Engaging Agents in Joint Marketing Initiatives

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1 Engaging Agents in Joint Marketing Initiatives How Insurance Companies can Increase Sales and Improve Results by Kandi O Connor President, MarketHUB+

2 Executive summary The disconnect between insurance carriers and the agents that sell their products can, at times, seem vast. Geographic dispersion can complicate communications that can negatively impact the brand of the carrier and the agents. This white paper will examine four areas for optimization between agents and carriers that can have a huge business impact: how to boost engagement and awareness, generating leads, trade shows and events, and up-sell/cross-sell campaigns. Highlighted are key components and detailed steps that will help carriers engage agents in creating joint marketing initiatives that will improve results on the bottom line. 2

3 Boosting engagement and awareness Insurance carriers face a unique set of challenges because they sell through a network of agents and/ or brokers. How do you rely on this widely-dispersed channel to market your product lines effectively? In addition, if you work with independent agents who represent multiple brands, how can you help to ensure that you are the brand of choice? Insurance carriers can engage agents and boost awareness of their brand by doing the following: Make a clear statement Create a clear brand position and competitive differentiation that drives product demand, and empower your agents with the resources they need to become effective brand ambassadors. Establish strong brand awareness in the marketplace so that customers are aware of your product lines and pull demand to sales channels. Then empower your agents to become effective brand advocates by providing pre-canned marketing kits with marketing resources such as sales kits and collateral materials. Make a strong impression Make sure agents represent your brand properly to your customers. The brand impression your agents create with your customers is just as if not more important to manage than a direct touch with your company: The support and training you provide can make or break any agent s comfort level with selling your product lines and the quality of support they provide to your end-customers. 78% of consumers believe organizations providing custom content are interested in building good relationships with them. Source: Custom Content Council Make it easy to do business Make sure you re easy to do business with. Review your quoting, account management, training and marketing systems and remove any barriers within these systems that may hinder your goals of being easy to interact with and do business with. Proactively develop your systems to improve ease-of-use on an ongoing basis. docustar.com 3

4 Make resources accessible Support your agents with joint marketing initiatives. Collaborate with your agents to define a target customer profile and develop campaigns targeting relevant segments. Joint marketing activities can include planning campaign target lists, collaborating on educational seminars, direct mail and campaigns, and tradeshows. Additionally, consider joint marketing initiatives such as co-op marketing programs, which can incentivize agents to promote your products based on criteria you specify. Make it efficient Automate the co-marketing process with marketing resource management (MRM) systems. This goes back to an important point we made above: Your business should be easy to interact with, which means that anything you can do to simplify the process of marketing your product or service is a win. MRM systems enable insurance carriers to push communications templates and turnkey campaigns directly to agents where direct mail and campaigns, for example, can be executed on their behalf through a simple opt-in process. Messages can be modified as needed by agents based on their knowledge of local markets. In addition, marketing materials can be automatically routed for review to ensure appropriate representation of your brand. Generating leads Beyond creating brand awareness, insurance carriers should help and guide agents and/or brokers in generating new leads. It can be challenging to develop target lists and execute marketing campaigns in coordination with agents, especially with independent agents who traditionally sell multiple insurance brands. The easier you are to work with as an Insurance company including your internal processes, systems and technology the better your agent collaboration will be. MRM systems can help you automate turnkey lead generation campaigns for your agents. Next, we take you step-by-step through the campaign process. 4

5 Building campaigns through MRM systems Below is an example of a continuity campaign for on-boarding a new homeowners insurance customer. There are several goals to keep in mind; the first and probably most important, is to build customer loyalty. Once a customer purchases a policy they are unlikely to change carriers, but typically only buy one or two products per company. Once that loyalty has been established, the company has an opportunity to cross-sell and up-sell other product lines. Do these new homeowners need auto or life insurance? In addition, this loyalty can also result in referrals. So, investing time in the pursuit of customer loyalty will pay off in the end. 1. Design. Insurance carriers can load new marketing campaign materials into the MRM system for agents use. 2. Enroll. Once new campaigns are available, insurance carriers can automatically agents an invitation to enroll in the campaign. 3. Refine messaging. Campaign materials can be used as-is or customized and localized by agents through the MRM system. Insurance carriers can choose to be automatically notified to review revised messaging. 4. Select participants. Agents can upload their own list for use in the campaign or select the insurance carriers list. Full-service MRM providers can also provide lead lists based on criteria selected by the agent. 5. Distribute. A full-service MRM partner can manage and execute printing and fulfillment of direct mail campaigns on behalf of agents and the insurance carrier. Automated, end-to-end solution MRM systems can significantly reduce the time and effort required to coordinate insurance lead generation campaigns and automate collaboration between agents and the insurance carrier. In just a few clicks from within the MRM system, authorized agents can design, enroll, refine messaging, select participants and distribute lead generation campaigns. Insurance Acquisition Campaign Example Insurance carrier and DocuStar collaborate on: Prospect introductory letter template Continuity mailings templates Agent receives enrollment , enrolls in acquisition campaign, enters prospect target lists, enters prospect demographical criteria for supplemental list purchasing, customizes and localizes messages. Insurance carrier reviews message customization; DocuStar scrubs list for duplicates and do-not-contact. Acquisition campaign mailings sent as scheduled. Prospects respond; Agent sets dispositions. docustar.com 5

