The most effective marketing strategies are planned in advance and are created with the agency goals in mind. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to create a successful marketing plan for your agency.
What are your agency’s goals for 2021? Attract new clients? Sell more to existing clients? Encourage more referrals? Increase percentage of commercial policies sold?
Whatever your goals, creating a marketing plan will be essential in getting you there. Too often, agencies implement reactive marketing strategies without planning ahead.
Instead, make sure you are setup for a successful year by creating a marketing plan using these four steps.
Step 1: Gather Information
It may sound counterintuitive, but gathering information is the first step in the process - before setting your goals.
This will inform your goals and ensure that they are attainable.
Here are the key pieces of information you’ll want to collect for your marketing plan:
1. Talk to your team
Depending on the size of your agency and your role in the organization, the people on the team that you talk to will vary.
But the questions you want to ask are similar for agencies of any size:
- What are the top three things we want to achieve this year?
- What has worked well for us in the past?
- What mistakes have we made in the past that we don’t want to repeat?
- Are there any tactics we haven’t tried that we want to test this year to help achieve our goals?
While it may not be feasible to talk to everyone in the organization, you’ll want to talk to at least 3-4 teammates and be sure to get input from the head of the agency to ensure that you are working toward the same goals.
If you do not interact directly with clients regularly, be sure to talk to team members who do.
2. Competitive review
Make a list of the agencies that you compete against and do some research.
- Look at their websites and see how they talk about themselves and what they promote to clients and prospects.
- Look at what types of coverage they sell and note where there are differences in what they offer and what you offer.
- Check out their business listing on Google and see what their customers are saying about them.
- Look at their Facebook and LinkedIn pages and note what they share and how they interact with their network.
You can use Excel or Google Sheets for the competitive review so that you can easily compare your attributes with those of your competitors.
3. Agency review
Review your core strategic documents and ensure that they are up to date. This includes:
- Your agency mission, vision, and messaging
- Ideal customer personas
- SWOT analysis
Once you have the strategic documents up to date, look at the performance from the previous year.
Did you hit your goals? What tactics worked and what need to be changed or removed from this year’s strategy?
4. Industry trends
Now that you’ve looked at the competition and at your agency, take some time and look at what is going on in the industry.
How are some of the impacts of COVID going to play out in 2021?
Are there implications from the state of the economy, government regulations, etc. that you should consider this year?
Asking how you create a marketing plan without understanding what's going on in the industry first is like putting the cart before the horse.
5. Talk to your clients
Your clients are arguably the most valuable source of information for you in selling more policies to new and existing clients.
Ideally you will have conversations with existing and potential clients on a regular basis, even if your role is not a client facing one.
Ask them about their experience with your agency:
- What do they like about working with you?
- What would they like to see more of?
- What would they like you to do differently?
- Are there areas where you aren’t meeting their expectation
6. Audit your current marketing resources
Look at your agency’s website, social media, and the content you produce (newsletters, articles, brochures):
- Do they reflect the messages you want to convey?
- How do they compare to what your competitors are doing?
- Are they generating the anticipated response?
Come up with a list of things you can do to improve and prioritize them based on potential impact and the cost (in terms of both time and money) to make the changes.
If you need help generating ideas for social media posts, we put together a list of 15 social media post ideas you can start using today.
Step 2: Set your goals
Now that you have gathered information and reviewed it, you should have a good idea of how your agency performed in 2020 and what you want to focus on in 2021.
Start with a brainstorm of everything you would like to accomplish this year and then prioritize the list so that you have just 3-5 key goals for the year. Here are some examples:
- Grow total client base by 10% (new client growth)
- Increase average policies per client from 1.5 to 1.7 (growth in revenue per client)
- Increase website traffic by 20% (pipeline growth)
It can be tempting to create a laundry list of goals to achieve during the year, but your likelihood of achieving any of your goals is much lower the more goals you have.
Step 3: Create the marketing plan
Your marketing plan is the culmination of all of your prep work. It takes the information you gathered and your goals for the year and turns them into a roadmap.
There are many different ways to create a marketing plan and you can find plenty of templates to use by doing a Google search for “marketing plan template”.
Here's two we highly suggest if you want to save some time searching:
Structure the plan by goal. Start with the top goal for the year, provide a brief (2-3 sentence) description, and then list the tactics that will lead to your goal.
Here is an example of what this might look like:
Goal 1- grow total client base by 10%
We currently have 1500 active clients and are seeking to acquire 150 in 2021. 75% of new clients are referred from current clients and another 15% find us online.
Therefore, in 2021, we will focus on client communication and appreciation and on improving our search rankings on Google to achieve our client acquisition goals.
Tactic 1 – client communication/appreciation:
- Send handwritten cards to clients on their birthdays and during the holidays
- Using the net promoter score feedback, call all promoters at least once a year outside of renewal to check in and thank them for their business
- Publish testimonials on the agency website
Tactic 2 – improve search rankings:
- Publish 1 blog post a month about a topic related to insurance
- Request Google reviews from clients who provide testimonials (we can automate both)
- Review your Google My Business listing to ensure all information is accurate (quarterly)
- Ensure that all referral partners have accurate links to our website on their websites (and vice versa)
- Contribute an article to a local newspaper with link in byline
Step 4: Track and adjust
Your marketing plan is a living document. Creating a marketing plan is not something you do in January and then review again in December.
Review the plan regularly to see if you are progressing toward your goals or need to make adjustments.
You may determine that certain tactics are not delivering the desired results and either replace or adjust them accordingly. You may also add new tactics.
By gathering information, setting goals, creating a marketing plan and tracking your progress, you’ll set your agency up to achieve your key goals for 2021.