Insurance consultants agree technology and social media strategy are keys to 2010 success
American Agent & Broker Magazine recently published a roundtable style interview with six top insurance industry consultants in the December, Review and Outlook 2009-2010 issue. The article, “It’s the economy-and more…” offers the combined knowledge of Presidents and CEO’s from Colorado to Maine, asking questions about what’s important to agents in 2010.
While the economy remains a top concern, surviving and growing in the current economic client is the matter at hand. The reoccurring points to take away from this article involve integrating streamlined technology and social media into marketing plans and overall company culture, initiatives the Insurance Marketing HQ fully endorses.
Excerpts from the roundtable are included below:
What are the top 3 concerns of your clients, and has this changed from a year ago?
Demmie Hicks (President and CEO, DBH Consulting): A primary concern of agencies and brokerages is how to achieve organic growth in the recession.
Rick Gilman (APR, CMP, Communications Consultant): The economy and the impact of M&As on growth, which has not changed from last year. Another concern is the growth of viral marketing and staying on top of the technology, which was not really on the radar a year ago.
Howard E. Candage (President, H.E. Candage Inc.): The state of the agent community is a definite concern. Customers are directly acquiring insurance products through the Internet and direct marketing. Agencies face increasing expenses and diminishing marginal compensation and the capitalization width is thinning. Agents should change their market opportunities by using the Internet, especially with social networking.
What new technologies should today’s agents and brokers invest in?
Rob Lieblein (Managing Partner, Hales & Co.): The big trend that you are seeing in technology is that all major management system vendors have migrated their applications to the Web and are offering hosted solutions. ..We see the need for many benefit firms to upgrade their technology platforms to become more efficient during a period when their revenues and margins are being squeezed. We believe that technology is going to be one of the key.
Hicks: Because we don’t traffic in technology solutions, it’s hard to say which specific technologies we would recommend. But related to technology is social media, which portends major change for our industry. People are becoming increasingly used to receiving only the communication they want, when they want it. An agency or brokerage that isn’t using social media as a strategy by the end of 2010 will find itself running to catch up.
Chris Burand (President, Burand & Associates. LLC): Before investing in new technologies, agencies should invest in training their employees on their current technologies, some of which are extremely basic. These technologies are essential going forward and if the employees are not using them, these investments and any new investments will be wasted…Agencies going after large accounts need to invest in technology that will reduce cost and increase the profitability of their clients.
Gilman: Agents and brokers should be looking at social media to improve marketing and relationship building with clients and prospects. Agents and brokers also should invest in Real Time technologies to improve internal efficiencies and broaden CSR potential by focusing more on sales and service.
Candage: Agents and brokers should use the Internet to provide relationship marketing, communicating with their customers in multiple ways to their preference and using your Web presence more effectively. Agents should also communicate with their companies in a more uniform and effective way
What opportunities do you expect to see in 2010?
Gilman: Technology developments offer the greatest opportunities for everyone. Your agency can become anything you can imagine. Perhaps the greatest challenge is in the limitations of the insurance products our industry offers. The technology can free up the true potential and creativity of the insurance industry so finding the right match between the market and the flexibility of technology might prove to be the ultimate opportunity.
Thank you Mr. Gilman, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves.