How We Focused on Digital and Rebuilt Our Commercial Business Niche by Niche

Niche and New Markets, Small Commercial Lines, Technology

POWERS Insurance & Risk Management is a niche-focused agency. This year, we had planned to focus on four different niches: private client, cannabis, construction and hospitality. Historically, hospitality was our largest niche for premium.

This year has been challenging, to say the least. However, POWERS, is on track to turn in a record for new business this year. By the end of Q3, we’d already exceeded our new business production for 2018 and for 2019.

How? Earlier this year, we scrapped our entire marketing and sales plan and rebuilt it niche by niche, focusing on digital.

Retention leads to growth

We knew that the hospitality industry would be struggling during COVID-19, so we switched our approach away from sales and toward simply helping our clients survive.

As soon as the COVID crisis hit, our agency’s President, JD Powers, started issuing a series of educational and informative emails to all of our hospitality clients. We also created unique content specifically for restaurant owners. JD is a restaurant owner himself, so the emails included advice about what he was doing with his restaurant. Our goal was simply to provide whatever education and information we could.

Those emails went over well with our hospitality customers. Some of our clients even forwarded them to friends within the industry, and we ended up writing three new franchise restaurant chains who reached out to us after seeing those emails.

That was a great example of how doing that added customer service touch can lead to growth. Just taking care of our clients helped us gain more in sales than any sort of marketing plan I could have created. The email series was not at all a sales effort, but it turned into quite a bit of production for us.

Your clients really are your best referral partners. Nobody’s going to talk your agency up more than a current client. No one will give you a better lead than a current client. And digital tools can help you easily strengthen your relationships with your clients by sending those personalized communication touches.

Evolving our approach

Before COVID, we had already been using digital marketing and advertising through Google and Facebook. We kept using those digital tools this year, but pivoted our content to be more educational. We also used our new customer relationship management (CRM) system to market to passive prospects.

Before this year, one of the more creative ways we were having success was by duplicating our marketing efforts at events our agents were attending. We would pin drop the event’s location and target people at that location with a brand-specific, event-specific Facebook ad.

This meant that event attendees were seeing our brand digitally and in-person. They would see our ad on their Facebook, then walk through the conference hall and see our booth. This created a lot of conversations for the producers attending the event. People would stop by the booth and say “Hey, we just saw your ad!”

I’m excited to continue to evolve that approach when we can do in-person events again. For now, we have our producers using LinkedIn to do niche networking and pipeline building. We’re also utilizing a lead generator to do some cold email marketing through our CRM.

Getting on board with digital

POWERS hasn’t always had digital tools in place. When I joined in 2017, the agency was a well-established traditional brick and mortar agency with virtually no digital presence.

Over the last three years, we’ve been on a journey to get the agency up to speed with technology and start on a pathway for the future.

The leadership team worked hard to get everyone on board with the changes and we’ve had enormous support from the Powers family ownership team … both emotional and financial support! We host quarterly staff meetings where associates are encouraged to ask any questions on their mind. We talk about the vision of the company and lay out our one-year, three-year and five-year plans during these meetings.

While even the best laid plans got thwarted this year, I’ve been proud of how our team has embraced digital. It allowed us to quickly transition to remote work and continue growing in spite of the challenges this year brought. It will be exciting to see what we can do as we continue to improve our agency’s technology.

Every agency appointed with Liberty Mutual and/or Safeco Insurance is responsible for ensuring that they are in compliance with all state and federal laws/regulations that govern their business, including, but not limited to, telemarketing, texting and commercial emails. If you have questions, please seek advice from your legal counsel.

Tim Davis

Director of Operations, POWERS Insurance & Risk Management
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