As an independent insurance agency owner, producer, or agent, you know how important branding, marketing, and various lead generation best practices essential to client acquisition are. But it can seem nearly impossible to find time to accomplish these tasks in the midst of your already too-busy schedules.
In this webinar, ReferMe IQ™ CEO Peter Velardi and BrightFire Director of Operations Bob Whitis break down the how-tos of automating your client acquisition to receive more targeted clients and grow your agency’s revenue.
Then, they’ll dive into how your agency can benefit from the partnership between BrightFire and ReferMe IQ™, gaining access to easier, quicker, and more affordable solutions to accomplish these client acquisition automation strategies.
The outcomes discussed in this webinar include:
- The Current Marketing Environment – What Matters
- The 3 Keys To Successful Branding & Lead Generation
- Massive Leverage: Automate Your Digital Transformation
- Making It Easy – How BrightFire & ReferMe IQ™ Help You Grow
- Best Practices & Action Steps
Watch the Webinar:
Peter: Okay, it looks like we’ve got a lot of people rolling on in, so let’s get started. It’s just about that time. I’d like to welcome everyone to our workshop today on the how-tos of automating your client acquisition so you can truly have a killer 2021. I really appreciate you all taking the time to be here. Obviously, the outcome of this is we want to help you drive your client acquisition and your revenue in your agency, and do it in a more profitable way by doing it in less time and with less cost.
Peter: So if any of that is of interest to you, then you are definitely in the right place. My name is Peter Velardi, I am the CEO of ReferMe IQ™. We help agencies and insurance agents drive more sales by automating a super effective and easy-to-use referral process. This is my passion, and I’m delighted to be here with you today. With me is Bob Whitis, who is the director of operations with BrightFire, one of our new strategic partners who we team up with to basically help you drive more targeted business to your agency. So with that, Bob, you want to say a quick hi to the group?
Bob: Yeah. I appreciate that Peter. I really appreciate you featuring BrightFire today, and I’m really excited about our joint partnership that we’ve recently launched. I’m happy to share some details of what BrightFire provides and how that aligns with what ReferMe IQ provides, as well as how we can bring more of an automated way to generate leads and drive referrals for insurance agents today.
Peter: Perfect. That sounds great Bob, and I’m looking forward to working with you today on this. I’m happy to have everybody here with us. So, here are the outcomes of today. Number one is we want to ground you first in this current marketing environment and what matters about that to you. We all feel it; we all see it, but we’re going to kind of pull out of it what should be important to you now and what you can do about that. Second is we’ll get into the three keys to successful branding and lead generation. At the end of the day, that’s what this is about. This is about consistent branding, and at the end of the day, having the path that leads to excellence with lead generation. Then we’re going to talk a little bit about leverage and specifically automation in this world of digital transformation. And then we’re going to talk about how you make this all easy because it can be overwhelming to many people and many agencies.
Peter: And that is, how can BrightFire and ReferMe IQ™ today with this one, two punch that we built together, help you grow? How can we help you grow effectively and efficiently at the same time, given the leverage this provides? And then we’ll kind of talk about best practices and some action steps at the end. So that’s what’s on tap for the next probably half an hour or so. Some housekeeping real quick. One is that we’ve got everybody muted right now. At some point, we might change that, but it’s a very, very large crowd today as expected. So we will keep the audio noise down. You can ask questions throughout the workshop today. Simply go to the Q&A tab up above and we’ll accumulate those as we are talking.
Peter: So if anything comes up, just pop it in there, and then we will do a Q&A session at the end. That’s always one of the more enjoyable parts for us and valuable for you. We will have two polls today; please participate. We’ll do them quickly, but it’ll really give you a sense of the groupthink, and give us a sense of kind of how you feel right now about certain things. Keep in mind, everything will be completely confidential. So, don’t worry about speaking your mind. Sometimes we have tech hiccups doing this rarely, but it does happen. If that happens, please stay on. Usually, it comes right back, and if it’s really bad, just reboot and come back to see us. We are not on video usually for these because it affects the transmission, but I’ll pop on mine real quick.
Peter: Bob, perhaps you can pop on yours as well. And you can at least see our faces and know that we’re real humans who enjoy doing this and working together on this. So, that is the video, but we’ll shut this off, and we don’t have you on video because of the transmission and the recording quality that we hope to achieve. So, I’ll sign off on video, but you’ll have me the rest of the time. Please do stick around until the end for the Q&A, and we also have some free gifts for you as well. We’ll keep this fun, lively, and we should wrap this up in about half an hour. That is the story and that’s what we’re sticking to it. So let’s go from here; let’s talk about this crazy marketing environment that we’re in, and dialogue about this a bit.
Peter: So, what’s going on right now? Well, the first kind of headline is achieved by this alone, but certainly where you’re spending most of your time is whatever platform you use. We are truly in the Zoom world together. So how do you optimize that? What goes through all of our minds is all of the questions about how do we make this the most effective second communication to face-to-face communication? Do we use video? Do we not? What do we do? What do we say? Can we ask for referrals? Do we ask for referrals? How do we make this go well, where we add the value we want to, to who we’re talking to, but also achieve the outcomes that you want in your communication with your clients and with your agents. So there’s a lot of questions; there’s a lot of answers. You can certainly Google this and get lots of best practices, but this is in everybody’s mind.
