Insurance in Plain English

Reaching the next generation of insurance consumers

Archive for the ‘Insurance’ Category

Insurance agents: Make the most of social media

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Today’s (first ever!) guest post is from Ben Jamieson at Astonish Results, beating the drum on an issue that speaks to many of my readers.

I have spoken with so many insurance agents in the past year who have whined to me about their Facebook and Twitter campaigns as being a complete waste of time. Their approach to social media goes something like this – create a business account, upload a profile photo (usually the company logo), invite the wife and office employees to be friends or followers – then they ask, “why haven’t insurance consumers started flocking to my agency?”

If you want to take advantage of the opportunities social media can bring to your business or insurance agency, you must not assume it will happen without an effort. And it certainly will not happen overnight.

If I had to give three points of advice for improving a social media campaign it would go as follows:

  1. Create a page that is eye catching, unique, and speaks to your business brand. Ninety-nine percent (unofficial stat) of business pages on Facebook and Twitter come in the form of blandness and monotony. Make your pages stand out and sing to visitors.
  2. Interact directly with your visitors and encourage participation. Hold a contest, take a poll, offer a discount, give them useful information, etc. Keep people coming back with interesting tidbits and personal incentives.
  3. Track your metrics. Metrics are a vital aspect to a successful web and social media presence. Understanding your company’s metrics will keep you informed of what works and what doesn’t. There are several programs for social media analytics management, or you can handle it on your own.

I’m calling out to all insurance agents! Get with it! Use social media to your advantage or don’t use it at all. Social media is not a fad and the hype is very real. Get on board or get out of the way.

Written by melissa

June 3, 2010 at 9:00 am

You should give a damn about your bad reputation

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Pop culture has been skewering the insurance industry for years. The loss of insurance coverage is a popular topic, as is the storyline of someone being conned into purchasing an unnecessary policy.

It’s no big secret that the industry suffers from a terrible reputation. Beyond the more obvious “insurance companies are evil and stealing money from little old ladies” claims, there is also the feeling that we are a quite boring and downright mean industry (think Mr. Incredible as claims adjuster).

Bad reputation is a huge part of the reason why we struggle to draw young blood into the industry. After all, who wants to be involved in a stodgy, inflexible, deceptive business?

You can’t afford to be like Joan Jett; reputation is everything. And there are plenty of recommendations out there for how insurance professionals can win back respect and improve their reputation; the National Underwriter’s Sam Friedman has been a vocal contributor to this discussion, even suggesting there be an insurance-related reality television show (I’d watch.).

I’m a proponent of taking small steps as individuals. Provide stellar service to clients. Ask for referrals. Use new technologies to your advantage. Talk up the industry; make it cool (yes, cool) to be an insurance professional.

Any insight on how you think insurance professionals can work to improve the industry’s image?

Written by melissa

May 20, 2010 at 9:06 am

Why social media in financial services?

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Wondering why a financial services professional should get involved in social media? Well, you’re in luck: my guest post over at Financially Digital will shine some light on this subject.

And while you’re there, check out the rest of the Financially Digital blog, from my very own “blog mentor,” Nunzio. Yup. He’s pretty awesome.

Written by melissa

May 19, 2010 at 8:28 am

How many hats are you wearing?

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Inspired by this post at the PRBreakfast Club, I’ve been thinking more and more about the various job functions I perform under the deceptively limited title of “public relations specialist.” Here are some of the roles I serve, in addition to my chief role of handling media relations:

  • Reporter
  • Videographer
  • Poster maker
  • Sound editor
  • Photographer
  • Proofreader
  • Web designer
  • Social media guru
  • Schmoozer
  • Conference assistant
  • Media trainer
  • Ghostwriter
  • Negotiator
  • Researcher
  • PowerPoint expert
  • Framer
  • Driver
  • Speech writer

That “other duties as assigned” bullet on my job description is getting quite the workout!

It’s not just me. Companies across the board are trying to do more with less. Of course, I got to thinking about insurance, and specifically about agents. Insurance agents are advisors, friends, legal experts, financial experts, claims handlers, marketers, CEOs, accountants and so much more. There’s no limit to the functions you must serve, particularly if you run your own small, independent agency.

So what profession are you in that requires many hats?

