Adapting to changing customer needs through product expansion is the primary way agencies are strategizing to grow in 2022.
Many insurance agents have high hopes for 2022, according to a new survey from Aon Programs, an Aon Affinity business. About 70% of agents expect their business growth to be on track in the new year—and nearly 20% expect that growth to be “off the charts."
Product expansion is the primary way that agencies are strategizing to grow in 2022, with nearly 35% of agents noting that they will adapt to changing customer needs by adding to their product offerings in the new year, according to the report. The top three specialty lines that agents plan to add include catastrophe, both commercial and personal; healthcare; and nonprofits.
Marketing approaches have been altered by the coronavirus pandemic and the increased digital overload has prompted some unique results. In 2020, webinars and virtual events held the No. 1 spot for the marketing strategy that agents believed would give them the biggest boost, but this year they fell to third place—a potential nod to Zoom fatigue. Only 20% of agents believe that webinars and virtual events will provide the biggest marketing boost in 2022.
Additionally, perhaps in a continued bid to stand out in a virtual world, direct mail has gained popularity. Interest in direct mail is up 5% year over year, rising from 8% in 2020 to 13% in 2021.
Digitalization fans shouldn't be worried, though. Social media took first place for 2022's marketing approaches, with 40% of agents anticipating it being their powerhouse. Email blasts were second place at 22%.
Agents are also indicating a willingness to explore new marketing strategies in response to shifting consumer expectations. Video marketing tops the list of new marketing tools that agents want to explore in 2022, at 42%. Additionally, 24% want to try search engine marketing, 21% want to try influencer marketing, and 14% want to try audio marketing.
The agency workplace is also anticipated to shift in the new year. As the Great Resignation marches on, with 4.2 million U.S. workers quitting their jobs in October, agents are rethinking hiring criteria. Respondents indicated that they are more open to hiring candidates who are remote, unable to work traditional business hours, don't have an insurance background and don't have the required years of experience—as long as they seem highly trainable.
More than 1 in 3 agents are using new channels to connect with prospective employees. Nearly 29% have enhanced their compensation and benefits package while 18% have expanded their talent search beyond their immediate geographic location.
“Since the start of the pandemic, we've seen so many agents cast a critical eye on all facets of their businesses to help their clients make better decisions amid rapid change," said Chad Levine, executive vice president and chief strategy officer of Aon Affinity. “You can see that trend continue in our survey results as agents fine-tune their business models for growth in 2022."
“While the last year and a half has thrown agents many curveballs, these survey results truly showcase their resiliency, adaptability and customer focus," Levine added. “We've seen agents shine as valued advisors who are helping their clients make better decisions in a complex, evolving world."
AnneMarie McPherson is IA news editor.