on my TV at home.

Describe your workspace.

Innovative.

How do you manage your to-do list?

I abide by inbox-zero and keep my desktop clean. I force myself to tackle my to-do list efficiently so I can keep moving forward.

What’s your best time-saving tip or hack?

Unplug. I save at least three hours a day by disconnecting and being present.

What’s the first thing you do when you get in the office?

I say hi to our account managers and then dive into the biggest project I’m working on while the coffee is still running through me.

What is your best everyday habit?

Exercise and meditation.

What do you listen to while working?

EDM and Hip-Hop mostly. I’m on a Childish Gambino kick right now.

What’s your favorite blog and/or podcast?

Masters of Scale with Reid Hoffman

Favorite social network?

My family.

 

Night owl or morning person?

Both.

What are you watching on Netflix right now?

BoJack Horseman

How do you decompress?

I climb.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

My kids.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Bananas, but ripe ones. We keep it cool. 

Who are your business idols and why?

Andrew Carnegie, because he was a visionary who delivered against all odds.

Elon Musk, because he’s a visionary who delivers against all odds.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

You’re not that big of a deal.

If you could switch jobs with someone, who would it be?

Reinhold Messner, in his prime.

Who would you like to see in a future This is the Way post?

Shefi Ben-Hutta



POSTED DECEMBER 12, 2017 10:00 AM
3 Ways to Update Your Insurance Website Next Year

2018 loading chalkboard
 

It’s December. Most are looking forward to parties, presents, and festive displays of twinkling lights. But, you may be thinking of your insurance agency’s goals for next year.

One of those goals should be to attract more online insurance shoppers to your agency’s website. If so, you’ll need a modern design to capture today’s online consumers.

The world of website design moves fast. How fast? Let’s put it this way: If a design technique was in style last year, it’s probably still good. Five years ago? That’s out. Anywhere between, and it may need to be evaluated.

 

Let’s look at some website design techniques to incorporate into your website next year.
 

Simplified Layouts

In my experience, an agent’s first instinct is to put everything their clients need right on the home page. Where we start to get overloaded is the difference between what we think they need and what they actually need.

Here’s the solution: Give them a taste. Get them interested. That will encourage them to further explore the website. Check out some of our newer designs. Click the screenshot to view the live website for the full effect. 

 

Amythest ITC insurance website template

 

Like a certain country band once sang: Wide open spaces. That’s what modern customers want to see. But at the same time, notice the most important items are still front and center.
 

Perception ITC insurance website template

 

Let’s take 2018 to clean up our websites and throw out some of that unnecessary clutter. Remember, less is more.

 

Vector Graphic Logos

I know, I know…design jargon. But, follow me on this one.

There are two types of image files: Vector and raster. All you need to know is vector graphics can get bigger or smaller without any loss of quality. They won’t get fuzzy or pixelated. Raster images cannot.

Examples of raster images are .JPEG and .PNG files. You’ve probably heard of one or both of those.

A new design trend in 2018 may be the use of .SVG files. These are vector graphics that can scale in size without losing any quality.

The best part? We can use them on your website!

Why is this important? Easy. We’ve talked about responsive web design before. Responsive designs will scale to fit any device they’re viewed on (such as mobile, tablet, or desktop).

As the website scales up or down, it may be necessary for the logo to change size as well. If we use an old raster image file, it may get pixelated or blurry. SVGs will not.

This can make or break a website for online visitors. Be sure to ask your logo designers about this file type moving forward.

 

Vibrant Colors

There’s a point in every consultation where I have to discuss potential color schemes with an agent. Sometimes, it’s simple. You have a logo; we match the logo. Other times, well, it can be a struggle.

We have to find a happy medium between what the agent wants and what will translate to web. One hard and fast rule moving into the new year, though: Make your website stand out.

Muted colors were once all the rage, and they can still look good. But, now we want to present that sense of energy on our websites.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at this website, and take note of your initial reaction. I bet it’s a positive one.

