Why Brokers Need Facebook
In the 1950s and 1960s, an insurance broker was an active member of their community. They participated in neighbourhood activities; they offered friends and neighbours insurance advice; it was a method of developing genuine relationships, building trust and developing a customer list.
However, through the decades brokers have modified their approach to focus less on marketing to an individual to marketing to a mass market. This shift prompted many brokers to lose their focus, explains Rick Morgan, a Connecticut-based new media consultant and former broker. Morgan says brokers need to become accustomed to the changes in marketing and communications in order to develop their business based on their primary focus: building a relationship with individual customers.
“When you used to do mass marketing you could plan on sending out 1,000 pieces of mail or make [a certain] number of phone calls and out of these [initiatives] obtain so many leads and so many policies,” Morgan says. “Now we’ve got DVRs (digital video recorders) so we don’t have to see commercials on TV. We’ve got Do Not Call lists and SPAM filters. So the old marketing methods just don’t work anymore.”
In order for brokers to reach their target audience they need to revert to being a part of their community, but with a modern twist. For example, joining social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Buzz and LinkedIn. He says that brokers who have taken the initiative to join these types of sites have been able to build relationships with communities, like their 1950s counterparts did. The added benefit, says Morgan, is that with the current methodology of developing community relationships and presence, brokers have access to a much larger community than their 1950s counterparts did.
Unfortunately, the majority of brokers are reluctant to use social networking sites because they don’t see the return on investment (ROI). Many brokers Morgan speaks to view this type of relationship connection as a waste of time. Some even consider social media a fad. Morgan doesn’t agree. He believes brokers need to be prepared to accept the change in how people interact and become a part of the growing cyber-community.
“[Joining a social networking site] is comparable to an agency going down to a Chamber of Commerce meeting or playing a round of golf [with a client],” Morgan says. “What’s the ROI on those? The answer: You are building a relationship.”
In order to successfully use these sites to build business, Morgan suggests brokers integrate them into their business plan. Also, brokers should take the time to be involved with their online community; set goals on what they expect from these sites; and to work on developing those goals daily.
But the best reason to use social networking for business, says Morgan, is that they are free.
The Social Web and the Broker
- Opening Up New Opportunities
- Essential tool for communication
- Customer engagement
- Lead generation
- Immediate customer contact
- Customer service
- Customer interaction/Relationship building
Outbound marketing includes:
- Trade shows
- Direct mail
- E-mail blasts
- Print ads
- TV/radio ads
Customers consider this kind of marketing an “interruption,” says Rick Morgan, a Connecticut-based new media consultant and former broker.
Inbound marketing includes:
- Social media
- Free tools/trials
- Viral marketing
This type of marketing requires the customer to provide permission for the marketing, says Morgan.
© Copyright 2010 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the June 2010 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine.