The Other Kind of Marketing – Brand Yourself and Sell More Insurance

In the insurance industry, when we speak about marketing we are most often referring to marketing risks to the insurance companies we represent. Albeit a critical aspect of any agency’s success, this marketing is not the only thing an agency needs to expend its resources on. There is the “other kind of marketing,” often underestimated and not fully understood in the insurance industry, which many agencies simply do not concentrate on at all.

Because of basic misconceptions, insurance agencies are often put off by traditional marketing efforts, which is to find creative ways to move consumers towards their product or service. On the one hand, the industry as a whole seems to be stuck in a time warp when cold-calling and door-to-door sales and other types of interruption marketing held the keys to the kingdom. No new strategies are implemented because agencies believe the old ones still work. The misassumption that marketing strategies and branding are too expensive for the individual agencies and agents makes many think that these strategies are exclusive to the big money insurance companies.

The nature of the modern-day consumer and the rise in the competitive and price-based nature of the market place call for individual agents and agencies to develop innovative marketing strategies in order to maintain an edge in the industry. The advent of the National Do Not Call Registry, Caller ID and email Spam Blockers, for example, make the traditional means of interruption marketing like cold-calling, and mass emailing less effective. Agents must become more creative and begin to take advantage of things like the Internet, newsletters, and article marketing. An Internet based marketing strategy requires very little work and very little out-of-pocket cost.

You need to brand yourself as the insurance producer. It is nice to have a company web page listed on your business card. It is a place for prospects to learn more about your company. However, you need to distinguish yourself from all of the agents out there. Lets face it. Most independent agencies have access to the same markets and the same prices; so what else do prospects have to base their choice on? The agent. An easy way to do this is to create a web page that brands and markets you.

Once you have a web page setup for yourself with content that enhances your image as a highly qualified professional and an industry leader, then you are ready to turn your web page into a fully automated marketing machine. Your web page will become a place to gather prospects’ contact information. You can achieve this by offering a newsletter. There are numerous companies on the web that can help you set up a fully automated newsletter. At this point you are no longer engaged in interruption marketing but the much more successful practice of permission marketing. Additionally, you create a space for yourself to show off your industry knowledge and give yourself a reason to stay in touch with and in front of prospects on a regular basis.

The most critical part of your new marketing strategy will be to drive traffic to your web page and then get permission to contact prospects. Use as many strategies to gain traffic as possible. Firstly, there is old-fashioned offline marketing, (i.e. brochures, letters, and faxes), that draws attention to your web page and a reason to visit the site. You will also need to do as much online marketing as you can. It is affordable and incredibly effective so you should do this as much as possible. Some online strategies to become visible on the web include, search engine optimization, advertising on related sites, article marketing, and pay per click advertisement.

Market Branding Advertising With TV – Cheap Brand Marketing, Self-Promotion, Brand Management

Do you ever advertise?

Do you run a newspaper classified ad? Hammer bandit signs to telephone poles? Slap a magnetic sign to your car door? Print business cards?

Becoming “known” when you’re “unknown” is a formidable challenge.

Every business and profession knows it’s essential to survive and succeed.

And the whatever business or profession is “best-known” makes the most income! That’s Marketing 101. That’s Advertising 101. That’s the mantra of the Harvard MBA.

But how can you most-efficiently move from Unknown to Unforgettable?

How can you best evolve from Nobody to Somebody?

The obvious answer is TV!

Exposure on local or national TV brands everyone from criminal to celebrity, and everything from coffee to cars.

“Coke” is so branded over such length of time that you can catch just a glimpse of that curved bottle even without the logo turned toward you…and you instinctively know it’s “Coke!”

And does that branding pay off financially?

It doesn’t take the MBA graduate to know!

Suppose you could become so branded that everyone in town (or even across the nation) knew you and what you did?

Well, the fastest way to do it is with TV advertising and marketing.

But who can afford it?

Before the Internet, TV branding was stand-alone marketing. And very expensive.

But an inexpensive Internet web site online combined with cheap :15 second TV promotion offline suddenly levels the playing field for even the smallest business, profession and entrepreneur who understands the “how!”

The media is already using the concept.

