Beyond referrals: Marketing strategies for the B2B service businesses of BGAs, IMOs, and FMOs
Running a service-oriented business presents a unique set of marketing challenges. For Brokerage General Agencies (BGAs), Independent Marketing Organizations (IMOs), and Field Marketing Organizations (FMOs), sometimes the greatest obstacle to a successful marketing strategy is simply the time to implement one. Industry connections, networking, and client referrals can generate enough business to keep a firm busy leaving little time for continued outreach, recruitment, and growth. And yet, firms that want to see their brand, and their revenue expand beyond their plateau need to consistently market themselves to new agents and advisors. This is the first in a series of articles articulating the peaks and pitfalls of marketing to other businesses as a service company. Apis has recently released 3 marketing packages to help our clients tackle the task of generating more business. Today, we will focus on a high-level overview of what to expect when marketing to agents and advisors as a BGA, IMO, or FMO.
Realistic expectations when marketing to agents and advisors
The most challenging aspect of marketing as a BGA, IMO, or FMO to agents and advisors beyond the time it takes away from pushing business forward is managing expectations. The efforts put forth posting on LinkedIn, sending out email campaigns and newsletters, creating compelling landing pages, and writing successful articles or blog posts naturally create an expectation of quick returns. While revenue growth is the ultimate goal, understanding the importance of brand awareness, trust building, and client perception can generate more substantial business over time.
Marketing for BGAs is about generating interest
Sales are a byproduct of heightened interest in your services. This applies to both agents who are new to your company and existing clients who take advantage of your offerings. Generating interest leads potential clients to your doorstep and existing clients to your opportunities.
Marketing a service is very different from marketing products
If you were selling glow-in-the-dark hula hoops, your marketing strategy would be much simpler. Find groups on social networks who love hula hoops, fitness, or people who have children, and then create ads for your product. Hire influencers on YouTube and Instagram to light up a nighttime party with your awesome, glowing, hula hoop. Hit up Etsy, Amazon, and every other digital marketplace, including your own website, and drive traffic directly toward sales. It’s relatively straightforward.
You aren’t selling hula hoops.
What our clients at Apis Productions are selling, however, is far more nuanced. They are selling
- Industry know-how
- Connections with carriers and their products.
From a marketing perspective, this is an entirely different animal. The risk and wealth industries are in a perpetual state of flux. From tectonic regulatory shifts to technological advancements in how insurance is delivered every BGA, IMO, and FMO has to attract business by selling an agent not just on who they are contracted with, but also on what makes them different. Gone are the days when simply having access to an enormous list of carriers and products was enough to drive sales. Our clients need to separate themselves from one another. They need to create interest. This is the true purpose of marketing.
First steps: Know your goals, Audit your existing marketing efforts, and Create a roadmap moving forward
Know your goals
Clearly define what you want more of. Clearly, we all want more business in general. But there are many forms this can take. A good place to start is to answer a few questions:
- Are there certain types of agents/advisors that you most want to attract?
- Are there product lines that you would like your existing clients to sell more of?
- Are there technologies that you’ve invested in that your clients are not making use of?
- Are people opening your newsletters? Reading your posts? Engaging with your website?
Audit your efforts
A marketing audit takes a look at the data you’ve compiled from all of your previous marketing efforts. Everything from opens and clicks on email campaigns to social media analytics from posts and comments. Additionally, we want to look at your Google Analytics to see which pages have performed well and which pages have been all but forgotten. We should look at this information in the aggregate to get a sense of the overall state of your marketing successes and failures.
Create a roadmap
Armed with your data, create a map moving forward on how you will create more content for your audience to engage with. Make use of social media, blog posts and articles, email campaigns, and events. Generate a content calendar that addresses all of your avenues for communication. The goal here is to organize yourself and your staff around a cohesive strategy.
Avenues for success: Building the relationship with prospective agents
In order to build the relationships with new agents and advisors, you are going to need to meet them where they live online. No matter where that is, the rule is the same: Give them something to care about. Let’s take LinkedIn as an example. To gain traction there, you will need to ensure that you post regularly, get your name in front of them, and place your opportunities into their consciousness.
It’s one thing to tell agents who you are, but it’s more powerful to tell them what you can do for them.
While consistent posts on LinkedIn are essential, you should always focus your attention on the needs of your intended audience. Here is what that means: While a post touting an upcoming event or award is wonderful, that shouldn’t be the only thing you are doing. Agents and advisors want guidance. They want valuable information. Proving that you have this information is paramount to generating interest in your offering.
Use your posts to direct them to more information on your website. Think of every post as an opportunity to showcase your expertise and prompt your audience to take action. You are starting a conversation with them and positioning your company as a thought leader. Over time, you will build trust and recognition. No matter how big or small your company is, the digital landscape is an equal playing field when you know the rules of engagement.
The work has just begun
In our next article, we will focus on the details of each marketing campaign. We will dive deeper into LinkedIn and how to utilize it as a resource as well as email campaigns, analytics, and advertising. Apis is invested in the success of our clients. Beyond building websites and solutions for you, we want to leverage our industry knowledge to assist you in your marketing efforts so that you can focus on personally engaging with your own clients. Marketing success is measured in inches at first. But with persistence, patience, and consistency your business will truly thrive.