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Does Your Agency have a Digital Pulse?

By May 5, 2020July 9th, 2021Cyber/Digital Episodes

Need to rehab your digital pulse? Looking for a good, free client retention tool? You may already have one and it’s called social media. Insurance agent turned social media guru at Agency Revolution, Justin Lair, talks to The Trusted Advisor and gives tips for every agency. Whether you’re a social media beginner or a veteran, listening to this episode will give you a few tricks. Try posting on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. Check out our vendor partners here.

regain your digital pulse by listening in.

Edwin K. Morris (3s):
Welcome to the trusted advisor podcast brought to you by Iroquois group here. Iroquois is your trusted advisor in all things insurance. I am Edwin K. Morris. Today in the studio, we have Justin Lair and he is the senior business development manager for agency revolution. And he is responsible for identifying new business opportunities for the company. Specifically, he oversees the development of enterprise level business to better serve large scale independent agency networks. Justin got his start in insurance by building a book of business as an agent with century insurance group. What is agency revolution and how did you get there?

Justin Lair (46s):
Yeah, so that’s a kind of, I could, I could make this really long, but I’ll, I’ll give you the short version. Edwin, you know, so agency revolution is a all in one marketing technology company for specifically for independent insurance agents. And I would say specifically, because we’ve only worked really with independent agents for the last 25 years, and we’ve developed products that started out with something as simple as, Hey, how do you make a yellow page ad? Getting all the way to the point of, Hey, we’re making really dynamic websites that include social media that include content for all that, whether it’s videos, questionnaires, quizzes, and then even getting into our piece that actually plugs into most management systems that are out there and can help you engage with your clients throughout the entire year.

Justin Lair (1m 30s):
You know, helping with those little touch points that we all promise as independent insurance agents. Now, the second piece of that, of how did I get here? I was an agent for six years. So I kind of come from the background of selling, being at an independent insurance agent. I was one of the guys kind of going, Hey, we need a website. I mean, that’s how long ago this was where our agency was probably the largest in the central Oregon area where I’m located. We had about 36 people in the office, so not a small organization and we still didn’t have a website. So it was something that it was like, wow, we need to, we need to do something about this. Cause we’re getting to this point where people are wondering, Hey, how do I find you online?

Justin Lair (2m 13s):
Well, you don’t

Edwin K. Morris (2m 14s):
Right? Yeah. So, and that’s where people go look, I mean the yellow pages, it’s like, yeah. It’s like, Oh, we’ll take out a print ad and see how that works.

Justin Lair (2m 22s):
Yeah. Yeah. It’s, it’s, it’s brutal, you know, and even to this day, I still, you know, I’ll travel around and I’ll, I’ll speak at different events. And I, I’d still, that’s one of the questions I ask, okay. Out of the 50 people in this room, how many of you actually have websites and still surprisingly about 80% have websites and there’s still a 20% out there that are just kind of going, like, I don’t know what the benefit of it is.

Edwin K. Morris (2m 49s):
Man. Wow. That’s a painful thing.

Justin Lair (2m 52s):
Yeah. And I mean, it’s just, it’s our industry. So we’re just,

Edwin K. Morris (2m 55s):
Don’t you think it’s just a lot of companies regardless of the industry. I mean, there’s a, there’s the laggards that just don’t want to still, well they go kicking and dragging, right. They don’t want to change.

Justin Lair (3m 4s):
True. And it’s even the, it’s even the thing, I listened to one of your podcasts yesterday, actually. And, and she was kind of talking about the growth of Iroquois and what you guys have done and kind of how it all started. And that was, that’s kinda where we’re at too, within this industry is we still have a lot of people out there that just go, Hey, I’ve built this lifestyle business and what’s worked of me going to, you know, chamber and rotary and things like that. I’m going to keep doing it.

Edwin K. Morris (3m 33s):
Yeah. Well do what works, I guess, what would you recommend are the four out of the four big social media platforms? What’s got the most bang for the buck.