Peter: The biggest impact of all of this is the impact to your marketing, without doing face-to-face events, lunch, and learns coffee meetings. With face-to-face one-on-one meetings, whether your interest is recruiting insurance agents to your agency or acquiring clients, or you’re an agent down here acquiring clients, there’s been a massive, I mean, a massive reduction of face-to-face referrals. So, what do you do about that? And as a result, most people we poll and talk to are having challenges getting what we call offensive referrals. Not offensive, but offensive, where you’re proactive in helping another human do what they inherently want to do, which is to refer you to another human, to make a difference in their life. This is a big dilemma for insurance agencies right now. How do you get your value prop in front of people where you can communicate it, where you can ask questions and listen, where you can form that connection that comes face to face so that you not only are clearly referrable, but you can create a path to generate the referrals as well?
Peter: That is a big challenge. And while all that’s going on, if that’s not enough, there’s tons of noise out there. Tons of noise politically, COVID, there’s pain, there’s noise in terms of what’s going on with the environment. All of this you see in social media; you certainly see it lately with investing. There’s all this noise out there, and there are so many platforms right now for people to communicate what they want to communicate. How do you get your brand voice out there? How do you make sure it’s consistent? How do you optimize your website and how do you make sure that you are heard? So what everybody’s struggling to do in this new world is to get heard, to get impact, and to get engagement; and it’s harder today than ever. Making sure you create these organic natural paths to leverage technology to do that is more important than ever.
Peter: Fourth, while that’s going on, again, if that’s not enough, there’s all this fear and emotions around health concerns and financial concerns. If you’re a restaurant, whether you’re going to have a restaurant. But within that, there’s this growing loneliness and need for connection because people are at home and doing things like this like I am from my home office, there’s this massive need for connection. So a big part of your to-do in terms of marketing, as you move forward is how do you use technology to actually connect with people? How do you create messaging? How do you create brand consistency? How do you create authentic personal messages so that people feel like you’re talking to them one-to-one, authentically, and personally? How do you create that path? How do you create more of a sense of being part of something bigger than themselves in this new age, when everybody’s holed up in their homes? That is a big, big deal.
Peter: Really, all these spells that we’re in this world of what we call digital transformation. You see it in terms of vlogs, instead of blogs, this whole life culture as opposed to record. It’s all about how do we stay authentic? A lot of it’s about communication messaging, but also using technology to deliver these communications in unique ways. So, those are kind of my thoughts on the environment. Bob, I know you have some, but before we get into yours, the last thing that I’ll say is, how does this all roll up to what is so critical to building your agencies and your insurance business? And that is the three big vital statistics. At the end of the day, everything you do, everything we do, everything Bob does, rolls up to three things.
Peter: First is activity. How do we drive more at-bats with target clients or target agents if your game is to recruit? The second stat is then the conversion of that to something meaningful, whether it’s a sale or a new agent in your organization. Then third is your case size or a sale size, or the size of the check. At the end of the day, your revenue is a function of those three things. And what we found is that this marketing environment, in some cases has had a devastating impact on one to three of those vital stats. So what do you do about that to make sure you continue to grow and that you can grow with the margins that you need at the lowest cost? Those are kind of my thoughts on what’s happening. Bob, I know you have yours. What are your thoughts compared to what I’ve said and talk a bit about your world, which is all about this consistent presence digitally and with their websites?
Bob: Sure. Thanks for sharing all of that, Peter, and you’re spot on with all of your comments there. It definitely has been a transformation to Zoom world, as you put it here in 2020 and 2021. Things are moving really fast in 2021, and it’s pretty imperative that we keep up and adapt as things continue to change in the digital landscape, as well as the physical landscape. We’ve had a number of questions come to us that really run the gamut at BrightFire as agencies try to change and adapt, and look for a path forward to keep driving those three vital statistics that you mentioned. From our standpoint, one thing that’s more important than ever before for insurance agencies is to have that strong digital presence. Definitely, you want to keep that presence up to date as much as you can, especially when it comes to your current COVID-19 protocol. Letting people know how they can interact with you, whether that’s digitally, in person, or any accommodations that you’re making to keep them safe if you’re meeting in person.
Bob: Letting them know that you’re still there. We’ve even had questions along the lines of a Google My Business; should I mark my business as permanently closed? That’s definitely something you want to stay away from. But there are tons of questions out there as people are trying to make updates to their listings and how they’re seen in Google or on social media, as well as communicating that they’re still there, and that they’re still in business. They’re as happy as ever to connect with you, especially in this difficult time. Referrals and things like that that typically would happen face-to-face are more difficult. I’m really excited to share how the solutions that ReferMe IQ™ and BrightFire offer can help bridge that gap and just provide a gateway for lead generation and referral automation.
Peter: Yeah. I think that makes a lot of sense, Bob. Bob, when you look at websites of agencies before they come to you, what jumps out at you as kind of the big red flags in terms of not being current or not having the correct protocols built-in? Is there anything that you have in your mind that you see consistently of what you see that folks should pay attention to?
Bob: There are definitely a few big factors that can really turn somebody off quickly if they’re coming to you for the first time. One of those is an SSL certificate. If they’re in their web browser and they don’t see that secure lock in the top left, that can definitely be a concern for a lot of people, especially if your website’s asking for sensitive or quasi-sensitive personal information. Additionally, it’s important that your website is mobile-friendly. If you’ve had a website that was built years back and hasn’t really been kept up-to-date, definitely you want to pull that up on your smartphone and see what that user experience is going to be like or on a tablet to make sure that folks are able to navigate your website and get the information they need effectively on mobile. The third is looking active, if you don’t have anything on your website that’s been posted recently; if there’s nothing about COVID-19 there.