Here’s the catch: Use too many bright colors and you’ll cause a sense of vibration and eye tension. When in doubt, keep it simple.

 

These are a few of the design techniques we may be turning to in the new year. Let’s make a resolution we can actually keep and try to implement some of these on our websites moving forward.
 

Intrigued by anything you read above? Want to learn more about modern web design? Leave a comment below!

 



POSTED DECEMBER 11, 2017 10:00 AM
ACORD Forms Update (November 2017)

We've updated the below ACORD forms for users of our agency management system InsurancePro.

 

Forms with New Revision Date

133 2017/12 replaces 2016/03 - Workers Compensation Insurance Plan Assigned Risk Section

64 RI 2018/01 replaces 2012/07 - Rhode Island Joint Reinsurance Association - Application for Homeowners Insurance Inspection and Placement (for use on or after 1/1/2018)

66 RI 2017/12 replaces 2012/07 - Rhode Island Joint Reinsurance Association - Application for Dwelling Fire Insurance Inspection and Placement

66 CO 2018/02 replaces 2013/02 - Colorado Personal Property Supplement Summary of Coverage Condominium Policy (for use on or after 2/1/2018)

 

Withdrawn Forms

759 2015/12 - Important Notice Regarding Replacement – Model Regulation States

68 2016/06 - Electronic Delivery Supplement

 

Corrections or Modifications to Existing Forms

50 FL 2017/12 - Florida Personal Auto Insurance Identification Card

212 2017/09 - Commercial Umbrella Underlying Schedule



POSTED DECEMBER 07, 2017 11:51 AM
10 Design Trends to Watch in 2018

Laptop on desk
 

As we start closing out 2017, it’s time to look ahead to the new year.

A new year means new emerging design trends. Sometimes these trends are a natural progression of ones from last year. Some are brand new. Some may even be included in our next insurance website templates.

Take a look at 10 trends you’ll spot online in 2018. Which one are you most interested to see?

 

1.      Expanding Mobile Design

This is a continuing design trend that will be around for a long time. Everyone has a smartphone, and smartphones keep getting better. That means mobile website design must progress to keep up.

Websites must look good on mobile and must be user-friendly. In my last blog, I mentioned many users abandon websites due to mobile usability issues.
 

2.      Increased Security

With the hacks and security breaches we saw in 2017, you can bet companies will be ramping up security in 2018. You should too, as agencies collect and handle lots of sensitive personal information. Watch this video of ITC’s president Laird Rixford explaining why security matters.
 

3.      Minimalism and Negative Space

This is an ongoing trend in design that has been around for a few years. I don’t think it will be going away anytime soon because it is so user-centric.

The main principle of minimalistic website design is to keep things simple. Don’t overcrowd your website and don’t overdo it on the colors. Give the user what they need and don’t muddy the details.
 

4.      Open Composition

People view today’s websites on small screens, large screens, and everything between. Designers are breaking the rules of old and creating floating and overlapping elements.

It’s not for every sector of business, but for those more creative industries, it is opening doors. This example used open composition paired with scroll animation.
 

5.      Geometric Design and CSS Grid

Geometry is a clean and modern aesthetic. ITC has a few website templates with great geometric elements.

Carlsbad ITC Insurance Website Template
 

For a long time, web designers used workarounds for the traditional grid system. These don’t always work and usually are very time consuming. Finally, some developers created a better grid system called the CSS grid.

This grid system allows designers to create geometric layouts without the workaround code.. Check it out!
 

6.      Scroll-Triggered Animations

Websites with scroll-triggered animations keep visitors on the site longer. It also leads to more user interactions with the website.

Twilight ITC insurance website template

 

Scroll-triggered animations can lead to more conversions and more visitors. Scroll though ITC’s own example here.
 

7.      Bold, Bright Colors

This trend is great for creative businesses, but it can always be put to good use for insurance websites too. Just make sure to balance it out with the rest of your design.