Justin Lair (3m 44s):
This is interesting. And I think everybody’s going to have a little bit of a different answer. For agency revolution, we’re always recommending Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. One of those reasons is that we actually have a direct integration where we can post to those three sites automatically for agencies. So that’s a big piece. You can’t ignore what Facebook has done. I mean, Facebook is everywhere. I mean, you want to go buy something, you can find it on there. The advertising that’s been on Facebook is really powerful, but it’s also connecting with so many different generations. It’s true. I think it’s always interesting because I think about my grandma, right? My grandma, she’s 85 years old. Okay. And if I want to actually get ahold of her, I can’t text her.

Justin Lair (4m 26s):
She’s not going to respond. I can’t give her a call because she’s probably lost her phone at some point, but I can guarantee you when I send her a message on Facebook, she responds, it’s the weirdest thing in the world to me. But it’s also the proof of social media.

Edwin K. Morris (4m 38s):
Oh, I know. It’s, it’s powerful. And it is an enabler for communications with folks that wouldn’t normally happen.

Justin Lair (4m 46s):
Yeah. And now we think about, you know, we, we talk about that generation. I mean, a lot of people are saying Facebook as you know, the older generation, my, my parents, my grandparents are on there. It’s it’s for the older crowd. Safeco actually released a study and they were talking about millennials. And I, I, I gotta look this up cause I, I have quoted it a few times, but for them when they came through, I think it was above 70% of millennials are actually choosing their insurance based on social media outlets.

Edwin K. Morris (5m 17s):
Wow. That’s powerful.

Justin Lair (5m 18s):
Yeah. And I just think about that because I look at my day, right. So I, I see a product that I like. The first thing that I actually do, and this is personal, I’ll go on and I’ll just go on Instagram. I love Instagram. I think it’s great. It’s got its place, but I’ll go on Instagram. I’ll look up, you know, a hashtag or I’ll look up the company itself. Same thing with Facebook. I think the big thing that, you know, for insurance agencies, the big thing with Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, you need to consistently be posting and I’ll use this example is that yesterday I was actually looking up an agency and they hadn’t posted since 2017. So are they even open?

Edwin K. Morris (5m 59s):
Yeah, are they still in business? Well, in that, that gets to a point of what do you post? What would you recommend? Because there’s probably a, a pendulum swing from, it’s been three or four years since you posted something to, Oh my gosh, you post 26 things a day. You know, what do you recommend?

Justin Lair (6m 18s):
Our platform and what we’ve been providing to the independent channel, we always say use our system to post three times a week. And then from there, what you’re going to do, because you’re going to, you’re going to start this cadence that people get used to. Okay. They see you, they start seeing some of the posts, but then you get to also put in and sprinkle in some of the little, little bits of delight. I like to call it right. It’s it’s the agency specific stuff. Hey, it’s, it’s Edwin’s birthday. It’s his anniversary with the agency. Oh, hey here’s the dogs of the agency. I mean, here are the cats, right? Cat videos are always huge. Everybody still likes those for some reason, 20 years later.

Justin Lair (6m 58s):
But you can get into that, those little pieces that, you know, aren’t insurance related, they’re not investment related or money. Things like that,

Edwin K. Morris (7m 5s):
Does all that data, all that push go out there, does that help retain customers?

Justin Lair (7m 11s):
Absolutely. Think about brand awareness when we’re talking about social media. And I think that’s the thing that a lot of agencies kind of overlook with this because let’s look at, you know, what insurance was, kind of what it’s grown into from a marketing standpoint. My great grandfather, he was actually an Allstate agent and you know, I always heard it. Okay. You go join the rotary, you get in the chamber and you’re going to be going out to dinners and that’s how you market it. Right. But our industry’s changed and it’s grown, right. I’m talking to agents now who they’re in Florida and they’re doing business in New York. They’re doing business in California.

