How Independent Agents Can Compete With Direct Writers and Captive Agents
You’ve run out of milk at home. Your wife calls you and asks you to stop for milk on the way home. Will you go to a specialty dairy store that sells all forms of dairy products or will you stop at the nearest convenience store or grocery? Are you going to a store that just sells Fat-Free milk or are you just looking for a store that carries whole milk, 2% milk, low-fat milk and non-fat milk?
On the other hand, if you have a list of vegetables, meats, dairy products, fruit and breads to buy, are you going to the local convenience store that may have one kind of each available, or are you going to a supermarket that has a wide variety of each type of food from which to choose?
This example describes why consumers will head toward convenience for generic selections like milk, but would never consider going to a specialty store when they have a large variety of needs or want a variety of products from which to select.
The insurance industry has become similar to the grocery business when identifying customer reactions and buying habits. If we recognize this fact, we can effectively market our products, services and our independent agency benefits against our direct writing competitors.
If a customer is seeking a “generic” product like personal auto insurance, he feels that one product is much like another and one provider is like another. He will naturally turn toward where he thinks he can purchase the product most conveniently IF he believes that the cost factors are the same regardless of supplier. When he wants “milk,” he will go to the convenience store.
However, if the customer is thinking about PROTECTING HIS ASSETS and sees one insurance policy as a part of his Asset Protection Program, he would be less likely go to the “auto insurance store.” Instead, he would be to go to the independent agents who have a large variety of insurance types that dovetail into each other with several providers whose different products fit different consumers.
Our job is to direct our prospects away from the focused advertising of the direct writers toward a single product and concentrate them on protecting their assets and families through an integrated insurance program. Most of us have several companies to choose from, and each has several forms of insurance for each of our clients’ exposures. In many cases, the pricing, which is the main point of advertising by our direct writing competitors, is very similar. We now have access to discounting programs for clients insuring multiple lines with the same carrier. The direct writers may have the same options, but their advertising is geared toward price and is product-centric.
In order to compete against the direct writers, we must direct our advertising and marketing toward the most important aspects of the clients’ insurance protection. That is, of course, integrated coverage at a fair price with CHOICES that can only be afforded by a professional that offers a variety of products and coverage options.
This means we have to first concentrate the prospects on Total Protection and away from the sole consideration of cheaper immediate price for a single coverage or product.
We recommend a marketing program that pokes some fun at the One-Size-Fits-All scenario that is the default thinking of most direct writers. Even those who boast that they compare prices with other carriers still concentrate on the one dimension, PRICE, because they can not offer the prospects any other choices.
Our primary visual is a thin man with an embarrassed look on his face standing inside of and holding up a pair of pants several sizes too large. The caption reads, “One Size Does NOT Fit All – in clothes and in insurance – See __________ Agency for “tailor-made” insurance to protect all of your most important assets and your family without potential embarrassing (or expensive) gaps in coverage.”
There are several marketing choices you can make depending on how much you have to spend on advertising and marketing and how much revenue you intend to generate as the result of the campaign. Your message can be done in print, in animation, in video and even in audio for radio. Then, as proven by advertisers and marketers throughout history, REPETITION MAKES IT REAL. Repeat the same message – in the same form if you have to – and often — to get the clients to acknowledge that your message is the true reality of insurance.