Last week, MetLife Auto & Home’s Venus Lanzot-Lewis interviewed BrightFire Co-Founder and CEO Michael Garner on the “How to maximize your digital marketing efforts during the COVID-19 stay-at-home order.”
This interview focused on the top questions BrightFire has received from insurance agents regarding how to best use digital marketing during Coronavirus (COVID-19). We had a great turnout and received so many great questions for the Q&A. We hope all of our attendees were able to get some actionable advice.
Watch The Webinar
Venus Lanzot: Okay. So good afternoon everyone. Welcome. Already interesting. Thank you so much for joining us this afternoon. My name is Venus Lanzot, I’m with MetLife Auto and Home. And I’m so glad to be coming to you all today, that you’re all joining us in this situation. It’s just so nice to connect with people in all the different ways that we get to, even if it’s virtually through these types of conferences. So, I’m excited for the presentation that we have ahead of us. I know many of you probably have been dealing with some of these questions and whatnot, so I’m really excited that we’re able to bring in this information and thank you to our guests for joining us. Our guest today is Michael Garner from BrightFire. He is the Co-Founder and CEO of BrightFire, which specializes in helping insurance agents succeed in digital marketing, and they have been doing that since 2000. I’ve been working with Michael since 2014, is that right, Michael?
Michael Garner: Sounds right – for about six years.
Venus Lanzot: Yeah. So, I’m confident in him, I’m confident in the information that he’s bringing to you all today, and I really hope that you find this information useful so that you can put it to practice in any which way that it will serve you. Before we dive into the questions, I do want to take some time to acknowledge people that submitted questions through the pre-survey that we set up. Many of the questions that came in were related to what we are doing as a company, what MetLife Auto and Home is doing for our customers as a company in terms of credits and things of that nature. So we did issue a release, and that information can be found on producers.metlife.com.
Venus Lanzot: If you go to producers.metlife.com there’s a COVID banner right on the home page. If you click that banner, it’ll bring you to a landing page where you can get all the information about everything that we’ve been doing. So there’s some links that will link you out to things. But in short, MetLife Auto and Home has committed to crediting customers 15% back on their auto policies for the months of April and May. And there’s a ton of billing exceptions that are out there as well. So again, producers.metlife.com. When you see that COVID banner right on the homepage, click it. It’ll bring you to the landing page where you can get all the information about what MetLife Auto and Home is doing for our mutual customers. So please check that out. And with that, let’s start with our questions. We’re going to have a conversational chat here with Michael around some of the top questions that he’s been getting from his customers that are insurance agents just like you. So, all right, Michael, you ready?
Michael Garner: Yeah, let’s go. Fire away.
Venus Lanzot: All right, great. So the first question, Michael, is with everything going on with Coronavirus, the situation that we’re in right now, what should insurance agents do in terms of their digital marketing? Is this an opportunity to scale up? Should they pull back? Should they pause specific initiatives? I don’t know. What are your thoughts on that?
Michael Garner: Yeah, we’re getting questions all over the place, whether insurance agents have our agency websites or our insurance agency social media service. It’s a big question and it’s kind of a big answer. All the questions that I’m getting, it’s kind of similar to the recession that we had in 2008 where a lot of businesses kind of decided to retreat and cut their marketing budgets. And back then we had a lot of agencies that said they needed to save money so they canceled or reduced their marketing, which reduces your lead generation, which is really counterproductive. I mean, if you cut back on your lead generation, you make the lean times a little bit more leaner, if you will. So for today, instead of cutting back on your marketing or shutting things down until they return to the way that they were before, which I think things won’t return exactly to the way they were before. There’s a lot that will change how we work and how we interact.
Michael Garner: So by all means, what I would recommend doing instead of shutting it down is to re-evaluate all of your marketing. And that’s your entire marketing budget, your digital marketing, your physical or traditional marketing, just to see which channels are actually driving business or have the best ROI. So, in our current situation with shutdowns, quarantines, and stay-at-home orders, everybody should definitely be looking at their overall marketing budgets for the year. And a good spot where you can adjust that marketing budget, because I’m sure a lot of agency owners that are on this webinar had some trade shows or conferences that they were planning on attending, I mean we did and we had some conferences already canceled. You can move that money over to a different marketing channel where it will be more effective today and where the people are. And clearly what’s effective right now with stay-at-home orders and quarantines is digital marketing.
