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ITC Press Releases

Second Annual InsurTech Scholarship Open for Applications
The second annual InsurTech Scholarship is open for applications. Deadline to apply is September 15, 2017.

POSTED JULY 17, 2017 9:00 AM
ITC Named a Top Technology Provider in Insurance Business America for Second Year
Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC), a provider of websites, marketing, comparative rating and management software and services, announced today that readers of Insurance Business America have named ITC a top technology provider for the second year in a row.

POSTED JUNE 26, 2017 9:00 AM
ITC Launches GAINSCO Buy Now in TurboRater for Websites in Texas
ITC launches GAINSCO Auto Insurance® Buy Now in Texas in its online consumer rater TurboRater for Websites to help independent agents compete effectively online.

POSTED MARCH 20, 2017 9:00 AM
Albert Appouh Wins the Inaugural InsurTech Scholarship
Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC), a provider of agency marketing, rating and management software and services, announced today Albert Appouh as the inaugural recipient of the InsurTech Scholarship.

POSTED NOVEMBER 09, 2016 9:00 AM
ITC Launches Homeowner Rating API for Online Agencies and Lead Providers
Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC), a provider of agency marketing, rating and management software and services, made homeowner insurance rates available via its web service-based rating API today.

POSTED NOVEMBER 02, 2016 9:00 AM
ITC Integrates TurboRater with Compass Driving Records
Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC), a provider of marketing, rating and management software and services, announced today the integration of TurboRater, its comparative rating system, with Compass Driving Records to provide its users with access to motor vehicle reports (MVRs).

POSTED AUGUST 24, 2016 9:00 AM
ITC Debuts Inaugural InsurTech Scholarship
Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC), a provider of agency marketing, rating and management software and services, announced today the debut of an annual scholarship program to support the future of the insurance industry.

POSTED AUGUST 17, 2016 9:00 AM
ITC Adds First Chicago to Binding Online with TurboRater for Websites in Illinois and Indiana
Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC), a provider of marketing, rating and management software and services, announced today it has added First Chicago Insurance to the binding online technology in Illinois and Indiana in its online consumer rater TurboRater for Websites.

POSTED AUGUST 10, 2016 9:00 AM
TurboRater Becomes First Comparative Rater to Provide Two-Factor Authentication
Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC), a provider of marketing, rating and management software and services, announced today it is adding a second layer of security to its comparative rating and sales system TurboRater with two-factor authentication, making it the first comparative rater to offer this extra security.

POSTED AUGUST 03, 2016 9:00 AM
ITC Integrates with Compare.com and Empowers Market Growth
Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC), a provider of marketing, rating and management software and services, announced today its integration with Compare.com to help provide more auto insurance quotes to online insurance shoppers.

POSTED JULY 27, 2016 9:00 AM

ITC Blog

Why Google Is Not Your Target For SEO

Why Google is not your target for seo graphic

 

Are you working on the search engine optimization (SEO) for your insurance website? If so, your goal is likely for the site to appear in Google’s search results. Google is the dominant search engine for the insurance industry. In fact, it boasts more than 80 percent of market share. So, earning good Google rankings is critical for SEO success.

This is why many agents optimize their websites specifically for Google. They incorporate important keywords into their webpages. They boost their page load speeds. They consider SEO best practices as gospel as they tinker, and then tinker some more. They expect Google will automatically reward them with higher rankings.

But all too often, these changes amount to nothing. No rankings boost. No surge in website traffic or leads. And one very frustrated agent.

Why didn’t these efforts pay off? The answer has nothing to do with the agency’s tactics. But, it has everything to do with their targeting.
 

Missing the Mark

When one business relies on another to spur growth, it often gives in to that other company’s demands. After all, the saying goes: Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

Many independent insurance agencies find themselves in this position with Google. The agencies realize an SEO campaign can provide a cost-efficient route to growth. But they also understand Google controls the campaign’s fate.

Angering the Google gods seems like the quickest route to failure. Pleasing the search giant seems like the best route to success.

Yet, this thinking is way off the mark. It fails to consider the way Google operates.

Google is an algorithm-based search engine. It uses a complicated mathematical equation to return search results. It does this billions of times a day for search requests that span the globe.

Google used to incorporate manually-curated data from the DMOZ directory into this process. But DMOZ recently shut down. So, the process is now 100 percent automated.

This process is also more convoluted that ever. Google built artificial intelligence into their algorithms. So computers running them can now add their own changes. This means even the engineers who design the algorithms don’t know how they’re implemented.

Is your head spinning yet?

Here’s the key point: It’s impossible to try and please Google. Humans no longer have full control over rankings. And the goalposts for success are always changing.
 

Getting Back On Track

So, if Google isn’t your target for SEO, who should be the focus of your campaigns?

