Recently we polled a number of Arrowhead producers to learn what their primary hot buttons and pain points are right now. From newbie insurance agents and brokers, to those with decades of experience, the number one request was “how to grow my book of business.”

So, with that request in mind, we’re starting a monthly series to present three new marketing trends, helps or skills that you can use to uncover and solicit new accounts.

This month we’re reviewing steps to becoming an in-demand professional expert. We’re also passing along five tips to improve your sales emails (and improve your click-through rate). Third, we’ll show you how online customer reviews can help you grow your book of business.


1.  How to become an in-demand expert to grow your book of business

Whether you sell personal lines or commercial insurance, you know that insurance consumers are much more comfortable buying from someone whom they perceive as a knowledgeable specialist or consultant – not just a salesperson. If you’ve been in the industry long, your head is full of knowledge that insureds – be they homeowners, small business owners, non-profit boards or car owners - will find very helpful. Here’s how to get started.

First, define your topic(s) by determining what problems you can solve. If you primarily sell personal lines, you may want to link up with realtors who hold first-time homebuyer seminars or investor real estate clubs, talking about risk exposures, coverage needs, money-saving tips. If auto is your main line of business, then see how you can connect with drivers’ education schools to provide helpful tips to parents. If you work with small-to-medium businesses, no doubt you’ve already connected with your local chamber of commerce and other networking groups; now branch out into other industry groups or start-up angel groups.

Now start developing those topics. Research online to help you find the content that you’ll need for each audience. Gather as much as you can find, because you’re going to use all of that material.

Related: Insurance producer marketing tips to see and be seen

Next, repurpose the material you’ve gathered. The easiest way to do this is by starting a blog, which can either be part of your agency website, or separate. Wordpress provides easy, step-by-step instructions for getting started. Yes, it takes a few hours to get up and running, but maintenance won’t be nearly as time-consuming. Organize your information into blogposts that are at least 400 words each, and try to publish on a regular basis, such as twice a month, to get started. Be sure to always post a blurb about your new blogpost onto your various social media networks to help you gain more readers. At the same time, prepare your information for presentations, creating PowerPoint slides. Check out Slideshare – you may find some helpful slide decks you can use. 

Contribute articles to your local community magazine and professional organization newsletters. Contact business editors or personal finance writers at your local newspaper, complimenting them on a recent article that you can tie your information in with, and offer to either be a source or contribute an article. When you present your information as a guest speaker, be sure to have someone videotape that presentation for you. Then you can upload the entire presentation on a blogpost, or edit it into several smaller snippets for multiple posts, using free online editing software.

Once you get started, you’ll see how easy it is to gain momentum. Additional speaking opportunities will open up, because others will research you online and be able to see your blogposts, social media posts, videos and more. Just don’t forget to capture leads along the way: gather contact information and business cards at in-person meetings, add a subscribe button to your blogpost and add special offers or discounts on your blogpost and social media posts that require registration to download. Then nurture those prospects until they become clients and voila! Grow your book of business.


2. Five ways to improve your sales emails to grow your book of business

Everyone’s inbox is overflowing. All of us scan subject lines and hit delete based on what we read; at best, we open an email, give it a five second-read, and then decide whether to delete. That means your sales emails must use action words and be succinct and to-the-point. How do you do that?

First, your subject line: keep it to 50 characters, including spaces. Use an active verb. Use a teaser. Ask a question (not a yes/no question). The most widely clicked-on emails start with lists, such as “Five ways to improve your emails” or “Three new marketing skills to nail this month.” 

In your subject line and your first sentence, ALWAYS write with the prospect in mind: what’s in it for them? Why should they keep reading? Don’t beat around the bush. Don’t say in 30 words what could be said in 10. 

Keep your email short. Don’t try to add peripheral info that dilutes your main message: if the email is to offer them a free risk consultation, don’t try to sell them on insurance. It’s not the time. Stick to one topic.

Give something to get something. If you’re nurturing them, don’t go for the jugular, ie, try to sell them, in this email. Provide something of value to them: a tipsheet on how to protect themselves against a common risk (use some of that repurposed material you gathered up in #1, Becoming an Instant Expert). Be patient and keep nurturing. 

Have a clear call-to-action at the end. Make it easy on them: what is the next step they should take? Download a form? Read your latest blogpost? Attend a webinar? In fact, it may help to start formulating your email with your call to action, and then working backwards, keeping the end in mind.  


3. How to use customer reviews to grow your online (and offline!) business

Don’t overlook this important hack. According to a 2015 BrightLocal consumer survey, 92 percent of people polled said they regularly or occasionally read reviews. So always, ALWAYS ask a satisfied client to review you online, either on Google or Yelp. Why these places? Because you can’t repost on Google or Yelp – the client must post there. But you can repost these reviews on your website and on your other social media sites to get more traction out of them. Add them to your print brochure, sell sheets or the back of your business cards.

Read more tips on our earlier post, Insurance agency local SEO hacks: Six ways to get more online traffic than your competitor down the street.