Michael Garner: So if you want to get specific in digital marketing, as far as what they should do with their budget there and what they should do with their digital marketing, an insurance agency website with a blog would obviously be the first thing I would say. With everybody staying home, people are using the internet more, they used it before, but now it’s kind of been amplified. People are using it for shopping, communication, but they were doing it before, but now they’re doing it to a greater degree just because they’re home all the time. Home for personal reasons, home for work, and I know this is going to sound weird too, but if you don’t have a website, you probably need to get one ASAP. And that’s something I’ve been saying, I don’t know, for 15 years. It’s a strange thing to say, but we still see it. I mean we still see it every now and then, an agent still won’t have a website. Actually, side note, we had one agent, or actually more than one agent, tell us that he knows everybody in town so he didn’t need a website.
Venus Lanzot: Or if you don’t have a website that has a good experience, because is your website mobile optimized? I know Google gives SEO credit on whether or not your website is mobile optimized. So even if you have a website, if you haven’t refreshed your website in a really long time, I think this is also an opportunity to do that. And I also want to emphasize one thing that you said earlier when you were talking about evaluating the ROI of your marketing. We’re home now, things have kind of slowed down. I know things were crazy for a minute in terms of adjusting to the transition. But this is definitely an opportunity. We talk about the analytics and the data, marketing is all about analytics and data. People think, Oh, it’s so creative and fun. No. This is science. We use science and data in everything that we do as marketers. And if you’re not knowing which channels are working for you, then you’re missing the mark a little bit there, right?
Michael Garner: Oh yeah, absolutely. At BrightFire, we’re serious about making data-driven decisions, and there’s so much data that you can get. If you do Google Ads, there’s a lot of data that comes through Google Ads. You’re probably using Google Analytics, and that provides more than enough data that you would need. So yeah, I always suggest, don’t have a knee jerk reaction, don’t make assumptions, and look at your data. That’s what I do with digital marketing in general. And you’re right about not just having a website, but having the right website. Because what we see a lot of agents that say they have a website, well, okay, it’s a profile page that they got from an insurance carrier. Obviously that’s very limited and it’s not the same as an insurance agency website. Or they did a do-it-yourself type website with Go Daddy or different DIY service like that.
Michael Garner: And you’re right, maybe it’s not mobile optimized, there’s no SEO service that’s including in there. There’s so much that goes into what Google looks for on the organic ranking side. Speed of the website. Content is a big deal. I’m all for businesses trying to do things on their own when they can, but digital marketing is pretty hard to do. At BrightFire, we have 17 people and all they do is work on digital marketing for insurance agents all the time. So for a business owner to do that on their own, it’d be pretty tough.
Venus Lanzot: Yeah, for sure. 100% agree. I know I am where I am in my career, but I’ve been doing this literally for 17 years. And so it’s with that whole experience, and repertoire and learning one thing and building on that knowledge that you really kind of come to this place. But it does 100% save time. All right, that was really great. I’m going to move to the next question, but before I do, I apologize everyone, I forgot to remind you that your lines are on mute, and if you do have a question, please use the chat functionality within WebEx to submit that question. We are monitoring that and we will do our best to answer any questions that come through there. Okay. So with that, Michael, I would like to move on to the next question, which is, is it distasteful right now to be advertising because there’s a global pandemic? Should people be advertising running pay-per-click ads, running social media ads?
Michael Garner: I think this is a great question, and I would say absolutely not. It is okay to market yourself or run ads during this time, but with everything, there’s a but. So it depends on how you do it. Obviously you want to be sensitive to current events and what people are going through right now. And this is kind of obvious, but sometimes it’s unintentional too. You never want to look like you’re taking advantage of the circumstance, whatever that circumstance is. If it’s a natural disaster, or like in our case with Coronavirus, you really don’t want to look like you’re taking advantage. So what I’ve told people is, you don’t want to sell or market to the crisis, you instead want to market to the need that exists. And people have lots of needs right now.
Michael Garner: And you don’t even have to mention COVID-19 or Coronavirus in your marketing. You can, there’s nothing wrong with that. But people already know why they have this need or what’s going on, so you really don’t need to pound that in their heads. So I think you can do that by just being a helpful resource and address their needs. And so there are good ways and bad ways of doing it. For example, if you’re selling life insurance, you don’t want to use ad copy like, with COVID-19 now is the best time you consider life insurance. That’s not the right way to do it. I think by being aware of what you’re saying and showing that you’re available to help, answering questions and providing that relevant, helpful information in this time, that’s going to help yourself.
Michael Garner: And as far as needs go, what people need now, a lot of times they’re looking for ways to save money. So with all these unknowns and people dealing with financial hardships, there is a need to save money out there. So many people are shopping around for new insurance or looking for requotes. So yeah. There’s definitely a need there, so I would definitely say you should market yourself. But obviously just watch out how you’re saying it.
Venus Lanzot: Right. I agree. I think some things that I’ve seen agents doing at this time on social media, and this isn’t necessarily running a paid ad or anything, but still posting on social and kind of keeping their name out there, is sharing some of these online coloring sheets for parents, helping parents while they’re staying at home.
Venus Lanzot: It’s for parents, helping parents, while they’re staying at home. I know Khan Academy has some resources. Sharing things from trusted sources as well as guiding. Everyone’s home. Do you have a home inventory, a checklist, have you put that together? And kind of educating consumers on the importance of them. So those are some of the positive things that I’ve seen some agents do, and they’re really, to your point, helping their customers in this time, and it does keep them in front of them and build that relationship.
Michael Garner: Yes, those are excellent reasons. We adjusted the content we provide through our agency blogs. A content service designed for insurance agents. We also do social media marketing for insurance agents, so we provide content every week. And once the Coronavirus started to build up and became more serious, we had to stop everything and look at that content and ask, is it relevant now? Is it insensitive to what’s going on?
Venus Lanzot: Oh my gosh, that’s so huge. I think so many people… One of the things, if you have a social media management tool and you’ve scheduled posts out in advance, if you have not gone back and re-evaluated that, number one, you have to do that. I know I’ve seen that come through where I’ve had to contact people and say I think you need to take a real look at… Because I knew, being in this industry, they probably just scheduled it ahead of time and didn’t think to go back and say is that still relevant? Should I take that down? Should I keep that up? So I think that’s a really, really good point. Yeah, for sure.
Michael Garner: Yeah, definitely.
Venus Lanzot: All right, so let’s go on to the next question. So this is a time where digital marketing’s relevant. It’s okay to run ads, we got that. Okay. So in terms of if someone says, I’m ready to take action, what’s one of the first things that you would recommend for them to do?
Michael Garner: The first thing, and this is something that we did very early on. I think that it was the day after there was a travel ban. I would say if you haven’t done so already, the first thing to do would be to put an advisory notice on your insurance agency website and your social media sites regarding your agency operations, your availability, and how to contact you during this time. You can even put some information on how to contact your insurance carriers. That’s what I’d say is the first thing to do because every state has different stay-at-home orders. Plus every agency operates differently. If you’re in Wyoming versus New York City, you’re operating differently things within your own area. So every state and business is different. So you need to post that advisory notice on your website and your social media that applies to your particular situation.
Michael Garner: And then because orders and guidelines have been changing frequently, you need to keep that notice updated. So what we did for our insurance agents, we have a feature of our insurance agency websites that can be enabled or disabled called a notification bar, it goes to the top of the website, and we’ve used it in the past for promotions, like life insurance awareness month or different local events for insurance agencies. It’s excellent for business notifications or if the office is closed because of a natural disaster, or in this case for COVID-19. You can put a short amount of text there, and then link it to a custom page where you can have all of the details of your response. That’s what we did. So that would be the first thing I would recommend you do.
And then another option would be to email updates to your policyholders, but a lot of times what I’ve seen, and maybe you’ve seen it too, you get inundated with emails on Coronavirus.
Venus Lanzot: Oh my gosh.
Michael Garner: Everyone has some stance on it, what they’re doing to protect you, or so on. So I think a lot of times it’s maybe too much, and it’s not the best way to update your customers and policyholders. So you can email people, but maybe refer them to your social media sites for the latest updates or see your website for the latest information. Otherwise, you’ll be sending emails too much.
Venus Lanzot: I agree. I agree. I think it’s fine to say, here’s our general position and then for more information you can go there. Because people are seeking the information. I know I’m checking things constantly before I go to the store, looking online. But even before I pick up the phone, I don’t want to pick up the phone and call you if I can find that information on my own before I leave my house and head somewhere. So I think it’s super important. It was so important to have that information on website, on social media, Google My Business or all of those sites that consumers are going to.
Venus Lanzot: And again, if it’s not mobile optimized, you’re missing the mark because everyone’s doing things from their mobile phones, even if we’re home. So yeah, like we said at the top of the hour, if your agency website hasn’t been refreshed recently, this is definitely an opportunity to rethink that.
Venus Lanzot: Michael, I want to circle back. We’ve got a question coming through on the chat, and this is relevant to the conversation we were just having, in terms of advertising on social. In terms of advertising, would you say it’s more appropriate to be doing branding about the insurance agency, kind of getting their name out there, or is it more applicable to be doing product type marketing? Like if you need home insurance you can contact us, if you need auto insurance you can contact us. What would you-
Michael Garner: It was a question specifically for social media advertising or just pay per click advertising for insurance agents in general?
Venus Lanzot: Just marketing, just advertising, yeah. No, it’s not specific, the question.
Michael Garner: Okay. Yeah, we do pay per click advertising campaigns for insurance agencies, both for Google searches and then also in social media. And they’re a little bit different. The vast majority of insurance agents will do pay per click advertising on Google searches or display advertising based on Google display advertising network. And that’s where if somebody clicks on your ad or they go to your website, a cookie is placed on their computer, and then they’ll see graphic ads on other websites they visit like the Weather Channel or CNN or different news sites. And so those are the types of ads that we normally do because they have the best ROI. Where if you advertise on social media, the click through rate isn’t as good, and the conversion rate isn’t as good as advertising on Google. So social media is more for general awareness and not lead generation for insurance agencies.
Venus Lanzot: Okay. I got you. So I’m just going to distill it down. Basically, it really just depends on which channel you want to do that advertising it, and then you’d have to adjust your strategy accordingly. So products might do better on pay-per-click advertising on Google for conversions versus if you’re interested in branding, it might be better on social media.
Michael Garner: Exactly. Yeah. It kind of depends on the agent’s goals. Is it for lead generation, then we can go with Google Ads. Is it more of a brand recognition within your demographic or your local area, then we can do that with Facebook ads or social media ads.
Venus Lanzot: Okay. All right, good. That’s great. So this kind of leads into the next question, in terms of you have to think about what channel you’re going to be advertising in, and that will ultimately drive your strategy. What about for content? Content that you’re putting up on your website or content that you’re putting up on your blog, how should someone think about the content strategy for their website or blog at this time?
Michael Garner: Yeah, it’s kind of like what we talked about a little bit earlier. You definitely want to plan out your content for your blog and insurance agency’s social media. If you have a content calendar, which if you do that’s really great, it’s good to plan out your content. We do that for our insurance agents for about a month and a half. And so you can get it written and get it checked out and get it scheduled, if you have a tool or if you use a service like BrightFire, it’s easy to do. But obviously, you need to review that content, just to see if it’s still relevant or applicable in a situation like COVID-19. We went through our scheduled content, we talked to our agents, and we reworded or removed a lot of content. For example, life insurance ads, made sure that they were sensitive to what’s going on.
Michael Garner: Some things just felt inappropriate. There were also ads about insuring your toys for the summertime like boat and RV insurance, and that just seemed out of place. So we moved that around, and instead we replaced it with what’s current. We wanted to give timely information. So we wrote a lot of safety blog posts and content on social media. And we wanted to give helpful tips from well-known sources. So CDC and FDA and those other government sources that are reliable and trustworthy. So just basic tips related to Coronavirus. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but at least it’s current and it’s relevant to what people need. So that’s how we changed our content for our insurance agents’ blog and social media.
Venus Lanzot: And it makes you part of that conversation too. You’re now jumping in, and you’re being a part of this conversation. Even if you’re just sharing things that, like you said, from the World Health Organization or the FDC, whatever that is… yeah, that’s good.
Michael Garner: Yeah. So I’d say do that. And anything positive. And also I wouldn’t be afraid of posting any efforts that your agency is doing or staff to help out during this time if you’re doing anything to help your community. And that’s something that we emphasize in everything that we do. The agency website or social media, any type of content. Insurance is very local. We want to emphasize that locality so much, as much as we can. So you can include that in your messaging as well. If you’re doing any volunteer work or you’re doing something in the community to help, please go ahead and include that, too. Maybe another bit of caution on that. You don’t want to look like it’s just shameless promotion. You want to make it authentic. You’re really doing something to help the community. You don’t want to make it look like you’re just trying to put yourself out there as a do-gooder or it looks like you’re jumping on a bandwagon to look at me.
Venus Lanzot: I agree. And I think consumers can sniff that out, too. They can sniff out authenticity and genuine compassion versus not. People just know. Even though it’s online and all of this, you can kind of tell when things are forced or staged, versus when they’re authentic.