A pop of color on your website helps create an identity and a personality users can connect with. Don’t be afraid to try a bright blue, an electric green, or a toucan orange. Revert it if you don’t like it.
 

8.      Bold Typography

This is another trend that never ends. It feels like every day there is a new web-safe font to choose from. That means designers everywhere are picking Raleway or Montserrat over simply coding sans-serif.

But, some caution: Keep it simple. There are some pretty crazy-looking web-safe fonts that have their place. But it’s likely not on your agency’s website.
 

9.      Custom illustration

This is a trend that I am very excited about. Custom illustration can sometimes cost a pretty penny. It may not be right for your agency. But, it’s cool that putting more personal flair into websites is becoming trendy. Here’s a great example of pairing illustration with animation.
 

10. Micro-Interactions

These are the small interactions users have with websites to indicate a specific activity or task has taken place. For example, think of Facebook reactions. Or, when you leave a review on Amazon and those little stars fill up. Or, when you click a button and it makes a clicking noise.

Micro-interactions are the little things that make websites easier and more fun to interact with. These are great for user experience. What are some ways you can add these to your insurance website?


Not every trend is right for your insurance website. Always analyze your website goals and user base before getting on a trend train. Functionality and usability will never go out of style.

What trends do you think will be most popular? Leave a comment below.



POSTED DECEMBER 06, 2017 10:00 AM
Build Backlinks the Right Way for Your Agency

https image
 

Backlinks play a big role in SEO success. Websites with backlinks are regularly ranked higher than ones that don’t. They let Google and search engines know that your insurance website is reputable and relevant.
 
Most insurance agency websites have backlinks from business listings websites and online insurance directories. But, what else can you do to generate backlinks?

Here are some backlink strategies that move the needle.
 

Testimonial Backlinks

Do you know any local mom-and-pop businesses with a website? These businesses will likely have a review or testimonial page.

Contact the business owner and ask if you can provide a review. Ask if they would add a link going back to your website.
 

Partner Backlinks

If you have a Gold or Platinum website, you have the ability to customize your own partner pages. You can leverage these partner pages to create backlinks for your partners. Your partners may have the ability to create a partners page for your agency in return. Take a look at their website to see if they have these pages.
 

Nonprofit Backlinks

Nonprofit backlinks are a good way to build your brand and online visibility through a local nonprofit organization. Nonprofits will typically ask for a donation to add your logo and link it to your website.
 

Unlinked Mentions

An unlinked mention is simply text on a webpage that is not linked. If your agency has been around for years, you may have unlinked mention opportunities on the internet. Here’s how to find them.

Let’s say your agency’s name is Dessommes Insurance Agency and your domain name is Dessommes.com. Search Google for Dessommes Insurance. Perform a second search for Dessommes.com.

You won’t be able to gain a backlink from every result. But, websites for organizations or associations, may be willing to link to your site.
 

Scholarship or Internship Backlinks

If your agency offers any sort of scholarships or internships, create a page on your website dedicated to it. Reach out to high schools, trade schools, universities and colleges. Provide them with a link to your page. Check out this guide for strategy details.
 

HARO (Help a Reporter Out)

This backlink building technique allows journalists to contact you to write for media outlets. First, you need to sign up as a source and then make a pitch. The most successful backlink builders respond to requests that are relevant to their expertise. Here’s a blog about HARO link building with some great tips.
 

.Edu Resource Backlinks

Contact colleges and universities to include your agency link on their resources pages. The best way to find these opportunities is to search on Google using the following search queries.

Chamber of Commerce Backlinks

Become a member of your local chamber of commerce. Membership will usually include a link to your website. Memberships are typically annual and start at a couple hundred dollars.
 

Twitter Guest Post Backlinks

Guest posts are a great way to build backlinks. But, searching for guest post opportunities on Google can get overwhelming. A good way to narrow the field is to search Twitter instead. Try the queries below.

