“Should I run Facebook ads?"
This is a question I often get asked by friends and agencies I’ve worked with or coached. My answer to them is:
This is part three of a three part blog series that discusses the three Ms of marketing. Market, Message and Media. If you missed the other two blogs, “Squirrel!...”, and “You Talkin to Me?”, I recommend reading the other two first before reading this one.
The reason why I am so vague with my answer is because it really “depends.” The question actually isn’t really about Facebook ads, but rather about choosing the right media for your target market.
Remember the three “Ms” of marketing, Market, Message, Media, in that order. In the previous two blogs, we worked through identifying your target market, and crafting the right message for your target market. Those two “Ms” always come first. Media is irrelevant, until you know your target market, and understand their psychology and behaviors.
For example, if your primary insurance focus is Medicare and your target market is individuals 65 plus, will you find them on Facebook? The answer is…maybe, but most likely not. The deeper question is, even if some of your market is on Facebook, do they trust Facebook when it comes to their insurance buying needs? Which takes us to step number one.
Step One: Know Your Target Market and Their Behavior
Who’s your target market? Who are you trying to reach? If you worked through the worksheets that were part of the first two blogs, this step will be much easier for you. If you know your target market and crafted the personas or “avatars,” with the free worksheet download, this step will just help you take it one step further.
Start by answering the following questions:
What is your target market’s behavior?
Using our example of the Medicare insurance agent, his/her target market may have a percentage that is on Facebook, but that does not yet answer the question whether the agent should utilize Facebook. The answer becomes clearer as the agent works through those questions and the following steps.
Step Two: Know Your Objective
Before you launch any marketing campaigns, you need to understand what your primary objective is. Is your campaign designed for:
Your objectives are part of the decision process that will dictate which media you utilize. Depending on your objectives, your message and media choices may change. This can change throughout the year depending on your objectives and the seasonality of your lines of insurance. For example, if you are a health insurance agent, you could be generating brand awareness throughout the year and switch to lead generation during open enrollment.
Step Three: Know Your Media Options
There are three general types of media available: Owned, paid, earned.
Owned Media: This is the media you control, such as your website, blog, Facebook page, and other social media accounts. The advantages of owned media are control and it’s virtually free. The challenges are your reach, which may be limited when you are starting, and the ability to generate results may take a great deal of time and effort.
Paid Media: This represents advertisements, sponsorships, paid search, and any other form of media you pay to use. The advantages are the ability to generate quick results and better target your messages. You can also scale as big as your budget. The challenges are the associated costs and there is no guarantee of results. Also, credibility with paid media is poor in comparison to other media.
Earned Media: Earned media is essentially any publicity that you didn’t pay for and is created and owned by a third party. This could be a terrific review on Yelp or Google+ a customer wrote about your agency. This could be a retweet, or share of your social media post. It can also be a local newspaper article about your agency’s contribution to the community.
When marketing is done effectively, the combination of paid and owned media can help create earned media. The key advantage of earned media is the trust factor. It is the most credible media and plays a key role is sales. The challenge is your lack of control over it. It can also be at times negative and is difficult to measure.
Although social media and digital marketing has been the topic on everyone’s minds, please remember all of your available media channels. To dive deeper into online marketing channels specifically, you can download our free online marketing guide to learn more about them.
The correct media is where your audience is. It’s not the latest trend, but rather where you will reach them. For example, I knew a very successful agent that ran local cable TV ads on a channel that featured ethic-centric programming because that was where his target market consumed information.
Step Four: Budget
Once you know your target market behaviors, objectives, and understand the types of media available, the next step is to know your budget. Budget doesn’t just mean the money you have available to spend on marketing, but also the time you have to manage them.
Every marketing channel has a cost, even if it’s free. For example, if you decide you are going to blog consistently to generate brand awareness for your agency, you need to dedicate the time to consistently create and publish new content.
Remember, there’s nothing wrong with marketing on a small “shoestring” budget. It’s worse to overspend on marketing than a conservative approach that fits your budget and objectives. I’ve known many professionals who were sold into expensive Adwords or other ad campaigns costing them thousands of dollars that yielded zero results.
Develop a time and money budget that fits your business plan, and then select the channels that fit your goals.
Step Four: Developing a mix
Developing a mix of the available channels can help you yield better results. This doesn’t mean you have to be on every channel. That’s a good recipe for overwhelm. Go back through the steps and remember where your target market is. Select a couple of channels you believe will be most effective in reaching your market. It’s okay to select only free ones if you don’t have a budget yet for ads.
For example, you can have a blog that’s featured on your webpage that you drive traffic to from your Linkedin and Facebook posts. You can run a direct mail, email and Facebook ad campaign that drives signups for your next webinar or event.
Step Five: Measure results and adjust
Measure your ROI (return on investment) and make adjustments often. There’s no such thing as “turnkey” marketing. Every agency has a unique story and goals. The key is to constantly monitor your results and make adjustments along the way. For example, if your Adwords campaign isn’t yielding leads after a couple of months, you may want to either adjust your target Adwords, or invest in another channel.
Don’t forget to measure the time you are spending as well in your efforts. The key is to be consistent. You can’t measure results if you aren’t consistent. You can’t write an epic blog post and then not publish content again for a couple of months. Be consistent with your efforts, and measure your results. Continue to fine tune until you are seeing the results you are seeking.
I hope you have found this three part blog series to be helpful in creating a solid marketing foundation for your agency. Don’t forget this week’s free download. "The Insurance Agency's Guide to Supercharge Online Marketing Results". If you missed the free downloads from Part one and two of this marketing series, please visit the blogs “Squirrel!” and “You Talkin to Me?” to get your free downloads.
As always, thank you for reading and we look forward to your comments below.