I’ve written over 1,500 blog posts, created over 500 videos, over 200 podcast episodes in my career online. This doesn’t include countless social media posts, blog comments and interviews (or my book, Content Warfare).

Having published all this content, there one piece that stand out above all the rest in terms of return on investment.

Looking back now, it makes perfect sense. But at the time of publishing, I would have never dreamed it could have been so successful.

What is that piece of content?

A 1:32 video post titled: What is New York State Short-term Disability?

The video below explains why we this post was so successful and lessons you can apply to marketing your own insurance business:

btw… this was recording live on periscope.

http://agencynation.wistia.com/medias/4027yhxvnl?embedType=async&videoFoam=true&videoWidth=600

Read the transcript

While writing The Bad Leads Are Free (and 3 More Things We Know About TrustedChoice.com), I came to a part where we’re talking about inbound referrals, (inbound leads), the stuff that we get for doing content marketing work.

When people find us online, we’re putting our message out into the world.

When people find us online they’re searching for a reason. That reason is because they have a problem.

I think in some industries, in particular very traditional service based industries like the insurance industry, which is the primary vertical in which I do my marketing work, there’s this a misconception that somehow when someone finds us online, that they’re going to be this queued up, perfectly set-up lead that is very similar to what we get when we’ve nurtured a relationship over years to do business with someone.

That’s simply not the case.

When people find us in the digital world and they spend time with our website, with our social network, with our content, they read reviews about us, when they do their homework they’re doing that because they have an issue and they want to make sure that we’re the proper solution.

There is always going to be a problem involved.

So I decided to throw open Periscope and do a quick video was that inbound referrals are always going to take work. There is always going to be something that you have to solve, some small puzzle.

They’re never going to be easy. There always is going to be some issue. That doesn’t mean that that’s bad, actually in most cases it’s a great thing.

We Solve Problems

It’s why we’re doing the work, to help people solve their problems and write new business or do more business, bring in new customers or make customers who have already worked with us once come back again.

That’s why we do this work.

I just wanted to share a very quick story about the most profitable piece of content I’ve ever created and why I could have absolutely never guessed what that piece of content was. This goes back to my days when I was an independent insurance agent and I had a website that had copyright 2002 on it.

Finally, in 2011, I convinced my organization that we needed to do some kind of marketing work.

I finally convinced them that we needed to do some kind of marketing work. What I ended up doing was we re-did the website in 2011 in WordPress, nice clean design, didn’t spend a lot of money on it, lot of white space.

Even though white space wasn’t technically cool back then, it was mostly white space because we didn’t have a lot of money in our marketing budget. But that’s kind of just an anecdote. The idea is that I needed to jump-start this website. I needed to get this website going because it had just been seven pages for nine years.

So what I did was I collected, during the month of December 2011, I collected 147 questions about our insurance business just from clients, people on Facebook, I emailed people, just anyone I bumped into. I said, “If you could have just one insurance question answered, what would that question be?”

I ended up getting 147, I paired those down to 100, and I just started answering those questions. Every single day for 100 days. What ended up happening was really mind blowing.

What I got was, starting on January 2, 2012, I started answering questions. How does your credit score impact your auto insurance? How many claims do I have to have before my insurance goes up? How do you insure a restaurant? How do you do…?

All these different questions that had to do with insurance, the particular business that I was in at the time. And again, you could literally take insurance and the insurance industry out and replace it with whatever industry you work in. This is does not have to be specific to the insurance industry, this is just the vertical that I work in primarily.

So I’m going through and there are all these questions and really high-level keywords, things that you would think would be prime time moneymakers for me, because all of them are keyword rich. This is just questions about the business and how I answered them was very similar to what we’re doing right here right now on Periscope.

I would just hold my cell phone camera out like this and just say, “Hey, my name is Ryan Hanley. Today I’m going to answer the question,” and whatever that day’s question was. I did 100 of these. The point that I’m trying to make here is this. Out of those 100 questions, maybe two dozen really were profitable for us. Out of 100 maybe 25, a quarter we’ll say, 25% where we actually got a reasonable amount of inbound attention and traffic and were worthwhile in terms of ROI.

