Insurance digital marketing is about telling the human side of your agency story.

The modern insurance consumer is bombarded by insurance advertisements every day. From GEICO, State Farm, to All State, the messaging is inescapable.

Do you believe insurance jargon, packaged in clever digital marketing tactics, will win you business over the long term?

I know you don’t believe that… the fact that you don’t believe it is why you’re here reading this article.

You agree, there is more to insurance digital marketing than Tweets and Facebook posts, but are you clear on the real underlying reason we must tell our story online?


  • The Connected Generation,
  • The Zero Moment of Truth, and
  • The Customer Expectation Triangle of Death.

These concepts are vital to attracting more online referrals to your agency. That’s why I decided to record this modified version of my newest presentation titled: Insurance Digital Marketing: How to Stand Out and Attract the Modern Insurance Consumer.

Insurance Digital Marketing: An Introduction to the Connected Generation

Watch the video below to learn why telling the human side of your agency story is so important to success:

Still have questions about the Connected Generation, creating an agency experience, or telling the human side of your agency story?

Ask questions in the comments at the end of this post.

Click here to read the full video transcript.

Full Presentation: How to Stand Out and Attract the Modern Insurance Consumer

The video above is a modified version of the full two or three hour presentation I’ve been giving to state associations and other insurance groups across the country.

The full slidedeck is included below:

If you prefer to the read the presentation in full, we’ve included the entire video transcription below.

Video Transcription

Hello, and welcome to Insurance Digital Marketing: How To Stand Out and Attract the Modern Insurance Consumer. My name is Ryan Hanley. I am the Head of Marketing at and the Managing Editor of Agency Nation. And today I wanted to give you a screen share presentation, like a little sample of a new live presentation that I’ve been doing for insurance organizations, state associations, insurance groups all over the country. This is basically the first 25 to 30 minutes of the presentation. And I wanted some of the core concepts that I think are impacting our industry and why we need to adopt digital marketing into our everyday routine as independent insurance agents.

And I just thought by sharing the first 30 minutes, it would give you a good hands-on feel for what you’d actually get if I was in front of you or your audience or your agency. Agency Nation and are dedicated to educating independent insurance agents and just helping support them in any way that they can. Doing these live in-person presentations is a great way to connect and answer questions and really get down to the nitty-gritty of why we’re here and why digital marketing is an important part of what we do. As you can see, I’m at my home, so if my dog barks in the background during this presentation, I’m just going to roll on and I hope that you’re cool with that. But I wanted to get this out, so we’re going to roll on.

Now, when I say content marketing, digital marketing, the question that we have to ask ourselves, like a barometer is are we thinking this or are we thinking this? Right? And the reason that I share these two slides is because, I think for a lot of us, for a lot of agents we were successful, maybe not in the time of this typewriter. This is probably ancient. But the technology that we used to grow our agencies, is it necessarily the technology that our consumers are using today? And that’s really the main point that I want to make here. We are a little tongue and cheek. But the point is that, not that I expect every agency, every agency group, every agent to be right on the bleeding edge of technology and adopting things.

But just, we need to have an understanding that, our consumers as an industry moved past what the standard practices are for what we do. They are starting to adopt mobile phone usage as a primary Internet communication tool. So when they’re sitting at home, instead of pulling up their laptop, they’re staying right on their mobile phones. And our ability to communicate with them using technology that they use is very, very important. So as I said many times, I was an independent insurance agent for eight years. Actually for our family agencies you can see right here, the Murray Group in upstate New York. My wife’s family owns the agency, so my father-in-law was the principal, my brother-in-law, my wife and my wife’s twin sister actually still all work at the agency.

And I was very much a boots on the ground producer at 25 years old. I was out driving around town trying to bump into as many people as I could. Walk into businesses, I was calling my family, calling my friends, trying to get anyone that would listen to me to hear my pitch and potentially become a new client. What I learned very early on was that I was losing on commercial accounts, and even personalized accounts quite often, because I just didn’t have the experience.