Business Insurance Client Backlinks

If you’re an agency that insures businesses, Google your clients and view their website for opportunities. If opportunities are found, leverage your partners page to build backlinks.


Have you tried any of these backlink building methods or have any of your own that you’d like to share? If so, leave a comment below.

 



POSTED DECEMBER 04, 2017 9:49 AM
Ask the Experts: Insurance Websites, Email Marketing, SEO

Top insurance agencies know that in order to succeed and grow in today's market, they must embrace digital marketing efforts. But, it can be easier said than done. 

Do you have questions about how to market your agency to today's consumers?

We have answers.

Join us for the next edition of Masters of Marketing as our panel of experts take your insurance marketing questions in a live question-and-answer style webinar.

In addition to your questions, we'll cover topics like...

  • Using your  website to generate leads 
  • Automating your marketing efforts
  • Getting found online with search engine optimization
  • ...And more!

If you are stuck in a marketing rut, join us on Thursday, December 14 at 12:00 p.m. CT for a Q&A with the following insurance marketing experts: Matt Farrell, Website Coordinator; Heather Cherry, AgencyBuzz Product Manager; Dylan Brooks, SEO Consultant.

Ask your questions during the live webinar, or submit them early but commenting on this blog post.

See you then! 



POSTED NOVEMBER 29, 2017 11:07 AM
Deck the Halls with 10 Content Ideas for December

10 Content Ideas for December graphic

 

This December, deck out your insurance agency website with some fresh content.

The holiday season is a busy time for all. It can be hard to think about what to blog about next.

To make things a little easier, try these ten content ideas. Each would make a great blog post or newsletter feature. As always, check back the same time next month for more.

 

  1. National Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month
    Tis the season for online shopping and transactions. More and more consumers turn to the internet for purchasing gifts each year. It’s no wonder December marks National Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness month. Throughout the month, post tips about preventative actions to avoid identify theft.
     
  2. Package Theft
    Another common type of theft this time of year is mail theft, especially of packages. What are ways your clients can secure their packages while not at home? Some folks use video cameras. Others have packages delivered to work offices or use services like Amazon Locker. Save clients the stress of stolen mail with a blog post on this topic.
     
  3. Poinsettia Day – December 12
    Bright poinsettia flowers are common sight during Christmas. Did you know this holiday was actually declared by an act of Congress? It honors Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first Ambassador to Mexico. He brought the plants from Mexico and gave them out as gifts. Post a pretty poinsettia picture to your social media profiles on this day.
     
  4. Cooking Risk Tips
    Restaurant and home kitchens alike are busy this time of year. With so much going on, it can be easy for accidents to happen. Take this opportunity to share your expertise. What types of claims are most common? What can your clients do to operate a safe kitchen?
     
  5. Reassessing Flood Risks
    Recent flooding in some states may cause your clients to wonder if they have enough coverage. Some communities are even in talks about reviewing flood plain maps. What are your thoughts about this topic? Talk about it in a blog post.
     
  6. Car Seat Safety
    Are your clients driving the kids to see grandma this holiday season? It’s a good time to check in with some car seat safety tips. Write a blog post about how to check a car seat’s expiration date. Or, announce any recent car seat recalls.
     
  7. Shortest Day of the Year – December 21
    This is the shortest day of the year by measure of daylight hours. This date would make for a great shareable graphic for social media. There are many fun facts and tidbits to share. For example, did you know at the North Pole, the sun never rises on this day?
     
  8. Coat Drive, Toy Drive, Canned Food Drive, Adopt-A-Family, Adopt-A-Child
    There are so many great opportunities for philanthropy at the end of the year. Choose one for your agency and write a blog post about it. Post about it on social media throughout the month and announce when you have met your goal.
     
  9. Holidays of December
    Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve. Those are only a few of the many holidays celebrated this month. These are a gold mine of content ideas for your agency. Write a blog post with a calendar of local events about these holidays. Or, share some fun facts about them.
     
