If you tune in to independent agent Woody Brown’s daily vlog, one of the first videos you’ll find features him taking down his Christmas lights.
That’s it. He’s not reviewing policies or offerings strategies for reducing risk. It’s just a guy living his life.
In January 2017, Brown challenged himself to share a video every day—the genesis of “Woody 365.”
Moments before taking the stage at the Independent Insurance Agents of Georgia’s Fall Insurance Expo, a video titled “Who is Woody Brown?” showed clips of Brown doing everything from singing on stage to walking on the beach with his family.
“Lots of agents opt into their carriers’ auto social media posts but aren’t getting engagement because people don’t care about insurance,” Brown said during his presentation. “If you ask me what I do, I’d say that I am an agent at the best agency on the planet, but how does that make me different? Aren’t there a million agents?”
“Ultimately,” says Brown, partner at The Rhoads Group, an independent agency in Cumming, Georgia, “it’s your story that separates you from anyone that’s doing exactly what you’re doing.”
Brown isn’t the only person in his agency who’s adopted this philosophy toward branding. Clayton Rhoads, founder & CEO, is also behind the push to be more authentic.
Rhoads produces a show called “The Grind” that gives local athletes a platform to share how they’re developing their skills while still excelling in the classroom. In addition to the direct benefits of getting his brand out there, this endeavor helps Rhoads establish relationships with people in the community.
Rhoads encourages his team to build a brand centered on their passions and to share their authentic selves. “I believe you are going to build the best relationships with people who share the same interests as you,” he says. “Why hide those things?”
Launching straight into vlogging may be intimidating for those who are uncomfortable with the technical aspects of filming, editing and publishing content. Instead, Rhoads suggests starting small, then scaling up to larger production videos.
“Most people don’t recognize the power of one-to-one video messaging,” Rhoads says. “We can film something on our phone and send it directly to someone, saying ‘Thank you for your renewal.’ That’s video marketing.”
As with any endeavor, principals want to know what kind of return they can expect from their efforts. Because advertising platforms sometimes overlap, it’s not always easy to determine what influences prospects to make a decision. But if you are aggressively promoting yourself, various marketing channels can work in harmony.
“You’ve got to be in the community before you can supplement it with all this other stuff,” Rhoads says. “Then your clients will start saying things like, ‘I met this guy at an event, then saw his billboard, a few weeks later I saw his ad in the paper, and he does this show on Facebook.’ When you ask how they found you, they’ll probably say the last piece of content they saw. But in essence, it took a combination of things to build the trust over time.”
Rhoads acknowledges that he’s not tracking return on investment down to the penny. “I believe in it so strongly that I don’t worry about the analytics as much,” he explains. “I’m meeting principals and community leaders. Sometime down the road, I’m sure an opportunity will come up where I can write a policy due to those relationships I’ve formed.”
Jonathan Tease is communications coordinator at the Independent Insurance Agents of Georgia, Inc.
Pick Your Poison
For those who aren’t comfortable with the idea of their video floating out in cyberspace, social media platforms have evolved to allow for a number of sending options.
Instagram, for example, offers specific message settings that make your video “self-destruct” after the recipient views it. You can also have the video loop continuously until the viewer closes it or remain visible indefinitely in your message history. —J.T.