While the future always has some degree of uncertainty, there are ways to future-proof your insurance business to at least improve your chances of succeeding, come what may.
If you haven’t yet, being able to future proof your business can start with becoming a digital insurance agency. Technology will almost certainly become more integrated into the way people work. So, those who remain stuck in manual, offline processes will miss out on clients who want to be able to quickly conduct insurance transactions and interactions online.
That said, it’s important to not get locked into only one type of technology if you want to future-proof and grow your business. If you put all your time into, say, learning how to create Facebook ads for your insurance business, by the time you figure it out the platform could change, or your audience might have moved more so onto another social media network.
Instead, future-proofing your business may depend on building up a more flexible digital presence. As we’ll explore in this guide on how to future proof your insurance business, that can require having both the technology and skills in place to meet whatever changes take place. Future-proofing your business also requires the age-old skill of being able to build strong relationships that can withstand change.
Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Platform
Even though it can be valuable to become a digital insurance agent, being able to future-proof your business depends on not committing to only one technology. Since technology will continue to evolve, you want to position your digital insurance agency to keep up with changes.
With the need for flexibility, the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model can potentially be more valuable than other solutions like a custom-built, in-house application.
With SaaS, the service provider delivers the software via the cloud, so they can easily make changes to the platform to keep up with changes, without any sweat on your end. Or, as your needs change, you often have the flexibility to simply unsubscribe from a SaaS platform and choose a new one that helps you better manage your business.
Diversifying Your Marketing Channels
As mentioned, getting focusing only on an area like Facebook ads could backfire. There’s no guarantee that in, say, five years, Facebook ads will be a viable way for insurance businesses to generate leads.
Similarly, putting all your effort into building up your email marketing presence could backfire, depending on how the future plays out. Maybe in five years your audience will feel overwhelmed by email and prefer more physical mail. Or maybe there will be a new app that combines updates from multiple companies into one newsletter, so you’ll want to get on board with that rather than using your current email marketing platform.
The point is, getting locked into one type of social media network or marketing platform can stand in the way of being able to future-proof your business. Diversifying your marketing channels and using a variety of marketing systems may help you adjust your efforts depending on your audience’s preferences at that time.
Focus on Quality, Not Just Algorithms
To future-proof your business, insurance agents and carriers should focus on the quality of sales and marketing efforts, rather than only trying to appease an algorithm. While you might be able to expand your reach on a social media network now by learning how its algorithm works, these platforms tend to change. So, what works well today might not work next month if you’re only creating content that you think the algorithm likes, rather than what your audience actually likes.
This is true for everything from Facebook to Google search. That’s not to say that you should abandon SEO efforts or ignore how social media channels work, but the same tactics that worked in the past might not work in the future. For example, if several years ago you only focused on stuffing as many keywords into an article as possible, that may have helped your search rankings at the time. Now, however, that could be something that causes you to rank lower. Plus, the blog post might be poorly written since it was only created to please the algorithm, so it’s not something you want to send to prospects.
So, while you want to be mindful of current algorithms, think about whether you can still market yourself in a way that would work in essentially any circumstance. For example, if you write a blog post on how an entrepreneur can create a budget for their first year in business, that could be useful regardless of whether it was published this week or three years ago. You can still send it over with your onboarding materials for new clients.
To future proof your business, try to create content that:
- Makes sense to humans, not just algorithms; what constitutes a well-written article or engaging video will probably not change as fast as algorithms do
- Is evergreen; not everything needs to be created with the future in mind, but it helps to have some marketing materials that aren’t tied to a specific moment in time
- Builds relationships; responding to a prospect’s social media post with a thoughtful comment, even if no one else on that platform sees your response, can help you turn that lead into a client both now and in the future
Develop a Flexible Team
For insurance agents and carriers to future-proof their businesses, it’s also important to focus on the human element. You don’t necessarily know what technologies you’ll be using in the next few years, the types of clients you’ll be working with, your budget, etc. As such, it may help to develop a more flexible team, both in the sense of:
Hiring staff can be an important way to scale your insurance business, but within your talent budget you may want to leave some room for different types of employment models. In addition to your full-time employees, you may want to bring on freelancers, contractors, part-time staff, etc.
Doing so can be valuable because you can adjust your staffing according to your future needs. If you have a very busy quarter, you can bring on more support in the form of contractors to clear the workload. This way there’s no commitment to the cost of full-time staff. If you like the work these contractors do, you could offer full-time employment, or you could scale down and hire similar workers back when you start to get busier again.
Having this staffing flexibility can also help future proof your business by allowing you to bring in specialists. Perhaps next year there will be a new type of software or social media network you want to try. Working with a freelancer who specializes in that area can be more beneficial than trying to learn how to use these technologies yourself.
Working with freelancers and the like can provide skill flexibility. But you also may be able to future-proof your business by looking for full-time staff with flexible skills.
For example, instead of focusing so much on hiring someone who’s worked in the insurance industry, you might try bringing on an employee who’s helped a variety of companies grow and has demonstrated an ability to respond to change. That way, whatever future challenges come your way, that employee might have experience dealing with them and can help your firm evolve. Perhaps a lesson learned in the e-commerce world could apply to your insurance business in the future.
Continue to Build Relationships
It may seem like you have to go completely digital and forget about human interaction if you want to future-proof your business. But the reality is that relationships still matter in the insurance industry and beyond, they’ve just evolved.
Perhaps now instead of having as many phone calls or in-person meetings, you’re exchanging emails and texts. That doesn’t mean prospects and customers don’t value relationships. To some degree, relationship building is even more important now. Do you want to be bombarded with emails from someone you don’t know and trust? Or would you rather hear from a friendly professional acquaintance?
In the future, even as technology changes and how you interact with customers, colleagues, partners, and others evolves, people will likely still want to communicate with those they have some rapport with.
So, continue to find ways to connect with others – whether you’re online or in-person. For example, you can:
- Comment on someone’s LinkedIn post without expecting anything in return.
- Invite a business professional in your local area out for coffee.
- Send a handwritten thank-you note to a new customer.
Whatever you choose to do, remember that as you build relationships, you’re future-proofing your business from forces outside of your control. You can’t change what an algorithm might prioritize next year, but you can build solid relationships that could lead to referrals in any environment.
Future-proofing your business isn’t foolproof, but the more that you can focus on these areas, the better your chances for success going forward.