I mean, the thing about your own buying process, is imagine if you are sitting down with someone and you’re talking to a 25-year-old kid with three months experience versus an insurance expert, someone maybe an agency owner or an agent, who’s been in the business for 30 years. Who are you going to choose? Nine times out of 10 you’re going to choose the person with more experience. They’ve seen all the issues that could potentially impact you and your family or your business.

And that’s what was happening to me, it was very obvious that I didn’t have whatever it was that was necessary to sever these 15, 20, 30 year relationships. And still those relationships make the independent insurance agency systems so strong, right? So there was a reason that they were tough to break. It’s because when a consumer, when an insurance buyer, when an insurance consumer has been with an independent agent for 10, 15, 20 years, they’re bought in. They’re sold. They get the value, they’ve built a relationship and they’re not going anywhere.

However, I also realized very, very quickly that online I can separate myself. And what I mean by that is, where in person it was very obvious that although I studied and was knowledgeable as much as you can be in the first 6, 12, 18 months of your career, I was still a rookie in selling. However, online where I can create content, tell stories about what was going on, explain coverages where I could find people where they were communicating in communities such as LinkedIn and on Facebook, I could separate myself and establish my expertise in those spaces and make myself available to those consumers. And by doing that, I started to gain traction, very quickly.

We had a Monday morning meeting where we would explain where our business came from. And more and more and more, my business started to come from the Internet. And I just fell in love with the ability to educate and really be a valuable resource, not on my terms, but on my clients’ terms. When they were at home at 9:00 p.m. and they put the kids to bed and they had a question, they could log on and they knew if they came to my website they could get the answers that they needed to their insurance questions.

And Google felt the same way and sent a lot of people there. So, that’s why I’m so bought into the Internet, it’s not just that I took a class, it’s that I’ve actually I’ve been banging my head off the wall for six years doing this stuff. So I want you to buy in to what we’re doing and understand that there is a grassroots way, there is a way that on a budget, without hiring a full-time employee to do social media, to do digital marketing, that you can be very successful.

So when I realized that insurance sales wasn’t really for me, but I still loved our industry and loved marketing, and I combined those two disciplines to join And you can see my partner in crime here, Marty Agather and I work every single day to do exactly what you’re getting here. To educate, to inform, to help, to guide and ultimately, for those agents who are my referrals, they join in advance subscription. And we send thousands upon thousands of referrals every single month. And driving those referrals is exactly what I do.

Ryan Marty TrustedChoice

So let’s talk about what pisses me off. It pisses me off big time, it aggravates me – it’s probably a better term – that State Farm is able to run a commercial that depicts us in this way. Right? Pale, stale and male, checked-out, independent insurance agent, with a fishing pole, doesn’t really get it, the commercial actually shows that State Farm saved their client $200 or something like that and the independent insurance agent only saved them a dollar.

pale stale and male

As much as it’s kind of a funny scenario, it’s a depiction that State Farm is able to run over and over and over again because this is the perception that the average insurance buyer has about our industry and who we are. And that’s a reality. Some people may push back. It doesn’t necessarily make me feel good to say that, it shouldn’t make you feel good to hear that, but they wouldn’t. State Farm would not be able to. The truth is, State Farm would not be able to run this commercial for as long and as often as they have if this wasn’t a perception that the people who were watching this commercial were making.

They knew immediately who this person was, it was the other guy, the independent insurance agent, the not hip, the insurance provider that doesn’t think about their client. I mean, that’s what they’re perceiving with this and the audience is soaking it in. And this is what we are fighting against. It aggravates me that they can show this depiction and that it actually resonates with our audience. But to be on a national scale, to try to defend our industry against this perception, is a big part of why I’m here and why I’m talking to you today.

So here’s another reason, Google Compare. Right? Google has come into the market. They had originally come in to the UK, they’re now in California. Slowly but surely, they’ve been making their way across the country and pretty soon, in search results in your geographic region, Google Compare their comparison platform for today’s auto insurance, and most likely more products in the future, is going to be showing up. And whether you want to do the ostrich style and just stick your head in the sand, or you see this coming and you’re willing to take it on, is up to you.

Either way, Google Compare is going to impact our business. And it already is starting to impact our business, because even people who do not necessarily jump over to this type of insurance right away, it’s on their mind, they see it and it’s starting to sink into their perception. And what it is, as long everything’s going good with our clients, we probably don’t have to worry about them leaving to Google Compare. But understand that where before they may have given us the benefit of the doubt, today with more and more options like Google Compare, those clients who before would have just given us the benefit of the doubt, today are going to be shopping around and using tools like Google Compare.

So we need to be prepared for that. I don’t think that it’s going to destroy our business or destroy our markets. I actually think that in some ways we can leverage Google Compare to help grow our business. But, we just need to be aware of it and be adaptable and adjust and see it for what it is.

The last thing is that we are fighting against GEICO, Progressive, Allstate, State Farm. And GEICO spends over a billion dollars in advertising. And we can’t stop that from happening. As an industry, all independent insurance agents, carriers, brokers, agents put together, we only spend $400 million. So when you think about that, we are spending 40% of what GEICO spends if every single one of us was on the same exact page.

So it’s very, very difficult to compete against that. I don’t necessarily think that we have to compete against them in dollars, we don’t. But what we do have to do is have some sort of consistency in messaging and branding, and just how we present ourselves. Understand that every single independent insurance agent in this country impacts the way insurance consumers view every single other independent insurance agent in this country.

That is a very, very powerful point when you think about it. Okay. What you do, what your neighbor does down the street, what the guy across town with a guy in five counties over, with a woman downstate, how they operate their businesses impacts the way insurance consumers, the general public, views your agency. That is 100% reality. Insurance consumers do not delineate between this independent insurance agency and that. We are independent insurance agencies, GEICO is GEICO, State Farm is State Farm. That’s the way the insurance consumer views our marketplace. When we start to embrace that, and so to support each other, from the stand point of giving them a common set of values, what their Trusted Choice brand is all about.

There’s a reason why that initiative has been pushed so hard. It hasn’t been adopted as much as we would like, but the concept is there and it’s rooted in the fact that we all impact each other.

So when we band together, because of our local footprint, because of our relationship-building techniques, we don’t need a billion dollars. GEICO needs a billion dollars because they struggle to build relationships. The people who buy from them have very shallow relationships. We know that. We have very deep, strong relationships. So GEICO has to spend a billion, but we need to do a better job of being consistent to help grow as an industry.

And a lot of people blame the tools. I mentioned this before. A lot of people want to blame our lack of tools, a lack of having mobile responsive websites, and being able to communicate through devices such as text. And the fact that only 19% of independent insurance agents have adopted an e-signature, which is an absolute no-brainer product, but so many have not done it. They want to blame tools. And I don’t think it’s tools. As an industry, again looking over the wide scope, we do struggle to adopt technology quickly. We tend to fight it till it’s no longer, we can’t perform our business until we adapt, with a few exceptions. But I don’t actually think that’s what holds us back. I actually think that it’s the smaller mindset, it’s this, “My agency only impacts the footprint or the small geographic region in which we operate.” And I’m going to ask you to have a broader scope.

And no one needs to be philanthropic or out-choiced. This isn’t give unto everyone else. A good friend of mine, Jason Kass [SP] likes to say, “Rising tides lifts all ships.” And though I firmly believe that, the things that we’re going to talk about here and the reasons why having a digital communication strategy, having a process for communicating and building relationships online, is so important is that by doing it for ourselves, we do lift everyone. So for having that communication method, for thinking forward, for thinking about the consumer first and how they want to communicate, we do raise the whole industry. But in turn, it’s like we’re just working on ourselves.

zero moment of truth

So, why are we talking about digital marketing? Why is this so important? Why would I dedicate the time to create this video for you? Why do so many people preach the power of digital marketing? It is because of something called the Zero Moment of Truth. Zero Moment of Truth is a study that was done by Google back in 2011. Google wanted to study, what is the insurance buyer? What are these people that are going online . . . ? Not the insurance buyer, the Internet buyer. “What are these people that are going online and buying products, buying services, what is it about them? Why do they go online?”

