Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Thank you cards for busy execs

I preach to the converted, I'm sure, about the value of cards in building business. I've discovered a great resource, a card service that allows you to manage all your cards and contacts on line, whether it's birthdays, anniversaries, thank you cards, or seasonal wishes.

For about a dollar (this includes postage), you can send a beautiful card automatically, even personalized in your own handwriting. For more information, take ten minutes and call me for more information.

I find many busy agents are doing Google searches looking for advice on writing cards. This simple program will help you manage your card commitments.

What better way to build relationships than by cards? I've kept in touch over the years with hundreds of people this way. You can, too. Call me (visit my website for contact information) and simplify your life while building your relationships. Isn't that what sales is all about?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sum up how you serve

When people ask you what work you do, do you respond, "I'm in insurance"? I've killed numerous conversations with that line at parties, or on a plane when I don't want to talk to my seatmate.

There are scores of articles advising a one-minute marketing speech that recommends that you quickly promote yourself to others. I advise a little more caution. When we meet others, we make snap-second decisions regarding whether we're even willing to learn more about them and their profession. Pushing a 30-second "canned" presentation the first few moments you meet someone that so many networking experts promote can backfire.

If you're "in insurance," how about this one-liner? "I help people protect the people they love." Or if you're an HR manager, what about "I help my organization recruit and retain the brightest people in the [fill in the blank] industry."

Build a picture of what you do with your words and open the door to a conversation where, once trust is built, you can divulge more information to others when warranted. Americans are overwhelmed by pitches and we who rely on networking must be careful that we don't come on too strong.

We can paint a picture with our words that shows our enthusiasm for what we do. If we're excited about what we do, it's easier to get others excited, too.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

First Boomer applies for Social Security!

On October 15, Kathleen Casey Kirschling, a former teacher, applied for Social Security benefits, according to CBS News. This makes her the first of nearly 80 million Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, to apply for benefits.

77 million Boomers will begin to retire over the next two decades, over 1/4 of the workforce is eligible to retire in 2010. Is your organization ready?

To receive a free White Paper that details 22 steps your company can take to ensure you're ready for this exodus, click here.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Great guide for journalists

When you are contacted by members of the media regarding insurance matters, here's a step you can take to ensure they better understand how insurance works. The more knowledge a journalist has regarding the insurance industry, the better his or her reporting skills and the more balanced the journalist's reporting should be (in a perfect world, at least).

The Insurance Information Institute offers a free booklet for journalists that explains frequently used terms and can be used to better educate media members. Insurance Handbook for Reporters is free to journalists and members of the media; there is a small charge for others.

If you agree to an interview, this is a great URL to send journalists prior to your discussion if you feel they may lack an understanding of the industry.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Do you need a domain name?

Here's a nifty tool to help you find a domain name for your business, or for your new venture, if you are branching out. It's called Bust A Name and it's easy. Just visit the website and type words or concepts that you believe you'd like or that describe your enterprise. For example, I typed in several words relating to insurance, risk, the future, strategy and consulting. It gave me about 15 examples of domains that are available.

You can reorder them by readability, length, and can keep track of the ones you like. It also shows the price of the domain on various hosts.

All in all, it's a cool tool and it's free! Check out Bust A Name.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Write simply and clearly

Because I frequently write on human resource and intellectual talent issues facing the financial services industries, I read many, many article and White Papers. Some are well written; others, not so much.

Here's an example of confounded writing from an article in this month's Chief Learning Officer's online magazine (which I recommend) that discussed "practice communities." Practice communities are groups of people who meet to share knowledge and which I discussed in my recent White Paper (available on my website), "Brain Drain."

Processes that facilitate structured knowledge sharing ensure the white space between process owners is not missed. And when the community formalizes its knowledge into standard work processes, tacit knowledge becomes explicit and is no longer subject to loss when someone leaves the organization.

I would rewrite the paragraph for more clarity because I think the article would provide excellent knowledge, but I don't have a clue what "white space between process owners" is. If you do, I'd love to know.

