Create a Marketing Plan;
Rack up Growth for your Agency

Have you put together a marketing plan for your agency for next year? If your answer is YES, congratulations — you're ahead of the pack. If your answer is NO, don't panic — get started. There are many things you can do to promote your agency brand, some of which don't cost anything but a little time. But all the promoting should begin with an objective, which is what a marketing plan is all about. Here are the steps to develop a marketing plan with purpose:

Executive Summary. This is a high-level summary of your whole plan. Hint: Write this last. Sum up your whole plan and keep this short and to-the-point. If it's more than a couple sentences, see if you can simplify it further.

State your Challenges. Define the market situation and any issues that may affect customers, or any product or competition challenges that you foresee. What are you going to have to overcome in order to grow? How are your competitors gaining ground?

Agency Analysis. This should be a detailed snapshot of your agency. Include goals, estimated market share, size of your customer base, key demographics, competitor analysis, economic and social environment. This is also the section to include your agency's strengths, weaknesses and opportunities.

Customer Segmentation. Describe your current customer. You may have several customer profiles that you come up with. When you begin to analyze the audience, you'll naturally find similarities with certain groups of people. These are your customer segments. How does each of these segments work with you to purchase insurance? Why did they choose your agency? What are the best ways to communicate with them? Is there sensitivity around a certain segment?

…Now Break….

You should have a good idea of the state of your agency, what you look like and who your customers are, which is necessary to begin the final section of your plan. In order to pull the next part of your plan together, consider a team meeting or a brainstorm. Begin by going through the above section and stating what your agency looks like today, and end your summary with the challenges that lie ahead in the next year. That's your springboard to jump into a planning session. As you think of things you'd like to do to grow your agency, write down everything and go with the "there are no bad ideas in a brainstorm" theory. Your goal is to compile a long list of potential tactics to implement.

Now that you've had a productive session and a whole lot of ideas, it's time to narrow the list down. Use your best ideas and tactics to finish your marketing plan. If you need help tapering down ideas, ask if it's:

  1. Doable
  2. Obtainable
  3. Actionable

…Back to the Plan.…

Marketing Strategy. In this section state your general plan of action to address the customer segments you identified above. Also address marketing solutions for your goals. This is the WHAT of your plan. What products and services will you offer them? What marketing channels will you use in the next year? Online, print, face-to-face, etc. What are the new ways you're going to target customers? What was successful that you are going to do again?

Marketing Tactics. You've listed the WHAT, now it's time to list the HOW with all the great ideas you came up with in your brainstorm. You can organize your list in a variety of ways: by media, date, audience, etc. Ultimately you want an organized list of the all the ways you will reach each of your customer segments, by which form of media (mailer, face-to-face, Facebook, ad, etc), and when you would like to implement the tactic.

Conclusion. State your budget, where you think you land, projections of expenses and adjustments that you may need to make. Include an expanded version of your executive summary here.