And what they ultimately found was, for someone – who I like to call a connected generation consumer, these online shoppers, they make 60% of the buying decision before they ever reach out to a provider. Sixty percent of the buying decision is made before they ever reach out to a provider. That means that they choose whether to do business with you or not before they ever contact you. And just kind of to clarify that, when they choose not to work with you, they don’t call. So if the phone’s not ringing, that means that what you are doing is not providing a solid enough case to the online consumer, that they feel like they should purchase from you. Because they’re not just going to call you to get a quote. They’re going to feel like you are the right person for them before they call you about their insurance product.

So let’s think about that for a second. So what I’m saying is, if I’m shopping for insurance and I’m in Albany, New York, which is where I live and there is, say 20 providers in the area. Right? I’m certainly not going to call 20. Say, I’m going to call three maybe. Out of those 20, what I’m going to do is Google search. Who shows up in search. Right? Best Auto Insurance in Albany. So I find 10 listings. And I start at the top, and I start clicking through it. And the first person, the first agency has a cluttered site or maybe it looks like just one page, or it hasn’t been updated in a long time, or the graphics don’t really make sense. I may or may not be turned off by that. It may not bother me, it may. But what’s going to happen is, I’m immediately going to make a decision based on that website and my own beliefs, values and standards and I’m either going to say, “This is an option,” or I’m going to move on.

And I’m going to go down that list until I have whatever I feel like is enough people to call 1-2-3, and I’m either going to fill out a contact form, send them an email, or pick up the phone. But what’s happening is, I’m making my decision as to whether or not an insurance provider is worth doing business with before I call. I’m not just calling. And this goes for referrals too. This is the other piece of it.

So, say that I go to a bowling league and I have all my buddies there and I mention to one of them that I need new auto insurance, that I just feel like, been with the same carrier for a really long time and my agent doesn’t re-quote me and I just feel like I’m paying too much and I’m looking for a new provider. Very, very common, right? One of my bowling buddies says, “You should call the Smith Johns Agency.” “Okay.”

So I go online and I research the Smith Johns Agency before I call them. Now this wasn’t the case 20 years ago. Twenty years ago, if my buddy said, “Call the Smith Johns Agency,” “What’s their phone number? I’m going to call them right now and set an appointment for tomorrow.” That is not the way business is being done today. At least not as often as it was, and this connected generation consumer is the reason for that and it’s because of the Zero Moment of Truth. This moment when the insurance buyer is deciding whether or not they are going to do business with you before they ever pick up the phone. And if they decide that they are not willing to do business with you based on what they’re finding online, they’re not calling. Very, very powerful. This is why we must have a digital presence, because these people are making the buying decision before they ever see you.

It’s why video works so well.

It’s why pictures of people in your staff work so well.

It’s why the number one optimization tip for a advantage profile is putting a profile picture or a head shot of someone in your agency on your profile picture. Because when insurance consumers come to and they see a human being, they are much more likely to click on that search result than if they see just a logo or a picture of the building. So very, very powerful stuff. All right?

So, now let’s say we decide, we decide, “Okay. I get it Ryan, you’ve banged me in the head with this enough. I get it. I’ve already started digital marketing, but it doesn’t seem to be working.” Right? I hear that all the time. And I feel like a big part of it is because we’ve been mis-sold on how to do digital marketing. How do we engage in this process? It seems so daunting, right?

social media sold wrong.001

Well, the common kind of way that it’s sold . . . and this is another thing that aggravates me sometimes because insurance agents are insurance agents, right? They’re not marketers. If they were marketers they’d be doing marketing. They’re insurance agents, they’re good at diagnosing issues, building relationships, helping people solve their different needs and placing the proper coverages and negotiating with carriers. This is what insurance agents are good at. Yet they’re sold on marketing that all you need to do is broadcast as loudly as you possibly can.

