In America, we love an underdog story. Whether we’re cheering “Rudy, Rudy, Rudy” or putting children to bed with legends of an uphill-both-ways adolescence, rags to riches tales inspire us. Here’s a true one that works on my two teenage girls.
From Little Start Up to Big Results
Before Parasol Leads was born, my wife and I owned a business that failed. In late 2000, we fell into the insurance industry. It was a numbers game: four mouths to feed, one start-up insurance agency, and zero marketing budget. We started from scratch.
To promote our fledgling independent insurance agency, we painted the local community with flyers from our personal HP dot matrix printer. Our marketing strategy was to print, post, and repeat at new gathering points. The diligence paid off with enough sales and income to graduate from communal flyers to personal postcards.
The direct mail hit the addresses on our newly purchased mailing list. Then the re-investment paid dividends again. By 2005, our agency ranked in the top 50 out of 30,000 agencies that sold our brand of health insurance.
To keep evolving, we developed consumer-focused websites tailored with health insurance SEO. Our top-ranking sites produced an overflow of customers. Not only was the volume of inquires too hot to handle, but also the lead origins were widespread. National leads from states our agency wasn’t licensed to handle led us to one conclusion: We were going to need a bigger boat.
The far-reaching leads were routed to partners. After a conscious decision to pay it forward more formally in 2010, ParasolLeads was born. One of our proudest moments came this year when Parasol was ranked the best quality leads company in America.
Your Inexpensive Guide to Generate More Leads
The Parasol Leads story is one example of a journey to generate more leads on a small budget. In today’s market, there are plenty of inexpensive strategies to earn new business. These strategies work for a small, local insurance agency on a budget:
- Keep the customers you have happy. For Parasol, this strategy meant tackling the main issue in the world of insurance leads: quality. Ensure you meet the #1 need of your customers, provide quality service, and over-deliver in every interaction. Leads already bringing you revenue are not scorched earth; they’re a fertile and lucrative referral source. Consider kickbacks for loyal customers, positive testimonials, and referrals.
- Join the club. Committees like your local Chamber of Commerce and homebuilder associations are cliques with open seats at their lunch table. Insert a flyer in association newsletters and chat up the members. Over time, you’ll find associations that are a niche for your particular insurance offerings. Sell your brand to an audience where you already perform well. Depending on the population density, consider up to a 3-4 hour driving distance in your quest for the right committees. These boundaries encompass an endless supply of low cost, high conversion leads.
- Elevate social media over print, radio, television, and the yellow pages. The Parasol story started with paper, but today most customers look for information online. Your posts are not lost in cyberspace. Stay committed to LinkedIn, Facebook, and your personal blog. Generate a following and embrace the new community watering holes online.
- Earn the double click. Your website is the final destination, but it’s not always the first leg of a prospect’s journey. Sure, your homepage has the meat of your business, all the juicy details of the products you offer, and a filling list of contact information. But an effective press release or blog post on a site with high authority earns you the first momentum-building click. The second click on the link to your homepage heralds a fanfare of new leads.
The True Meaning of Inexpensive Marketing
Consider the complete equation to evaluate your marketing strategy: the amount of leads gained less the initial investment. An initial investment is only expensive when it produces skimpy results. Measure the results in terms of their lifetime value to your business and understand the lifecycle of the products you offer.
Health insurance might deliver in an hour but an annuity takes longer. Newlyweds buying home insurance might need life and auto insurance as their family grows; or their new neighbors might be next in line.
Outsmart Rather than Outspend the Deep-Pocket Competitors.
Bigger budgets don’t equal better business. The Progressive and GIECO direct writers of the world can afford expensive national commercials. But captive writers have a captive audience close to home. Captive and independent agents have an opportunity to gain market share online at local business listing sites: Yelp, Bing, Foursquare, and Google+.
Better yet, get verified by Google. Register with Google, test positive for physical address matched to IP address, and enter the code from a postcard delivered to your mailbox. The new Google algorithm will put local verified agencies at the top of keyword searches for “insurance” related keywords from local customers. Local agencies five miles from the customer’s home inspire a click for trust and convenience versus national generic results.
Many local agencies with small budgets have a ripe and untapped opportunity. Stake your claim now to build your local Google reputation. Aging only enhances your listing position. Once you’ve captivated a smaller audience with a larger percent converting, you’ll work less, earn more, and outsmart even your deepest-pocket competitor.