Insurance agency marketing in today’s marketplace is more complex than ever. If we think back to just 20 years ago, agencies were primarily using canvassing, direct mail marketing, telesales, and perhaps some fax marketing. They might have tried seminars, trade shows and for those on the leading edge, they may have attempted something new called eMarketing. Today, canvassing, direct mail marketing and fax marketing is rapidly are in rapid decline as primary marketing tools, and following close behind is telesales, clearly on the downside of its long career. Insurance agency eMarketing, webinars, SEO and increasingly Social Media Marketing are on the ascent, and agents are challenged to keep pace with these new Web 2.0 developments even as they must manage the day to day operations of the business.
How can agencies and brokers establish a winning strategy in this challenging scenario? Instead of adding staff and overhead, many agencies are partnering with outsource providers to achieve their insurance marketing goals. In this case, outsourcing should not necessarily suggest offshore outsourcing, as some insurance marketing agencies are locally staffed. Let’s examine a few possible benefits of outsourcing versus internal hiring for insurance agency web marketing.
• A ‘marketing Jack of all trades’ no longer exists. In times past, it may have been possible to have one or two people in an agency who could handle all of the marketing duties. With the plethora of technology options in play today, skill sets have become highly specialized. It’s uncommon for a single person to have deep knowledge in more than a couple of areas.
• There is no such thing as ‘One size fits all’. It’s no longer possible to say, “A marketing program consists of A, B, and C.” Different target markets, product niches, executive targets, and specialized industries require individual approaches, and marketing techniques that successfully target one area may not work with another.
• Time is at a premium. Employees are working longer hours and wearing more ‘hats’ in the workplace than ever before. It is highly unlikely that anyone at an agency has the availability to devote many hours to learning and practicing new web based marketing techniques. Consider the challenges of insurance agency eMarketing alone, understanding Bayesian filtering, the CAN-SPAM act, accidental use of rush words and multi-part mime is just the beginning of the specialization required.
• Outsourcing can offer leverage. In many cases it can prove more cost effective to outsource certain functions than to perform them in house. As an example, consider an in house Marketing department. At a mid-sized, $10M agency, this might consist of a Marketing Director and three staff members. Salaries alone for these 4 employees could easily cost $200k per year. Add in the cost of benefits, equipment, training, and hiring costs, and the true figure could approach $400k. It’s possible to outsource all or most or all of the same marketing services for 25% of this investment. Conversely, for a smaller agency that cannot afford a full time marketing director, the same model can hold true. Instead of investing $75,000 (or more) in a full time marketing director, an outsource time slice might be had for 25% of that fee.
• Partnering with an outsourced marketing firm can allow agents to leverage years of expertise and experience that is unlikely to exist in house. Many insurance agents specialize in just a few coverage areas and know those niches really well. Niches might include trucking, contracting, benefits, oil & gas, etc. Similarly, an outsourced insurance marketing agency may specialize in Social Media Marketing, insurance website creation, SEO, eMarketing, webinars, or offer specialized expertise in several or all of these areas.
The only constant is change, and change is happening more quickly than ever. To keep current with emerging trends and technologies, it is important that agencies develop insurance agency web marketing plans and embrace new Web 2.0 initiatives. Regardless of venue, in-house versus outsource, insurance agencies need to keep pace with these rapid advances. Should an agency consider outsourcing, they should ask these types of questions:
Does the outsource firm provide deep insurance agency marketing experience?
Which Web 2.0 areas are their specialty?
Can they provide examples of completed work and successful campaigns?
Do they have credible references?
Are they using the same tools and services they suggest to your agency, at their own firm?
Insurance agency web marketing, insurance social media marketing, blogging, vlogging, eMarketing and webinar marketing should now be a standard at any organization. If your organization has yet to embrace these changes, this is the time to do so. Agencies that fail to understand this new marketing paradigm may not just find themselves out of touch with the marketplace – they may find themselves unable to compete.