Michael Garner: Yeah, and we’ve talked about this at our staff meetings at BrightFire, that now is a sensitive time. People are definitely looking at you to see how you react, how you respond. Are you trying to take advantage? Are you trying to help? So I feel like this is the time that you can really strengthen your relationship with your customers. And if you’re there for them, you’re not trying to overly sell them, you’re trying to help them, it’s going to increase their loyalty or their affinity to you. So how you connect with customers during this time will strengthen that relationship for years to come. So that’s the kind of thing I have in the back of my mind when I’m talking to my customers. I think it’s important.
Venus Lanzot: That’s a great question, then, that kind of leads into the next point, which is so how can people retain their customers during this time? Would you say that’s the best way, is to really kind of just… being there and showing up and showing how involved you are in your community? How would you recommend people kind of work to retain their customers right now?
Michael Garner: Yeah. It’s definitely about retention. You don’t want to be too salesy. And I think I’ve talked about that previously. You want to watch the wording and just market to that need. Being there to answer questions because people have a lot of questions. If they don’t get their questions answered from you, they’ll go somewhere else. So, having that optimized insurance agent website is, as you mentioned, is important. Being on social media. And being on social media more than just having a profile there. You have to be posting regularly and have relevant information, timely information, so that’s important. If you’re looking for a specific digital marketing thing you do, you can send out an NPS survey, a Net Promoter Score survey.
Michael Garner: And I’m sure you’re familiar with NPS surveys Venus, but I don’t know if agents are, and it’s just a simple customer survey – How likely are you to recommend me to a friend or colleague? And there’s a score from zero to 10, and a comment box for additional feedback. But it can be used to gauge a policyholder’s opinion of your agency. And a lot of agents are hesitant about that, because they’re afraid they can get bad reviews from it. But the vast majority of the time, it does not generate negative reviews. But to me, it’s a way of heading off any issues before they leave that negative review, or before they leave you for a different insurance agency. So, it’s much better to hear about any customer dissatisfaction before they go away, or leave a bad review on Yelp, Google, or any other place. We send out NPS surveys as part of our reviews & reputation management service for insurance agencies.
Venus Lanzot: Right. That’s great. That’s great advice. You talked about having that presence on social media, having a profile, and it’s more than just having a profile, but you really have to be posting and having activity. A question that we received is how… And I guess this is more than just your content strategy. It’s more than just posting, right? This can also tie into advertising. How can someone share a message right now without regurgitating the whole, “We’re here for you.” Because that kind of message is starting to get a little played. Everyone’s playing it. And so, how do you suggest someone approach that, where you want to be relevant, you obviously want to acknowledge the situation, but yet, this repetitive, “We’re here for you,” line. What would your comments be to that?
Michael Garner: Yeah, I think it’s back to the authenticity that you mentioned before. Right? And yes, there have been tons, tons of messaging or ads out there. I hear it every day. I heard more today. And I completely agree with that question that this phrase is out there a lot. And those examples of “difficult times”, “unprecedented times”, or the one that I’ve heard, actually, my son has heard too much. And so, he’s been using it in our house, right? The one that he’s been hearing, and he heard it again today was, “Now more than ever.”
Venus Lanzot: Now more than ever.
Michael Garner: So, he uses it… “Now more than ever.” He says, “Dad, I’d like Chick-Fil-A for lunch, now more than ever.” So, I think it’s an example of you overuse when you see it over and over, people, they’ll see it as background noise, and will ignore your message if you use something that is very repetitive, or maybe cliché, or maybe too dramatic. So, in this case, yeah, I would probably lean towards wording that’s more practical, or maybe less emotional in your messaging. So yeah, I can understand that question, definitely.
Venus Lanzot: Okay. That’s great. All right, let’s go onto our next question. Our office is physically closed. How should we go about updating our local business listings in places like Google, et cetera?
Michael Garner: So, the business information that’s referred to in that question, you mentioned it before, is Google My Business. And so, a lot of people just don’t understand the difference between Google and Google My Business, but Google My Business is a business listing that stores information on your business, so it’s extremely important, important because it increases your chances of showing up in Google searches, like in Google’s Local Pack. If you did a search for a lot of insurance phrases, Google sees that as a local search term, and will show local businesses for that. Some search terms are considered national, and they don’t show the local companies. But luckily for us, Google considers insurance services a local service, so you’ll show up in Google Maps, Local Pack, and it can help for organic rankings, in general.
