Agents Must Fight Back with Social Media
Commoditization and superficial client relationships are the bane of every agent, yet there is one tool to combat both: social media. In today’s transactional marketplace, price is important but not all-powerful. Businesses and consumers want to establish relationships with those they can trust and feel good about. Agents & brokers who treat relationships as transactions leave themselves dangerously vulnerable to competitors. Your relationships with both current and prospective clients must be developed, deepened and maintained continually, not just at renewal time or when a claim needs attention.
The reason is simple. Today’s insurance and risk management buyers are subjected to more pitches, offers and come-ons and through more channels than ever – on TV, radio, smartphones, tablets, and yes, social media ads. These efforts work partly because of sheer saturation but also because most independent agents & brokers don’t fight back.
It may be tempting to dismiss social media by saying, “I’ll do it when I have the time.” For those who already have a Facebook or LinkedIn page without much to show for it, it may be easy to feel that social media is a waste of time. Both conclusions are wrong and carry serious consequences.
Agents & brokers rightfully claim that they cannot spin their wheels on tasks that do not produce results. Consumers are no less time-slammed. This is why they are increasingly turning to digital tools to help them find, evaluate, and buy from carriers and agents & brokers who make it as easy as possible to do so. It’s utter madness for you to ignore social media for this very reason.
Is having a great website, even one that’s mobile-optimized with chat capability, enough? No. There is a growing trend in which consumers are more likely to skip browsing the Web (aka Googling) and just visit the sites or platforms they favor. This trend underscores the need for you to use social media as a critical means to reach out and be “found.”
It’s also not enough to have a mere presence on Facebook or Twitter or any of the other social media sites. The generic “we have great people, great service and great products” bromide just doesn’t cut it. You must generate, week in and week out, distinct, memorable and unique social media images and content that resonate with their target niches. In short, you need to wear your personality on your sleeve to differentiate yourself from your competitors.
Lastly, it is essential that you use social media for prospecting. Every connection developed via social media represents a solid prospect, not just a faceless cold call. After all, these connections can show up on your digital doorstep because they share a common interest with you, be it a love of community, industry, jazz, or old cars.
All of this is not as hard as it sounds. Every agent or broker worth his or her salt got there because of a dynamic, energetic, can-do personality. It is just a matter of transferring that image to a digital platform.
Tom Wetzel is CEO of Thomas H. Wetzel & Associates, an insurance marketing communications firm with special services for agents on the effective use of social media. An insurance communicator for over 30 years, he has conducted presentations and workshops to thousands of insurance professionals across the country and served as the social media columnist for Rough Notes. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, the company website at http://www.wetzelandassociates.com and on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.