Website visitors.

Don’t take it from me. Look at what Google has to say in their Webmaster Guidelines:

Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.

Why would Google point your agency in this direction? Because they’re seeking out the same web users you are.

Google recognizes satisfied users are the key to their continued success. When searchers find what they’re looking for, they’re more likely to trust Google. If they trust Google, they’re more likely to return there for future searches. This will expose those searchers to more ads, Google’s largest source of revenue.

So, Google takes a user-centric approach to their search products. They spend considerable effort getting to know the needs of their consumers. They then aim to deliver results that best meet those needs.

Google tries to serve as an online portal. And this portal connects internet users’ questions to the most relevant answers.
 

Putting This Into Practice

How can your agency fit into this vision? By providing solutions for your consumers’ needs.

Segment your target consumers. Find out what they’re looking for. Determine which concerns they need addressed.

Then, deliver solutions. Create content that answers those concerns 10 times better than anyone else can. Provide a frictionless user experience on your website. Respond professionally to any follow-up questions.

Finally, make sure search engines can access your site. Submit your sitemap, fix broken pages, and get backlinks from other relevant websites.

If you do all this, you’ll align your agency with Google’s vision. And, you’ll likely see improved search rankings and increased traffic.

Better yet, you’ll be able to see SEO success without chasing algorithms.

And this strategy can also improve your agency marketing as a whole. Agencies that put their clients’ specific needs first tend to earn consumer trust. This can lead to a surge in referrals and a spike in close ratios. It’s a win-win situation.

So, realign your SEO focus. Google is not your target. Your prospective customers are.

 

Want help with your search marketing campaigns? ITC offers managed SEO services. Contact us today for a free consultation.

 



POSTED AUGUST 23, 2017 9:00 AM
The Different Business Structures for Your New Insurance Agency

hand grabbing keys

 

When starting a new independent insurance agency, one of the things you need to consider is how you’re going to structure the business.

The business structure you choose affects several things. This includes your operations, how you pay taxes and your liability as an owner.

As part of our continuing series for starting a new independent insurance agency, let’s take a look at the different forms of business. You’ll need to decide how you’re going to structure your agency for your business plan.

The most common structures are sole proprietorship, partnership and corporation. There are tax and legal implications for each type.

Note: This is an overview. I recommend talking with your lawyer or accountant about the different types. They can help you determine which structure will be best for you.

 

Sole Proprietorship

If a single person owns and operates a business and hasn’t registered it as any other business entity, it is a sole proprietorship.

Sole proprietorships are easy to set up and run. The business is part of the individual; it is not a separate entity. That means all the profits go to the owner. But, it also means taking all the losses. You report any business profits and losses on your personal tax return.

Not having a separate business entity also has an impact on the business’s legal situation. Any lawsuits against your business can affect you and your family personally.

Creditors can go after your personal assets if the business cannot pay them. And, you might find it hard to find investors or partners to join in your business goals without the ability to sell stock in your agency. Plus, banks can be hesitant to lend to sole proprietors.

If you choose sole proprietorship, I would suggest you set a higher limit on your E&O and general liability policies.

 

Partnership

A partnership has two or more owners who share the benefits and risks of the business. It may include general partners who are all involved in the daily operations and share in the liability for business debts and actions.

Or, it may include limited partners who are only investors and aren’t involved in the daily operations. Limited partners also don’t share in the liability.

The specific types of partnerships (general, limited and limited liability) you can form will depend on your state.

 

General Partnership

In a general partnership, all partners are involved in the daily operations. They also have personal responsibility for the business’s debts and liabilities. If someone sues the business or one partner, all partners are held liable.

 

Limited Partnership

A limited partnership has both limited partners and general partners. A limited partner is not involved in the daily operations of the business. They also have limited liability. Most often limited partners are investors.

 

Limited Liability Partnership

A limited liability partnership (LLP) mixes characteristics of partnerships and corporations. An LLP is similar to a limited partnership but gives all partners limited liability. Partners are not personally liable for the errors, negligence or liabilities of the other partners or employees.

In an LLP, each partner has the same responsibilities for managing the business and being involved in the daily operations.

 

Corporation

A corporation, sometimes called a C corp, is an individual entity separate from the owners. It can make a profit, pay taxes, and be held liable as its own entity.

Creating a corporation is more complicated as you have to register with your state. (Check with your state’s office of the Secretary of State for more information on this process.)

A corporation’s owners have shares of stock in the company. This is an advantage for corporations as they can raise capital via the sale of shares.

Owners also have greater protection from personal liability. The tax situation for corporations is a little more complex. Corporations have to pay corporate income tax on their profits. In addition, the shareholders (owners) pay personal income tax on their compensation and dividends.


