America’s largest companies spend mind-boggling amounts of money on advertising, with behemoths like Procter & Gamble, AT&T, and Disney spending literally billions every year. You don’t have billions (yet!), but there are many ways you can successfully market yourself without even spending a dime.
Email – Of course you have email, but are you using it effectively as a marketing tool? There’s little point in sending an email that no one opens. (Do you even know if recipients are opening your emails?) More importantly, is anyone clicking through to your website? There’s no reason to just be throwing things out into the ether – email marketing effectiveness can be measured with cold, hard numbers. You want to convert those emails into paying clients, but to do so you need a record of what lures prospects in and what doesn’t. There are a variety of services that do this, but if you’re just starting out, look into MailChimp.
Live Chat – When you’re visiting a website and have a question, what’s the fastest way to get an answer? Live chat. Your website would benefit from the same. Although you might want to invest in a substantial live chat feature someday, if you’re new to it, start with Pure Chat – it’s free. It will also help you track visitor activity on your website (which is something else you really should be doing, too).
Brand Consistency – Your business card, your email address and signature, your website, your Facebook page, your logo, your letterhead – all of it should look the same. It seems obvious, but many smaller agencies overlook this simple step. If you like to tinker with graphic design and fonts, you can handle this yourself. If you don’t, take a look at Canva, a free graphic-design tool website with a drag-and-drop format and access to nearly limitless photographs, graphics, and fonts, enabling anyone to create a professional logo, banner, or letterhead. Establish a consistent look across all representations, so that customers easily recognize you. The Keebler Elf looks the same on every box of cookies, and when giant brands like Coca-Cola change their look, everyone notices because it is so ingrained. Make it easy for customers to remember you by maintaining brand consistency on all fronts.
Social Media – There’s no avoiding social media for your business. To be successful in today’s world, you must have a strong and effective social media presence. Map out a plan and use Google Analytics to help track its efficacy. It’s free, and it will tell you, among many other useful tidbits, thinks like which site pages get viewed and for how long. No longer can you just create a Facebook page and then leave it – you must continuously curate your presence across all platforms. Avoid an erratic, I’ll do it when I have time approach. Instead, schedule your efforts: a daily tweet, a weekly Facebook and LinkedIn post, and a monthly email, for instance, all linked to your terrific website. These are all things you can do yourself, or check out Hootsuite, which will help you do all this for free.
Video – People have increasingly shorter attention spans and they expect a video to satisfy their need for information. You still need great written website content, but you should begin adding video to your site as well as your social media platforms and maybe even YouTube. For longer videos, you may want to invest in a microphone or lighting, but for quick blurbs, the camera on your smartphone is probably sufficient. At first, this might seem time-consuming, between scripting your content and repeated takes to reach a professional look, but like any new skill, it will get easier as time goes on.
Identify yourself as an expert in your field – Most articles you read about anything include references to and quotes from experts, whether you are reading about pet care or carpentry or travel planning. Reporters and bloggers are always looking for “experts in the field” to interview for their articles and posts, and what better way to get some free publicity than to connect with them? Look into HARO (Help a Reporter Out) and Source Bottle; at both, you can sign up (at no cost) to be an expert in your field and score some free exposure (which you can then use to further promote and position yourself).
Any small business owner can spend an endless amount of money on marketing, but obviously, the trick is to bring in more business than you’re spending. And although there will be some opportunities that simply require a cash outlay, there are plenty that demands only your time. No one knows your agency like you, and no one is better qualified to promote it. The internet offers an enormous array of free marketing options – you just have to find them and use them.
At ASNOA, we are dedicated to enabling insurance professionals to realize their full business potential and we want to help you. Give us a call or send us an email today to see what we can do for you.