social media sold wrong.002

That on social media, on Facebook, there’s just this community of people who are dying to hear everything that you have to say. And then you kick back and the money just rolls in. Facebook just delivers money into your bank account, it’s all good and this is digital marketing.

social media sold wrong.003

And the truth is, what you get is crickets. And then you say, “Well, digital marketing doesn’t work. I’m going back to cold calling.” Now, I’m not against cold calling, I think that strategic cold calling has value. I think just blasting a list is silly – at least in today’s day and age, but that’s personal opinion. I feel like, so the fact that digital marketing has been mis-sold here is bothersome to me. Because, to get the audience takes time. This can happen. You can have a captive audience waiting to hear what you have to say even as an insurance agent, there are plenty of things that you can talk about.

social media sold wrong

I’m going to talk about many of those things in a second. But this only happens through time. This takes a lot of time. At the beginning, you have to expect crickets. And understand that you are building towards an audience. All right.

So, the connected generation.

What is the connected generation?

The connected generation is exactly what you see on the screen right now. Good looking, 20-something year olds, all on their phones even though they’re standing right next to each other. And that’s very much what the connected generation is. The connected generation is also these little guys. Right? Watching YouTube videos and playing different games on their cell phones, and ads are probably being injected in there, very much the connected generation and very much who advertisers go after. But the connected generation is also this couple. Because the connected generation is agnostic of age. What I mean by that is, it doesn’t matter if you are 5, 15, 25, 55 or 85. If you communicate, build relationships and make buying decisions online, you are part of the connected generation.

Perfect example is my father-in-law. My father-in-law is in his early 60s. Two years ago, he had a flip phone that was beating up something he’d had for ten years and he was not part of the connected generation. He was not begging to email or use the Internet. And he went about his business in a very traditional way. He would ask a friend, or he would look it up in the newspaper, or all the other ways that you find information as an unconnected generation consumer. However, his daughter came up and . . . actually I can’t remember if it was my wife or her sister, but one of them convinced him to get the new iPhone. So he got a new iPhone and they taught him how to use it, and now when he takes trips to Florida, he’s on Trip Advisor looking up new restaurants that he’s never been to and he’s like, “Oh, my gosh, I didn’t even know that these restaurants existed.” And he’s had a house in Florida for seven years.

So, he’s now part of the connected generation. He’s reading Trip Advisor reviews, figuring out which restaurants he wants to go to that he didn’t even know existed in a town that he’s had a house in for seven years. Connected generation. It’s growing every single day. It is agnostic of age, and the three requirements are only that you communicate, build relationships and make buying decisions online. All right.

And it all really starts with Google. It all really starts with Google. This is where we go when we have problems. If this was the full blown-out presentation, we would come back to this many times and talk about how you get your agency to show up in this little box when someone searches for auto insurance or just insurance terms, whatever they may be in your geographic area. We’re not going to talk about that today, because this is the paired-down version. But remember, all things start with this little box. There may be people who will push back on that, but I’ll tell you from my own experience, in our industry, when it comes to making a real return on investment in the least amount of time, if you optimize your website and your digital marketing activities to make sure that Google knows that you’re a value provider, that is the best way to go.

customer expectation triangle of death

All right. So if we were in a real audience, if this was an audience and I was walking among you right now, and I asked you, “What is the number one thing that sets your agency apart from every other agency that someone could potentially do business with?” what would you say? You would say, “Good service.” I know this, because I’ve actually given some variation of this presentation about 50 times and every time I ask this question, the entire room raises their hand, “Good service.” Most of the time, three or four people will raise their hand for good service and I look around and I go, “Just raise your hand, I know you all want to,” and they all do. Because we all think that we provide great service. And most likely, everyone who’s watching this does provide great service.