6 Trade shows and events Joint marketing events are an effective tool in your marketing promotions mix to help insurance agents reach new prospects and close the sale. Events, such as trade shows and seminars, are excellent opportunities for new prospects to learn more about your services, and in-person meetings with current customers can also generate new up-sell and cross-sell opportunities. Co-op marketing events and seminars also provide a means for insurance carriers to get closer to their end-customers while overseeing delivery of the brand message. Here s a checklist for partnering with your agents to execute a seamless joint marketing event or seminar: Identify your objectives and develop targeted content Events can range from trade shows and social activities to informational seminars addressing your audience s needs. If the objective of your event is to provide information, then it s important to make sure the information is relevant and solves a problem you have identified for your target customer segment. Here are some informational seminar theme ideas for the insurance industry: Financial planning How to document your valuables through a home inventory Identity theft prevention Term versus whole life insurance Even if the event is primarily social, such as a golf outing, the face-time you ll have with end-customers is an important opportunity that should not be missed to qualify new leads and provide informational content about your product or service. Here are some soft strategies for incorporating an informational call-to-action into your events: Promotional items could include a QR code linking to video testimonials Flyers or handouts could include a QR code linking to a calendar to schedule a follow up meeting USB drives could be pre-loaded with links to an interactive brochure or a form to schedule a consultation 6

7 Develop a communications plan and automate communications Determine which communications channels you ll use to promote your co-op marketing event. Will you invite attendees via direct mail and/or , advertise your event or include a web RSVP component? QR codes incorporated into direct mail or invites can offer a quick and convenient means for end-customers to enroll in your event or seminar, while MRM systems can be used to develop a turnkey event campaign. These systems simplify the process of developing joint target lists with agents customizing event invitations and coordinating event communications and RSVPs, streamlining your co-marketing event planning from a central technology platform. Businesses that use marketing automation to nurture prospects experience a 451% increase in qualified leads. Source: The Annuitas Group Co-brand your event materials Depending on your relationship with your agents, you may need to co-brand event materials to visually reinforce awareness of the insurance carrier and independent agent relationship. Materials that can be co-branded include event signage, nametags informational flyers/ brochures, menus and promotional items. Co-marketing events and seminars provide an excellent opportunity to help distributed sales channels reach more prospects while providing insurance carriers with direct end-customer interaction. Up-sell and cross-sell campaigns Planning joint campaigns with your agents is a great way to generate new up-sell and cross-sell business. Because they already know and likely trust your business, existing customers are a prime audience for additional sales, but they may not be properly informed about the full scope of products or services in your portfolio. You may expect that your agents are taking initiative to nurture up-sell and cross-sell business from their current customers, but they may need a little push. However, if you provide direction and make it easy for agents to participate, you can both profit. docustar.com 7

8 Identify trends Coach your agents on where to find customer insights. A perfect place to start is by looking for trends in customer purchase data. You can ask your agents to look at their purchase data and share insights with you or, if you have a data warehouse, you can review sales by agents and by order to identify trends in product purchase histories that may indicate patterns in customer purchases. For example, is the purchase of one product typically followed by another product? If so, you can promote the complimentary product to the agent s current customers through an up-sell or cross-sell campaign. Tip: The best opportunities are when customer purchase histories match word-ofmouth insights. Consult customer-facing team Talk to your agents to gather insights on customer buying trends and behaviors. Find out what trends they see in terms of how customers move from one offering to the next and determine what promotions have worked best in the past with existing customers. If your agents are currently running any continuity campaigns, find out which offers have been the most successful and garnered the best response rates. Likewise, if your agent has recently hosted a customer event, find out what they learned from their customers. These are important keys into customer buying insights. Design your campaign Once you ve identified the products or services that are the best candidates for your campaign, identify the customers you want to target and make a target list. Customize and personalize the campaign message based on group trends identified in the purchase history. Simplify distribution The most effective way to enlist agent participation in an up-sell or cross-sell campaign is to make participating easy. You may have enough data to create target lists for your agents and suggest customers for inclusion in the campaign on their behalf or your agents may provide the customer target lists. Either way, if you utilize an MRM system to manage campaign execution, you can provide turnkey campaigns that agents can launch simply by uploading their target list and enrolling customers in the campaign in just a few clicks. QR codes can even be added to direct mail campaigns with a PURL component to personalize the up-sell or cross-sell offer. Finally, as with any campaign, you should measure your results and adjust campaigns accordingly over time. 8

9 Conclusion Engaging agents in joint marketing initiatives provides an excellent opportunity for revenue generation. Anything you can do to simplify the process of marketing your products and services is a win. Marketing resource management systems empower your agents to become effective brand advocates by making it easier for agents to participate in corporate marketing campaigns. Turnkey marketing campaigns created in MRM systems enable agents to localize and personalize predesigned templates and automate the corporate review process to ensure compliance. Maximize your MRM deployment by following these four steps: 1. Make it easy for agents to participate by providing logins/licenses and both initial and on-going training. 2. Ensure agents have the means to easily access your system. Web-based MRM systems enable agents to utilize the application without needing to have software installed on their computers. 3. Select a full-service MRM partner (not just a technology vendor) who can help you to design, execute and manage campaigns. 4. Select an MRM partner who owns the code and has dedicated staff developers who can modify the system to help manage the unique relationship and processes you have with your agents. Next steps You can evaluate your current local agent support processes by taking the free Local-Ready Marketing Assessment. For example, how well are you supporting local field agents with lead generation, events and cross-sell/up-sell campaigns? Are your current marketing efforts tied to the sales process to enable localization? The assessment will help you identify gaps in your processes and offer recommendations for improvement. You can take the assessment at: docustar.com 9

10 Contact us to learn more! Contact us for more information about how DocuStar s MarketHUB+ can address marketing challenges through process automation, list management and the work of our team on your behalf. You can visit powered by For more tips and to continue the conversation, follow DocuStar online: DocuStar provides businesses with web-based marketing resource and creative production management services, and social media marketing tools, and digital print and fulfillment services. Combining 20 years of print fulfillment experience with business and marketing software, DocuStar is uniquely equipped to provide customizable solutions that are local, mobile and personal.

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