Getting started in the insurance business and then remaining successful is extremely difficult. Building your credibility so you can consistently attract the right prospects to you is certainly one of the hardest parts of this business. Using direct mail, buying leads, offering dinner seminars and running newspaper ads are all effective ways to attract people to you, but they are also very expensive, and they don't really build your credibility right away.
- What if there was a way to quickly build your credibility for little or no cost that would help make attracting prospects, setting appointments, and closing sales much easier and more cost effective?
- How much more effective would your direct mail campaigns, dinner seminar invitations and newspaper ads be if you were already the recognized expert in your community? Could you double and triple your response rates?
- How much easier would it be to get people to call you and then set an appointment with you, if the people in your marketplace already knew about you and understood the value of the services you provide?
- How much easier would it be to close sales if you were the respected, trusted financial advisor in your community?
That's the incredible power of free publicity!
It will take a little work on your part, but getting the attention of a local reporter is not that difficult. Every day, reporters need new stories to fill magazines, newspapers, radio and television airtime. They need newsworthy material that will draw a viewer's attention and keep it. If you have a story with a spin that hasn't been heard before, you can get free publicity.
Here's a step-by-step procedure on how to get the attention of a reporter and get free publicity for your insurance or financial services business.
Step 1: Find the right media outlet.
Identify your niche (your ideal prospect) and then find out what media form those prospects watch, read, or listen to, and then start watching, reading and listening to those media outlets. You don't want to send a news article to a men's sporting magazine if you're dealing with widowed and single women. Get to know your audience and think of the kinds of stories they would like to hear or read.
Don't stop your search at your local paper, TV or radio station, the free newspapers in your area, and the college newspapers or radio stations. Think about national magazines, newspapers or TV stations. Go online to discover the different media forms that specialize, such horse lovers, gun buyers, young parents, and golf addicts. Find the ones that pertain to your best prospects.
Step 2: Write an interesting story.
Think in terms of stories, not your product. News media are not out to promote your product, service or company. They are interested in entertaining or informing their audience, not selling for you. Give them an interesting story. Reporters need an ongoing supply of news, and if you make it easy for them, they will bite. It is unlikely that your product or business changes weekly, but they are more likely to be interested if you offer a different angle on a topic that has been covered before, than if you spit out the same PR information as everyone else.
Step 3: Use current events to draw attention.
Use current events to bring freshness to a dull topic. If you sell annuities, you could write about how seniors (or one of your clients) were affected by the downturn in the stock market. If you sell health insurance, you could write a story about how the new health insurance laws may affect the small businesses or families in your town. You don't want to sell product or services. Getting your name in the news and a link to your Web site is more important. So, pick one item or service from your business and write a good story with a human element that has an intriguing beginning, a solid middle and a satisfying end. If you just write about your product, that's boring. If you write about someone saving their home or business using your product, that's a story. Think in terms of headlines. Find the story angle that you could put in a headline. Would it draw attention? If not, keep thinking.
Step 4: Be concise in your article.
Make a strong compelling case for your news. Reporters wade through a lot of information. They have deadlines and aren't interested in reading through reams of information to find a kernel of good news. Use bullet points, bold fonts, photos and highlighting to pinpoint the most important parts of your pitch. Watch the evening news and listen to the lead-in to news stories. See how they grab the attention of their audience. "Coming up next, the secret to..." "Stay tuned for the dangers lurking in your home that you need to know." "The truth about..." Use these same techniques to summarize your story idea and make it appealing.
Step 5: Identify the reporters.
Once you have identified the media outlets that your best prospects tune into, and you have thought of a good story to pitch to them, take note of reporters who specialize in writing stories relating to your business. You're wasting both your time and theirs if you send your publicity pitch to the social reporter of your local newspaper, when your business relates to business buy-sell agreements. Don't expect your story to be sent to the right person. Find out the name of the correct reporter before you send your story.
Step 6: Get a correct contact address.
To get the address of the newspaper, TV or radio station that you've identified as being a good marketing outlet for your business, go online. Use a search engine to find their Web site and click on "contact us." Search for your reporter's name. If it's not there, use the company phone number to call confirm that "John Smith" is the sports reporter or whatever reporter it is that you are looking for. Confirm the address as long as you already have them on the phone.
Step 7: Follow-up with an e-mail or phone call.
Reporters get busy and are often distracted. They might put your story on the stack and forget about it. Or, maybe they thought your story wasn't relevant or newsworthy when you sent it, but then something happens that brings the topic front and center. Call, e-mail, or write a letter to the reporter and remind them of your story. Convince them why it would be a good idea to cover it now. Be polite and to the point, but if they say no, accept it and thank them for their time. You want to remain on good terms for the next news idea you may have.
Whether you realize it or not, you face competition every day. If you want to make your career a whole lot easier, you must stand out in the crowd. You must brand your service and your image.
*For further information, or to contact this author, please leave a comment and your e-mail address in the forum below.