Here’s the deal. Before the Internet, before technology improved logistics to where it is today, customers only expected two sides of this triangle. You either provided good service or a good product and fast delivery, but you were very expensive. Right? So fast delivery, great product, but you were expensive. If you were competitively-priced, if you had a good price and your delivery was incredibly fast, customers assumed that your product would be a lower quality, because just logistically it was very difficult to provide a high quality product, at a very competitive price and make it easy to buy and fast to buy. Incredibly, incredibly difficult to do, and customers did not expect it. If you did provide this, then you set your business apart and you became the market leader.

Today, based on technology and as I said, improved logistics, companies like Amazon, Zappos, Apple, customers now know that it is absolutely within the realm of possibilities for a product or service provider to be able to give a good product or great service, provide it very easy and fast at the most competitive rate in the market, or competitive rate based on the market. So they expect all three sides of the triangle, which means that good service no longer sets us apart. The fact that you give good service is the barrier for entry. That’s the bar. If you didn’t provide good service, you wouldn’t have a business. Okay. So good service does not separate you. You cannot say as a value proposition to a client, “We give great service,” because everybody who hears it thinks that it’s BS. And the reason they think it’s BS is not because they don’t think that you actually give good service, it’s because they don’t care.

You wouldn’t be in their house, they wouldn’t be sitting in your office, they wouldn’t be talking to you on the phone if you didn’t provide good service. Okay? We can put as a benefit, good service on our website. Please do not assume that good service in any way is a benefit to your clients, because they assume that you have good service.

Okay. So what does separate us? Well, it’s the circled word that you see on the right hand side of the screen, ‘experience’. It’s the human side of your business, it’s what makes your business unique. Right.

I was in New Mexico a couple of weeks ago, speaking to the Big I of New Mexico. And I had one of the agents come up and explain to me that his clients actually hang out in his foyer a little bit. That they’ll come and transact whatever business they have, he said [inaudible 00:28:00] a lot of cash business. But that his clients will actually hang out, have a cup of coffee. Some more clients will come in, they will communicate. And that he may have five to seven people in his foyer having conversations and communicating and just almost . . . Not that it’s a hangout, but the clients are very comfortable in his office just having these little interactions. And that it’s not a meeting place per se, but it’s a place that people are comfortable interacting.

And that’s one of the things that separates his business, and that is an experience. And that is something you can base your marketing campaign around. Right? That the willingness and how comfortable and nice a setting he creates for his clients to be able to have those interactions with each other, not just him and his staff, is an experience that separates his business. It has nothing to do with service, it has nothing with insurance, and it has nothing to do with the cost of the products that he’s providing. So that’s what I mean by the experience that you provide. Okay?

So we are going to take that experience and we are going to create stories around it. So I would go into deeper detail if we were doing a full presentation, but the point of this slide is to tell you that digital marketing is really just kind of telling stories – I’m going to talk about what that means. But when you do tell stories in a digital space, what you’re really doing is putting your clients into the space that you are in. So, I’ll drill onto that real quick.

There’s been much research and that’s what this slide is describing that shows, when someone tells a story that the audience connects with, their brain actually releases the same chemicals as the person who is telling the story. So if the person who is telling the story is talking about what it was like after being a one-woman show for 20 years, what it was like to hire her first employee. To be able to serve a broader market and be more responsive and how much pride she felt in doing that, the customers who are hearing that are going through the same emotions and the same chemicals are released in their brain.

That pride that this insurance agent felt is the same pride that the clients are feeling to a slightly lesser extent. And what it does is, is it starts to build that connection. So, the experience that I was talking about before, with the agent in New Mexico, if he starts to tell stories – and I gave this in this advice when I was there. If he starts to tell stories about the interaction and the community that’s building in the waiting room of his office, people who connect and relate to that will want to be part of that. So that’s why storytelling is so important.

But when I say storytelling, I don’t want you to think that I’m talking about Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones or something like that. We’re not talking about fiction, we’re talking about in a business context, what the story of your business is.

