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Four Steps to Using Agency Technology for Target Marketing

(Reprinted from Insurance Journal)

Conducting a target-marketing campaign used to be cumbersome and expensive. Today, with an up-to-date agency management system, getting started is a snap. It still takes persistence to succeed, but getting going isn?t hard if you have the right strategy and use technology.
Writing more business with the same amount of staff means that every dollar of increased revenue goes straight to the bottom line. The average agency?s employee expense is close to 60%, and the lower you can get the number, the more profitable your agency will be. The trick to accomplishing this goal is to become more efficient by utilizing the agency management system properly to target new clients. Equally important, you need to have an efficient, easy-to-use system so that once you?ve added the new clients, you can service them without adding staff.

Designing a marketing/growth plan for your agency can be accomplished in these four steps.

Step One
Research your customer database?find out where you are
Many agents think they ?know? their book of business. Most are quite surprised when they actually break it down and take a look at it.

Contemporary agency management software systems allow an agency to extract information about its customers and slice and dice that information many different ways. Running reports should be a very quick and easy process with your agency management software. If it?s a big, cumbersome process to do this with your system, it?s probably time to upgrade.

By doing a breakdown of the number of policies by type, age of clients, zip code, SIC code and so on you can gather the numbers to understand the story of your agency. How many of your personal and commercial lines customers are monoline? That?s a crucial statistic because it?s easier and less expensive to cross-sell your existing customers than to invest in finding new ones.

Step Two
Decide where you want to go.
Now you know what you have (and don?t have), the next step is, what do you want? This is your vision. Are you happy with your profit sharing? Does your client base allow for you to maximize your company relationships? If so, then you?ll want to design your marketing plan to get more of the same types of clients. If not, then design a plan that will target the types of personal and commercial lines clients you want to help round out your book.

Purchasing lists of target clients has never been easier or less expensive than it is today. Targeting affluent clients (for example) in your local area or certain SIC codes that match up with the appetite of your favorite company is a great way to build your book. Most modern agency management systems will let you import these lists.

Step Three
Weigh the options, make decisions

There are many options to reach out to your desired prospects: radio, newspaper, target mailings, telemarketing, email, home shows, publicity, Web advertising, and public speaking before groups like the chamber of commerce.
Which options are the best? It all depends on your target market(s).
Whatever option(s) you choose, realize that a single-shot effort will not create the results you are looking for--it takes a consistent campaign. Doing mailings to the same group of prospects, supported by a radio and newspaper ads, over a six-month period, however, will produce the long-term results you are looking to achieve. Commit to it and implement it.

Use your agency management software to efficiently merge your target lists with letters specifically designed for each group. Printing labels or envelopes on a grand scale should be a snap.
Many systems include a marking campaign tracker, where you can set up a client file for prospects and keep track of letters, calls and other activity to prospects.

Step Four
Keep track and revisit
Keep track of your spending and the new business brought in by your carefully designed plan. Your agency management system should let you track where business is coming from?direct mail, advertising, etc. Use these features; run reports regularly. Look at your results monthly and make adjustments to your plan as needed.

This is an investment that will pay out over time so, don?t expect immediate returns. Target marketing is a part of long-term growth plan. A thoughtfully designed marketing plan based on research and smart spending will produce the most effective results for your agency.

With the advances in agency management systems plus the demographic information available on the Internet, it?s never been easier for insurance agencies to spend their marketing dollars smartly by target marketing for growth and profitability. Resolve to make 2010 the year that you get started.

June Sousouris, AAI, is director of sales for Special Agent, Inc. in Holbrook, MA. Sousouris has more than twenty years experience in the insurance industry and previously served as vice president of sales and marketing of a large insurance agency. Special Agent (www.SpecialAgent.com) is an affordable full-featured insurance agency management system used by more than300 agencies nationally. She can be reached at 800.842.0450 or jsousouris@specialagent.com.