S Corporation    

The S corporation, or S corp, is a hybrid structure. For legal and liability purposes, it’s a corporation. For tax purposes it’s a partnership. This means the owners have limited liability because the company is a separate entity. But, the owners receive the profits and pay taxes on those profits in the same way as a partnership.

To create an S corporation, you first register the corporation with your state. Then, you must file for an S corporation election with the IRS as only certain types of corporations are eligible for this status.

S corps avoid the double taxation on profits that a C corp can have.

 

Limited Liability Company

A limited liability company (LLC) is another hybrid of the corporation and partnership structures. Like a corporation, it protects the owners from personal liability in most cases.

Like a partnership, the owners’ pays taxes on the company’s profits as this money is part of their income. Some states may have a franchise tax on LLCs. Check with your accountant if you’re not sure about your state.

It is easier to set up an LLC than a corporation as there are no by-laws or corporate charter required.

 

Comparison Chart

Here’s a handy chart that sums up the differences among the different business types.

 

Business Structure

Ownership Liability Taxes

Sole proprietorship

One owner

Unlimited personal liability

Personal tax only

Partnership

Two or more

Unlimited personal liability (except for limited partners)

Self-employment tax (except for limited partners)

Personal tax

Corporation

One or more

Not personally liable

Corporate tax

S corporation

One or more (but no more than 100), all U.S. citizens

Not personally liable

Personal tax

Limited liability company

One or more

Not personally liable

Self-employment tax

Personal or corporate tax

 

Don’t Forget

Talk to your lawyer or accountant about the business structure that’s best for you. While it may be possible to change after you’ve been operating for a few years, it’s complicated and costly. Your lawyer or accountant can help you understand the benefits and limitations of each type.

 

Got a question about starting an agency you’d like us to answer in a future post? Leave it in the comments below.



POSTED AUGUST 22, 2017 9:30 AM
RE: You Won't Believe My Email Clickbait

computer mouse inside mousetrap

It’s no secret one of my top email marketing pet peeves is clickbait, and I’m not alone. Fifty-four percent of email subscribers admit to feeling deceived by a commercial email’s subject line.

Clickbait is a modern marketing strategy that uses eye-catching content to lure unsuspecting readers in and get them to click on links. Originally used on websites and blogs, clickbait has made its way to email marketing and has no signs of stopping.

At first glance, clickbait can seem like a great idea. Your insurance emails will get noticed in inboxes and open rates will soar. But don’t get too excited, yet. Clickbait can do more harm than good. If subscribers open your emails only to find they are underwhelmed, or worse tricked, you’re going to have a hard time rebuilding those relationships.

Oh yeah, and misleading subject lines are illegal. Yes, you read that right. The CAN-SPAM Act prohibits the use of deceptive subject lines. If you break the law, your reputation won’t be the only thing at stake.

Still not convinced? Here are three popular examples of email clickbait and how they can damage your insurance agency’s reputation and ruin customer relationships.

 

Hello, there. Remember me?

An email that appears to come from an acquaintance or friend catches the subscriber’s attention. After all, who doesn’t open an email from someone they know?

But when the recipient opens your email, they realize they have been fooled into thinking you are a trusted associate when really you aren’t. Your brand is now associated with deception and false representation.

Who would want to do business with an insurance agency with such a reputation? Good luck overcoming that bad first impression.

 

RE: Your insurance policy.

This is arguably the worst culprit of email clickbait, and my least favorite of them all. The strategy is simple: RE or FWD precedes a subject to make subscribers believe the emails are part of an ongoing communication.

Even the most mundane subject line instantly jumps out in inboxes and begs the recipient to open at once. Someone replied to my email? I wonder what they have to say.

However, eager curiosity quickly turns to confusion when the recipient realizes the email wasn’t part of a thread. It won’t take long for that confusion to escalate to irritation.

Nobody likes to be tricked. Skip the RE and FWD and you will prevent receptive subscribers from becoming guarded detractors.

 

ICYMI: Justin Timberlake juggles pineapples while riding a bicycle.

We’ve all seen this one. In an exaggerated attempt to stand out in inboxes, the sender uses a subject line that is so eccentric it no longer corresponds with the email’s content.

It’s one thing to elevate curiosity, but it’s completely different if your subject doesn’t even match what your email is about. Yes, you will see a jump in your open rates, but that’s about all you will see.

If your message doesn’t meet or exceed what your subject line promises, your readers will be let down. Do you really want your insurance agency to produce feelings of disappointment?
 

Keep your eye on the prize.

Email marketing is all about building strong relationships with your subscribers that are founded on trust. Remember, you need subscribers to open your emails, but also read and take action as well. Don’t blow it on the first step by using unwanted clickbait. Invoke authentic curiosity and deliver accordingly, then sit back and watch your email marketing thrive.

 

 

Need help staying in touch with all of your agency’s customers and prospects? We can help! Contact us today for a free consultation. 



POSTED AUGUST 21, 2017 9:26 AM
ICYMI: Bang For Your Buck: Underused Features of Your Insurance Website

In the August 2017 edition of Masters of Marketing, Website Coordinator Matt Farrell goes over an insurance website's often-overlooked features, and how leveraging these tools can lead to a higher return on investment. If you missed it, view the slides below or watch a recording here

 

 
If you enjoyed Matt's topic, join us in September for the next edition of Masters of Marketing. On Thursday, September 21st, AgencyBuzz Coordinator Malika James will host Are You Missing the Mark? Email Marketing Opportunities You May Be Missing Out On. 


POSTED AUGUST 17, 2017 1:43 PM
What is Metadata? Part I: Title Tags

wrench and html tag

In this two part series, we will explore the world of metadata. Today’s post covers information to know when creating your title tags. 

Metadata is information stored within your insurance website pages. It helps search engines understand what your page is about.

Metadata is made up of two elements: Title tags and the meta description. These carry a great deal of value for your pages. Google uses this information to describe your web page in search results.

So, you want these two elements to work for you. Use them to entice users to click through to your website from the search results.

Your insurance website offers complete control over your metadata. Unfortunately, it is either completely ignored or misused. Some people stuff a bunch of keywords in their metadata in hopes of better rankings.

Let’s take a look at the title tag. The title tag is information that can influence whether your page is relevant to a search query. 

Here are some guidelines when creating title tags.

  • When writing title tags, put your prime keyword at the beginning. If your brand power tends to elicit more clicks, put your agency name at the beginning instead.

 

  • You also have to be mindful of length. Right now, best practice is to keep your title 70 characters or less. If you go beyond that limit, searchers can’t see your entire title. It will be cut off in search results.

 

  • You can also use descriptive keyword phrases as your title tag. Be as descriptive as possible to help both search engines and users.

 

  • Help users read and understand your title quickly with formatting. For example, create a skimmable title like this: Agency Name | Primary Keyword | Short Description. Every character counts, so use these wisely.

 

  • Don’t set title tags and forget them. Check your Google Analytics data to see what kind of visibility and clicks your pages get. You may need to revisit title tags and make adjustments.

Along with these five tips, keep the user or searcher in mind. While this information is utilized by search engines, your ultimate target is the person searching.

 

Read the second part of this series over at ParadisoPresents.com. There, we discuss the second part of metadata: The meta description. importance of the meta description and how it can drive traffic to your agency's website. 

 

How is your meta data working on your site? Let’s start a conversation below.



POSTED AUGUST 16, 2017 9:48 AM
Hiring a Full-Time Marketer for Your Insurance Agency

people waiting for interview

 

When you’re running an insurance agency, you wear many hats. You may be responsible for sales, operations, and accounting besides your agency’s marketing.

There comes a time for any business when you need to hire help in one or more of these areas. So when do you know you’re ready to hire a marketing person? And what kind of marketing person do you look for?

Here are some tips to help you find the insurance agency marketing help you need.

 

Why You Might Need to Hire a Marketing Person

You might need to hire a marketing person if you can’t keep up with all the marketing tasks. If you don’t have the time to dedicate to your agency marketing plan. If you’re not doing much marketing at all. If you’ve reached the limit of your marketing skills and knowledge. If you don’t want to spend your time on marketing strategies and tactics.

Yes, you could outsource a lot of marketing responsibility. But, if you use marketing automation, someone at your agency needs to manage the technology. If you have an outside SEO firm or content expert, someone needs to oversee their tasks. Plus, monitor their results.

You could manage your outside resources yourself. But, there may come a point when you need a dedicated marketing person for the task. Again, if you don’t have the time or want to do something else, you might need to hire a full-time marketer.

So how do you know it’s time to hire a marketing person for your agency?

 

How to Know You’re Ready

When you are financially ready.

A dedicated marketing person can have a big impact on your agency. But, there are expenses you need to be ready for besides salary. Think offline and online marketing tactics you’ll want this person doing. Plus, the marketing tools and software they’ll need.

When planning your budget for a marketer, include these costs. Otherwise, whomever you hire won’t be able to do much on the projects you need them to work on.

When your goal is more revenue and growth.

Some marketing metrics are easy to measure but are worthless at telling you how you’re really doing. Like website pageviews, email open rate, or social media followers. They’re good to track, but the more important metric is how marketing affects your growth.