Business storytelling

So, when we’re creating content in a digital space, it should fall in one of these three buckets that you currently see on the screen. Company, client and community. And where those three buckets interact, is your story. So I’m going to break down quickly what a piece of content may look like that falls into each bucket. So, for company. So this is, why does your receptionist, a person that answers your phone, the first people that people see, why has she been working for you for 30 years? Why one of your producers gave up his second job to just focus on insurance? Because you provided a place that was so productive, so positive, that he would actually not work a second job or give up a hobby to be in that place.

Why do you have pictures of your family just posted wall to wall on your office? Why have you, you’ve filled up every last inch with pictures of your family? Why do you show up every day? These are the things that tell the story of your company. Right? What is this place? The why, what is the ‘why’ of your business. That’s company. Okay? Pieces of content maybe. Just a picture of you in front of your wall of family photos, or the big smile that you get when you walk in the door from whoever is the first person that you see. These are great pieces of content to tell a story about your company.

Clients. What does the person look like who decides to work with you? Is it single moms, right? Do you connect really well with helping them understand how to perpetuate their family and take care of their children? Do you help urban people? Are you really good at urban risks or commercial risks or family businesses? Right? Who is the type of client that chooses your organization? What do they look like, why did they choose you? Simple things like going to their business and maybe doing a little exposé, maybe getting a quote from them on why they chose you. Or taking a bro-shop photo where it’s just the two of you with your arms around each other. Anything like that tells the story of your client and adds to the overall value of what you’re providing.

And then the third bucket is community. What is the place that you operate in? Is there a parade that you sponsor every year? Is your name in the little league? Do little leaguers have your agency name at the back of their t-shirt? There are a million stories that you can tell in your community. But where you invest, where you dive in, where you become part of that community, images, stories, blog posts, videos, testimonials any of that stuff is really great content. And where all that comes together is the story of your business. Notice I didn’t talk about insurance. Right?

Insurance is not the story of your business. You are a business that sells insurance. Not, an insurance business. The reason that I say that is, because no one connects on a deep level with an insurance business. They connect with people who just happen to sell insurance. And every one of your clients is a client of yours because of that reason. Because of you, because of whoever it is inside your agency that they built a relationship with, that’s why they currently do business with you. So just think about that. Now it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk about insurance on your website, it just means that the story of your business, this one type of content, is very much about the human side. That’s kind of, we’re getting right at the end here, but that’s such an important part. That’s what I hope you take from this. It’s that so much of digital marketing is turning the human side of your business. It’s connecting with connected generation consumers. People are connecting online, building that connection, building that relationship. Having them want to choose your agency before they ever contact you. Whether they were referred or not. Very, very important.

The human side of your business is an incredible piece and when we dive into that, the insurance part just comes along with it. Right? It just makes sense that we interject little pieces of the insurance part of our business into the human side of our story, and that’s where we will really start to build deep lasting relationships.

Remember these relationships start online. It doesn’t mean they always live online. It doesn’t mean they can’t come offline. But so many of the connected generation consumers are starting their relationship online, and that’s where we need to get better as an industry and I hope that you’ll do that. It all comes down to, this is actually a quote from the book that I just released – Content Warfare: How to Find Your Audience, Tell Your Story and Win the Battle For Attention Online. “Attention without trust has no value.” Okay? That’s why we need to tell the human side of our story. Okay? We can run ads and there’s a million different tactics and tricks and tips that I’m happy to show you, that will teach you how to get attention. But if the human side of your story isn’t there, if there is no human piece, if there is no piece building trust, then that attention has no value.

So just remember, as much as the insurance part of marketing is so important, and it’s easy to get our insurance content out in front of people with digital marketing, there also has to be this human side of our story because that’s what connects . . . or that’s what gets the connected generation and that Zero Moment of Truth, to choose our agency. To choose your agency. Right?