  10. Looking Forward to the New Year
    It’s time to reflect on the past 12 months and look forward to the new year. What have you learned in the past year that you will take with you to the next? What are you looking to achieve in 2018? Talk about your goals in a blog post and include it in your last newsletter of the year. Clients and prospects want to know that you are always working toward a goal.
     


POSTED NOVEMBER 29, 2017 9:24 AM
Creating a Marketing Plan for Your New Insurance Agency

sticky note brainstorm
 

When you’re starting a new agency, the first thing to do is create your business plan. This should include your financial projections.

The next thing to work on is your marketing plan. Banks and other investors are going to want to know how you plan to attract and sell to new clients.

A marketing plan is more than just tactics and a budget. Like other business documents, it’s a guide. Only, it’s dedicated to your marketing strategy.

It will help you identify and reach your audience. As well as define how you will connect with clients to retain their business.

Here is how you can create an agency marketing plan for your new insurance agency.

Step 1: Research

Before you get to the fun part of all the marketing ideas, you first need to do research and set the stage.

Great news if you already did this work for your business plan. You can reuse this information if the marketing plan is a separate document.

Before you start your marketing plan, answer these three questions.

Who is Your Competition?

List your direct competitors.

What are their strengths and weaknesses? Where are the opportunities and threats? What can your competitors offer consumers that you can’t?

Identifying your competition will help you discover your agency’s competitive advantage.

Who is Your Target Audience?

Describe your target audience. These are the people most likely to become your customers.

It may be tempting to go broad and say everyone is your target audience. But, focusing on a specific group of people helps make your marketing more effective.

When defining your target audience, think demographics. Like age, gender, home ownership, etc. Also, think about psychographics that influence consumer behavior. Like lifestyle, hobbies, values, attitudes, etc.

The Small Business Administration has a list of free sources that can help you identify the demographics of your city or area. Psychographics can be harder to come by, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

Why Would a Consumer Choose You?

Use your competitive research to identify why a consumer would choose you.

Is it because of your location? Because you’re going to make it convenient to buy whichever way the consumer prefers? Because of your contributions and presence in the local community?

Your unique selling proposition needs to be clear. Keep it simple and focused on what’s going to bring people to your agency.

Step 2: Write Your Marketing Plan

Target Audience

You’ve done the research on your target audience. This is where you explain whom you are trying to reach with your marketing.

Be descriptive but concise. Include any demographic or psychographic data you have.

Goals & Objectives

List your goals. Where do you want to be in the next year? Next five years?

Goals need to be broad. Something like “Have a $1 million book of business” or “Have 10 percent market share in my area.” The goal for your marketing plan can tie back into your business plan.

Objectives are breaking your goals down into smaller, measurable pieces.

For the first year of your agency, think of the following when setting your objectives:

  • How many leads do you want to get a month?
  • How many quotes do you want to do a month?
  • How many sales do you expect to close in a month?

After the first year, consider those same questions plus the following:

  • How many clients will you retain?
  • How many clients will you cross sell other lines of business?

Marketing Strategy & Tactics

Now for the fun part. How are you going to achieve those objectives?

Strategy and tactics are not the same thing. Strategy is the broad plan for how you will achieve your goals. It is your vision. Tactics are the smaller, specific steps of the broader strategy.

Think of strategy as your why. What is your purpose for the marketing tactics? Tactics are the actions you take. Strategy doesn’t change often, but tactics can come and go based on technology and trends.

Tactics without strategy are unfocused and isolated. They’re not nearly as effective because you don’t know why you’re doing it. Strategy without tactics don’t go anywhere; you won’t get any results.

Here are some examples of marketing strategies and the tactics that support them:

Strategy

1. Establish thought leadership and insurance expertise.

2. Attract organic website traffic and generate leads.

3. Use lead providers to supplement other lead sources and fill sales pipeline.

Tactics

1a. Write weekly blog posts.

1b. Create and publish monthly videos that answer popular customer questions.

1c. Share content on social media.

1d. Answer questions on social media.

