Websites have come a long way in just the last two years. Two years ago, content was king. No new content meant no one cared, and two years ago, the buzz was all about mobile. Now, if you’re not mobile, you’re simply not relevant.
Today, websites without video are just not very effective compared to those with.
Insurance agencies may feel a bit overwhelmed with what is needed to keep up with all of this. After all, we’re insurance people not internet marketers! Or are we? The truth lies somewhere in the middle. The fact is that almost all commerce, including insurance purchases, takes place either directly on the web or is influenced by it.
So, like it or not, keeping up with what consumers expect in their web experiences isn’t an option, at least for today’s winners.
With that said, are there some best practices for video that can be adopted by anyone? Yes, to begin with, web videos should be short. The stats seem to indicate that past 30 seconds you begin to steadily lose viewership, although interestingly people will currently watch videos longer on their mobile devices. Go figure.
Of course, videos need to be interesting. That can be a challenge if you only think of insurance in policy terms. But think about Progressive’s, State Farm’s, and Farmer’s ads on TV. They manage to convey a message, with humor, in 30 seconds. You can do the same thing with web video if you flex your creative muscles. Or, you can put some of the videos your carriers have created on your site. That saves time, money, and creative brain cells and leverages their brands with yours.
Make it personal. This goes a bit against the last paragraph but where local agencies have a real opportunity is to personalize their offerings. This is especially valuable when you share the video beyond your site into your social media posting. You’re posting on social media, right?
Be topical. What makes videoes go viral isn’t production values, its interest.
Turn it over frequently. Change things up every few weeks. Anything on your site that is a year old is, well, old.
Being a 21st century marketer is challenging, but so was being a 19th century marketer. Try things. Fail. Get better. But try. Video is where it’s at in website marketing for now. Who knows what will be hot and required in another two years. Virtual reality anyone?
As consumers continue to move online for virtually all their shopping needs, it has been stated countless times how critical it is for an insurance agency to have a website. By now, there are few agents who can possibly survive without one. Chances are, you have a website up and running – but have you rebuilt it in the last 24 months or so?
If you have not, you may want to take a look at your competitors, so as to understand whether or not your website is keeping up with them. Better yet, take a look at those you frequent and ask yourself if your website is as engaging and easy to use.
Are you using video at all? Estimates show consumers spend 88% more time on sites with video. What is more, video increases organic search engine traffic over 150% and 300% more monthly website visitors. Video doesn’t have to be difficult to produce. In fact, at OAA, we have even used our iPhones to create compelling and engaging videos. Start with something, watch your analytics to see what improvements you get, and go from there.
Get rid of as much text as you can. We are all so busy and distracted; truthfully, we don’t want to read a lot on websites. It is wise to go through your website and get ruthless with words. Consider replacing words with image.
Optimize for mobile. About 25% of Americans only access the web on mobile devices. If one out of four of your prospects and customers have to scroll around your pages trying to read itty- bitty type, they’re not coming back!
I remember ten years ago, when we thought websites were just brochures in cyberspace we could print once and forget. Then a few years ago, new and fresh content regularly became important. We learned that in order to be effective, regular attention must be paid to them. Also a few years ago, we realized that we needed to create websites from scratch every two or three years. In the same period, we learned that we needed to link them to all the online social media outlets. Now, they need video, less writing, and mobile optimization.
I don’t know what’s next, but I do know it will come fast and that keeping up is even more important to attract and retain today’s increasingly demanding consumers.
Chris Burand is an active consultant in the independent insurance industry specializing in financial analysis, sales, and marketing. Chris writes a well-respected column in the “Insurance Journal,” and I find his writing to be entertaining, informative and thought provoking. I frequently find myself quoting him to agents, or groups of agents, with whom I speak and work.
In a recent column, Chris has written one of the best defenses as well as criticisms of independent insurance agents! Without attempting to summarize his writing here, I would just like to suggest that you read it. If you’re not a subscriber, simply go to www.insurancejournal.com and select the April 3, 2017 issue.
OAA and its 135 member agencies, held our Annual Success Celebration last week where we gathered to celebrate our collective success in the past year. That event was highlighted by the attendance, and remarks, of Jim Masiello the founder of SIAA, which OAA is a part of.
During one session with Jim I asked “how confident are you about the future of the independent agent?” I pointed out that he has two 12 year old grandsons and I have to sons in college. I asked “would you recommend that they consider the business for their careers?” Without reservation Jim’s answer was yes!
Interestingly, the current issue of the Insurance Journal contains the results from the “2017 Young Agents Survey”. The results indicate that young agents agree with Jim. According to the survey 58.1% are very optimistic about their career while 29.2% are optimistic. Thirty seven point nine of these same agents are very optimistic about the future of the independent agency system while 41.5% are optimistic.
Overwhelmingly, those in whose hands the future of our industry rests, believe we have a bright future! I agree with them.
Those who read my postings here will note I believe that our business will be changing over the next few years. But I also believe we aren’t going away. The independent agent’s fundamental value proposition of choice, advocacy and trusted relationship is more valued than ever, by more consumers than ever, as indicated in other surveys of consumer attitudes.
With all of this optimism it is certainly a privilege to participate in the creation of dozens of new agencies each year here at OAA! How can we help you move forward with your business and career?
A number of my friends are entrepreneurs or business owners. As a result, we frequently discuss issues that arise in our various businesses whenever we get together for breakfast or lunch.
One of the problems that comes up fairly often is spousal interference in the business. In fact, I’ve been surprised how often this arises as I talk to my friends. The common thread is either a spouse that doesn’t work at all, or is not active in the business, but who exercises some form of veto power in the business.
This is a frustrating issue because my friends hear some version of “no” when they discuss things they’d like to do in the business with their spouse.
