How do you make sure your agency stays top of mind for personal lines prospects and clients?
If you’re like many independent agents, your approach may be more laid back and less consciously strategic. But implementing a concrete process for keeping in touch with prospects and clients all year round is just as important on the personal lines side as it is for commercial accounts.
According to the latest Future One Agency Universe Study, independent agents use approximately the same top five tactics for keeping in touch with personal lines prospects as they do for current clients: regular phone calls, personal visits, periodic emails and business/civic association meetings, with referrals rounding out the list for prospects and annual reviews doing so for current clients.
But plenty of other strategies get results that didn’t make that list. Here are four old-school tactics that still work for keeping in touch with personal lines prospects and clients:
1) Agency-sponsored events. Seibert Insurance Agency in Tampa, Florida has upheld the tradition of hosting customer appreciation events—the events are just a little more creative than they used to be.
“Our latest one was a shred event,” says Karyn Seibert Roeling, president and owner. “We had the shred truck that shreds our stuff park at our office for about four hours, and we had our guys grill up hamburgers and hotdogs. A lot of people just came and dumped their stuff, but we had food there in case they wanted it.”
2) Handwritten notes. Kimberly Merrill Wood, account executive at Tobey & Merrill Insurance in Hampton, New Hampshire, says her agency is “all about handwritten notes.” Currently, she’s focusing on a campaign which involves sending them to personal lines prospects on the anniversary of owning a new home.
“People do look at their mail,” Merrill Wood says. “When you see someone’s handwriting on the envelope, you’re kind of like, ‘Ooh—what’s that?’”
Seibert Roeling agrees—her agency sends handwritten thank-you notes to all referral sources and new clients. And Dahkia Thompson, owner of A-Absolute Brokerage Inc. in Mount Vernon, New York, signs all her current personal lines clients up for a personalized “birthday club.”
“I send them a handwritten birthday card as just one more way to keep in contact,” Thompson explains. “That can also lead to referrals, because when they get that, they’re like, ‘Wow—my broker remembered me.’”
3) Print communication. In a community like Storm Lake, Iowa, where the population is about 10,000, placing ads in the Yellow Pages is still an effective marketing strategy. “A lot of people around here still read the newspaper, so we’re advertising there weekly,” says Mike Pertzborn, Jr., owner of Stille Pierce & Pertzborn Insurance Services. “Print communication is still one of our top marketing promotions.”
The agency also counts a variety of print brochures among its top marketing materials, including one that introduces clients to the 16 employees who work hard for them behind the scenes.
“It’s amazing—I’ve been doing business with some of these customers for a long time, but they look at that brochure and go, ‘Wow, you guys are this big?’” says Mike Pertzborn, Sr., owner. “We feel that including those print brochures in every proposal is very important. It tells the history of the agency.”
The agency’s marketing brochures also include information about available products and services—an important reminder for clients who may associate their agent with only one type of insurance.
“I had a customer who was a car dealer in a small town nearby, and when I showed him the brochure he said, ‘Wait, you guys sell long-term care? I just bought a policy from someone else—I’d have talked to you if I knew you did it,’” says Pertzborn, Sr. “What that showed me is he needed to see something like this before he bought.”
4) Cross-selling. That mindset is also related to one of Stille Pierce & Pertzborn’s most successful prospecting strategies: Because 75-80% of the agency’s business is commercial lines, producers rely heavily on cross-selling to increase personal lines sales.
In a rural community like Storm Lake, clients have a variety of layered insurance needs. For example, “a lot of farmers today are cash-poor but asset-heavy—they might only make 50 grand a year, but they have $10 million in land,” points out Pertzborn, Jr. “Well, what happens when Mom or Dad or Grandpa passes away? How does that younger farmer buy that expensive land? There are nice life insurance products out there that could provide a solution. If we run across a client that doesn’t have a product through us, we’re definitely at least talking about it.”
“It’s our philosophy not to leave that door open for the other agent to come in and write any business for them,” agrees Pertzborn, Sr. “We try to write everything they have—life insurance, health insurance, commercial lines. Tying that personal lines into the rest of our business is very important to us.”
Jacquelyn Connelly is IA senior editor.