Bob: Who knows how seriously you’re taking this, or if you’re still around. A lot of businesses unfortunately have suffered some financial hardships. I know in the world of insurance, we maybe haven’t been as affected as much as some other industries, which is great. But that’s always going to be a question in the consumer’s mind. Is this business still here? I want to make sure that they’re there before I send them my information or take the time to put together an appointment or drop there in person. So making sure that your contact information, your hours, anything that has to do with COVID-19 protocol, is up to date and easy to find on your website, Google, social media. Those are all really key things that you can do to connect with people in this time.
Peter: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense, Bob. Thanks for sharing that. So, if I’m in your shoes, I’m thinking, okay, what does this mean to me, right? What’s the impact of all this on me? How is this impacting my activity? Is it up, down, the same? Is it quality, targeted type of activity or do you find yourself spinning your wheels? How’s my conversion being impacted when you do a Zoom meeting versus a face-to-face? I hear reports that conversions are going down. In some cases where people pay attention to optimizing these meetings, they’ve actually gone up, and we can talk about that in the Q&A as well. And then, how’s my sales size? So you have the three vitals there to begin to reflect and say, how’s this really impacting me? Because if you add those up – if you added up five appointments per week times 80% conversion, times sale size of 3,000, that will tell you what your revenue is.
Peter: And then, your task whether you run the agency or you’re a producer – and I have led big organizations of 8,000 to 10,000 financial advisors and agents – when you break things down in this way, it really helps you get clear on of those three, what’s the most improvable. What should you pay attention and put pressure on in terms of tasks and sub-tasks to drive that North? How can you leverage technology to do that? Because at the end of the day, it’s about how am I doing with recruiting agents? How am I doing with having the most production per agent in my organization? How can both of those impact retention, and then how do all of those most importantly impact client success? Knowing and being in all of your shoes for years and years, I can tell you, these are the things that were on my mind.
Peter: I think the current, well, I know the current marketing environment, impacts all of these. With that, we’ve got your first poll that I’m going to launch. This poll is really about the impact of all of these – and you can see the list. Your task is simply, and you can choose more than one – you can choose them all. Just take a second everybody, weigh-in, and just click on where you see the impacts of this. Do you see, is your revenue up, down, or about the same in terms of your business? What impact is this having on the vitals? Just kind of weigh-in there, and we’ll take about a minute to do this. Then, I’ll kind of share what themes came out of it when I see it. You’re doing great; so far, we’ve got a pretty good weigh-in from the group. I’d like to see more, so just keep clicking away. Excellent. Give it another 10 seconds. We’ll give each of these a minute.
Peter: Very, very good. Alright, I’m going to end the poll here, and here are the results. So, the big winner is 32% of you said activity is down. That was your top choice, which is interesting and really not surprising. That’s generally true of all times of change. When I look back at my leadership career, when I led organizations during any time of massive change and or fear, this was the first domino to fall and the most important one to get back up. So that was one. Number two was, and actually, this just changed. This is actually one that’s just flipped over with one more result, but actually, new client acquisition being down is the top one. So new client acquisition down and that probably relates to number two: activity is down. You’re clearly in the right place because this is a marketing solution.
Peter: We need to help you and you to help yourself work out, “How do I get more quality marketing activity up to acquire more new clients,” which is the lifeblood of growth for your business. The third was no impact on your business. And I hear this a lot too, so 25% of you said that it’s kind of business as usual, which is good for some but not great if you’re in a growth space or want to grow. 23% of you had a positive impact; that your agency is up, and that’s great as well. Not really surprising, but the big headline is that some of you are growing; congratulations, keep doing that. A very large percentage of you are not growing or static. And it sounds like the primary cause is lead generation activity and client acquisition. So those would be my observations. Bob, any surprises there for you as you heard that?
Bob: No, I mean, every agency is different. As I said before, we’ve heard from all different types of agencies since all of this has started. I’m not surprised at all to see some people doing better, some people having some difficulty. But again, as Peter said, you guys are in the right place. We’re definitely here to help out with lead generation or digital presence, automating referrals and increasing that activity. Making sure you’re visible across the web.
Peter: Beautiful. Yep. I agree a hundred percent. Bob, while you’re on, I think I’m going to hand it over to you because you are the branding expert. Maybe just talk about, in your mind, what you view to be the real keys to branding and lead generation. Then I can pile on from there.
Bob: Sure. Thanks, Peter. So first, you really want to make sure that you’re present, consistent, and professional. Your digital presence needs to stay active, and you need to stay engaged with your audience. You always want to provide a clear call to action or next step for your customers and prospects to connect with you. As an example, in the screenshots over here on the right, we have a particular agency. You can kind of see what their presence looks like when you’re on their website, Facebook, LinkedIn, and looking for them in Google. You want to make sure that you’ve got that professional consistently branded presence, no matter where a consumer goes to look for you. As someone’s doing research, they may find your website first, they may check social media, they may be looking for you on Yelp, Google Maps, or that type of thing to make sure that you’re a reputable business.
Bob: Again, in the world of insurance, they’re sharing personal information. You’re insuring their risks, which is something very important. They want to make sure that you’re trustworthy. The more consistent and professional and present you are, that’s going to build those trust factors, make them more likely to reach out to you, and make them more likely to respond to you. If you’re replying to a quote request or trying to close that policy, and there may be some competition from the captive carriers, the online instant gratification tools they can use to bind a policy in a matter of minutes, all of that.
Bob: So, your digital presence needs to be welcoming. Definitely, it needs to be trustworthy, in order for you to grow lead generation and referrals. One thing to keep in mind, as busy agency owners, we probably don’t have time to keep up with every aspect of your digital presence on your own. Not just making updates to them to keep all the information up to date, but also all of the evolving trends that take place in Google and social media, best practices that change, how do you rank effectively in Google, making sure that your website is set up, it’s secure – all that type of stuff – can take a lot of time.
