A while back, the insurance industry was the clear winner in an article about the five least attractive jobs in America. It became a running joke at my agency.
One day, I was sitting at my desk, staring at the type of generic calendar you would find at any office. I joked with my coworkers that we should make a ’50s-era pin-up calendar to prove the naysayers wrong—something we could share with our clients, carriers and community to make us stand out from other agencies. Throughout the years, I often mentioned the idea to my co-workers, until I finally I thought, “Why not?”
In February 2014, with the permission of our CEO, Terry Ryan, we started putting a ’50s-era calendar together. I reached out to a few local photographers who agreed to do the work in exchange for free advertising in the calendar, and we enlisted local hairstylists, while I rounded out our looks with makeup.
The majority of our staff, along with some of their children, agreed to give up their time to participate and help bring the calendar to life. Our staff would purchase their own costumes and provide props. Once the photos were completed, I edited them and we added insurance information and tips to go along with the theme of each picture.
After months of hard work, we went to print and distributed the calendars to our clients, carriers and marketing reps as a thank you for their support throughout the years. Within the next couple of weeks, we received a ton of amazing feedback. Clients called us to thank us and tell us how the calendar put a smile on their face.
The following year, we edited the photos differently and reprinted the calendar. Our clients were happy to see the calendar again but were a little disappointed that we didn’t have a new theme. Challenge happily accepted!
In 2016, I pulled together a team within the office to brainstorm a few ideas for upcoming calendars. This time around, we hired a professional photographer and editor, who we have been using ever since. In 2017, we were excited to send our movie-themed calendar to our clients. Each year since, we have challenged ourselves a little more.
Now, our clients can’t wait to see what we will come up with next. Making the calendar sets us apart from other agencies and is a fun way to engage with our clients and carriers. One of my clients told me how they showed the calendar to a friend, who responded by saying, “Hey, I want my insurance with those people—they look like fun!” She became a client, and now I get a phone call from her every year about how she can’t wait for her new calendar to arrive. Stories like that make all that hard work worth it.
The calendars have not only been a success with customers and as a team-building exercise for our staff, but also boost other areas of our agency’s marketing because we use the photos for billboards, ads in our local papers and social media campaigns. Our 2019 decades-themed calendar has been our biggest hit so far.
If this is something your agency is interested in doing, my advice is to start small and start early. We usually start planning in February for the following year’s calendar. Once we choose a theme, we then set out to see which employees want to be involved. After that, we start to schedule the photo shoots, which we typically like to complete by early summer.
We encourage other insurance agencies to take risks and don’t do the normal “here’s a pen” routine. Clients love to put a face to the voice they speak with over the phone. They get a kick out of seeing their CSRs in these calendars. Our clients are already asking: “Will you do another one next year?” Well, I guess they’ll have to wait and see!
Connie Tahinos is a personal lines account executive and Nicole Smith is a commercial lines account executive at Hanson & Ryan, Inc., an independent agency in Totowa, New Jersey.