Justin Lair (7m 52s):
Right. So I can’t be everywhere at once, but I want more people to know my business. And I also want to expand that net. Right. So think about these social, this social media outlet, as a way for you to effectively cast your net out into the world and start grabbing attention from other people besides your customers.

Edwin K. Morris (8m 12s):
Yeah. And it’s really a, in that business to consumer relationship that has morphed in the last hundred years from a small town community where everything was on main street kind of thing to, Oh, everybody goes to the mall and then, and now the internet has absolutely flattened the world and created a, a really ambiguous availability of content or consumer products are not limited to much of anything.

Justin Lair (8m 40s):
Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, I just think it’s a must have at this point. I mean, you, you have to be on social media in one way or another, you know, and we can even group this into a few buckets. Right. We’ve got people who are just starting out. Okay. So what do I do? Just post, just get something out there. Just start, stay consistent with maybe one post a week because that at least gets it going out there. If we want to get into like bucket two, right? It’s the people who have had some creation of a social media, they’ve been posting. What do we do from that point? Well, let’s take a look at our book of business. What are we actually selling? I mean, if you’re a personal lines agency, let’s take a look at personal lines.

Justin Lair (9m 21s):
Do we need to sell more umbrellas? Well, let’s grab some umbrella content and carriers have been great lately about providing that content. And so now you can go out to someone like a Safeco, someone like a travelers, a nationwide, and they’re providing really good content that you can just post. Great. Now I think there is a downfall to using some of that content, but if we get into bucket three.

Edwin K. Morris (9m 42s):
Wait a minutes, what’s the downfall, what’s the downfall?

Justin Lair (9m 46s):
Well, yeah, the downfall is, is that it’s actually leading you to a carrier website, right? So now we’ve posted something and it’s, you know, nationwide. I think they’re a great company. We work with nationwide. And I think they’re forward thinking what they’ve been doing for their agencies, but they’re giving you content that leads you to find 2000 other agents. So it still works and it’s still good. But when you click on that, now you’re going to that site. So that third bucket of, you know, maybe the experienced users well, you could use something like our system or create your own depending on how much time you’ve got. And I think that’s the problem that we run into is agencies.

Justin Lair (10m 28s):
You can’t do everything all the time, but a system like ours will actually post for you. And instead of actually making that post go to a carrier website, it’s guiding that traffic back to your website.

Edwin K. Morris (10m 42s):
Got it, got it.

Justin Lair (10m 43s):
So now we’ve got this person who’s seeing you on Facebook going, Oh, well this kind of intrigues me. What’s it about? Oh, it’s umbrella insurance, it’s life insurance, cyber insurance, jewelry, things like that. And they click on it and now they go to ABC And so, so this is where it gets kind of funny because what’s the first page you think someone looks out when they actually go to an insurance website?

Edwin K. Morris (11m 9s):
Hmm. Well, I would assume like most websites, there’s a home page, whatever your splash page is. Right?

Justin Lair (11m 16s):
Yeah. And, and everybody says that they’re like, Oh, we’re going to put a lot of money into this homepage. Right. They overlook their staff page. Staff page is the number one visited page on any insurance website,

Edwin K. Morris (11m 28s):
Because it’s still a people to people relationship build.

Justin Lair (11m 30s):
It’s still a relationship business. Just because we’re using social media doesn’t mean, mean we’re taken away from that relationship. Yeah. You’re taking the people out of the loop. Yeah. Right. So now we’re using social media to guide towards this website that’s been built,. Obviously you’re having to keep it modern. You’re having to keep it up to date. So there is a little bit of work that has to go into that, but now you’re guiding them to your people as well. Yeah. And everybody wants that face to face.

Edwin K. Morris (11m 56s):
We’ve talked about the pushing of content out, but how important is it to interact with either communities, you know, liking, sharing all of that.