Bob: With BrightFire, we are really trying to take the burden off of the agency and help them focus on selling and referring. Digital marketing is a rapidly evolving area that requires a lot of experience and energy to stay up-to-date. Then, you’ve got to comprehend how that applies to your agency. A lot of times we’ll get questions from agency owners or requests from agency owners, I should say, basically saying, “Hey, I would like you guys to go and do X.” We take a step back and look at that request, and you can kind of see where they’re going, but maybe the route that they’re taking to get there isn’t the best. So we’ll have a conversation with them to reconfirm, what is it that you’re trying to achieve here? And we may be able to provide some recommendations on a better way to get there than what they necessarily had in mind.
Bob: Like I said before, every agency is different. There may be a different way to approach different problems based on your particular situation. Then, as I said, adopting new best practices takes time, and when you fall behind on that, your lead generation is going to suffer. Your referral generation is also going to suffer. So, it’s really important to keep up with everything that’s going on and to have professionals that can guide you along the way. Another thing to keep in mind is that SEO is not just about your website anymore. Your online reputation, as well as your presence on all of these other digital networks, really have become major factors in how Google ranks you. So, making sure that you have a presence on Facebook, you have a presence on Yelp, your Google My Business listing is properly optimized. All of these things are becoming more and more important these days. Then finally, that cohesive digital marketing strategy can really result in a steady stream of leads from new prospects and existing policyholders through referrals.
Peter: Yeah, you made so many great points, Bob. The word that comes to mind to me is alignment, and word two is automation, and not in that order. So, from your perspective, a big part of all this is to get the foundational elements set up. If you’re going to build a house, you want to get the foundation set up – first floor, and then you start to build up. Part one is how do you get systems in place where you’ve got forms of automation to actually present your brand, and present who you are? Word two is alignment, which is once you have that set up and you’ve got an automated system to generate a consistent flow of high quality leads to your world – whether those leads are agents to grow your organization or new clients – then it’s about what do I do to then leverage that to make sure I’ve got alignment in all my platforms across the board?
Peter: The messaging, your email campaigns, your website, your social, all of that to somebody who looks independent to you should look completely aligned and clear because it is the sea of sameness out there. I’m sure you know that; insurance really is a commodity. It’s you, your brand, your unique value prop, and the delivery of that, that makes all the difference in the world. So I couldn’t agree with you more, Bob. Did you want to add something, Bob?
Bob: I was just going to say those are all great points. I appreciate that.
Peter: Yeah. You bet. Thanks. Then it comes down to – if you’ve got your presence and think of the world this way – this is the way Bob and I think of the world, and we talk about it a lot with our clients and mutual clients. There are two ponds; I’m a big fisherman. I love to fly fish, I fly fish for striped bass at our lake house. I love tarpon, I love all that. Don’t get me talking about that, because we’ll spend the rest of the time on that. But, think about you and growing your business and your agency. Think about how you should fish in two ponds. One is kind of the stranger pond and that’s the marketplace, and the second is the relationship pod and that’s all the relationships you have, like your clients, like your network, like your staff. You should fish in both of those.
Peter: And we’ve talked about kind of the why behind making sure you’ve got the presence in your website and SEO all completely wired with a form of automation. But let’s talk about the referral, kind of the why behind, why should you pay attention and prioritize automating your referral system? The first point is that this is by far your most leverageable task and system to implement. If you have your people and if you get greater referrals, proactive referrals, not just the ones that react that will happen no matter what you do.
Peter: There’s nothing else that you can do that will drive all three of those vitals, faster, stronger, and at less cost than getting greater referrals. 400% higher conversion than any lead source. So, this is something you want to pay attention to, everybody wants to. We ask crowds of people, do you want 100% high-growth, referral-based business? The answer is across the board, always yes. But the other thing is that there are basically five things you need to do to make that happen. You’ve got to ask people consistently, incentivize them, or motivate them to refer you. Then you’ve got to deal with this awkward thing where they somehow need to properly recommend you.
Peter: If you do all that right, you’ve got a real referral. But when you contact the referral, often it feels like a cold call because the referral is not interested in your value prop before you contact them, and that’s required. If you do all this right with the right form of automation, you change the game from chasing a bunch of referrals or hoping you convert them to having referrals in your inbox, requesting contact from you. The problem is, given human nature, lack of skills, lack of emotional competence. This exchange during a face-to-face interview is awkward enough, and it’s almost non-existent in the Zoom world. Because most people won’t do all of that, you need a system. You need some automation to do some of the heavy lifting for you. The other reason to automate anything is because if you want a sustainable business that’s worth more, you don’t want the system depending 100% on humans.
Peter: You want systems to be driving results, and you want things to operate no matter how you happen to feel in a given day. If you want to ask for referrals, if you don’t want to ask for referrals, you can go on our website, ReferMe IQ™. We’ve got a homepage video that shows this Zoom interaction of a woman who wants to ask for referrals but does not. And I bet if you watch that, you’ll see yourself in there at times. I know I would in the past as well. We also want to give people what they want; consumers want to refer. We know that 83% of consumers would refer if asked, and it’s the number one way consumers want to learn about you and the number one way career agents want to learn about your career. So let’s give people what they want. Let’s create that path to do that. Let’s automate it.