Written by melissa

May 4, 2010 at 10:08 am

Posted in Careers, Public relations

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When I grow up …

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“When I grow up, I want to work in public relations for the property/casualty insurance industry.”

You need not ask my mother to be assured that a little seven-year-old Melissa never uttered those words.

Bright-eyed mini me wanted to become a flashy type of professional, maybe an astronaut or journalist, not get involved in something as boring as insurance.

Insurance is not typically viewed as fun (though these guys would probably disagree). The field has a notoriously bad reputation; no wonder it’s so difficult to encourage young professionals to embrace insurance as a career path.

N7XEKFM7EPJPLike so many others, I just “happened” upon this industry—the right opportunity was available for me at the right time and I dove in. Even though I love what I do, it still disheartens me when I try to explain exactly why I’m so passionate about this field to my equally young counterparts, and get confused looks about thinking insurance is just plain cool.

The industry is graying; we need a fresh new crop of producers, underwriters, marketers and more. And we can’t just hope that folks will suddenly stumble on insurance as their dream career opportunity. Young people today don’t even want to talk about their insurance, much less go into the field.

  • Stress the benefits. With a challenging economy making the post-college job hunt more daunting than ever before, Millenials are looking for more than just flash and fun—they’re looking for stability. The good news is that our industry is projected as stable; even some significant growth is expected.
  • Use new resources. The next generation isn’t checking out the newspaper classifieds for a job hunt. They’re on Twitter and Facebook. They’re using social networks and finding jobs in new ways. Learn how to recruit the best of the next generation to reap the maximum benefit.
  • Value your young employees. Young professionals can provide priceless insight, so make sure to take care of the ones you have. Understand what the next generation is seeking from work. It’s no longer just about paycheck. It’s about opportunity for growth, flexibility and work-life balance.

I, for one, will continue to defend the benefits of working in the insurance industry. But it’s not enough—each and every one of us needs to become an evangelist for insurance careers, talking it up, particularly when in the company of up and coming professionals.

So tell me—how did you end up in this industry? How can we recruit more young professionals?
N7XEKFM7EPJP

Written by melissa

May 3, 2010 at 9:48 am

The accidental social media presence

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A recent post from the insurance brains over at Celent addressed some of the latest features on the most popular social networks—LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter—that are making it all but impossible for businesses to avoid getting involved in the new mediums.

The mantra of social media aficionados is that people are already talking about your business; if you choose not to get involved in the conversation, you lose your voice. And it’s true—all it takes it one angry client to sully your business’s name on the web to start a tidal wave.

So why not put to you ear to the ground? Listening is your first step to controlling your presence on the net, particularly in social media, and there are a number of different tools for this. See if you show up on Google’s Social Search. Monitor Twitter accounts of folks in the insurance industry (@IJournal and @RiskMgmt are two to start on). Set up Google alerts, the greatest gift to public relations from the search engine gods.

Stop making excuses and do your research. This type of “listening” is the key first step in developing your social media presence.

Written by melissa

April 30, 2010 at 3:51 pm

Posted in Insurance, Social media

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Insurance agents are naturals at social media

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Inspired by this recent article from the Insurance Journal, I find myself asking the question, “Why do insurance agents seem so scared by social media and new networking technologies?”

Newer technologies can be intimidating, for sure. Understanding the value of Twitter vs. LinkedIn vs. Facebook takes some research and, frankly, some acclimation.

But agents need not fear dipping their toes into Web 2.0. You already have the most important skills necessary for success.

  • Agents are natural networkers. Social networks are no different from traditional, offline networks, just with easier access. Think of LinkedIn as your new business card exchange, Twitter as your quick update to an old colleague.
  • Agents earn trust. Insurance is a business that is based on trust, between agent and client. It’s the same story on the social web—users like to follow sources that they trust for useful information. Be honest, forthright and consistent in your messages.

Those in the industry need to experiment, test the waters and discover how to best make these tools work for them. It’s essential for doing business in today’s environment. Other smart people agree with me. And there are many examples of agents out there to emulate.

Check out Amy Bryan, founder of Bryan Insurance, New Windsor, N.Y., discussing her presence in the social media space with the Insurance Journal.

Written by melissa

April 28, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Posted in Insurance, Social media

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