Increasing your agency’s revenue through leads and, ultimately, sales should be the primary objective for your new marketing person.

When you can identify what you need the person to do.

You’re hiring a marketing person to take that responsibility off your plate. But, you can’t let your new hire drift rudderless in the ocean of marketing possibilities.

If you don’t at least have an outline of what this person will be doing, you’re not ready yet.

 

What Type of Marketer Do You Need?

Marketers fall into two groups. Marketing generalists and marketing specialists. Which one you will want to hire will depend on your agency and what you need the person to do.

The Marketing Generalist

Marketing generalists have experience and knowledge in a range of marketing disciplines. This gives them better perspective, flexibility and adaptability. They tend to be creative, strategic thinkers who can handle a variety of marketing tasks. They know about a lot. But, their expertise doesn’t always go deep into any one marketing discipline.

The Marketing Specialist

Marketing specialists are experts in a certain area of marketing. Their experience, knowledge and skills go deep and are discipline-specific. They focus in one area of expertise and can get a lot done in it. A specialist could struggle if asked to drive your entire marketing efforts. Or, if a project is not their area of expertise.

So which should you hire? The marketing generalist or the marketing specialist? It will depend on what the person will be doing.

Are you asking them to oversee all your marketing efforts with you only approving budgetary spend and strategy? A generalist would be best.

Will you be driving the marketing plan and efforts and just need someone to focus on your SEO or your email marketing? A specialist in the discipline you need could help a lot.

 

Define the Position

To help you decide whether you need a generalist or specialist, you need to define the position. This is best done before you publish a job posting and get inundated with resumes.

Look at your past marketing activity. What has worked? What hasn’t? What’s your biggest marketing challenge?

What tasks do you want the person to accomplish? Are they one-time tasks or recurring?

How much experience do you want in your candidates? What kind of skills and knowledge do you need from a marketer?

By thinking through what you want and need from a marketer, you’re defining your expectations. Setting them up for success from the beginning sets your agency up for marketing success.

 

What to Look for in Candidates

Some of the best qualities in a marketer are not hard skills. But rather soft skills like passion, curiosity and willingness to learn.

The best marketers are ones who never stop learning. Marketing is continually changing. There’s always something new with technology, social media or Google’s algorithm. If a marketer doesn’t have passion or a dedication to learning, they’re not going to be very effective.

Also, it’s always a good idea to hire for culture first. If your new marketer does not fit in with your agency culture, it won’t work.

Does the candidate share your agency’s values and priorities? Can they get on board with your agency’s vision and goal?

One last thing. It may be tempting to hire an intern because the salary cost is far less than an experienced marketer. I’m not saying don’t hire an intern. But, understand that someone with limited to no experience will only be able to do so much.

Unless you’re going to spend a lot of time with the person to train them in business and strategy, it might not be worth it.

 

Hiring for any position can be hard. Hiring a full-time marketer for the first time is no exception. But, with a little bit of planning, you’ll know what skills and type of candidate you need. That will help you find the best person for your agency so you can find agency marketing success.

Got a question about hiring a marketer? Leave it in the comments below.



POSTED AUGUST 14, 2017 9:05 AM
What’s Next? Moving Forward from a Website Upgrade

 

We’ve written several blogs about redesigning or upgrading your insurance website. This step is necessary after a few years to stay modern and competitive. As design trends evolve, so should your agency website.


But, what comes after a website upgrade? What next?


I’m here to answer that question. 
 

Social Media is Your Best Friend

Social media is your biggest tool to get the word out about your redesign and piquing people’s interest. Tweet about the new features. Write a Facebook post with a link to the new website.

These messages show up in the feeds of anyone following you. Your excitement about the new design may just get some people to your website. There, they can re-engage in the buying or customer service process.


Include a Note About the Upgrade in Your Newsletter

If you have a marketing program like AgencyBuzz, or send out newsletters by other means, get the word out there. Add a link so readers can click to your new homepage.

Remember: Your website is a powerful marketing tool. So, make this news prominent. Do not bury this information at the bottom. Also, include screenshots. Show people what the redesign is going to look like. Images will drive engagement.


Add, Remove, and Update Content

Your website has arrived in the 21st century, but make sure the content isn’t from the proverbial Stone Age. After the redesign, read through every page. Make sure the information is up to date.

Do you have new employees? Did some employees leave since the last update? Has your phone number changed? Did your office move? These are all questions to ask yourself when you’re going through your content update.


Check Marketing Materials for Consistency

When you upgraded your website, did the colors change? Did your logo go through any revisions? Review marketing materials that may be outfitted in the old scheme.

I always tell people: You want people to know they’re on the right website without looking at the logo. If you offer a prospect a business card that’s green and yellow and they go to your blue and orange website, there’s going to be confusion. Confusion can cost you money or clients.