Peter: There are too many lives and careers on the line as well. That’s very, very important. There is your career and your life, there are the lives of your clients, there’s all of that. And when you automate systems to generate referrals, you’re also becoming more referrable. This is because you become referrable to people when you have more contact, when you add more value, and when you practice the four values of being referrable, which is to show up on time, do what you say, finish what you start, and say please and thank you. Do those things. You need a system to do that because we don’t always recall to send thank you notes. We don’t always recall to add value, so we need to automate those things.
Peter: Your second poll that I’d love some participation in is this: what are your top lead generation challenges? Let me launch this one. Same deal, just jump in like you did before and tick off anything that’s relevant to you. When you think about your lead generation challenges, it sounds like leads are down, activity is down, and appointments are down. Just jump in here real quick and click on any of these that are relevant to you, and I’ll share the results so you’ll know the groupthink. Then, we can kind of scope out the challenges and give you some ideas of how you could solve them.
Peter: Nice. Even faster this time. What a group. Excellent engagement; keep going. I’ve got about 50 of you in, and about 10 seconds left, so keep jumping in. Oh, you’re going to love the answer to this one. 10 more seconds. Five, keep jumping in. Alright, perfect. We’re going to end here. Two things really jump out: the lowest-ranked item, which probably is no surprise to anybody, and Bob, not a surprise to us, is that less than 2% of you said that you had too many high-quality, high-conversion leads. No big surprise there. Conversely, 63% of you by far said the number one concern with your leads is not enough quality leads.
Peter: This hasn’t changed for me for probably 35+ years. This is always the causal piece that drives a business, having a consistent flow of high-conversion, high-quality targeted leads. So, that’s the top thing. The second is that when you do get leads, the cost of your leads is too high with too low conversion – that’s 44% of you. And then it kind of goes down to lead services in the past are not effective, referrals are down given face-to-face interviews, those are kind of tied. What you’re saying, like most agencies, is that you have a lead problem and you’re here and taking the time out of your day to help solve it. That’s what we want to solve. So, those are the results. Bob, any thoughts or surprises there for you? I think it’s pretty consistent with what we’ve talked about, right?
Bob: Yeah. Definitely not surprised by the results. I really appreciate everybody participating there. That’s something that we hear a lot, as insurance agencies, you’re no simple business. There’s a lot that goes into running an agency, whether it’s the sales aspect of it, the lead generation aspect of it, the legal aspect of it, underwriting claims, you name it. A lot of service providers out there that provide marketing solutions or lead generation solutions may not understand your business to the level that Peter’s business or BrightFire does.
Bob: That’s one of the key things that we like to talk about when we’re able to connect with agency owners; we’re in this industry vertical, and we’ve been here for a long time. We understand your business model to a great degree. And we’re always looking for ways that we can help people out. Sometimes even just having someone in your corner that has that industry experience can be a big difference. Sometimes you may be working with a local marketing company, and you may feel like you’re paying for a little bit of their education into the insurance industry. So, I’m not surprised at all by those results.
Peter: Yeah. You make some great points. I also want to point out, on top of what you said, that we recognize on this workshop today, that there are some of you that are not agency owners. You might be producers. You might be in the insurance business in other ways, and all of this applies to you. In fact, in some ways, if you’re independent, what you’re seeking is to make sure that you hook your wagon onto an organization, whether it’s an IMO, an FMO, or an agency that can provide that support. A good clue to you agency owners is that the top thing by far that agents are coming to you for is client acquisition support. It is the top value deliverable by an agency or any organization. So making sure you’ve got systems in place that can deliver that will also help you attract more agents.
Peter: For those of you on the producer end, if you’re at this alone, it can be very hard and lonely. You want to make sure you hook your wagon onto an organization that can provide that, but put some base systems in place. So you look like a larger organization than you are until that happens. That’s a really big, big deal. Given that, I think we’ve scoped this out well. So Bob, maybe you can talk a little bit about BrightFire and how you can help agencies and producers in part solve this problem.
Bob: Sure. Thanks, Peter. A few things to know about BrightFire that differentiate us from a lot of other companies you may have worked with in the past, or see out there as you’re looking for solutions to these problems, is that we’ve been around since 2000, so we’ve got over 20 years of experience. We have partnerships with various insurance carriers, associations, and technology providers like ReferMe IQ™. We also currently work with over 2,000 independent insurance agencies nationwide. I think there are maybe two states we don’t have an agency in yet, but we have a lot of experience regardless of the locale or particular situation. We’ve probably heard a similar story before help somebody in a similar situation as you find yourself in today. We provide five different digital marketing services that you can mix and match as you see fit. And you can change that mix anytime you need to.
Bob: On the right-hand side of the screen, we have our line of services here. The Insurance Agency Website. The Reviews & Reputation Management, to help you generate reviews and keep up with responding to your reviews. Local Listings Management, to make sure that your contact information is present and accurate on all these different listings that your agency has across the web, or that you may be lacking some of those listings and need them created. We also offer Pay-Per-Click Advertising. If you’re looking to do some paid advertising at Google, Bing, or Facebook, we can help you out with that. Then, we also provide a Social Media Marketing service that helps you stay top of mind and grow followers on social media, as far as your policyholders go. It also helps you engage with them and draw referrals, which is something that ReferMe IQ™ also helps you out with a lot.
Bob: A couple of other things to keep in mind about BrightFire is that we don’t have any one-time setup fees or contracts. Our insurance agency website is $100 a month and built by people that know the insurance industry, versus if you were going to somebody local or maybe another company that focuses on a website creation, where you’re in an arrangement that you make a down payment and then a final payment once the site is done. All of these are set up as subscriptions, so we’re there to support you, and answer your questions. We really want to take the burden off of you and allow you to sell. Each of these services typically requires about 30 minutes to an hour of your time to get up and running over the course of a week or two. We’re really trying to keep your involvement as minimal as possible, making sure that we understand your goals and that we’re delivering something that helps you with consistent branding and putting your digital presence further.
