Market Your Agency Using Imprinted Flyswatters

I’ve been saying for years that the most important factor in successfully using promotional products to market your business is the plan to distribute the promotional products.

With Spring fast approaching, I have for you a very inexpensive, creative, guerrilla marketing way to market your insurance agency by distributing imprinted flyswatters.

Imprinted FlyswattersThis little beauty is our item number MCA42100. In various quantities, it’s about a buck apiece. The pricing includes the setup charge and a one-color print on one side. This particular flyswatter has imprinted, “We swat the competition.” The agent’s information and then an insurance company logo. This item is available with a print on the handle too.

OK, so here’s how the idea works. Go to the dollar store and buy some ribbon. Cut off about a foot of ribbon and get brochure, like an insurance company or an agency brochure and then punch a hole in it. Then take the ribbon, thread it through the hole and then through the hole at the top of the flyswatter. Then tie it off and now you’re done step one.

Here’s step two: once you have all the flyswatters and brochures done, on a nice, beautiful day, go to a neighborhood that you you’d like to write some business in and go door to door and hang the imprinted flyswatters from doorknobs. The homeowner will receive the flyswatter and they’ll also receive the brochure.

This is a perfect way to market your insurance agency on a nice beautiful sunny day in the Spring, Summer or Fall. It’s also a perfect project for some teenagers or some college kids who are looking to earn some extra money.

The big idea here is that if folks are interested in receiving a quote, they’ll have your contact information on the brochure and the imprinted flyswatter. If they are not in the market to get a quote at the time, they’ll keep your flyswatter and they’ll have your contact information available if or when that need arises.

Here’s a great video showing you how to market your agency using imprint flyswatters:

Brilliant Guerrilla Marketing

Well, it happened again last night. It was bound to happen again and last night is when it happened.

Some guerrilla marketers came through my neighborhood again and they were promoting their produce business. Here’s what they did:

They had soGuerrilla Marketingme flyers printed up. Then they rolled them up and they used a rubber band to attach the flyer to some simple cotton work gloves. Then they went through my neighborhood and they threw them on our driveways.

This morning when I woke up to take the dog out for her morning walk, the rolled up flyer and gloves were on my driveway. This is brilliant. Here’s why it’s brilliant.

I’m going to throw out the flyer but I’m going to hang on to the cotton gloves. I’ll probably remember where I got the gloves and I’ll be reminded of that produce business every time I use them…and long after I’ve thrown out that flyer and long after those guerrillas paid for the flyers and gloves and spent the time rolling them up and driving through my neighborhood distributing their marketing message.

Those guerrilla marketers were smart but if they were really smart, what they would have done is they would have had the gloves imprinted with their logo or their contact information or both. That way as time goes on, people will know where they got those gloves and have the marketer’s contact info.

Promotional products are the ultimate guerrilla marketing tool. Promotional products deliver their marketing message over and over and over and long after the advertiser paid for them. The promotional product doesn’t have to be expensive, it just has to be distributed. That is the number one factor in using promotional products effectively is the distribution.

The folks at the produce business near my house did a great job. They could have done better but they did a great job.

A Marketing faux pas (pardon my French)

I want to tell you something only a few people know. I’ve written some of the blog articles because I needed to rant about something.

This is one of those times. Get ready for a rant. Stay with me. I do have a point.

I’m not sure of the exact year – maybe around 2000 – Bell Atlantic merged with GTE and changed their name and logo to Verizon. Not sure why folks made up company name like “Verizon” but they did. It has no meaning. You can’t look up Verizon in the dictionary. It’s not an old family name either. It’s simply a cool sounding name that some folks got paid a lot of money to make up. It certainly does not have the ring (get it?) that says anything about what the company actually does. Nevertheless, they spent about a gazillion dollars pounding into our heads that the company is a communications company. They were very successful at it too.