 

As I tell all my clients, a website is an ever-evolving entity and needs periodic upkeep. You’ve taken the first step by upgrading the graphics, but remember that is a first step, not the last step. Remember to get the word out and keep content as relevant as the graphics.

Did you recently upgrade your website? Did any of these tips help with the process? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

 

Is your website more than two years old? It may be time for a refresh. Contact us today for a free consultation with an insurance website expert.   

 



POSTED AUGUST 09, 2017 9:43 AM
This is the Way: Joey Giangola from Giangola Insurance

Joey Giangola

As a third-generation insurance agent, it may have been inevitable that Joey Giangola would end up at his family agency Giangola Insurance. But, it wasn’t for a lack of trying.

While pursuing a music career, Joey worked temp jobs to make ends meet. After a couple years filling orders for a mail-order novelty gift catalog, his girlfriend – now wife – began to grow tired of his creative endeavors. So Joey made the pivotal decision to try out the family business and hasn’t looked back since.

Now Joey heads up his agency’s individual health insurance sales and marketing duties. He also has a passion for helping agents learn and apply digital marketing tactics. He does this through his bi-weekly podcast called “Insurance in Your Words” and weekly Sunday newsletter for the GROW Program.

This is the way Joey Giangola works.

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Location:

That's kind of a trick question. Our office is located in Ashtabula, Ohio, but I work from home 95 percent of the time 80 miles away from a home office in Streetsboro. We'll compromise and say Cleveland.

Current gig:

Fourth in command at Giangola Insurance and managing partner for GROW Program.

One word that describes how you like to work.

Flexibly-efficient. When I’m not falling down a YouTube rabbit hole.

Current mobile device:

Nexus 6P

Current computer:

Custom built video editing monster PC.

Project(s) you’re currently working on:

Organizing GROWLab 2017 and kick starting a more serious content effort into Medicare for 2018 enrollment.

Accomplishments you’re proud of:

I'll let you know when I'm done.

Joey and his family

What are your goals for the next 12 months?

Survive another round of health care reform.

What are your biggest professional challenges?

Doctors charging too much money and incompetent legislation.

What do you like most about your job?

That I can do it however I want.

What technology, apps or tools can’t you live without?

For business I would say everything I use to make videos. Personally, there’s too much. You’ll have to come talk to me after this interview.

What are the top three apps you use on your phone?

Email (gmail app), YouTube, Plex.

Describe your workspace.

Fairly organized with a little sprinkle of drywall dust.

How do you manage your to-do list?

I don’t have one.

What’s your best time-saving tip or hack?

This one comes from my good friend Brent Kelly, who said, “Schedule your priorities instead of prioritizing your schedule.”

What’s the first thing you do when you get in the office?

The most important thing I want done.

What is your best everyday habit?

Working out.

What do you listen to while working?

I don’t listen to music as often as I would like, but if I do it’s going to be instrumental post-rock like Explosions in the Sky or If These Trees Could Talk.

What are you currently reading?

Not a big reader (I more affectionately refer to this as the thing I hate the most about myself). Thanks for bringing it up though…

What’s your favorite blog and/or podcast?

This might come as a bit of a surprise, but I don’t read many blogs or listen to many podcasts. I spend most of my time on YouTube watching/listening to the Joe Rogan Podcast or Kevin Smith’s Fatman on Batman Podcast.

Favorite social network?

YouTube (the last question probably gave that away).

Night owl or morning person?

At this stage in my life I consider myself a reformed night owl. However, I could fall off the wagon hard when my kids get a little older.

What are you watching on Netflix right now?

This is probably the most serious question you’ve asked so far. It’s not on Netflix, (Hulu) but I just wrapped up Legion, and it was an intense mind trip. Officially on Netflix, I’m having a hard time getting through season two of Supergirl, with House of Cards, The Flash, Arrow and Master of None waiting.

How do you decompress?

Having three kids six years and younger decompression comes in small doses if I can stay awake. Usually it’s watching 15 minutes of a TV show before I pass out. On more ambitious nights I might try to remember how to play the bass guitar or pick up a video game.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Working out.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Well, if you really want to know. Wake up around 6:00 a.m. and workout. If it’s during the school year, I’m out the door at 8:00 a.m. to get the kids where they need to go. (In the summer I start work around 7:30 - 8:00 a.m.) Get back to the office around 9:00 a.m. when I take care of my number one priority for the day. Depending on how long that takes I might slip in one more task before I have to make the half-day pre-school pickup. I usually return around 1:00 p.m. and take 30 minutes or so for lunch. I may or may not have a top priority for the afternoon. If not, I’ll finish up my day with meetings or getting back to clients or prospects. I usually finish the day around 5:00 p.m. and make the long commute up my basement stairs to make dinner for the family. After dinner it’s straight playtime with the kids until bedtime around 9:00 p.m. Usually that leaves me with an hour between 10:00 and 11:00 p.m. for that decompression.