Bob: We also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee for all of these services. Also, our websites are custom-designed, not templates. So again, for that $100 a month, you’re not getting a template that’s thrown together. You’re going to have a phone call with the designers and web development experts. They’re going to find out what your design preferences are, find out what your current pain points are, your challenges, and put something together that really captures your brand and your agency uniquely. Another thing that’s different about BrightFire than a lot of other digital marketing providers you may have looked at is that our websites come with a suite of insurance sales tools.
Bob: There are a number of things that we provide included at no additional cost, built specifically for insurance agencies that help producers connect with prospects and current policyholders. Whether it’s on the support side, cutting down the amount of time that your CSR spend answering pretty basic questions, or if it’s on the sales side, we’re really trying to allow you to leverage your time as much as possible. So with that, I’ll hand it back over to Peter to talk about ReferMe IQ™ a little bit.
Peter: Terrific. And one of the things you should know as a group is that we only partner with organizations that share our big three core values. One is the deliverable needs to work, and I know BrightFire works and ours does as well. Second is they need to have expertise around our audience. They’ve got great expertise. We have great expertise. I have lots of value-added expertise, just given my experience. Then the third is their support behind it and that we make it easy to use. You make it easy to use as well. So although those things speak to us as well as BrightFire, BrightFire is who you want to go to to make sure your setup is properly structured to fish in the stranger pond and have a consistent brand. We’re the organization you look at when it comes to 100% relationships, we’re the game in town to completely automate that and to solve the referral problem at the cause of the problem.
Peter: Not that you don’t want to get referrals, not that you don’t have something to say, but rarely can we all drive those key behaviors. So our software actually drives those key behaviors we talked about. It’ll ask all your relationships for referrals in ways they prefer in the comfort of their home or office through text or through email. It will do all the pieces along the line to create this actionable path. At the end of the day, 80% of the heavy lifting that is done that you want to do, but probably won’t do or don’t have the skill to do, our software takes care of for you. It drives all of those behaviors. It’s completely automated like Bob’s system. It takes about an hour to set this whole thing up. Once you set it up, it’s entirely set and forget. It looks like my technology wants to move forward.
Peter: It’s easy, and we’ve generated thousands and thousands and thousands of contact requests from referrals for our clients from existing clients, new referral clients, and your network. It’s a hundred percent based on relationships where you have the trust. We make it very, very easy. A key part of what we do is you all have done marketing in the past or recruiting in the past, and our system can leverage those investments, but convert them. And we track everything. We’re the only system out there that gets at the cause and tracks both all the results of every layer of the journey to a successful referral conversion but also tracks the behaviors along the way. So you know who’s engaged and who’s not engaged, and it is surprisingly affordable. You can see the packages from $69 a month to $300 a month, depending on what you want.
Peter: Most people who run or own an agency select the Managed Service that we set up everything for them. We play marketing assistant to you with ReferMe IQ™, and we do a lot of enterprise deals, custom deals, and custom licensing to really tailor this and completely integrate all of this with your technology. It’s not expensive. Most of you are spending this amount on coffee and other things that don’t work. Part of why I built this platform five years ago was because of my frustration with financial advisors and agents coming to me in all sorts of ways saying that they just don’t see results from other lead providers, to which I say, what is the best lead? And the best lead by far is referrals. So let’s build a system to get at the cause. Let’s equip you with what you need as an agency owner, or a producer, to drive the key results you want way easier and less expensively than what you’re doing currently to drive your revenue North.
Peter: So that’s a bit about us. And then you might ask, well, which one should I do? Our answer, of course, is to do both because, at the end of the day, this will give you all sorts of things. By doing ReferMe IQ™ and BrightFire, you completely build that foundation of a house, so that you are now ready to scale in a larger way, your organization, to outreach, to policyholders, market outreach, to fish in both of these ponds. Why not fish in both of these ponds if your goal is to catch as many fish as you can and have variety? Fish in both these ponds, not one versus the other.
Peter: One will leverage the other. The leads generated from BrightFire by implementing their platform can also fall into the ReferMe IQ™ platform to then be dripped on to leverage those referrals, and vice versa. This is your best shot to really grow your agency in the three drivers: recruiting, helping them to become productive, acquire more clients and retain them. And it’ll ensure your presence is active. So those are my thoughts. Bob, talk a little bit more about why both of us together is useful to people that are participating today in terms of your role as well.
Bob: Sure. Thanks Peter. Those are all great points. And like you said, whether these leads that are being generated are coming from ReferMe IQ™ or from BrightFire, there’s going to be future interactions with those clients that you would benefit from either of our services. If somebody has been referred to you (you want to be referrable, as Peter mentioned earlier), that’s going to be making sure that your digital presence is active, consistent, and professional to build that trust and encourage referrals. Secondly, our services will help you adopt a solid long-term SEO strategy to gradually grow organic lead generation online. A lot of agency owners may have a few misconceptions about how Google works or how SEO works, especially when it comes to the timeline for that. A lot of times agency owners or producers want that lead generation to be almost instant.
