Billion-dollar companies want to steal all your customers.
You know who they are.
And they’re setup to do it with:
- better technology
- better call centers
- better websites
- better branding
- better search rankings
- and WAY, WAY, WAY more money!
They’re better equipped than you in almost every way… except one.
If you want to win a fight you need to understand your strengths and embrace them.
- Tony Nicely can’t hand out GEICO pens at your high school’s football game.
- You’ll never shake Glen Renwick’s hand at the Progressive table at the county fair.
- And Esurance won’t share pictures of your Little League Baseball parade on Facebook.
But you can. You can be the KING of local.
It’s your one true unfair advantage and those billion dollar carriers are trying to figure out how they can beat you at the local game too!
We can’t let that happen.
Here’s 33 ways you can dominate the local insurance agency marketing battle.
1) Get Some Nice Agency-Branded Clothing
A bunch of the ideas in this article are based on the general idea of just getting out there and meeting more people.
It’s not a bad idea to give everyone a business card, but that still requires work and an opportunity.
Invest in some nice clothes (jacket, golf shirt, fanny pack, etc) that include your agency brand so whenever you go out in public you’ll get all that exposure.
And hook your staff up too.
2) Attend or Sponsor Every Community Event
If there’s a pie eating contest, pig roast, or jump rope competition in your town find a way to get yourself there.
You’ll go broke sponsoring every event so look for ones with these three criteria:
- Low sponsorship costs
- High volume of attendees
- Low number of sponsors
I see agents throw away a lot of money sponsoring events that have 2 out of 3 above.
If it costs too much, there aren’t many attendees, or your agency will be drowned out in all the other sponsors just attend the event and network as a visitor.
3) Go to Every Local Networking Event
Attending business networking events is like saving money.
It’s not easy, it takes a long time to see benefits, and there’s usually something else you’d rather do instead.
But like saving money, if do it consistently the benefits will grow exponentially like compounding interest.
Either set a goal of attending X number of events each week or just decide you’re going to attend every single networking event within X miles of your office.
4) Hire a Community Liaison
If you’re like most agents, there are 2 main things holding you back from being more involved in the local community:
- You don’t have time to go everywhere
- You don’t even know what’s going on.
You can hire someone part-time to take care of both.
It doesn’t have to be expensive. Hire a marketing student with good social skills to research community events and attend events on your behalf.
5) Give Out Local Prizes
If you’re going to hold a raffle to collect leads, a Facebook contest to build likes, or give gift cards for referrals, why not use local prizes?
Here’s a few ideas to get you thinking:
- Free oil change or car wash
- Sandwich, pizza, burrito, etc.
- Massage or Spa treatment
- Work from a local artist
- Tickets to a local play or sports event
- Plowing the snow from someone’s driveway
Don’t give something anybody can buy at Walmart, spend on local businesses and encourage everyone to do the same.
6) Get In the Local Newspapers (Not with ads)
Easier said than done, right?
The key is to pay attention to the local news and reach out to local reporters when something comes up related to the insurance industry.
Okay John, but how am I going to do that?
7) Follow Local Reporters on Twitter
Most journalists use Twitter as a way to engage with their readers because it’s easy to communicate and they can take their followers with them anywhere.
Follow all the local reporters. You could even create a Twitter list, and send them direct messages if you have something interesting to say about a local news story.
You’ll find some reporters even ask their followers for experts and opinions to use in their articles!
Just make sure you start by providing value. It’s offensive to journalists when you contact them entirely with self-interests.
8) Start Your Own Local VIP Card
I know this idea might be a bit off the wall, but some people like my weird ideas…
For under $100 you could make 1,000 of your own hard plastic VIP cards to give all your clients.
Then get other local businesses (maybe clients only?) to offer discounts to cardholders.
The other businesses offer something small like a free drink with a purchase or 10% off a sale over $50 and your cardholders are more likely to frequent the businesses that offer a reward.
It’s a win-win for everybody!
(Just don’t print the discounts on the cards otherwise they’ll become worthless if one of your businesses backs out.)
9) Connect With Local Bloggers
Use a resource like BlogLocal.net, ask around, or just do a search on Google for the name of your city and the word “blog”.
It’s not hard to find local blogs but the key is connecting with their authors.
If you’re going to reach out to a blogger, offer lots of praise and start by offering something that can help them.
It’s disrespectful to contact a blogger about getting exposure to their audience without developing a relationship first. ( trust me – I get at least one jerk a day doing it to me)
10) Publish Local Content Online
I know a lot of agents with insurance blogs that never know what to write.