Who are your business idols and why?

Working for a family agency, my dad has played a big role in shaping my business mind.

What is your motto or personal mantra?

I don’t think I have one, at least that I can remember without making something up just to sound fancy.

If you could switch jobs with someone, who would it be?

I would want to switch jobs with myself in 10 or 15 years.

Who would you like to see in a future This is the Way post?

Now you’re going to get me in trouble. I know a lot of agents who would be great. Billy Williams has to be number one, but Rob McCarthy and Josh Lipstone would be well deserving too.

The This is the Way blog series asks ITC employees, agents, carriers and other people in the industry how they work and to share their tips. Is there someone you want to see featured or questions we should ask? Tweet us or leave it in the comments below.



POSTED AUGUST 08, 2017 10:38 AM
Small Thanks Takes Your Online Reviews into the Real World

Google Small Thanks screenshot


What people think about your agency often determines how successful you are. Your agency’s online reviews can play a big role in this. Reviews, positive and negative, influence the buying decisions of online searchers.  

Google helps small businesses by creating tools to increase their online presence. Their most recent foray into this space is Small Thanks.

Small Thanks helps small businesses display online reviews in a physical format. It takes your online review offline.

You select a review, apply a design template, and export it as a PDF or PNG. You can also share it directly to Google+, Facebook or Twitter. It takes less than five minutes to get an awesome looking design. 

Head over to https://smallthanks.withgoogle.com to start your first project. Type your official agency name in the box and select the location from the drop down.
 

Google Small Thanks business selection drop down menu


Google will provide you with three design options right away. You can select one of the three they have created. Or, click the link at the bottom of the screen to customize your own.
 

Google small thanks design templates


If you want to customize your own, select up to three reviews to be on one design. There are different layout options like you saw at the very beginning. Hover over the design to customize colors. Finish your selection by clicking Next at the bottom of the page.

If you chose a default options or to customize your own, you will end up at the below screen. Click Generate Asset to create PNG and PDF files. If you want to share your file directly to Google+, Facebook or Twitter, click the appropriate icon.
 

Google thanks final screen generate asset


The .zip file that Google creates for you will also come with a few ideas to use the files.
 

Google small thanks ideas for use


A poster or a window cling is great if your agency has walk in traffic. Choose a bright color that will draw people’s eyes as they walk in or wait to see a staff member.

You should also consider using these assets in welcome packets and email marketing.

Welcome Packets and Campaigns

Once a prospect becomes a client, send a print or digital welcome packet to thank them for their business.

If you chose to print, be sure to print on quality paper. Add one of your reviews to their packet. It could encourage them to leave a review for your insurance agency.

If you send a digital welcome campaign, ask how you did during the sales process. Add an image to your email that asks for feedback. This is the perfect opportunity to provide an example of what other reviewers said.

Email Marketing

Consider adding reviews to your prospect campaigns and newsletters.

Prospects need a small push to convince them to do business with you. If your review resonates with them, it could be a deciding factor. Remember, 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

Your agency newsletters focus on what’s going on with your agency. If you got a fresh review on Google, flaunt it! Your current clients will feel good knowing they are with an agency that other clients love.

 

Anything that you can do to help generate reviews is worth doing. As shopping online becomes the norm, less people will interact with your agency on a personal level. If you don’t have the opportunity to show why someone should choose you, your satisfied clients can for you.


If your insurance website isn't visible to search engines, it's not visible to online insurance shoppers. Contact us today for a free search engine optimization consultation. 



POSTED AUGUST 07, 2017 9:00 AM
Bang For Your Buck: Underused Features of Your Insurance Website

Buying an insurance website can be a costly expense, but one that is necessary in today’s market. What you may not realize is it’s even more expensive when underutilized. If you’re only using two or three features of your insurance website platform, it may not seem worth the cost.

But, if you knew how many tools you had available, it would seem like a bargain!

In the August 2017 edition of Masters of Marketing, we’ll go over features you may not know exist inside your insurance website so you can start getting that bang for your buck.

Here’s just a preview of what will be discussed:

1. Blogging

Despite our heavy emphasis we put on blogging, I still see way too many people not using their blog feature.

This is a huge opportunity for you to connect with your audience. In most cases, they want to know who you are and why you stand out from the next agent. We’ll also talk about how blogging can be a great way to increase the odds of being seen in search engine results.