Bob: Unfortunately, in the world of SEO, that’s usually not the way it works. It takes time, and it takes energy to set up all of these different things and align them properly. And then it takes Google time to notice all of this work that’s been put in and start to move you up in the ranking. So we always recommend not to disregard SEO, and the earlier you get started, the better. On top of that, you can use ads in Google, Bing, or Facebook to augment your lead generation from SEO and referrals as needed. If you have a team of producers and you want to make sure that they’re staying very productive, then you can use those paid ads to kind of augment that lead generation from the other channels to make sure that those folks stay busy. Then, with some of our other services, like Reviews & Reputation Management, that can really help with retention of those policyholders.
Bob: We provide things like Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys. You’ve probably received one of these in the email, basically to rank the business from one to 10 based on whether or not you would refer them to a friend. So again, we’re talking about referrals, and it’s really interesting to see the feedback. The agency owners get it when they do a Net Promoter Score survey. They’re able to identify who scores them highly and is probably more likely to be receptive to referring their friends and family to their agency. They get to see people that have rated them poorly and maybe get some text feedback about their experience, so they can follow up with them and hopefully save that policyholder from going somewhere else the next time it’s time to renew their policy. So in each of our services, there’s definitely alignment with the goal that ReferMe IQ™ is trying to help everyone achieve.
Peter: Wonderful. Thank you, Bob. I don’t know why my screen keeps jumping around, apologies for that. We’re starting to get some questions in. Let’s wrap up and talk about some next steps. We’ll answer some questions and get you back to applying some of these ideas to grow your agency. As your next steps, we’d encourage you to first go to our websites. There’s lots of information there. The best way to get to know each of our organizations and our solutions would be to sign up for a demo. On our site, you can go to the top NAB in there and just click on the button “Sign Up.” It takes about 20 minutes. We get to know you, you get to know us, we show you how this actually works and talk about what the best solution for you would be. Bob, I assume you’ve got the same process within your organization.
Bob: Yeah. It would be great if you go check out our website. We’ve actually set up a portal specifically for people who are coming to us from ReferMe IQ™. So if you go to brightfire.com/refermeiq, you can see a little bit about our partnership there. I’ve seen some questions come in about the individual price points for our different offerings. One thing about BrightFire: we’re very upfront about our pricing. If you go to our website or that ReferMe IQ™ URL, you can clearly find the pricing in the navigation menu to look at that breakdown. We’d be happy to connect with you. Similar to the demo that Peter spoke about, you can do a live chat, give us a call, or schedule a call with a sales professional at BrightFire. We’d love to talk to you about your goals, where you’re at today, and help you kind of decide which of our solutions would be a good fit for you now. As well as what that path forward looks like for your individual situation.
Peter: Perfect. You can also get lots of free stuff. I know on our site, just go to the tools or resources. There’s lots of educational content, everything on knowledge to recruit, knowledge around client acquisition, vital statistics, etc. I think we have close to a thousand different types of deliverables because we lead through education. Feel free to access any of the stuff. There are all sorts of white papers that you can download on parts of what we’ve done today as well. With us, you go to refermeiq.com. When you’re ready to sign up for one of our services, make sure you use the code brightfire. When you do that, there are always two ways to pay with us: monthly or annual. You can see that on the pricing page, also transparently, on the top nav. But when you go to sign up for one of them, use brightfire as the code, and that will give you a really good discount of 10% off the monthly and 15% off the annual.
Peter: That’s with the discount you already get for paying annual, which is the way I’d say 80% of the people pay. That will give you a lot of money back in your pocket. When you’re ready, we have some people that leave broadcasts like this, they go on, look at some of our content, and sign up right away. We have others that want to do a demo, others play on our site, whatever is your timing in terms of how you act. Obviously, the sooner you act, the faster you’ll be acquiring more referral clients. And that goes the same with Bob and BrightFire. But use that code, and for any of you that sign up with Bob, he’s throwing in a $50 discount on anything you do because of their association and taking the time to attend workshops like this, correct?
Bob: Yeah, that’s right. As a token of our appreciation for anybody that’s referred to us through our relationship with ReferMe IQ™, just let us know that you found us that way, and we’ll give you your $50 account credit. Similarly to the free educational items that Peter was talking about that are available on his website, are also available on BrightFire’s website. Definitely check out our blog for information about different partnerships that we have and a deeper dive into some of the features that we offer. We also have a page for free webinars where you can sign up for webinars similar to this that would just be specific to BrightFire individually. But you can also access our recorded past webinars. So if you’re looking for a really deep, detailed dive into one of our services, definitely check out our webinars page. There may be an existing recorded webinar that you can just sign up for and watch them on demand.
Bob: Additionally, we do have a way for you to get an instant quote. I’m sure as insurance agents, you’re all familiar with that terminology. So if you go on brightfire.com, there’ll be an instant quote button in the top right. If you click into that, it’s going to ask you five quick questions. You can probably complete it in less than a minute, and it’s going to tell you which of our services we would recommend for you based on your answers, as well as why and which services we would not recommend for your agency based on your answers. It’s really a great way for you to very quickly get an indication of maybe where you want to spend your time talking to a BrightFire expert about our solutions to kind of direct your time and energy along those lines. Feel free to reach out to us. I really appreciate Peter putting this together for us today, and I’m excited to see what comes out of the conversations from those of you in attendance.
Peter: Cool. Thanks Bob. Let’s address a few questions, and the ones we don’t get to, we’ll get back to you in writing. So no worry. Bob, I think you can see my dashboard, correct?
Bob: That’s correct.
Peter: Great. Let’s start. Jaron had one: “What’s the strategy around recruiting team members?” Both of our platforms can assist with that. BrightFire can assist by having a clear message in terms of career opportunities and the path that you take within your organization to drive it. At ReferMe IQ™, we’ve got a specialized platform with templates, etc., already built-in here. When you sign up for any of these things with us, whether it’s Pro or Pro Plus or any that we do, you can check one of the boxes – we’ve got customized content for every industry and market.
