You sponsor the local charities that you care about every year in the name of your insurance agency. Your agency name shows up on the 5k t-shirts and the hole-in-one sign at the charity golf tournament. For the people who read such shirts and signs, there is no doubt you support your community.
But what if you could reach farther than you currently do in simply writing an agency check once a year?
What if your agency’s social media could actually recruit more donors?
What if everyone who called in for a quote, did so knowing that your agency would donate money to a local charity just for shopping their insurance?
What if the causes your agency believes in were part of your brand?
How powerful could that be for customer trust, employee morale, and most importantly, bringing much-needed attention to deserving charities?
One of the benefits of incorporating your insurance agency’s charitable involvement into your marketing strategy is that it makes your customers happy. People are more likely to buy from companies that support a cause: 89% of U.S. consumers are likely to switch brands to one associated with a cause, given comparable price and quality. In fact, your involvement in community work could help negate the price war that insurance agents often feel driven to fight: 42% of North American respondents reported they would pay extra for products and services from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact.
There are, however, other lesser-known benefits to this approach that make it even more worthwhile to consider for your agency.
Go Beyond Customer Loyalty to Employee Loyalty
Dan Muhlenkamp, of Preferred Insurance Center in Coldwater, Ohio, describes it this way, “In 2012, our agency was celebrating its 100th anniversary and we decided to celebrate by giving back to our community. That year, and years since, have changed why we come to work every day. We are also having more fun.” Involving your employees in working for a cause increases morale and is seen as a benefit.
For insurance agencies struggling with how to retain employees and attract millennials, offering paid time off to do volunteer work is a possible game changer. According to The Washington Post, “Experts and employers say it is becoming increasingly common for workplaces to offer paid time off to do volunteer work as part of an effort to boost engagement and retention among employees.”
Go For Community Buy-In
Chris Paradiso, of Paradiso Insurance in Stafford Springs, Connecticut, sees their social media as a powerful tool in getting the community involved in a cause. His philosophy is simple–writing a check is great, but limited. “Our promotion of a charity gets more people involved, and is more powerful. The ten year effect through recruiting people is that, even if Paradiso Insurance isn’t here, that the work will go on.”
As a result of the recurring themes of the agency’s causes in their social media strategy, Chris reports, “In the last six months, we’ve had 72 people step up and pledge over $100,000.” That’s not agency money, that’s the community responding to a spotlight put on a worthy cause, in this case Journey Found, a charity that assists developmentally challenged young adults in becoming more independent.
Preferred Insurance Center has been able to involve their community in raising funds through their “Flock-A-Friend” program. The agency takes numerous pink flamingos and secretly sets them up in the front yard of a local home or business with a sign saying, “Preferred Insurance Center ‘Flock-A-Friend’ Help a Charity.” In order for the flock to be removed, the individual or business calls the agency and is instructed on a suggested donation that will release the flock, plus they can choose where the flock should be placed next.
Go Outside the Box with Your Digital Marketing
Preferred invites everyone on their website and on their social media to become part of the #PreferredMovement. You simply can’t miss that this initiative is the central theme of their agency brand. The agency pledges to give $10 to local charities for everyone who allows them to quote their insurance, even if no policy is sold.
Since the #PreferredMovement started in 2012, the agency has donated $55,000 to various charities. Muhlenkamp gives an example of where that money goes, “From the quotes for causes, we donated $7,000 in 2014 to Serving Friends & Families Ministries, a lesser known but very locally active charity with a low budget. This allowed them to purchase a box truck to help pick up and distribute furniture from donations to the needy.”
The very active social media marketing of Paradiso Insurance includes content which regularly features several causes: POW/MIA, pet adoption (the agency has a resident dog, #Madmax, who is featured on their social media), and American pride.
#FlagsfromParadiso is a campaign during Flag Week each June, where the agency provides US flags and mounting hardware as well as flag pins to the community. Their social media presence is continually growing (over 2500 followers on Facebook, 2400 followers on Twitter, plus strong numbers on Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram), in great part to smart tactics any agency can use.
Paradiso says, “Creative visuals are the key to storytelling in social media. We use video and visual content to do what we can’t do with just words.” In addition to the visuals, the use of hashtags (i.e. #FlagsfromParadiso and #PreferredMovement) across all the channels is an easy SEO booster.
Pay It Forward
Although the innovative uses of charitable causes in marketing are different between these two agencies, they are united by one belief at the heart of it all: “Using your cause as just a business strategy won’t work,” Muhlenkamp attests. Paradiso agrees, “It is about helping the cause, not helping yourself.”
Both agencies attribute the success they have had in raising money and awareness for their chosen causes to paying it forward as part of their business plan. Your agency already has the commitment to your community – why not dial it up a notch through your marketing initiatives? The result could be much more far-reaching than the agency’s name on the back of a t-shirt.