Not only is it great for local search engine optimization, but writing about local events, businesses, and groups can help you build stronger connections in your community.
Start by asking a local business owner 5 easy questions about their business.
Pick the right person, make them look good, and I promise they’ll post it on Facebook, tell all their customers, and might even link to your website from theirs!
11) Offer Perks to Local Employees
This would obviously be a lot easier if you were a pizza shop, but I’m sure there’s still something you can offer people who work near your agency and interact with your target customers on a daily basis.
Just ask yourself what type of perk would people who work around my agency like to have?
What about a free cup of coffee?
12) Run Joint Events
If you’re planning to host any type of event in your community, split the risks, costs, work and promotional responsibilities with other local business owners.
If you have a big network and can put butts in the seats then you shouldn’t need to pay as much as the other business.
Or if you’re brand-new and they’ve got the large customer base and connections then offer to pay for the event in order to access their network.
13) Hire Locals
When I was 18, I left my hometown in Syracuse and I don’t think I’ll return so I feel a bit guilty about giving this piece of advice.
But it’s true so…
Hire people that grew up where your agency is.
They know the area, can relate to everyone, and probably can’t pump gas without seeing someone they went to high school with.
That’s a lot of conversations that always come around to, “so where are you working now?”
14) Get Involved with Local Politics
You don’t have to run for mayor.
Just get involved.
Go to the meetings, support the candidates, learn who the local power players are and connect with them.
I recommend keeping a healthy distance between your agency and politics though…
Put the sign in front of your house, not in front of the agency.
Do you have a staff member at the other end of the political spectrum? Get them involved in local politics too and you can hit both sides of the aisle!
15) Create a Local Business Group
Develop a group based on some element of your own self and the local business community.
I’m not going to tell you exactly what to do, but here’s a few examples:
- Young entrepreneurs group
- Financial professionals group
- Hispanic business owner’s group
- Puppy-Loving executives group.
I think you get the idea.
16) Create a Local Resources Page on Your Website
Create a page or a directory that features local businesses you recommend.
- It’ll send strong signals to Google about how local your business is to help local search rankings.
- It’ll allow you to offer an added promotional benefit to your commercial clients which should help retention
- It’ll encourage other businesses to link back to your website, which increases traffic and search rankings.
You can even add local businesses to your site and ask that they link to yours after doing so.
(And don’t worry about reciprocal linking being bad for SEO… there’s nothing wrong with linking to other local businesses and some of them linking back as long as you’re adding value to your visitors and not going crazy with it.)
17) Eat Everywhere Locally
If you eat at the same few local restaurants you’re missing the chance to engage with a wider range of local business owners, employees, and customers.
It’s nice to have your go-to spot but make sure you’re branching out to get more exposure.
And make sure you tip well.
18) Join Local Chambers of Commerce
Sure it’s an obvious one…
Maybe I should say this instead: Join local Chambers of Commerce and actually participate in them.
Joining is worthless.
It’s only a valuable investment of your money if you also invest your time. (or your staff’s)
19) Send Your Staff Everywhere
Don’t think it has to be you doing all this community networking.
In fact, it’s probably even more important that your producers are out there shaking hands.
The trouble is that most producers won’t take the initiative to meet new people out in the community if you don’t strongly encourage it and maybe even demand it.
With a team, you can be everywhere.
20) Get Involved with Youth Sports
Be a coach, an official, an organizer, a sponsor, whatever.
The parents of young kids is probably your best market. They need almost every type of insurance and they’re just beginning to appreciate how important it is.
(And if you happen to coach a middle school lacrosse team and you care about their safety, stay far away from my team here in Miami. We’re vicious.)
21) Youth Activities That Are Not Sports
I think sports gets a lot of attention from local businesses for sponsorships and support but there are a lot of other opportunities you shouldn’t miss out on.
Think about all the other activities that aren’t sports (music, dance, clubs, etc).
They all need community support as well and since they’re not as top of mind there are fewer businesses vying for sponsorships and attention.
Trust me, kids are getting involved in everything nowadays…
The other day my wife tried talking me into yoga classes for our 4 year-old!
When I was 4 I ate dirt… And I didn’t need lessons either.
22) Join the Local School Board
To be honest, I don’t know what the School Board does.
But I’m pretty sure there’s lots of parents there.
And if they care about their kids’ education that much I’m pretty sure they’d be open to buying lots of life insurance.
Check it out and let me know.
23) Create Local Events on Facebook
This is kind of a trick or a hack, but if you’re at all involved in promoting any local community events, use your agency’s Facebook page to create a Facebook event.
A Facebook event lets people invite each other, discuss the event, and share pictures, information, and other stuff.