Since that time, Verizon continued to spend a ton of money on marketing (probably something like a gazillion-zillion dollars); some folks call that “branding”. It now appears that Verizon recently changed their logo even though we all got comfy seeing the original logo and knowing what the company was all about. Bravo, now they’re going to have to spend about a gazillion-zillion-zillion dollars trying to convince us that the new logo means something significant to us.

Here’s why I’m ranting: all of my customers are considered small businesses. Changing your agency name or your logo is not a good idea. It can cost you big time. The concept of change is pretty tough on people so when you change your branding, you run the real risk of driving away customers and prospects. In order to change your branding, you’ll have to reinvest time, money and effort rebuilding the impressions and good will you worked so hard (and invested financially) to create. Unless, of course, you have the same resources as Verizon.

Rant over.


Growing Your Agency Exponentially

If I told you that 10 + 10 + 10 = 33.1, you’d tell me I was wrong. When it comes to growing your agency exponentially, I’m 100% correct.

You may think that there are hundreds of ways to grow your agency and you’re correct if you are thinking about marketing tactics. As far as strategies go, there are only 3 basic, yet powerful strategies you focus on to grow your bottom line. Those basic strategies are:

  1. Increasing the number of customers
  2. Increasing the average amount of revenue from each customer
  3. Increasing the average length of time you keep a customer.

Yes, I know this may sound simple but let’s take a look at how the math proves this powerful theory

Let’s say you currently have 1000 customers who each generate $200 in revenue each year and your average customer stays with you for 10 years. Over those 10 years, you should receive $2,000,000 in revenue (1000 customers * $200 average revenue * 10 years = $2,000,000).

Now, let’s pretend that you focus on growing your customer base by 10% and now you have 1100 customers. Let’s pretend you upsell and cross-sell customers to increase average revenue per customer by 10% so now average revenue per customer is $220. Then you do what it takes to increase the average amount of time a customer stays with you by 10% so now customers stay with you for 11 years. If you would think that your revenue would go up by 10%, you are WRONG! Your revenue actually goes up by 33.1%. Those 1100 customers would now generate $2,662,000 (1100 customers * $220 average revenue * 11 years = $2,662,000). If you subtract $2,000,000 from $2,662,000 you get $662,000. Divide that figure by $2,000,000 and you’ll discover that your agency revenue grew by 33.1%.

As I mentioned, I know this sounds simple nut my challenge to you is what can you do to increase these 3 areas?

Being different.

What makes your agency clearly different than your competitors? Why should a prospect do business with you? Most importantly, why should a customer continue doing business with you? Before you say something like “we give great service” or “we save people money”, think again. Those phrases are not differentiators because they are not quantifiable facts. Those are your opinions and your competitors will probably say the same things about their agencies. Thus, if you say that about your agency, you’re not any different than your competitors.

One way to stand out in the crowd is by creating a Unique Selling Proposition, or USP. It’s a short description of what makes your agency irrefutably different than your competitors and declares a promise that you’re making to your customers and prospects. Folks often confuse the USP with a catchy tagline which it is not. The USP is THE compelling reason why a buyer should purchase from you. The goal of a good USP is to create a perception of difference between your agency and your competition.

The fact is that you’re in the insurance business and to the typical buyer your agency is probably not perceived any differently than all the other insurance marketers. The question now becomes how do you discover what makes your agency different and how do you communicate that?

The first place to start is to take a look at your competitors. In addition to pricing, some points of differentiation are variety, coverages, benefits such as additional services, availability, convenience and customer service just to name a few. What advantages do you have over them and vice versa? Here are some places to look:

  1. Do you have more carriers available? (i.e. more variety)
  2. Do you serve a niche market? (i.e. specialization)
  3. Do you offer longer office hours? (i.e.  convenience)
  4. Do you have a dedicated claims person? (i.e. expertise)
  5. Do you have 24 hour claims service? (i.e.  convenience)
  6. Do you have a dedicated person for certificates of insurance? (i.e. expertise)
  7. Do you make house calls? (i.e.  convenience)
  8. Do customers and prospects have easy access to your office? (i.e.  convenience)
  9. Do you guarantee a quote within a certain amount of time? (i.e. reliability)
  10. Do you guarantee a return phone call within a certain amount of time? (i.e. reliability)

This list is by no means complete. I don’t know your specific agency and your marketplace so it’s impossible to offer a cookie cutter solution. That said, hopefully this short list will be helpful in the brainstorming process.

