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Growing Your Business Using Automation

(Reprinted from The Standard)
I recently received an email listing the most overused and outdated business buzz words. Target marketing and niche markets were right near the top of the list. I was quite surprised, these words have been in my lexicon for over 20 years. I consider it one of the most basic elements of smart spending.

In the 80?s target marketing was a hot new concept. Big business had been doing this for some time; researching the customer base, breaking down demographics by age, region, race, religion and so on. Asking the question? who is buying our product?
Years ago when agencies tried to target market to prospects it became quite cumbersome and expensive. This is no longer the case due to agency automation.

With the average agency?s employee expense somewhere close to 60%, writing more business with the same amount of staff, allows for increases to the bottom line. The trick to accomplishing this goal is to become more efficient by utilizing the agency management system properly to target new clients.

Designing a marketing/growth plan for your agency can be accomplished in these 4 steps.

Step One
Research your present customer data base.
Many agents think they ?know? their book of business make-up. Most are quite surprised when they actually break it down and take a look at it. Agency management software systems allow an agency to extract information about their customers. By doing a breakdown of the number of policies by type, age of clients, zip code, step and so on you can gather the numbers to understand the story of your agency.

Step Two:
Where do 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 clients you want to help round out your book.

Step Three
Weigh the options, make decisions.
There are many, many options to reach out to your desired prospects: radio, newspaper, target mailings, telemarketing, email, home shows, local advertising, high school talks, chambers of commerce. Make a list of the options with a budget for each. But beware; sending out one mailing will not bear the results you are looking for?. Doing 3 mailings to the same group of prospects, supported by a radio and newspaper ad over a 6 month period, however, will produce the long term results you are looking to achieve. Commit to it and implement it.

Step Four
Keep track and revisit.
Keep track of your spending and the new business brought in by your carefully designed plan. Again, your agency management system should allow you to track where business is coming from. Use these features, run the reports. This is an investment that will pay out over time, don?t expect immediate returns; this is a long term growth plan. Look at your results monthly and make adjustments to the plan as needed.

A marketing plan that is thoughtfully designed with plenty of research and smart spending choices to produce the most effective results for your business is just plain good business.
With the advances in agency management systems and the information available to us on the internet, it?s never been easier for insurance agencies to spend smartly by target marketing for growth and profitability.

June Sousouris, AAI, is director of sales for Special Agent, Inc. in Holbrook, MA. Ms. Sousouris has over twenty years experience in the insurance industry with her most recent prior position as Vice President of Sales & Marketing of a large insurance agency.

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