2. Event Calendar

This is a rarely used feature of Insurance Website Builder, and yet it can be a powerful tool. When does open enrollment begin? When is your agency going to be visiting the county fair? When is the charity 5K in your town? Any of these questions can be answered by simply inputting dates into your calendar for your customers to see.

3. Mailing List

Insurance Website Builder offers customers an opportunity to sign up for a mailing list. You can then export this list as an XML or text file for use in an Agency Marketing System, such as AgencyBuzz
 

This is only a preview of what will be discussed during the next Masters of Marketing. Register now and join me on Thursday, August 17th at 12:00 p.m. CT during Bang For Your Buck: Underutilized features of your Insurance Website.



POSTED AUGUST 04, 2017 9:20 AM

News – Insurance Journal

Appeals Court Rules L.A. Lakers Not Entitled to Coverage in TCPA Suit
The U.S. Ninth Circuit court of Appeals affirmed Wednesday that the Los Angeles Lakers are not entitled to insurance coverage for class action allegations that the team violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. During a game the team evidently invited …

POSTED AUGUST 23, 2017 7:12 PM
Florida Domestic Insurer Sawgrass Mutual to ‘Wind Down’ Operations
Just a day after being downgraded by ratings agency Demotech, Florida-based insurer Sawgrass Mutual Insurance Company has revealed it is under administrative supervision by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. According to an amended consent order for administrative supervision dated …

POSTED AUGUST 23, 2017 4:58 PM
A.M. Best Assigns ‘A’ Rating to New Texas Insurer, Starr Specialty
Ratings agency, A.M. Best, has assigned a Financial Strength Rating (FSR) of A (Excellent) and a Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating (Long-Term ICR) of “a” to Starr Specialty Insurance Co. (Starr Specialty), headquartered in Dallas. The outlook assigned to these credit …

POSTED AUGUST 23, 2017 4:42 PM
Missouri Agency Changes Name to Reflect Focus on Risk Management
St. Louis, Mo.-based Powers Insurance and Benefits recently changed its name to Powers Insurance & Risk Management. Founded in 1991, the company is one of the largest family owned and operated independent insurance agencies in the bi-state region. Powers Insurance …

POSTED AUGUST 23, 2017 4:31 PM
Missouri Company Fined $700K for Breaking Rules After Worker Fatality
A Missouri plumbing company has been fined more than $700,000 for workplace safety violations, including an employee’s death. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Arrow Plumbing LLC for the death of 33-year-old Donald “D.J.” Meyer and for allegedly failing …

POSTED AUGUST 23, 2017 4:26 PM
Hurricane, Storm Surge Watches Issued for Texas Coast as Harvey Nears
The National Hurricane Center has issued a storm surge watch for Texas coast from Port Mansfield to High Island and a hurricane watch from north of Port Mansfield to San Luis Pass. The government of Mexican government also issued tropical …

POSTED AUGUST 23, 2017 4:25 PM
New Lawsuit Filed Over Alleged Baylor Rape Policy Failures
A woman who reported that she’d been sexually assaulted filed a lawsuit on Aug. 21 against Baylor University, alleging questions she faced from the university shifted blame away from her attacker toward her. The lawsuit filed in a Waco federal …

POSTED AUGUST 23, 2017 4:13 PM
Denver Soon to Open Legal Marijuana Clubs
Colorado’s largest city is on the brink of licensing some of the nation’s first legal marijuana clubs. But Denver’s elaborate hurdles for potential weed-friendly coffee shops and gathering places may mean the city gets few takers for the new licenses. …

POSTED AUGUST 23, 2017 3:22 PM
Pennsylvania Commuter Train Crash Injures Dozens, None Critically
A commuter train crashed into a parked train at a suburban Philadelphia terminal early Tuesday morning, injuring dozens of passengers and the train’s operator, a transit spokeswoman said. None of the 42 people hurt in the crash suffered life-threatening injuries, …

POSTED AUGUST 23, 2017 2:21 PM
PERILS Insured Loss Estimates for Storm Thomas Remain Unchanged $293.2M
PERILS AG has disclosed its third loss estimate for windstorm Thomas, also known as Doris, which affected the British Isles, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany on Feb. 23-24, 2017. The third estimate of the property insurance market loss for Windstorm …

POSTED AUGUST 23, 2017 2:18 PM

NOTICE: The links and articles found on or within this news center are simply for informational purposes that we believe may be of benefit to our clients and/or website visitors. By providing these links on our website, we are not recommending or endorsing the use of the particular products or services these third parties offer. Nor does Sample Insurance Agency confirm, corroborate or agree to the statistics or opinions on these links and articles. We urge you to review each website’s Privacy Policy, Disclaimers, and develop an independent opinion of the service or product for any link pursued.

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