By Seth Kravitz
Nov. 8, 2010 -- You probably hear it all the time: Social media is the future of marketing. Maybe it’s gotten to the point where you feel like it’s just another business fad that will fade away like so many others have. Or maybe you think talking to what seems like a bunch of teenagers on Facebook or Twitter seems like a waste of time and won’t lead to you selling too many annuities.
And those are valid concerns. But what you need to know is that social media is here to stay, and if you use it the right way, you can get a lot of recognition for your brand, thereby gaining more sales.
So how do you turn your brand name recognition and participation in social networks into annuity sales and a larger book of business? Through referrals and recommendations. And you gain those online just like you do in person or on the phone: Offer great customer service, always be available to offer your assistance or to answer questions and ask your best customers to put in a good word for you with friends and relatives who may need an annuity.
The difference is that things can spread so much faster on the Web. Not every recommendation may turn into a sale, but you’ll be gaining lots of referrals if you do things right.
Plus, using social media gives you the opportunity to make a personal connection with clients that telephone calls or even personal business meetings may not allow. And if customers feel like they know you personally, they may be more likely to refer their friends to you. Here are some things you can get out of the whole process:
• You’ll gain trust. Customers will see you as a real person rather than simply a salesperson if you become a part of their community and engage them.
• Customers will be more loyal. If a client feels a real connection with you and your agency, they’re less likely to jump to a competitor who comes along offering a lower price or some gimmick.
• You can address negativity. Often, unsatisfied customers will turn to their social networks to vent their frustrations. Many businesses including Southwest Airlines, H&R Block, Dell and Zappos have used the power of Twitter and other social media tools to directly respond to customers with complaints and try to work out their concerns. You can use the same technique to make a frustrated customer into an advocate for your business, while gaining some good PR in the process.
• Your brand will grow. People will start to know your agency and your personal brand. With some effort, lots of people in your targeted customer base who had never heard of you before will get to know your agency as more and more people talk to you and about you.
Your clients will get something out of it, too:
• The feeling they are being heard. Customers want to know that businesses are attentive to them and their personal needs. Social networks give them the opportunity to make their needs known directly.
• Convenience. Rather than having to go to an office or pick up the phone and deal with an automated system, a customer can now go to the social media site that they most often use to have an exchange with service providers.
Conversations on social media sites, possibly about your own business, are taking place, whether you’re there or not. You’ll see the benefits if you participate in those conversations.
Seth Kravitz has spent the last seven years in the insurance marketing world as CEO of InsuranceAgents.com. Helping agents grow their book of business and cross-sell their products was the topic of his latest book, Mastering Insurance Marketing. Seth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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