SEE ALSO: How to Survive the Customer Expectation Triangle of Death [Video]

What is New York State Short-term Disability

But there was one in particular, I’ll give you the numbers here, during those 100 days we made about $5,100 and some odd dollars in revenue to the business.

So about 30 minutes a day for 100 days to create this content. About 30 minutes every day to do the video, post it to YouTube, put it on the website, create a blog post around it, and publish all that. So about 30 minutes a day. Again, these are two minute videos.

These are not long form videos and really I just trimmed the ends. Whatever take was the best, I’d do two or three takes for a question and then post it up there. So low production value, but relevant. We made about $5,000 during that first 100 days, which is nice.

It’s a nice little thing. It kind of proves out that there can be money made. But $5,000 is not going to change anybody’s life, there’s no doubt about that.

What ended up changing the course of my career, and specifically catapulted me into the kinds of marketing industry because I realized the power of this, was one particular piece of content. What is New York State short term disability?

That one piece of content, answering that one single question, completely changed the course of my business.

For those of you who don’t have a history in insurance, which I don’t expect many of you do, maybe some, short-term disability is not a policy that people want to write.

It’s actually kind of an attach-on policy to a worker’s comp policy, not something that anyone really wants to write. You don’t really make a lot of money off of it. It’s kind of annoying. It’s really based off how many employees you have and it’s just a mandatory coverage that New York State has forced on businesses. It’s not something that agents spend a lot of time on.

But I answered the question because someone asked it. Well, about six months after the campaign was gone, this answering questions campaign, after I finished, one of the major insurance carriers in New York State who offered short-term disability to businesses cancelled that coverage. They just sent non-renewal letters out to all their businesses and said, “We no longer are going to be offering this coverage to businesses. As of your renewal date you need to find a new provider.”

SEE ALSO: Insurance Marketing: Beer or Wine?

What do you think all those businesses who at the time had never had short-term disability explained to them, all of a sudden they start receiving non-renewal letters in the mail.

What do you think their reaction was? Let’s say poor at best. They just started freaking out.

What they did was they went on line and they typed in “What is New York State short-term disability?”

Because most of them had never even had this coverage explained to them. And at that time, back in 2012, no one had ever answered the very specific question, “What is New York State short-term disability?” Not even the New York State Department of Insurance. They talked about short-term disability but they never answered the very specific question in that form with that question as the title, in very specific language, answering that direction question in language people actually could understand.

No one had ever done that before. My phone started ringing off the hook with people and businesses in New York State. Targeted inbound leads that I wanted to write who had this problem, which was very easily solved because there are plenty of other carriers that wrote short-term disability in New York State, and they were upset with their current insurance agent who had never really explained this coverage to them before.

I back doored into more very large accounts, because now I’m cross selling and upselling and helping people and really doing my job, which is an insurance adviser, and we made an awful, awful lot of money off that. The lesson here is that those weren’t easy accounts to write because I had to explain to them again, give them a deeper understanding of what New York State short-term disability is. But more importantly I had to then figure out their worker’s comp, their property, their liability, I had to try to convince them to give me their business auto or any professional line insurance that they had, and work all that together.

And even though many of them were upset with their current agents or they didn’t like them, I had to sell them. These weren’t teed up easy policies to write.

But because I had an open mind and I understood that people who come to us, from the internet in particular, who are searching us and using that zero moment of truth to choose you as a provider, they most likely have a problem. If we attack that with the mentality of, “I’m going to solve this problem and become a great resource and partner for them,” and not…the opposite of that is, “Well, it’s not teed up. Anything that comes online should be teed up perfectly.”

That may sound crazy to you listening to this, but there’s a huge contingent of people who believe that, for some reason, internet referrals and internet leads, leads that come in through content marketing, inbound leads, somehow should be easy to write. That’s simply not the case.

I proved that point out through the most profitable piece of content I have ever created in my entire life, a one-minute thirty-two second YouTube video explaining, “What is New York State short-term disability?” I could never have imagined that piece of content would have been so profitable. The only way to reap that benefit, and to figure out what your most profitable pieces of content are, are to create them.

This has been nice. I hope you guys enjoyed this little story. Very impromptu. I didn’t do any advertising for it. It was just on my brain and I wanted to capture it, share it with you guys live, and I look forward to sharing more with you in the future.

Thank you so much.

Ryan Hanley

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