Most people are not cut out to be an entrepreneur or even a business owner. They don’t have the knowledge, they don’t have the experience, and they don’t have the guts. Because of this, they are incompetent to give advice or approval to someone who does in my opinion. Entrepreneurs are by nature risk takers. Employees or non-working spouses are not – by definition. So, they have no business with veto power.
The problem is that my business owner friends are married and want to stay that way! They want to continue to grow their businesses. They are on the horns of a dilemma. What should they do?
I think they should limit what they tell their spouses. I’m not suggesting they be dishonest, but I don’t believe in giving people information they aren’t prepared to handle. That just scares them. Why scare your spouse? When you do, they are miserable because they’re scared, and the entrepreneur is miserable because she’s stuck.
It’s far better to share business information with your employees, your banker, and your spouse on a “need to know” basis! What do you think?
If you are a fan of NBA basketball, you know who Russell Westbrook is. If you’re not, let me introduce him. He is not just an incredible athlete, but someone who is focused single mindedly on playing his absolute best every minute he is on the court. Russell’s comment quoted in the headline came after an incredible 57-point scoring night in which he single handedly created a victory for his team in the second half of a game where they were down by 21 points at half time.
Russell Westbrook is the epitome of a competitor.
In the business of building a company, whether an insurance agency or any other kind, we are competing with many others for the dollars of prospective customers. As business owners and sales people, we are competing every day in a zero sum, win or lose, game that determines the future for our business, our careers, and our families. How many of us play with the single minded focus of a Russell Westbrook?
I believe that there are some valuable lessons for us to learn from Russell. The first is continuous progress and improvement. As I’ve watched Russell’s career develop over the last nine years, he’s gone from a wild, almost out of control, inconsistent performer with tremendous ability, but not much to show for it, to superstar. That’s happened as he has gradually worked on his focus, his team work, and his fundamental skills. As business owners and sales people, do we do that every day? It is a key to success for every star player.
Russell seizes opportunity and takes risks. This year his long time team mate and team leader departed. His team was widely considered washed up, but the absence of the other super star gave Westbrook an opportunity to develop greatness if he stepped up and took the risks. He did, and the result has been one of the best seasonal performances in history. As business people, we are faced with new challenges and opportunities frequently. Do we conquer our fears, as Russell has, and take on the challenge and risk or settle for the status quo?
As he has improved his performance, Westbrook has also worked to improve the performance of his teammates. He has made them better, and in so doing, they have contributed increasingly to his success. Most of us aren’t in business alone. We have team mates, too. What are we doing to improve their games? This is an incredibly powerful key to continued and increasing business success just as it is in basketball.
Finally, Russell Westbrook simply wants to win and does everything he can, without any excuses, to make that happen. What about you?
I’ve been reading a lot of optimistic news about the future of the economy lately. And, I count myself as one of those who are pretty optimistic. One of the measures of optimism that economists track is hiring plans. The more businesses who plan to add employees the more bullish businesses are seen about economic prospects.
As one of those bullish employers, I watch the “unemployment rate” carefully because it helps me understand how easy, or hard, it’s going to be to find help. It also gives me insight into how much employees are going to cost.
As I’ve contemplated all of this recently, I’ve been a bit perplexed. The “unemployment rate” both locally and nationally is improving. That is it is falling, but I’ve noticed that we are receiving more responses to our advertising for new employees. That’s counter to what I expected. Why?
I think part of the answer lies in lies. You see there are multiple “unemployment rates.” The rate that is always published in the press and talked about by commentators is the “U-3” rate, but that statistic only counts people who have looked for a job in the last four weeks. Currently, the national U-3 rate is about 5% (considered “full employment”). There are other rates of unemployment, and they are a lot higher. The “U-6” rate includes part time workers who want full time jobs, discouraged workers who have given up looking altogether. That rate, at the end of the year, was close to 10%.
This “real rate” of unemployment is probably the one we employers looking to hire should be focusing on as it’s the rate of people who are available for full time employment. What the current rate tells me is that there are a lot of people out there who need and want jobs. It tells me the job market, though improving, is still pretty soft. It squares with my current experience. Check out the U-6 rate easily found on the internet. I think tracking it will give you more insight into how many people are looking for work when you are hiring. I hope you are hiring – because that means you’re growing!
OAA is gearing up for our annual Success Celebration and Conference! This year our event will be April 12th at the Embassy Suites in Oklahoma City. Our members, strategic company partners, and team members will get together for education, networking, and a celebration of a outstanding 2016! OAA members will be recognized for their achievements, we will honor our Rookie of the Year, Top Producing Agencies of the Year, Most Profitable Agent and Member of the Year. Who will it be? This is an exciting event where we will celebrate millions in profit sharing dollars only available to members of OAA through the incredible partnership with SIAA. If you want to learn more about becoming a member of OAA please contact us.
OAA hosted the first Circle of Excellence of the year at our new facility! OAA has a new training room at 1220 N. Robinson Ave in downtown OKC. We had lunch with our Elite OKC members and discussed Sales Forecasting. Each member received a sales forecasting tool developed by Tony Caldwell. We will be hosting the OKC Masters group on 3/15 and we look forward to another informative meeting. Thank you to all our Circle of Excellence members for your participation!
OAA is proud of the way our Strategic Company Partners work with OAA members to provide great products and services. Our national partnership with SIAA allows OAA members to access the best contracts with the best companies and the most profit sharing available to an independent insurance agent. Our friends at Safeco stopped by to drop off our 2016 profit sharing check last week. We immediately went to work distributing that money to our members and we will celebrate along side them at our annual Success Conference & Celebration on April 12th. Pictured left to right: Tony Caldwell, CEO at OAA, Myrna Estrada, Kennetha Caldwell, Nancy Lyons and Paul Jones of Safeco.