The last thing I’m going to do, is tell you a very quick story about Okay, we’re going to wrap this whole thing up.

insure my food truck is an independent insurance agency in a very traditional store outside of San Francisco called BayRisk Insurance Solutions. One of their principals is a guy by the name of Denny Christner. And Denny fell in love with food trucks. So he just likes food, grommet food. And on the west coast, food trucks are grommet and he started going there and he really enjoyed them. And he ultimately had the opportunity to quote the business in one of these food trucks. And found out that, they’re tough business to write. Makes sense, inferno on wheels, you know, you’ve got the grease oven, grease pit right inside the food truck. And also it’s mobile and just tough, tough risk. Not a lot of you want to write them.

And he ultimately found two carriers in the state of California that were willing to write these food trucks, and he asked both underwriters if there were any agents who owned this market and both of them said no. So Denny went about his business, bumped into more food trucks and started writing a few more, but he realized why writing them was so tough wasn’t because of the actual risk itself, it was getting in contact with these men and women. They’re just tough to get into contact with. They’re in the back of trucks all day. They’re flipping burgers or making tacos or burritos or whatever type of food that that food truck made, barbecue. And they didn’t want to take any phone calls, because they are working. When they weren’t serving food, they were prepping food and when they weren’t prepping food, they were cleaning up from the meal before or taking the take from the till whatever they had made that day, doing the accounting. All the other things that go around running a business.

And they didn’t want to take phone calls, and they didn’t really check email or weren’t really responsive. And text message, I guess, didn’t really work that well and it was frustrating, it was frustrating to Denny. Just like it had probably been for the many other insurance agencies that had thought about writing food trucks, but struggled to get in touch with them. And then Denny realized something. He realized that food truck operators communicate on Twitter. Because this is how they connect with their audience. So, yeah they’re not picking phone calls or sending emails, but they’re Tweeting out the location of their food trucks and the types of food they are making. Some of them took requests, all different . . . this is how food truck operators communicate with their audience, via Twitter.

So Denny took to Twitter. He created a Twitter handle to mirror this brand that he was building,, and he took to Twitter. And he became the insurance agent that food truck operators trusted because he went to the space where they communicated. He took to Twitter and started building relationships. Is it comfortable to build relationships on Twitter? Probably not so. This is the only case study I’ve ever found where it made sense for someone to go on to Twitter. But the point isn’t Twitter. The point is that Denny took his communication to the platform where his customers were most comfortable. And then he told the story of why he went after it, of why he was interested in food trucks. How he related to them. He started providing valuable content to them around running their business and running a safe operation and quickly food truck operators – because he spoke their language in a place that they were, and was providing value – they started to trust him and the attention that they gave him was turning into business.

I’m very happy to say that Denny is the largest retail agent writing food trucks across the country. He’s an incredible guy, and his story is amazing. I think it is a testimonial to what the power that independent insurance agents have when they really dial into this stuff. And he owns the product, and he owns the brand and does an incredible job with it. And it’s a case study, it shows us that this is possible. Right? When we really believe this stuff, when we dive into it, it really is possible.

I wouldn’t want to go head to head with Denny on a food truck, but there are plenty of other niches out there where we can use these digital marketing tools to tell both the insurance side and the human side of our story and dominate our market. And if we do that, we wear colorful caps and masks and we jump into the air. I kind of have a thing with stock photography. I think it’s ridiculous and awesome at the same time, and I just want to say thank you everyone, I encourage you to check out We are capturing more online referrals every single day and delivering them to independent insurance agents across the country. It is cheap as heck, for what you get and it’s growing every single day. And I take personal responsibility for that. That is actually my primary function, is finding new online referrals and delivering them to agents. So if you have questions about it, feel free to reach out to me, or just leave a comment below.

Obviously, you’re watching this on Agency Nation or YouTube. But if you are on Agency Nation, check it out, subscribe, lots of great stuff. You can go on to learn more about an advanced subscription from

Thank you. Appreciate your time and if you are interested in seeing this presentation live, just reach out to me and let me know, and we can see if there’s an opportunity to have me come in and give this presentation to you and your organization live. With that, we will get out of here, thank you everyone, very much.

Thank you and good luck,

Ryan Hanley

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