Justin Lair (12m 6s):
Yeah. I, I mean, you can’t just sit by and not respond, right? Like you have to have someone that’s going to champion this and they’re going to go through and they’re going to at least take a look at the, the likes, the comments, the shares, things like that. I mean, you want to be interactive to some extent yeah. If you can do it and you can have someone where that is, I mean, that’s what they’re doing on a daily basis and they’re kind of your community person. And so they’re going in there, they’re kind of taking that marketing helm and making those posts and responding and, and really being personal about it. That’s amazing. But the average agency, maybe even the above average agency, just being able to go in and respond, or if someone comments on something, liking it.

Justin Lair (12m 53s):
That’s, I mean, that’s, that’s enough.

Edwin K. Morris (12m 55s):
I think the eye candy to social media is looking at the comments, right. Looking at all, not so much what was posted, you know, that was like the first rock over the fence, but what else is going on within that post? Exactly. Break it down for me. What’s the bottom line to the financials, to an agency to why they should care about this. Cause it right now just sounds like a lot of work.

Justin Lair (13m 17s):
Yeah. And, and there’s, there’s a few different things. You can look at this, right. Social media is going to bring in new business and it’s just one of those buckets, right? There’s a lot of different ways to get new business in the door. Social media is one of those, but also what are you doing as an experience for your clients? And I think that’s, that’s one of those things where maybe you and I could have another podcast later about what, you know, what does an agency do to create a relationship? What are they doing to actually have an experience that’s, you know, the agency itself? It’s not just what the client expects, it’s what the agency wants to provide. And, and

Edwin K. Morris (13m 55s):
So it has to be part of the whole strategy and operational picture of what they’re even there doing. Yeah, absolutely. It’s not just, it’s just not an extra duty for somebody. Oh, don’t forget to post something today. You know, it’s, it’s like actually part of the metric of what we’re doing.

Justin Lair (14m 11s):
Yep. Yeah. And I think that the retention side, I mean, it’s, it’s brand awareness. It’s getting messaging out to your clients. It’s proving that you guys are real, you’re part of the community you care. I mean, it’s all those pieces. So I mean, retention isn’t sexy, right? It’s, it’s new business. That’s what everybody wants to talk about. But man, if you’ve got a bucket with 15 holes in it and you’re constantly sinking, I mean, you might as well fill those holes

Edwin K. Morris (14m 36s):
Well, and it’s like, why would you want to close the door to a possible revenue stream of new customers?

Justin Lair (14m 44s):
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s just, it’s just one of the tools that you have to take advantage of. Now. I think within the industry, we kind of go, okay, this sounds like a lot of work because the things that you and I have talked about right here, it does sound like a lot of work, especially from someone who hasn’t done this in the past. Right. And you can start on such a simple basis where it’s, you know, secretary principal, it’s, you know, anybody in the office, they can go on there and they can start doing simple pieces. You know, if, if that’s a thing where it’s, you know, we just don’t have enough time. We don’t know where to start. There’s companies like ours that specialize in this that can really help out.

Justin Lair (15m 25s):
It’s cost-effective, there’s co-op funds available from carriers because they’re starting to realize, Hey, this is something that helps the carrier. It helps the agency, it helps the people around. So there’s a lot of different avenues that you could go to actually get started with social media.

Edwin K. Morris (15m 42s):
Yeah. Yeah. You’ve got lots of opportunity. Right. It’s just a bundle of opportunity. It’s just a matter of how much resource do you want to put in this bucket to make it pay?

Justin Lair (15m 50s):
Yeah, absolutely. And it, I mean, it can be a dollar to $5,000 a month. I mean, it, it just kinda depends on the length that you want to go for this and obviously the return that you see.

Edwin K. Morris (16m 1s):
Well, thank you very much for sharing this exciting topic. It’s been a blast. Yeah.

Justin Lair (16m 5s):
I really appreciated you having me on and I look forward to the next one, Edwin.

Edwin K. Morris (16m 11s):
Thanks for listening to this edition of the trusted advisor podcast brought to you by Iroquois group. Iroquois, your trusted advisor for all things insurance, and remember get out of the office and sell. I’m Edwin K. Morris and I invite you to join me for the next edition of the trusted advisor podcast.