There is a wide body of literature available about improving business practices. Today's executives don't have time to wade through obtuse writing that leaves them uncertain about what they've read and unable to implement suggestions from it into their businesses. There's just so little time and so much information from which to choose.

People often have great ideas, but it helps to have an editor who can provide unbiased input into your topic. If we can help your business, please contact us.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Press release

October 6, 2007

Release Date: Immediate Contact: Nancy Germond, ARM, AIC

Insurance Writer offers new advertising concepts—entertaining ads capture business consumers.

Recent Adweek Magazine survey reveals 80 percent of responders like
“smart, entertaining” advertising.

A recent Adweek Magazine survey of Americans’ opinions of advertising showed that 72 percent of those surveyed “…get tired of people trying to grab my attention to sell me stuff.” A full 84 percent say “Too many things are over-hyped now….” Yet 80 percent of responders admit they like “smart, entertaining” ads. This poll illustrates that most consumers are tired of advertising, yet potential buyers’ attention can be captured with humor. With a hint of wit, venders can generate both click-throughs and branding. Buyers of your service are more inclined to remember your name if you capture their attention with humor.

Nancy Germond of Insurance Writer, in conjunction with Stillman Thomas of the Stillman Group, develops advertising for some of the top insurance brokers, MGAs and insurance service providers in the nation. To view an example of one of their branding ads to promote the independent insurance agent, visit this link.

Today’s consumers are bombarded with advertisements, printed, on-line and in e-mail. Consumers, whether agents, brokers or industry service providers, are also assailed with media trying to sell a product. It is imperative that advertising dollars are spent on ad vehicles that are “sticky,” that remain in people’s minds long after they have viewed your ad or perhaps clicked through to your website.

Nancy Germond, ARM, AIC, President of Insurance Writer, develops advertising and provides consulting services for a variety of insurance-related organizations. Stillman Thomas develops advertising and provides website design and computer consulting.

For more information regarding the services they provide, please e-mail her at insurancewriter@earthlink.net or call her at (573) 638-3738.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Form letters often in poor form

Most agency or claims management systems have standard form letters that the user can send to clients and insureds. I've viewed more than my share of the letters as a Lloyd's auditor, and frankly, they leave a lot to be desired.

Here's a typical "your premium came in high" letter I found on one agency management system:

Dear First Name:

Your auto insurance has been issued with a premium higher than we quoted. The result is a higher $74 for an additional ticket you failed to disclose. A notice of cancellation will result ... and may result in the loss of your license.

Okay, many of your are saying. We don't even want to write people who lie to us. I don't blame you. However, in a non-cancellation state, you're married to the insured for the foreseeable future. In addition, First Name may have cousins, brothers, a mom or dad, who don't lie. How you treat First Name in every interaction makes a difference.

Consider, instead of that form letter, this quickly customized form letter:

Dear Mr. Last Name:

Unfortunately, an additional speeding citation you received on August 13, 2006, still appears on your motor vehicle record. Therefore, your policy, which we originally quoted at $700 annually for liability only on your 1998 Nissan truck, will now cost $29 additionally annually. The company has billed you for this additional premium. If you did not receive the bill, please call us immediately so that we can make arrangements to assist you.

Thank you for trusting us with one of the most important decisions you can make--your insurance. If we can assist you or someone you know, we would love to help.

Most systems allow you to input your own letters or customize their form letters. Why not take a few moments and customize your letters?

contact you have with your clients is a chance to do one of two things--turn them into a more loyal customer or alienate them. There isn't much middle ground, is there?

Client churn can often be attributed directly to customer service and in today's competitive marketplace, people still value the personal touch. Even those with convenient memories.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

New study shows women-loaded boards performed higher

An interesting new study by Catalyst, a consulting firm, found that companies with more females on their board enjoyed 53 percent higher equity returns than those with few women on their boards.

As the insurance industry talent gap widens as Boomers retire or change careers, companies should examine their hiring and promotion practices to ensure they don't overlook their brightest talent.

To read a synopsis of this study, click here.