September 2008

18
Sep

Agents Who Pigeonhole Themselves = Insurance Experts

"When I was younger… I didn’t want to be pigeonholed… Basically, now you want to be pigeonholed.  It’s your niche."  – Joan Chen, actress

How true the above quote is but to really understand it takes a road of discovery.  For example, I recently ran across an agent that had started off as a general practitioner of selling property and casualty insurance to anyone who walked through the agency’s front doors.  You need an artisan policy, no problem.  You need classic car coverage, no problem.  The book of clients became wide with areas of coverage deep. So yes, the size and diversity of his book became the problem.

Furthermore, all the while building his book of business his out-of-the-office hobby was wine tasting.  He could explain to you vintages, aromas, grapes, vineyards, regions, and how all of these variables collide to deliver a single taste of wine.  But how could he use this passion and knowledge to benefit his career as an agent?  The answer was right under his nose (pun intended).

The Wine Connoisseur’s Four Step Process:

1.  Learn Your Niche - Identify what activity you would like to be surrounded by.  What are you passsions?  Can you reach out and connect with those involved and offer them a solution for their risks?  Of course you can!  Learn it, know it, and believe in it!  Your enthusiasm is contagious!

 2.  Find Your Market - Explore shows and online sites to find the markets that cover the risks you’re passionate about.  There are hundreds of MGAs and companies that specialize in key, narrow areas.   It’s just up to you to locate them and build that relationship.

3.  Get Involved - Be an ambassador for you and your agency.  Go to the trade shows and  (using the example above) vineyards and get to know all those involved.  Position yourself in their mind as an expert in the wine process and the risks associated.  You can help them cover risks they know about and others they may have overlooked. 

4.  Be the Expert - Don’t worry if you aren’t the certified expert.  An expert is really just defined in the context of selling your service as knowing more than your purchaser.  You’ll never know everything.  But  you should know more than your prospective clients.  Stay attuned to what is going on in the industry as well as the insurance markets as well.  Experts inform and educate others. 

Please don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a general practitioner.  There are general practitioners that are just as successful as a niche agents.  I’m merely illustrating a different approach to building your book of business.  If you have a burning interest in a particular subject, implement it into your daily practice.

Today our wine connoisseur / agent is known as the vineyard insurance expert statewide.  That’s all he focuses on and he’s known as the best.  Not a bad position to be in.  Cheers to you and your niche!  -village chief

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04
Sep

Be Pervasive! Blogging and Social Media for Insurance Agents

For most Americans who lived through WWII and the Korean War, the most popular, iconic graffiti of the day was, "Kilroy was here."  This famous expression is said to have appeared on the Statue of Liberty, on the Marco Polo Bridge in China, inscribed underneath the Arc de Triumph in Paris, and even scribbled in dust on the moon.  To this day the real identity or origin of Kilroy is not known only speculated.  However, as you can imagine Kilroy was genius in his/her marketing efforts.  Today you can do the same with your agency online!

Two big ways to get your agency to be prevalent and recognized.

1.  Blogging – The word blog is a morphed word that finds its roots in the word web-log.  Squished together and you have blog.  A web-log is a written discussion short or long, in which others can comment.  How can an agent benefit from this?  Believe it or not you can build a reputation on the internet as a source of knowledge and respect in your particular area(s) of expertise.  And ultimately this may bring you business.

www.iiavillage.com is a blog.  There is fresh content (time-stamped) on the front page and as you scroll down you can see other past articles.  Also you’ll notice a comment link at the end of the article which is a standard blog feature.  You can add your comment or question to the end of each blog.  Others may read your comment or question and respond.

Additionally, if you like an article and want to share it, there are ways to link it to other sites that have many users.  For example, at the end of an article on iiavillage.com you can click on the Facebook icon (fourth icon from left, blue box, white letter ‘f’) to post this article on your facebook page for others to see… instantly!

Remember to think prevalent here.  You’re building your name/image inside the web community just like in your town/city community.  Start to build your reputation by engaging yourself with others in blogs and forums.  Others do want to know what you have to say.  And if you’re known to be a source of help and insight, well you may just have a few new clients.

 2.  Social Media – According to www.wikipedia.org (which is a wonderful resource on the internet compiled by others so be careful on the facts) Social Media is defined as the use of electronic and internet tools for the purpose of sharing and discussing information and experiences with other human beings.  This can be through typed text, video, and pictures.

Social Media can be for any conceivable industry, hobby, interest, or topic.  Here’s a site for the restaurant industry www.fohboh.com.  If you write business in the restaurant industry and would like to grow this niche in your book of business, get involved here!  Chances are another community member is going to bring up insurance and risks.  Another web community that focuses on business in general is www.biznik.com.  Here you can meet business owners and professionals from many different industries.  Join in, it’s usually free, and share your experiences and advice.  After all you are the expert!

"Your agency was here", is what you want to see pervasive in key communities on the web.  So get out there and establish yourself in your niche.  I can’t guarantee you immortal status or an inscription on the National WWII War Memorial in DC like Kilroy, but I can guarantee you, your voice will be heard.  Isn’t that the point?  -villageChief

 

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