Newspapers use it with their online web sites. “America’s Most Wanted” TV show describes the details online. Even local TV news carries the expanded story on their web site.

Why don’t you use this same “cheap” technique?

This personal branding methodology using the power of television is so “cheap” that it can cost less than a newspaper classified ad!

TV branding can “sear your image indelibly in the public eye” using prime-time network affiliates, regional cable stations, and FCC-mandated “leased access” stations.

Right now, you can use TV branding in the huge metropolis of L.A. for nightly 30 minute infomercials at the cost of only $1500 per month! That’s “cheap!”

How Sales, Marketeing, Branding & Digital Dysfunction Are Dragging You Down

Getting sales and marketing to talk to each other may feel like torture, but it has never been more critical – especially for the more than 5 million mid-market industrial and B2B companies in the U.S.

The digital age and a host of technology developments have exposed four major flaws in traditional B2B marketing practices:

• Lack of coordination between brand, sales/marketing and digital activities

• Dedication to sales at the expense of marketing

• The slowness of firms to focus their online voice

• Failure to recognize that the internet has changed the sales dynamic

B2B companies are struggling to leverage the internet to sell and grow. Unlike consumer product companies, they’ve been slow off the mark in the digital race due a traditional but flawed rationale that branding and digital communications can’t really help their ‘relationship’ style of selling.

What’s become glaringly obvious is that three core marketing functions – brand, sales/marketing and digital communications – don’t behave as if they have anything in common. Worse, they don’t work together to build equity, share of mind, customer loyalty, or sales for B2B enterprises.

The open secret always was that sales and marketing were never really very integrated. In some firms, they didn’t even like or talk to each other. Not to mention that in many B2B firms, ‘sales and marketing’ actually means ‘sales.’

But because the internet has made company ‘walls’ ever more transparent, there are few secrets. Employees complain, whistle blowers whistle, bloggers gossip, e-mails get forwarded, the news media investigates, and your customers actually know all about you – your product benefits and even your prices – before you ever hit their door. So what are you actually selling?

When a company’s brand, its sales force, and its digital activity aren’t in lockstep, customers notice. At best, customers scratch their heads at this lack of coordination; at worst and more commonly, firms are losing credibility, customer satisfaction and opportunity because they can’t get their act together.

In 2014, Forbes Insights published, Breaking Down Marketing Silos: The Key to Consistently Achieving Customer Satisfaction and Improving Your Bottom Line.

Forbes noted that the challenges with marketing silos mean:

1. Each silo may have its own brand vision, creating a disjointed experience and message for the customer.

2. Team incentives may motivate some team members to exploit and damage the brand in order to boost short-term sales.

3. Poorly integrated teams suffer from inadequate cooperation.

4. Silo interests stand in the way of programs that require scaling.

5. Key growth areas such as digital are not scaled because they are dispersed across silos.

6. Success in one silo is leveraged slowly into others, or not at all.

And not listed, but in the mix: Inconsistent customer experience across divisions and functions.

The good news is that with the right market data, the marketing function is uniquely positioned to lead the charge for integration in the name of better service to the customer. Forbes pointed out why marketing is primed for a leadership role in integration:

1. Marketing brings an outside point of view.

2. Marketing can articulate the unique truth of the company and what differentiates it within the marketplace.

3. Marketing can communicate the product and value-why products are relevant to customers in different ways, identifying segmentation in the market.

4. Marketing creates compelling stories for rallying employees and making an emotional connection with customers.

5. Marketing is a strategic seat at the table; there is no other department that can see such a company panorama and bring those perspectives together.

To overcome the silo issue, the report concludes by offering best practices for CMO’s:

1. Replace competition and isolation among silos with communication and cooperation.

2. Consolidate when necessary.

3. Act as a facilitator, establishing frameworks, encouraging collaboration through teams and knowledge hubs, and upgrading marketing talent.

4. Think like a consultant: create company-wide insights, train marketing talent and participate in strategy development.

5. Secure access to the C-suite. Teradata found that marketers with executive responsibilities are almost twice as likely as others to believe that there are no barriers to interdepartmental integration.

6. Force integration. In Teradata’s study, marketers say the best way for marketing to become more intertwined with other functions is to set up integrated processes.

