Is Social Media Marketing Over Hyped For Insurance Agents?

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All of us have experienced the let down of spending money on a movie that the commercials indicate will cause us to laugh so hard our sodas will spew from our noses, only to be disappointed.  Perhaps Social Media Marketing is a little over emphasized, at least for insurance agents. The term, “Social Media Marketing” is very close to being inserted into the Big Business Book of Buzz Words and Clichés.

I agree, whole heartedly, that it is much easier to increase the size of your agency when you have built a solid reputation of credibility and integrity within a community.   I am not quite convinced that community must be in the electronic world.

A few things of interest to insurance agents were discovered in a recent survey of the ways people share information by E-Marketer.

The numbers just do not agree with all the buzz coming from many self-proclaimed marketing gurus who have never sold an insurance policy in their lives.

In the past few years a new marketing concept has been developed called, “permission marketing.”  Its philosophy stands in contrast with the techniques I was taught as a rookie agent of “interruption marketing.”

Bobber

The 2 philosophies can be compared to fishing.  As a boy, I loved the sport of fishing.  “Permission Marketing” can be likened to fishing with worms and a bobber.  You bait the hook and wait for the fish to come to you.  When the bobber goes under water, you know you have dinner on your hook.  It is just a matter of reeling it in.  Until then you are free to relax and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of nature.

How does that apply to insurance agents?  It is simple.  Once you have decided which social communities you wish to get known in on the internet, all you need to do is participate enough to get known and then wait for prospects to call you.

Casting

There are some people who do not have the patience to wait for the fish to come to them and drag their bobbers under.  If they are going to fish, then dog gone it, they are going to fish.  They spend hundreds of dollars to buy the best rods, reels and lures.  They read any sporting magazine they can get their hands on and listen to the morning fishing reports so they know where and when the best time will be to go.

Once they have the right equipment and know the optimum time and location they go out and expend all their energy casting and retrieving their lures.

How does that apply to insurance agents?  In my career I have seen many young agents, early in their careers, learn everything they could about prospecting and then spend their energy trying to “make things happen” with cold telephone calls and canvassing.

Ironically, both bobber and casting techniques will catch fish.  The one variable that must remain constant for both fishing techniques to work is that they must be done where the fish are.  If you are at a pond with no fish, all you are doing with your bobber is drowning worms.  Likewise, with your expensive rod and reel, if there are no fish in the pond, you are just exercising your arm.

Insurance sales are similar.  No matter how much you spend, if you are prospecting (marketing) where your prospects are not, you are not going to make the sales required.

According to the numbers, if your target market is young adults, ages 18-24, social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter or Blogging may be a useful forum for you.

If, however, your target market is like mine, Baby Boomers over the age of 45, email may be a better use of your time.  I know that I have had far greater response from my email campaigns than from the other Social Media outlets I use.

I have a presence on Facebook; both personal and professional.  My personal page allows me to keep in touch with friends I have made over the years.  My professional page allows me to automatically link my blog to it so that my clients may stay informed with what is happening in health care.

I have had no more than a couple of inquiries about health insurance from my Facebook friends with no sales.  That really does not surprise me.  People use Facebook to interact with people on a personal basis and not to purchase things.

On Twitter I am known as CLUAGENT.  I try to post 8-12 times a day and retweet an equal number of comments made by others.  To date, I have not gotten one inquiry from Twitter.

I am not saying not to use all the internet marketing options available.  Every time a prospect sees your name associated with your business is a good thing for you.  What I am saying is that you should fight the temptation to believe the hype that all you need to do is manage your on line marketing and prospects will flood your office with calls wanting your help.

By all means, build your pages on Facebook and Tweet.  Those techniques can only help you.  Just don’t forget to combine those “inbound” passive techniques with more aggressive “outbound” marketing.

There is no law preventing a kid from fishing with both a bobber and a casting rod.

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About The Insurance Barn

Husband of 1, father of 2, health insurance agent and insurance trainer.
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