If you’re the one that created the event, you’ll be able to plug your agency however you like.
24) Join Local Online Forums
No matter how big or small, most regions have some type of online forums where people talk about local stuff like the roads, new construction, businesses in town, community events, etc.
Hop in on the conversation so you can be privy to everything that’s going on and make more connections in your community.
By the way, these websites get a lot of traffic from people who just moved to the community. (and might be looking for a new insurance agent)
25) Build Lots of Local LinkedIn Connections
LinkedIn is growing fast in both its users and also it’s uses.
If you’ve actually met someone and had a conversation, there’s absolutely no reason you cannot look them up on LinkedIn and try to connect with them.
It’s an easy way to solidify all those local connections you make and build your portfolio of local professionals in the community.
26) Join Local LinkedIn Groups
I’m not going to lie to you, I don’t really participate in or use any groups on LinkedIn.
I joined a couple in order to get the badge on my profile but that’s pretty much it.
However, I do know a lot of people who say these are really great communities to share ideas and communicate. I can’t say I’ve done it with success but it’s definitely worth a try.
(Funny story… I once started my own LinkedIn Group. I called it “Trustworthy Insurance Agents” and it was just all about getting the badge on your profile to help you look trustworthy. I got distracted and never finished but if you think it’s a good idea let me know and I’ll set it up again.)
27) Volunteer with Local Charities
I think every local businessperson should be involved with at least one local charity.
Especially as an insurance agent, working with a charity gives you local connections, a reason to talk to anyone that they cannot respectfully decline, and it can give more meaning to your life.
I recommend finding a charity with strong local roots, but the networking and business opportunities can’t be your primary driver when choosing the right charity.
Find a charity that either supports a cause you strongly believe in or have firsthand experience with. Otherwise, I promise you won’t get the benefits you’re seeking.
28) Local Oriented Social Media Posts
For most locally oriented insurance agencies, helpful information about your community is absolutely one of the best types of content to share.
Here’s some ideas to get you thinking:
- Local community events
- New businesses opening up
- Traffic updates/construction
- Municipal information like, “Is there trash pickup on President’s Day?”
- High school sports, plays, and other events.
- Farmer’s market information
29) Send a Local-Oriented Newsletter
I know a lot of insurance agents that send newsletters to all their customers.
I don’t know any customers that read newsletters from their insurance agent.
Most insurance agency newsletters are filled with content that’s not relevant or interesting to most people.
A monthly newsletter with upcoming events and information about the local community would be relevant to almost everyone.
I would read that… Seriously!
30) Support The Local Police & Fire Departments
The Police and Fire departments are the perfect groups for your agency to be associated with.
They represent the protection, safety, and security of your local community.
Isn’t that what you want to represent?
Plus, police and fire department folks tend to know A LOT of people in the community.
31) Write Online Reviews
You’ll get the attention of the other business owners and anyone in your community who looks for information about the other business will be able to read your review.
Keep it positive unless you want some serious blowback and don’t overdo it or you might get in trouble with the websites.
32) Live Where You Work
Okay, I know that moving your family to help your insurance agency is probably not an option for most readers but if you’re in the market to move it can make a big difference.
- How much more likely are you to attend that local networking event without a 45 minute drive to get home after?
- How likely are you to run into a customer at the grocery store and build a stronger connection with them on a Sunday morning?
- How much easier will it be to get your lead’s attention when you tell them you live a mile away from their house, shop at the same stores, and your kids go to the same school?
Obviously it’s not relevant to most of my readers right now, but if you have any control over this, living where you run your agency is a HUGE advantage!
33) Local High School Events
You don’t need a kid in school to go to the high school sporting events, drama productions, science fairs, and all the other events going on there.
Just go to the school’s website to find out what’s going on.
Find out if there are any activities you can sponsor. There’s often good opportunities and appreciation that comes with supporting a group other than football team.
And don’t start hanging out at the high school too much, or people will start to talk.
Here’s My Challenge to You
You’re probably already doing half of these things I’ve mentioned here.
Good for you.
But I didn’t write this so you could think, “Yeah, I’m already doing all this stuff.” AND THEN DO NOTHING!
And I didn’t write this so you could think, “I probably should be doing more local stuff” and THEN DO NOTHING!
I wrote this to help you TAKE ACTION AND BE MORE SUCCESSFUL!
Go back through this list right now and see if you can find One New Idea to use this month?
Just one new idea…
If the answer is yes, hit one of those social media buttons or share this article with a colleague so I know I’m getting through and making a difference in your community.
I hope this helps you,