Peter: If you want to use our platform with one license with us, you can use it both to recruit agents and acquire clients. If you also produce when you run your agency – and most do – we’ve got that completely wired for sound. That’s really what I spent my career doing. So there are lots of best practices built into our software, into our templates, and our messages, but the strategy specifically to recruiting team members is to get really clear on your value prop, get really clear on who is your ideal candidate, and then have a good marketing plan to get at-bats with those people. And our platform can help you with all of that as well. Bob, I assume that your platform can assist through the branding effort to support that as well, correct?
Bob: That’s exactly right. If you’re out there recruiting, producers are going to want to spend their energy working for an agency that’s going to have that steady flow of lead generation. If they see that you have an act of digital presence that’s consistent, that’s definitely going to be something that checks the box for them and is going to lead them to want to partner with you more. Additionally, we can create forms for submitting resumes, a careers page on your website, etc. If you use a third-party recruiting tool that has a jobs page that comes along with it at its own URL, we can link that up for you. Whether it’s building it for you or just linking to an external tool that you’re already leveraging, we can work with both of those types of approaches.
Peter: Perfect. Thanks. Janice asks about any plans to add a CRM module. to ReferMe IQ™. If not, is there an API so we can pull data from our base and then set some other important things that will take time to repeat? Yes Janice, we can do all of that. Some people use ReferMe IQ™ as a relationship CRM in and of itself because it does a lot of what a CRM does, but most agencies and most groups that we work with have a CRM. We can integrate with that in lots of ways. You can do it off the shelf through an import-export button. You can do it through our Pro Plus, through a Zapier API and completely play and integrate with each other. And we can customize a technology solution to do that as well.
Peter: So no issues with that. We face that all day long.Part of what we do on a demo is hear what your needs are and recommend the best solution to get the type of integration that you want and not overpay for something that you don’t need. We got you covered there. Steve asks, is there an incentive offered to current clients for their referrals? Don’t most clients just delete marketing emails? Yes, most clients do delete marketing emails, and that’s the beauty of our system Steve, is that they don’t get deleted. In fact, very rarely does anybody even unsubscribe because our system, the email part of it, it looks like somebody just typed a hand-typed personal, authentic plain text email to their relationship. Our open rates, click through, unsubscribes are way stronger than the industry because of that.
Peter: As far as incentives go, yes, most of our people build in incentives that we then track. You can admin those yourself, or we can provide some support with our providers in doing that. But yes, for some people incentives make a big deal. Of course incentives, and some of your lines are regulated depending on if you’re under FINRA for any BD type work that you might do in your agency. But incentives play a large role. We can coach you, and we have best practices in terms of what’s best offered there.
Peter: I’ll stop there with that. Let me hit on a couple on the panelist one, do you do email marketing? Well, in our case, ReferMe IQ™ is an email platform amongst others. So part of what you want to learn, if you’re interested in email marketing, you don’t want to use our platform for stranger email marketing. It’s 400% relationships, but certainly, we can talk Nick offline about that, if you want to shoot me more of a description about what you’re trying to accomplish. Between Bob, and I, we can get back to you. Bob, if they could see an example of what a BrightFire insurance website looks like, I’m sure you’ve got that on your website and/or accomplish that in a demo. Can you perhaps address that one?
Bob: Sure. The best way to see some examples of our websites would just be to connect with a member of our team. What we like to do is show off some of our recent work. Most of the website examples that we share with people are recently built sites in the last 30 days. So you can get a great idea of what we’re currently creating and see the different variations in our design styles to get the creative juices flowing if you will. I know that a couple of other people have chimed in on the Q&A tab with some questions about their account with BrightFire. We’ll definitely follow up with you individually after the webinar to address your questions that you had today. I really appreciate you asking those questions.
Peter: Yep. Thank you. And thank you, everybody, for the nice kind remarks about the value of this to you. We really appreciate that. A few of you, we did not get to your questions but we will through writing, and no worries if you got called away, because we did record this. Over the next few days, after we clean it up, we’ll get you all a copy of what we did today. So you’ll have that in your inventory. Feel free to go back over it, and you will get that as well. It looks like a lot of you are eager to get that. I certainly know what it’s like to sit through these things for an hour and either space out or multitask or get a call that we need to take. That’s why we do this.
Peter: Look for something over the next few days, probably from me to all of you reiterating some good action steps, but also with a copy of the recording. And those of you who we didn’t get to your Q&A, sorry, we will get some answers back to you directly as well. With that, let me say, thank you, Bob, for joining me today, and to all of you for taking the time out of your busy days to be with us. We enjoyed it. It was a very engaged crowd. Great questions. Bob, is there anything you’d like to add to that?
Bob: Sure. I really appreciate you inviting BrightFire along to this webinar. I really enjoyed speaking with you today and answering the questions from the crowd. I am really looking forward to helping you guys out with your digital marketing and referral lead generation. And if there’s anything else that we can help you with, definitely don’t hesitate to reach out to us. I really appreciate all the participation in the polls and the Q&A. That was great.
Peter: Wonderful. Thank you everybody. Have a great day and a great week. Go forth and conquer. These can be fantastic times, no matter what’s happening outside of you. There’s so much that each of you and us control that can help us grow our business in the right way within our values. I really hope to see many of you work with both Bob and BrightFire and us at ReferMe IQ™. We are certainly passionate about helping you grow. Thanks for taking the time. Talk to you all soon. Bye.
Bob: Bye everyone.