The next place to look for ideas for your USP is to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. I once heard someone say “If you want to know why John Smith buys, you have to see the world through John Smith’s eyes”. What is it that customers and prospects really want? They may tell you that they want lower premiums but I’d be willing to bet that pricing isn’t the only reason they’re shopping. Take note of what makes people happy and what makes them mad and make accommodations to satisfy those wants and needs. Then you can use this as fuel for your USP.

While the products and services you offer are not necessarily different than those of your competitors, you can differentiate your agency in other areas. The point is that you need to uncover distinct attributes that make your agency more attractive to the target market you serve. Here’s an example: suppose you discover that most or all of your competitors close by 5pm AND you’ve gotten some after-hours voicemails regarding new business. Perhaps you can change your hours and close later. Then you can create a USP around your new, more convenient hours. The USP could sound like: “We have longer office hours just for you”. Here’s another example: let’s say that you write a lot of contractors and you find that they need insurance certificates quickly and that’s something you can accommodate without much trouble. How about a USP that sounds like “Insurance certificates issued within 10 minutes”?

Creating a rock solid USP is not an easy exercise but it’s one of the most effective ways to separate your agency from your competitors, attract more customers and increase retention. As you’re doing the research to write your USP, you may discover that your agency may not be a whole lot different from the competition. If this is the case, pay close attention to what your competition is saying in their marketing. As mentioned previously, the ultimate purpose of the USP is to create a perception of difference. If you’re the first to tell the market about a distinction, your agency may become associated with that distinction and then you will own that attribute. For example, if you’re the first tell the marketplace that you do certificates of insurance in 10 minutes or less, it will likely not matter that your competition can do the same thing. The marketplace will associate that attribute with your agency and you’ll have the advantage.

It’s amazing how something so simple can make such a huge impact.

The good news is that marketing works. I’ve witnessed real, measurable results making me a big believer in advertising. The bad news is that it’s the most expensive way to grow your insurance agency – you are literally buying new customers. Don’t get me wrong, adding new clients to your customer base is critical to the success of your agency and advertising is a means to do just that.

While so much attention is focused on growing your customer list, what is often overlooked is that your current customer base is your best source for additional revenue. It’s most likely to be the most valuable asset of your insurance agency and unfortunately every year a percentage of that customer base stops doing business with you. What you need to do is limit that loss because the longer you hold on to a customer, the more money you make.

Consider this:

  1. It costs six times less to retain an existing customer than to acquire a new one.
  2. Your customers know your business and are comfortable doing business with you. You’re the incumbent agent, a known quantity and inertia usually prevents them from switching. Most likely, they are less price sensitive (and picky) than new customers and prospects.
  3. Loyal customers usually purchase additional insurance products because they trust you.
  4. Loyal customers give you referrals.

So, what’s the secret to keeping your customers and how do you prevent them from defecting?

You have to give them exactly what they want. And how do you find that out? You ask them.

That sounds so simple, but when was the last time you picked up the phone, called a customer and said “Hey Bob, how are we doing?” Think about it, an objective, marketing-minded customer survey for your company could pay huge dividends. Here’s what you need to find out:

  1. What are your customers’ perceptions of your company?
  2. What can you change to improve the overall customer experience?
  3. What kinds of products or services they are looking for?
  4. What is the likelihood that your current customers will purchase from you again?
  5. How are you viewed in relation to your competitors?
  6. Are you making decisions based on your most vocal customers or your entire customer base?

Use the data from your customer survey to help you understand how your relationship is currently perceived by your customers and what actions you may need to take to improve the relationship – and to enhance customer satisfaction, loyalty, and desired business outcomes with all customers.