Michael Garner: So, if you have a Google listing, and it’s claimed, that’s awesome. If you don’t know what we’re talking about, you probably have a listing, and it’s not claimed. And then I would suggest you need to find it and claim it. And so, you can do that. It’s not too difficult. You just need to verify that you actually own and you’re at that location. The good news is, it’s free. And it’s a really good thing. It’s free, which is one of the few things that’s free with Google. And then, once you get that listing claimed, then you’ll be able to edit your street address, your phone number, business information, add your website address and photos.
Michael Garner: Oh, and the other thing that people aren’t aware of, there’s a section of Google My Business called Google Posts. And it’s not social media, but it’s a good place to post updates on your insurance agency as well. And those posts are a little bit different than everything else. It basically stays as part of your listing for one week. And then, after that post has been there for one week, and then it’s archived. So, it’s meant to be there for timely updates.
Venus Lanzot: That’s really great. So, if you guys don’t know what we’re talking about, go to Google My Business. You can google Google My Business, and it’ll come up, and you can learn more about it there. But that’s really great information. And I didn’t know that about the posts, that they go away. I know I saw that come through, and I know that they deprecated Google Plus, so when I saw that come through, I was like, “Is this their replacement for Google Plus? Or what is this?” So, that’s really great. Thank you for that.
Michael Garner: Google Plus was a nightmare. I’m glad that’s gone. Oh yeah, one other thing I’d like to say about Google My Business, too, is I’ve seen this mistake. If you’re working at home, don’t mark your business as closed. Keep the same office hours.
Venus Lanzot: Oh, that’s really good. Yes. Okay. So, the office is closed, but your business is not closed.
Michael Garner: Correct. So, Google sees closed business as no longer in business, so please do not change your listing to closed. Keep the same office hours on there.
Venus Lanzot: Got it. Okay. That’s great advice. Okay. And then, use the Google Post to just post the update, working remotely. And then, of course, your social media, website, all of that as well. Okay. All right, good. Next question, I’m currently using pay-per-click advertising, have you seen any changes in the performance of PPC ads right now?
Michael Garner: Within the ad campaigns we manage, not too much. But if you look at it for the entire PPC industry, the thing I’m seeing, is that many industries have basically stopped, or greatly reduced their advertising. So, probably the ones that you would guess off the top of your head, like travel, leisure, automotive and real estate. Well, not the mortgage kind. The mortgage in business is still sky high with refinancing. So, that means that there’s less competition out there for ads. Not necessarily with other insurance agents, but just other ads in general.
Michael Garner: And what that means is, if there are less ads, that means your organic rankings are more important now, because there are fewer ads. And also, your cost per click, what we’ve seen, it’s gone down a bit too. So, that’s really good news. So, you can run the same ads, but the cost, instead of paying $7 or $8 per click for example, maybe it’s a couple dollars less. So, that’s something that we’ve seen.
And then also, what’s interesting, too, is how people search, or when they click on the ads has changed based on their new behaviors.
Venus Lanzot: Oh yeah. Yeah.
Michael Garner: So now that midnight to 3:00 a.m. segment wasn’t very popular, but now it actually is. It’s up.
Venus Lanzot: Oh okay.
Michael Garner: 15% to 20% now for both searches and clicks.
Venus Lanzot: I’ve seen a similar thing happening in email marketing, right? The rule was that email marketing was your Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, that was your sweet spot to send. But now, it’s like, I can send an email on a Friday and people are still responding. And so, it’s interesting how there have been shifts, because of the stay at home order. And so, it opens it up, I think, from a digital marketing perspective, where there’s a greater capacity now, to do certain initiatives.
Michael Garner: Yeah, a lot of things have changed. A lot of the things that we knew that was the case before, are just going to be different now, and like I said, I think it’s going to be different after it’s resolved as well.
Venus Lanzot: Right. Right. I’m interested to see what it will look like when all of this passes. Okay. That was really great. Thank you. So, I’m going to add on to that. So, if someone is doing PPC or pay-per-click advertising, should they… I mean, you mentioned that there were less ads happening right now, which means that your cost per click could be lower, which is a good thing. We want a lower cost per click. So, should people increase their budgets? Should they decrease their budgets? How should they approach that?
