Build awareness to reach agents

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Marketing to the insurance industry can be difficult, but marketers can be successful if they take time to solidify their approach, said Eric Hobbs, president and founder of Cary, N.C.-based technology consulting firm Technology Associates. Hobbs helps agents manage their technology systems so they can focus on selling and revenue generation rather than technology issues. BtoB asked him about the best ways to reach this audience.

BtoB: What are the major challenges in trying to engage insurance agents and brokers?

Hobbs: Agency owners are so inundated with marketing messages that reaching them takes the right message delivered repeatedly over a much longer period of time than was required in the past. Marketing … any complex product or service requires a level of trust from our clients that you are not likely to develop over just one or two brief contacts.

BtoB: What are the opportunities?

Hobbs: We have found in our home market that insurance agents rely on a rich network of business contacts in their industry and value the advice offered by other agents and industry professionals. We've discovered that if you prove yourself through quality service, word spreads quickly. Also, since most agents and brokers run small businesses, they are more willing to invest in technology and other new products for a competitive advantage at a much more aggressive pace than would buyers at larger companies.

BtoB: What tactics have worked best for you?

Hobbs: We primarily rely on direct mail to repeatedly deliver a consistent marketing message to our prospects. There is a lot to be said for staying foremost in their minds so that if they are not open to using your services today you are the person they do call when they decide it is time for a change. We are now working on developing a stronger public relations effort to reach trade publications, mainstream media and online news to help reinforce messages and increase brand identity. I don't believe there is any one ideal technique. … Repetition and consistency have worked well for us.

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