Rodney Dangerfield & The Ultimate Guerrilla Marketing Weapon

I traveled to Montgomery, NY this past week to deliver a speech to a group of Erie Insurance Agents. I live in the Philadelphia, PA area and my route took me through the Pocono Mountain area – what a beautiful drive! The mountains and hills were magnificent and everything was so green.

I’ve delivered about 15 of these speeches over the past 5 years or so. I’m not a pro but I’m not a shy guy and I enjoy doing them. The speech I delivered was about the promotional products industry as a whole and why promotional products are a smart way to market an insurance agency.

Before each speech, I research all my talking points to make sure they are current and valid. During this process, I’m always reminded why I love this industry and why I think promotional products are the ultimate guerrilla marketing weapon. Here are 5 aspects of the promotional products industry that I’m so proud of:

1. According to PPAI, Promotional Products Association International, our industry is a $20,000,000,000 industry (THAT’S $20 BILLION!). We are one of the only advertising mediums on a growth trend even though wRodney Dangerfield & Guerrilla Marketinge’re one of the oldest advertising mediums. We are finally getting some well deserved respect!!

2. When using promotional products, an advertiser only has to buy the ad one time and the recipient of the item will be exposed to the advertiser’s marketing message a countless number of times. You cannot get that kind of value from ANY other marketing medium because all of them have a much shorter shelf life.

3. Most people enjoy receiving promotional products. On the flip side, do most people like hearing radio or TV ads? Do they like ads popping up on the webpages they’re viewing? Probably not. Most people will say “thank you” when given a promotional product. Can the same be said when they’re exposed to a billboard? Again, probably not.

4. Promotional products can target just about every demographic no matter the size or obscure the market. Do you want to sell insurance to Eskimos? With approximately 800,000 items available from approximately 4,000 suppliers, I can guarantee you that there is a perfect product available that would be effective and meet the budget.

5. Promotional products are advertising that integrates into our lives. Research shows that there’s a 1 in 4 chance you have a promotional product on your person right now. We use these items in our day to day lives. Do you write a note with a pop-up ad? No, you write a note with a writing instrument. Do you wear newspapers as clothing? No, but you can certainly wear an embroidered sweater to keep you warm. In addition, promotional products typically only carry one message at a time. This makes for a crystal clear, unimpeded transmission of a marketing message. How many billboards are in Times Square? Probably too many to count. A calendar is a miniature version of a billboard at a fraction of the cost and communicates a marketing message for pennies a day. Insurance card holders keep your insureds registration and insurance information handy while marketing your agency at the same time. Do you see the guerrilla marketing connection?

I fell into this industry over 25 years ago. I have been witness to some real marketing successes with promotional products and that is so satisfying. I’ve also been the recipient to some ridicule of my industry. For those folks who think of promotional products as “trinkets & trash” or “tchotchkes”, I urge you reconsider your position. They truly are THE epitome of guerrilla marketing. As our world shrinks, technology speeds things up and younger generations become tomorrow’s buyers, advertising mediums will gain and lose effectiveness. One thing that I think will never change is that, as humans, we like to receive things and, if they are useful and relevant, we keep them. Recipients sometimes thank the advertisers for giving them a promotional product (talk about guerrilla marketing!). Promotional products are the only advertising medium that is useful so I think this medium is here to stay and may become an even more important marketing tool in the future.

Springtime Guerrilla Marketing

This morning, while taking my walk, I discovered a guerrilla had come through my neighborhood last night.

A guerrilla marketer that is.

Dispersed throughout the neighborhood lawns were promotional flyers imprinted with ad copy promoting a lawn maintenance company. On the inside, the guerrilla added a weather proof label featuring even more information about the company’s service offering, contact information and a discount offer. I’d be willing to bet that the guerrilla marketer spent less than a few bucks per unit to capture the attention of my fellow neighbors. Given the cost of lawn maintenance, if the marketer acquires one customer, I’m sure the cost of this promotion will be paid off and the marketer will see a profit on their investment.