Michael Garner: Well, again, I think I’ll go back to my earlier answer on general digital marketing. You just want to take a look at how your ads are doing, right? So, what are your ads for? What are your goals? So step back, don’t do an abrupt stop, don’t quickly make changes, don’t add more money immediately, right? Because we’ve had agents do that. They’ve come, they say, “I want to double my marketing ad budget.” We’re like, “Whoa, why? What’s the goal here? What do you want to do?” So, I would say stop, look at what you want to do, look at what’s going on, review your campaign. So, whatever you’re advertising, home, life, whatever, to see how they’re performing. See how they’re performing in today’s conditions, and then make a decision on what you want to do. So, like I said before, we always like to make data driven decisions. We’ll feel more confident about marketing decisions, and I think our customers, when we show them data, they’re more confident in it as well.
Venus Lanzot: Right, for sure. Data driven decisions. Cannot stress that enough. Yeah. It’s what we do.
Michael Garner: Hard to argue numbers.
Venus Lanzot: Okay. All right, we’re coming up at the top of the hour here, or I put this call down for 45 minutes, so we’re coming up on that 45 minute time, but I do have a few more questions that I’d like to get to. Again, if you have a question for us, please submit that through the chat functionality. If you look for the little talk icon on your Webex desktop, you should find that. Just type that in, and we’ll see if we can get to your question.
Venus Lanzot: The next question, Michael, is what online tools does BrightFire have to offer their customers? Can you just talk a little bit about the services that you offer as a company, and how you help your clients with their digital marketing?
Michael Garner: Yeah, there are a lot of tools out there for insurance agents. Actually, maybe the first thing I’ll recommend isn’t a BrightFire tool. But I think it’s super important, and I’d like to go ahead and mention it quickly, and I can talk about some other tools, too, and that’s the video conferencing and screen sharing, like exactly what we’re doing here today. We used to GoToMeeting, but then about a month ago, we switched to Zoom. And Zoom’s been in the news a lot, right? A lot of schools have been using Zoom.
Venus Lanzot: Wow.
Michael Garner: It’s really popular now, so that’s a tool that I’d recommend. Like I said, it’s nothing that we sell, but I think it’s very helpful and it’s very easy.
Venus Lanzot: Okay.
Michael Garner: As far as tools that we provide insurance agencies, similar to that, is a new feature of our insurance agency websites that we recently released called Video Proposals. It’s something that we’ve been working on for a few months and we released it about a week ago. And basically that’s where you can log into our website platform and you can create personalized videos to share with your clients. It’s not a livestream or a screen sharing, it’s a recorded video. So a sales producer or a CSR can use it and they can record their screen, a webcam or audio. You can decide if you don’t want to record your screen, and we get that comment all the time like, “Oh, I’m not that good looking for video.” But no matter how good looking you are, I think it’s helpful. Actually, maybe you’d be trusted more if you’re not good looking.
Michael Garner: I don’t know. But you can use that, record it and then send the customer that unique link and it’s password protected. Basically they’d go to your agency website and watch that video. So we’ve been demoing this for a while, and actually a customer gave us a new idea, they liked it, but they thought of a different use – to use it as a “I’d like to introduce myself video” to somebody. So they record the video, they personalize it, it could just be 15 or 20 seconds. It doesn’t have to be a long drawn out presentation. They send them that video link. So that’s how they thought it would be useful.
Venus Lanzot: I think what I take away from that is the fact that even though we’re all separated, we’re still looking for these ways to have these human moments and these human connections and video is probably one of the best tools that we have to achieve that. We all know this. I’m sure everyone on this call at some point has either FaceTimed with a family member or whatever the case may be and it really just changes the experience. I mean I have nieces and nephews in Florida that, I mean my niece was playing peekaboo on the FaceTime the other day. It was so cute.
Venus Lanzot: She’s like, “Where are you?” And she has no clue, and from her experience we’re still having this game. So even though we were separated, we were still able to come together. And I think you can do that in your business as well. And I love the idea of a video introduction or posting your picture, or if you’re a gardener, maybe share a picture of your garden. It doesn’t always have to be about insurance. You can do those things to kind of again emphasize the human side of yourself and your business.
Michael Garner: Yeah, I think that’s super important. It’s like I said, we try to localize it as much as possible. We coach agents, whether it’s their social media or their agency website, be as personal or local as you can. Use photos of the staff, whatever personality you have or culture you have, show that. You don’t want to just be Joe insurance agent out there, you just want to show what’s unique about you, and video helps do that. And like you said, a lot of people are used to FaceTime now. Like I mentioned before our webinar started here, I’ve used three different video conferencing services in the past week. I really like it. I like seeing somebody. Yeah we could have a phone conversation just as easily, but I also like to see the person and see reactions. It just feels like I’m able to connect a little bit better. It’s not as the same as being there in person, but maybe it’s the next best thing.