For some firms, these are lofty marketing ideals. But there are practical steps smaller companies can take to force different thinking and action. But there are practical steps smaller companies can take to encourage different thinking and action. One is to use research and market data strategically – know the customer better than anyone else. A second step is to stop planning functionally and start planning via a ‘communications & experience canvass.’ What does the customer need to feel, see and hear? How do we ‘behave the brand?’ Who is responsible for delivering that? What are the methods for delivery?

In short, turn the silos sideways. With this framework, suddenly a lot more people see and serve their responsibility to serve the customer – including functions such as accounting, help desk, order fulfillment and e-commerce managers, and the c-suite.

The Oldest Tea Merchant in the World is Still a Marketing & Branding Phenomenon

Any traveler to London is naturally overwhelmed with the many sites, sounds, history and majesty of this glorious ancient capital, especially first time visitors. Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, the Thames, Big Ben the Horse Guards, 10 Downing Street, St. James Park, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Old Bailey and Hyde Park Gate are only a few of the famous must see locations tourists consume in the vast spread of this vibrant metropolis. The greatness of the British Empire is vividly on display in the streets, buildings, history and traditions that travelers can share with the British citizenry.

As a marketing consultant by trade I am particularly absorbed by the many ancient commercial establishments that are based in London. Harvey Nichols, Harrod’s, Fleet Street, Saville Row, Claridges, Hamleys, and hundreds of independent specialty shops that trace their provenance back centuries are more bountiful in London than in any other city in the world. Adolph Hitler did not refer to the British as “a nation of shopkeepers” for no reason.

One of the must visit shops I always include in my itinerary while in London is Twining’s. This venerable purveyor of tea is quintessentially British. The original tea shop is still the Companies base and the address at 216 Strand near Westminster has been in constant use for over three centuries.

The founder of Twinings, Thomas Twining was born in 1675. He moved to London as a young man and worked as his father did as a fuller (wool processor). At that time, having a trade was a necessary precursor to becoming a Freeman of the City of London. Unless designated a Freeman it was impossible to start a business in the city. Twining became a Freeman in 1701 and began to work for the East India Company, then the preeminent merchant trading company in the world.

The East India Company, piggybacking the dominance of the British navy, became the largest importer and exporter of luxury goods, spices and foods from the many corners of the globe where the empire had planted the British flag. Twining worked in teas and became absorbed in all things having to do with tea. His mentor, Thomas D’Aeth, would prove particularly valuable for the young entrepreneur.

By 1706 he was ready to open his own business. The Strand Street location he chose for his shop was fortuitous, as this area became the neighborhood of choice for the London upper crust after the horrific Great Fire of London. Politicians, merchants, military leaders and royalty began to come to enjoy the service, superior selection and top quality tea products available at Twinings.

Then as now, competition was tough. Coffee and teas houses were commonplace in 18th century Britain, and tea was not yet the ascendant national drink. Thomas Twining, however, under the important tutelage of Thomas D’Aeth had a powerful advantage over his competitors. He was not just a buyer, or server of tea, but having worked for the East India Company as an importer, with important connections on distant tea plantations, he knew more about varieties and newly developed types of teas than almost any other Englishman of his day.

Twinings became famous very quickly for the vast selection and high quality of the teas sold and served in the shop. The shops reputation for handling only the finest product, and its introduction of Earl Grey tea to the public cemented the Twining legacy. Thomas died in 1741, but miraculously the family continued to operate the shop and expand the business well into the 20th century. The Company holds a number of Royal Warrants, sells hundreds of types of tea and Twinings tea assortments are sold in over one hundred countries.

If you enjoy the great good luck to visit Twinings at 216 Strand Street in London today please closely note the door before entering the tea room. It is one of the most distinctive branding vehicles in the world, and the oldest in continuous use. The famous doorway was unveiled to the public in 1787. Two distinctively carved Chinese figures and a lion are at the crown of the sill. The Twinings logo, lacking a grammatically correct apostrophe, is written in the firm’s unique font, exactly as it appears to this day on every Twining product.

Thomas Twining created a brand that has become synonymous with highest quality and British excellence. After 300 years of continuous service to the tea consuming public, his star still shines ever bright at 216 Strand Street, London.