IMAG00108[1]This simple idea could work for your insurance agency as well. They can be printed with your contact information, they’re easy to distribute and they’re really inexpensive. Best of all, people love flyers so your marketing message will be seen over and over again.

Lastly, the big idea when marketing your agency with promotional products is the distribution. This idea is rock solid proof that marketing does not need to be complicated nor expensive. Great marketing starts with a creative idea and effort and both of those are free. I very often tell my customers that you can have the coolest promotional item every created and if it never leaves your supply closet, you’ve wasted your money. On the flip-side, you can purchase the dumbest promotional item ever created but if you’re distributing the item to your prospects and customers, you’ll eventually be a winner.

The Manko Company has available 1000’s of promotional items and the know-how to help you successfully market your agency. Many items are well under $5.00 per unit and most are well under $2.00 per item. We have experience working with nearly 2000 insurance agencies just like yours and we have case study examples of how other insurance agencies have used promotional products to market their agencies.


Fun Marketing Using Imprinted Coloring Books

Consider marketing your agency with imprinted coloring books. Here’s why: have you ever tried to do business with a husband and wife who showed up to your office with a small child in tow? Was it distracting? Did the appointment take a lot longer than necessary because little Timmy didn’t feel like being cooperative while mommy and daddy worked with the nice insurance agent? I’d be willing to bet that this has happened to you and, if it hasn’t, it will someday.

Giving promotional products to children may seem like a waste of money. After all, children don’t buy insurance. While this is true, pretty much everyone on planet Earth knows that children are a heavy influence upon the behavior of their parents so, if you can keep little Timmy from having a meltdown, you might be able to write some business before Timmy forces his parents to leave your office before you complete the transaction.

Imprinted Coloring Books

How about offering little Timmy a coloring book? It’s a win-win-win: Timmy is happy because he has something to do, his parents are happy because he’s not creating a scene, you’re happy because you can get the necessary work done AND Timmy is happy and he’s way too busy coloring in his new coloring book to tear your office apart.

Here’s another creative way to use coloring books to market your insurance agency. Let’s say you’re exhibiting at a local fair or community event. Consider offering coloring books and a yummy snack like cookies or cupcakes to the kids as they walk past your booth with their parents. The kids won’t be able to resist the offer of the food and coloring book and they will drag their parents to your booth. As they approach your booth, you’ll have a chance to strike up a conversation with the parents. Bingo! Another new opportunity to write some new business!



Insurance Card Holder Pricing Increase

807_04_Black_HRCustom printed vinyl insurance card holders are an inexpensive and effective marketing tool. They are, by far, our most popular category in our line. The reason is simple, they provide insureds a convenient way to keep their auto insurance card and registration organized and available quickly in the event of an accident or if they get pulled over by a law officer.

When writing an auto policy, simply insert the insurance card into the insurance card holder and hand it to your insured and tell them to put it in their glove box. Your agency name and contact info will be seen by your insured every time they go to the glove box to change out the insurance card.

Our pricing on these popular items is among the lowest in the country and we want to keep it that way. That said, after 4 years, our supplier is raising the pricing just a few pennies on April 1, 2015. If you’d like to take a look at our selection of insurance card holders, please click insurance card holder options

The most popular insurance card holders are the 807, 806, 803L and the 808. We have the 808W available with the “What to do at the scene of an auto accident” imprint. Lastly, the 807-1, 806-1, 803L-1, 808-1 and the 808W-1 are all available with free ground shipping. We do have other styles available: the 805P is a long insurance card holder with a business card pocket and the 803P is an even longer insurance card holder with a business card pocket. Both syles are available with free ground shipping when ordering 1000 units or more. Those items numbers are: 805P-1 and the 803P-1.

Please keep in mind that the products with the “-1” in the style number are IDENTICAL to the same item without that designation. The “-1” designation simply let’s our system know to deduct the shipping from your order. This way you receive the free shipping.