March 2009


Your Agency’s Website – Part 2

Can you name a few of the worst movie sequels in history?  I’m sure a couple come to mind.  How about Jaws 4 – The Revenge?  Really, revenge on who, we’re on land, you’re wet, and I’m pretty sure ‘ol Jaws isn’t going to knock on my door.  The fish is skewered, we don’t need four renditions of it.  Or how about Rocky 5?  The movie didn’t even end up in a suspense-filled ring going toe to toe with a super-hyped villain like Mr. T!  Instead our tenacious Rocky ended up in a street brawl with a no-name!  Sad, but how about this one, Grease 2.  Don’t remember it, good I don’t either.  Michelle Pfeiffer was the only noticeable bright-spot and even that was tarnished when she danced in a scene wearing a giant Christmas tree!  Travolta was not cast in this sequel.  Instead you got his fill-in doing his best Al Gore impersonation. 

For the most part ,sequels fail to meet the shadowing success of their previous achievements.  Usually bad memories are all we’re left with when it comes to sequels.  However, that’s not true with the offerings of Web 2.0.  Allow me to brief you on Web 2.0 and why it has to be part of your web-presence and marketing efforts today.

What is Web 2.0?  According to Webopedia (online glossary for technical terminology) it’s the term given to describe the second generation of the world wide web that is focused on the ability for people to collaborate and share information online.  While Web 1.0 was just low-res. pics and text, this newest version is much different.  Hey, no bad sequel here, this is an upgrade.  Here’s a few examples.

1.  Blog – Like previously mentioned in the iiaVillage article on September 4th, blogging is sharing anything online with anyone.  If your agency publishes (or just sends out to clients) a newsletter, you may want to consider posting this article online.  Offer the viewer the choice to respond with comments.  Content is key.  Whether your article is informative or instructional (like teaching an insured how to read and understand their policy), keeping information fresh and engaging will ensure their return.

 2.  RSS – Real Simple Syndicate… and it really is.  I’m sure you’ve noticed orange icons from time to time on websites with RSS next to them.  RSS is an invitation to follow future posts.  So instead of frequently checking a particular website for updates, the RSS function will feed the newest article to your MyYahoo, iGoogle homepage or directly to your email automatically.  Again, if your agency offers a frequent newsletter, be sure to put it on the web and also offer the RSS feed capability.  FeedBurner is a good place to learn about and implement this feature.

3.  Videos – This used to shut down servers from coast to coast.  Then along came YouTube.  Express yourself, your agency, and your team visually with the world.  You have a viewer’s attention for about 10 seconds to set the hook.  Once their hooked, they’ll want to check out your short video (2 min. or less) posted on your website.  If you focus in a particular commercial insurance niche’, tell the world why you are the expert in this area.  A video will say so much more than a picture or texty website.

4.  Social Media – Got your homepage up and running?  Good, now add the Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter icons at the bottom so anyone interested in learning more about you can follow you.  This medium is here to stay.  And the early ones to adopt this technology will have a significant stake in the ground once the Millineal Generation (born 1977-1990) grows up to be a larger consumer base.  They will gravitate towards familiar communication mediums and the aforementioned are the leaders.

See, not all sequels are worse off than the original.  But technology is still moving at break-neck speed.  Now after 20 years of the internet, everything associated has changed.  But I promise the third sequel will be just as thrilling as Web 2.0.  I just hope there’s never a Good Will Hunting 2!   -villageChief

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Your Agency’s Website- Part 1

Whatever happened to most neighborhood homes having front porches?  America used to have hundreds of neighborhoods filled with beautiful front porches.  Today most homes have a garage on the front instead.  Fully functional and a necessity of course, but you’re not going to hang out in the garage with friends and catch up.  My theory is that most front porches have gone to the internet.  Yep, with today’s blogs, websites, and cell phone portals we catch up in a much different way than before. One neighbor might be more inclined to text the other neighbor to come over and share what’s on the grill, instead of walking over.  Your company’s homepage is your company’s online front porch (or landing spot).  Here’s a couple of ideas to keep your agency’s front porch warm and friendly.

Stay Up-To-Date – Keep all your links and information on your site current.  Remove any former employee information off your site.  Review all of your copy to make sure it is still pertinent and useful to the browser.  Content is so key to catching your viewer’s attention for as long as possible.

Quick Load Time – Don’t post large sized or super hi-res pictures on your site.  If your site takes longer than 10 seconds to load, the viewer will "bounce" from your site.  A bounce is a reference to the effect of a viewer leaving your website.  Make it a snappy load time.  And always keep in mind you may have a potential ‘A’ client checking you out online before the appointment.

Colors - Use standard colors that are easy on the eyes and that go together.  Don’t use florescent colors.  It shouts warning and most viewers will leave.  Also, don’t use blinking anything.  It’s annoying and distracts the viewer from learning more about your agency.  Ask others to give their opinion on their experience on your website.  Feedback is key to keeping a fresh and attractive site.

Text & Pics - There is a happy balance between posting text and pics.  The internet is visual so if you can make a point with a picture then do so.  For example, show what types of coverage you offer with pics instead of text.  Also, the viewer is interested in quickly understanding your agency’s message.  So deliver quickly. 

So invite all the neighbors and friends over you want to visit your online front porch.  The internet has no doubt grown from a cute electronic poster to a fully-functional engaging medium that we quite frankly can’t live without today.  So use this tool to engage with your clients and prospects.  Success will be measured by the leads and business you end up writing.  – villageChief

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