Venus Lanzot: I agree. I couldn’t agree more. We saw some questions or some comments come through and then chat around Zoom. So I do want to acknowledge that Zoom has had some issues. Michael says that they have been in the news and so they’re having some issues. So you definitely want to make sure that you do your due diligence before you download any app and share that out with your customers. So just make sure you take that precaution. This meeting is not on Zoom, this meeting is on WebEx, so just to address all of that. Okay.
Venus Lanzot: What else? Let’s see. So there’s a question. What was the name of the recorded screen link? I think that’s a service, that was the service that you provide, right? The recording?
Michael Garner: Yeah, we call it Video Proposals. So we were trying to think of a fancy name for it, but we went back to something that was basic and easy to understand. So Video Proposals.
Venus Lanzot: The basic and easy to understand is the way to go.
Venus Lanzot: Yeah. Okay. Let’s see. All right, it is 2:45 I want to thank everyone for joining us today. This meeting is being recorded and it will be sent out. If you have a question and you’d like to ask it, please, now is the time use the chat functionality in the WebEx. But while we’re waiting for any last-minute questions to come in, you’re doing something really great for our agents and I do want to call that out before we let people go here. So I’m going to switch back to sharing my screen. And Michael, can you just talk us through this slide because you put together a special offer for MetLife insurance agents, right? Can you just talk us through this?
Michael Garner: Yeah. Basically, if you haven’t heard of Bright Fire, we’ve been BrightFire for about nine years. Before that, we were INS Digital Media. We specialized in insurance agent websites and digital marketing since 2000. So our services include insurance agency websites, reviews & reputation management, social media marketing, pay-per-click advertising, and then local listings management. And that’s maybe the most unfamiliar service, and that is basically listings and directories or sites around the internet. It’s used heavily for local SEO. So it’s something that’s part of what we do for our SEO service.
We’ve had a program with MetLife for about six years and we have a special portal setup where MetLife agents can, and since you are a MetLife agent, you can receive a $50 account credit for any service that we provide.
Venus Lanzot: And you guys don’t have a setup fee, correct?
Michael Garner: That’s correct. We recently got rid of all of our set of fees. We’ve just wanted to make it as easy as possible, because we get a lot of people that want to try out a service because there are a lot of different marketing services and a lot of agents have been burned by bad marketing companies in the past, so maybe they’re a little gun shy. We’re totally confident in what we provide. So we don’t have contracts, we don’t have a setup fee. There’s a 30 day money back guarantee. So we make it very easy for somebody to get in and try us. And if we’re not earning your business, then we’re not going to make you stay for a year or two years with a contract.
Venus Lanzot: That’s great. And I think that’s again, one of the reasons why I like working with you. You know what you’re doing, you’re honest and you’re taking care of our insurance agents, which we greatly appreciate. So thank you for that.
Michael Garner: No problem.
Venus Lanzot: Thank you. All right, so if anybody out there has a need and you’re like, “I need help with my digital marketing things.” Please just contact BrightFire, tell them I sent you. They’ll take care of you.
Michael Garner: Yeah, we sure will.
Venus Lanzot: All right, so let’s just see, I’m going to do one more final check on the chat. Michael, we do have a question. If you have a BrightFire website already, do you have to purchase Video Proposals separately or will be included in your current subscriptions?
Michael Garner: Very often we release new features or new services and it’s really a platform update. That’s how we do it. We just like to build value in the platform itself. So Video Proposals was something that was a huge feature, but we didn’t charge any additional costs for it. So it was included in the cost of one of our insurance agency websites.
Venus Lanzot: There you go. Wonderful. Great. Thank you. Okay, so that is it for our presentation today. I want to thank everyone for coming on, sharing this time with us. I hope you found this information super useful. I thought this was great information. Thank you, Michael, appreciate you coming out and sharing really wonderful information with all of our agents. Again, as a reminder, everyone, this conversation was recorded and it will be sent out to all of you in a follow up email, so keep your eyes open for that. And with that, Michael, I don’t know if there’s anything you want to say before we go here?
Michael Garner: Nope, just that I really appreciate the opportunity and I had a lot of fun and maybe we can do it again. Thanks for inviting me.