1e. Use social media advertising to promote content and increase reach.

1f. Build an email list and send content to subscribers.

2a. Build a great insurance agency website with quote forms (or that has live quoting).

2b. Optimize website for search engines to find and index.

2c. Use target keywords in website content.

2d. Update website content quarterly.

2e. Find backlink opportunities like referral partners and other local websites.

2f. Ask clients to leave reviews on Google or Yelp.

3a. Use a comparative rater to respond to purchased leads quickly.

3b. Use an agency marketing system to automate follow up to leads that didn’t close immediately.

Budget

Now that you have your list of marketing tactics, assign a cost to each one. What insurance agency software and technology do you need to implement your plan? What does that technology cost?

With our example tactics above, here are some questions you should answer:

How much do you expect to spend in advertising? Are you planning to hire outside expertise to help with the more specialized parts of your plan, like search engine optimization? How much will that cost? How much do you expect to spend on buying leads?

Organize your budget into areas like website, social media, local marketing, and advertising. You can break up each of these areas into individual line items. For example:

  • Website Design
  • Website Maintenance
  • Website Optimization
  • Local Event Sponsorships
  • Other Local Events – Attend or Host
  • Social Media Advertising
  • Other Online Advertising
  • Print Advertising
  • Radio & TV Advertising

If this is your first time doing a marketing budget, it can be intimidating. Remember, a budget needs to be fluid.

You want to be able to adapt it as needed as the year goes on. But, you can stick to it as long as you’re measuring your marketing.

Measurement

The most important section of your marketing plan is how you plan to measure your marketing. How will you know if your marketing is successful, unless you measure it?

In this section, list how you plan to measure your marketing tactics. Also, include how you will determine if each tactic is successful.

For example, using Google Analytics you can track visitors to your website. What report or alert does your website use to tell you when a visitor converts into a lead?

Using your comparative rater you can track lead source and closing ratio. Your agency management system can track retention. Also, it can help identify the success of cross selling activities.

The critical thing is to think through each tactic. How will you tell if it worked? Include those tools in your plan.

 

Don’t just throw a bunch of marketing tactics into a document and call it your marketing plan. Take the time to develop a thorough plan. It will guide you through what you need to do next when you’re unsure. It will also help you know when your marketing is successful.

Got a question about starting an agency you’d like us to answer in a future post? Leave it in the comments below.



POSTED NOVEMBER 28, 2017 9:13 AM
Keep it Brief: How to Shorten Your Email Content

Keep it short


As marketers, we often end up staring down blocks of text. We try to figure out how to make content easier to read and scan. And even when it seems we’ve condensed the information to send, the text is likely still too long.

There are many ways to shorten text. But, it’s important to ensure content retains its original message. All the following advice will help shorten your content, while enhancing comprehension.
 

  • Avoid unnecessary nouns and adjectives. We often make sentences longer by including nouns or adjectives where they aren’t required. The following sentences still communicate the same message, but one is more concise.

The nurse placed the sutures through the wounded skin. 

The nurse sutured the wound.

  • Choose active voice over passive voice. Active voice is more straightforward and assertive. It also tends to shorten sentences. Think of active voice as the most basic sentence structure. An active voice sentence reads like…

The doctor worked on his patient.

Simply put: Subject (he), then Verb (worked), then Object (his patient).
 

Passive voice rearranges this basic sentence structure: Object, then Verb, then Subject. Passive voice would alter the previous sentence to…

The patient was worked on by the doctor.

  • Delete words and sentences that do not add value. Your contacts want emails that are easy to scan and understand.

    Often, we reword the same information to emphasize its importance. That can sometimes make sentences much too long.

Without the ability to work and continue to provide for your family, they could have many problems paying bills, paying off debt, saving for college or retirement and keeping up with day-to-day bills. If you should become ill or injured and unable to work, long- and short-term disability products could supplement your income and protect your family.

