Are you invisible to your potential clients?

By -

BenefitPlace / BP Trade Show

When employers, employees, individuals and brokers are looking for the plans, programs and services you provide, can they find you?

In real estate and retail it was always location, location, location. In insurance and benefits it has always been visibility, visibility, visibility. The best of quality may fail without location and/or visibility. Nothing has changed except the methods for being seen.

Until recently, the insurance and benefits industry's marketing and advertising efforts to become visible to potential clients were focused on various forms of outbound marketing. These strategies included cold calling, call centers, mailers, media ads, yellow pages, seminars, trade shows, outings and meals. In total, they were expensive with a questionable return on investment. As John Wanamaker pointed out years ago, "I know 50 percent of my advertising dollars are wasted, I'm just not sure which half."

More recently, websites and then blogs appeared to be an affordable solution for reaching a broader audience at substantially reduced cost. Unfortunately, as HubSpot, a marketing firm specializing in inbound marketing software, points out, most websites are a "billboard in the desert".

Most in the insurance and benefits industries designed websites and provided the graphics, content, links, contact information, etc. Much to their dismay, only a limited number of people came to visit, fewer converted into qualified prospects and only a handful actually became clients. It seemed to be a great concept gone wrong. What was and is the problem? Quite simply: no visibility.

Inbound marketing is the solution. The insurance and benefits industries need to grasp the power of the Internet, social media in a number of forms, search engines and SEO to become visible. We're talking about big savings and greater visibility.

A recent study by HubSpot shows a 62 percent savings with inbound marketing over traditional outbound. The industries must focus on becoming visible in this new marketplace. It is essential to reach potential consumers and buyers who are using the Internet and search engines to find the plans, programs and services to meet their needs and price points.

Gaining new clients, revenues and profits requires that you understand and utilize additional new tools that are readily available, and at little or no cost. While an inbound marketing strategy saves an incredible amount of money compared to traditional outbound methods, it also requires time, consistent effort and patience.

Having a website and blog is only the beginning. You need more tools to gain visibility. What are these additional tools? The following are critical for establishing visibility and credibility:

1. Utilize various forms of social media to drive qualified prospects to your website's landing page and your plans, programs and services.
While Twitter, Facebook and now Pinterest provide social opportunities, Linkedin focuses on business-to-business interaction and has groups focused on industry and consumer groups.To gain visibility and marketing success, it is essential to actively utilize these Linkedin features:
  • Join Groups - Linkedin permits you to join 50 groups
  • Participate in discussions
  • Start discussions
  • Create a group
  • Add content
2. Take advantage of insurance and benefits-related professional groups.
In the past, agents and brokers would join service groups like Lions Clubs to participate and be seen. These groups were local and influential. The new Internet-based professional groups are national and international in scope, well connected, influential and provide endless opportunities to build credibility and visibility.The groups include:
  • Agents of America (AOA)
  • InsuranceCampus
  • Insurance Forum
  • ProducersWEB
As with social media, it is essential to participate in these groups to gain visibility. Take advantage of the groups' free and upgraded premium features that place you front-and-center on other members' profiles. They also provide linkage to your website, landing pages and plans, programs and services.

To maximize the effectiveness of your overall marketing and advertising budget and time, we suggest shifting a portion of your resources to the above inbound strategies.The results may not be immediate, but they will come. Your alternative is to continue with a traditional strategy that is expensive and becoming less and less effective.

As Einstein stated, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.