In a competitive environment such as the insurance industry, agents and brokers are always looking for ways to increase their sales, profits and competitiveness. Whether you’re using new marketing tools like search engine optimization or pay-per-click advertising, or attending industry conferences, successful insurance sales professionals recognize that satisfaction with the situation is the number one factor in lower sales.
Some marketing professionals have found that niche marketing is a great way to boost their book of business. Niche market insurance, however, if not approached wisely, is not without its pitfalls. To be successful, it is important for sales professionals to know what to think and how to do it.
Niche market ideas
First, it’s important for a marketing professional to consider whether there is a niche market that makes sense to target. This can be determined by re-examining your marketing area and seeing if a particular market could be a target. For example, are there other industries in your area, such as healthcare, manufacturing or high-tech? If so, these markets may be viable. Or are there many organizations in the area? If so, pursuing Taft Hartley organizations and plans may make sense.
Beyond sector, do your current clients have many businesses in the same industry or group such as start-ups, small businesses, self-insured companies, minority-owned businesses, companies with young workers, seniors , multi-generational workers , etc.? Having a good idea of what the customer is looking for can be helpful in determining where niche marketing might be most successful.
Some things to consider are:
- Your expertise and experience in specific industries based on current clients or work experience prior to becoming an insurance sales professional.
- Businesses (and their industries) that friends or family members own or work for.
- Your interest in serving underserved markets (eg, rural businesses).
- The markets that the main competitors target and the amount of market share they hold in these sectors.
- The type of customers in industries or markets that have an interest in entertainment, social interests, etc. (eg sports product manufacturers, entertainment businesses, advertising agencies, clean energy companies, educational organizations, non-profits).
- The carriers you currently work with and the market segments they dominate.
Regardless of the niche market chosen, it is important to determine if there is potential for economic growth from targeting the niche market. Insurance carriers and underwriters can be helpful in providing information on fast-growing or stable markets and can also provide information on insurance products and benefits to employees on their market purchases.
Pitfalls to avoid, strategies to succeed
Along with the above-mentioned safety checks, there are some pitfalls to avoid when setting up an insurance market. A common mistake that many marketing professionals make when starting a niche market campaign is to fail to do their due diligence in researching and finding new information about the market itself and its current issues and trends, challenges, risks and exposures. Without that awareness, the confidence of the “expert” will not exist and marketing efforts will not be successful.
Positioning yourself as an expert serving a niche market, being a thought leader in insurance and employee benefits as it affects that market is important. Creating introductions and editorials for industry trade publications that serve a niche market and becoming a source of writers is a great strategy. Similarly, providing articles for these magazines on related topics, and writing blogs to post on an organization’s website or business and social media channels are important to get more exposure in the market.
Developing strategic partnerships with market organizations, business groups and other insurance and carrier professionals can be helpful in obtaining referrals and more opportunities. Giving talks at niche market conferences and presenting webinars add to the success of marketing insurance products.
Establishing a successful insurance strategy for a niche market can reap many benefits. It is easier and cheaper to sell to organizations in the same sector than to sell to different companies. Attending a few industry events that are targeted differently than many conferences in multiple sectors is also less expensive. If the niche market is chosen correctly, there is usually less competition and greater potential for long-term customer loyalty and retention. There are also benefits to be gained from fully immersing yourself in a particular market; developing an understanding of the challenges facing businesses and organizations in niche markets, and being able to overcome those challenges through marketing products and services.
By approaching a niche market program seriously and thoughtfully from the start, these benefits, increased revenue, and future success will follow. It is also possible to build on success in one niche market to establish a second niche market in a related sector for greater growth opportunities.
John Thornton is senior vice president, sales and marketing, Amalgamated Life. They can be contacted at [email protected].
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