Revision: If you become ill or unable to work, your bills still need to be paid. Disability products protect your family’s finances and keep your savings intact.

It can seem difficult to shorten your content. But, once you get started, you’ll be deleting words and sentences left and right! You don’t have to sacrifice the message for the length- you can have both. 



POSTED NOVEMBER 27, 2017 9:32 AM

News – Insurance Journal

Cavignac & Associates in California Names Lopez Account Administrator
San Diego, Calif.-based Cavignac & Associates has named Linda Lopez account administrator of its employee benefits department. Lopez will assist the employee benefits department account manager with the daily service activities for client benefit offerings. Lopez was previously the underwriting …

POSTED DECEMBER 14, 2017 12:42 AM
Traces of GenX Compound Found in North Carolina Food Product
The unregulated compound found in more than 80 drinking water wells near a chemical company’s manufacturing facility in North Carolina has been found in a food product for the first time. Tests found honey collected by a farmer about 2 …

POSTED DECEMBER 13, 2017 5:54 PM
Sommer Named Interim Executive Director at Oklahoma WCC as Bailey Departs
The Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC) announced that Executive Director Kim Bailey has resigned and Administrative Law Judge Patricia Sommer has been appointed to lead the agency in the interim. Bailey will be leaving her position to accept a critical …

POSTED DECEMBER 13, 2017 5:46 PM
Attorneys, not Adjusters, Handle Claims at Texas Medical Malpractice Insurer, Capson
Austin, Texas-based Capson Physicians Insurance Co. announced it is providing in-house attorneys, rather than adjusters, to help facilitate claims for insureds. According to Capson Physicians Insurance President and Founder Maury Magids, when a medical malpractice claim is made against a …

POSTED DECEMBER 13, 2017 5:38 PM
A.M. Best Upgrades Outlooks for Petroleum Marketers Management Insurance
A.M. Best has revised the outlooks to positive from stable and affirmed the Financial Strength Rating A- (Excellent) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating “a-” of Des Moines, Iowa-based Petroleum Marketers Management Insurance Co. (PMMIC). The ratings reflect PMMIC’s balance …

POSTED DECEMBER 13, 2017 5:31 PM
Illinois Jury Awards $5M to Nurse Fired After Reporting Alleged Abuse
A central Illinois jury has awarded $5.2 million to a nurse who claims she was fired from a nursing home after reporting alleged abuse. The (Bloomington) Pantagraph reports Katrina Wesemann worked as a licensed practical nurse at a Dwight facility …

POSTED DECEMBER 13, 2017 5:29 PM
Former Hartford Underwriter Reese Joins Pioneer Underwriters’ Georgia Team
Pioneer Underwriters has appointed Kellie Reese as an underwriter in its recently launched E&S Property operation. She will report to Dave Phillips, based in Alpharetta, Ga. Reese has almost 30 years of experience as a property underwriter. Latterly with The …

POSTED DECEMBER 13, 2017 5:29 PM
Police: Explosion at Detroit Commercial Building Leaves 1 Dead
Authorities say one person is dead after a pressurized tank apparently exploded at a commercial building on Detroit’s east side. Detroit police Capt. Mark Thornton says two people were at the building Monday night when one of them left to …

POSTED DECEMBER 13, 2017 5:26 PM
Report: Nearly $60M in Texas Windstorm Insurer Hurricane Ike Claims Still Unpaid
The Houston Chronicle reports that several school districts, cities and other government agencies are still waiting for a Texas insurer to pay nearly $60 million in claims from Hurricane Ike, adding to more insurance worries in the wake of Hurricane …

POSTED DECEMBER 13, 2017 5:24 PM
Verisk: 96% of the Area in California Fire at High or Extreme Wildfire Risk
Most of the area within the massive Thomas fire in Southern California is at high or extreme wildfire risk, according to a Verisk report on Wednesday. The fire encompasses more than 230,500 acres, and while containment on the wildfires in …

POSTED DECEMBER 13, 2017 5:06 PM

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