It’s easy to read lots of guidebooks and tips on marketing – there’s plenty out there - but as a savvy broker you might rightfully question where this advice is coming from and whether it’s truly relatable to the insurance business.
However, when that advice comes from someone firmly entrenched in the insurance business and with a brokerage that’s enjoying significant success, it’s definitely worth paying attention to.
is one brokerage that’s definitely on the up. With numerous offices throughout Andover it has recently announced its expansion in to Swindon which has the potential to add 350 new jobs to the firm in the coming years. Insurance Business UK
caught up with the firm’s financial director Andrew Dunkerley to find out the secrets of this success story.
“I’d say the reasons for our success are four-fold really,” he said. “The first is experience - the eight directors have all been in or around insurance broking for 20 years or more each. We have a variety of ages from about 44 up to 60.
“The second is how we work with insurers - when we started the business from scratch we already knew the insurers well from our previous business. We worked very closely with them, supplied them with monthly management information and told them what additional business they could have written with us and told them what their monthly price breaks were. We try to help them and steer them towards a profitable niche for them. A lot of brokers see it as ‘them and us’ with the insurance company as the “baddie” and the broker as the “goody”. But we look it as a business circle: if we put more business to the insurer they will give us better rates and we will grow.
“Thirdly, we invested in as good a technology and IT system as we could. We then invested a lot of money into training our staff. The statistic is that about 18% of the insurance industry is qualified – but we insisted that every member of staff has at least an entry-level Chartered Institute qualification. We bring in external trainers, we have our own training department and we encourage our staff to go as far through the Chartered Institute qualifications as they want to do. We give all our staff as much training as we can – because the better trained the staff are, the more knowledge and confident they are.
“The final one would be to get the marketing mix absolutely spot-on. We’re small enough, swift enough and we can react very quickly. We still trial lots of different initiatives and if it works we double our spend on it – and if it doesn’t we drop it like a ton of bricks.”
This marketing mix has been particularly crucial for the Be Wiser
success story. Its famous owl has allowed the company to compete in name value with many of the direct insurers and to build its reputation in the online aggregation space. However, the online push is only the start of the company’s efforts.
“For the rest of the marketing mix we try and look a bit larger than we are,” continued Dunkerley. “So we advertise on friendly internationals, rugby, cricket, netball, badminton… we have outdoor posters, we’re at almost every motorway service station. We try and get our brand name out there so that when people look on the internet they think “oh yeah, I’ve heard of them – Be Wiser
, that’s the one with the owl’. If we’re just Joe Bloggs that they’ve never heard of they would probably go to Direct Line or Admiral
and not even click on us. So we needed to get the branding across to attract people.”
But what about for the smaller, regional broker? Is there anything that can be learned from this approach when clearly a high street broker doesn’t have the same money to spend? According to Dunkerley, even on a smaller scale you can make yourself appear bigger than you are and spend wisely.
“If we were a small broker in a town then I would be looking to get billboards in the local football ground, the local cricket ground, some outdoor posters dotted around the town,” he said. “I’d try and get involved with local charities or something similar to raise awareness. You have to try and push your name out at every opportunity.
“To be fair, to have billboards at a local football ground and a local cricket ground, for a year you could be looking at change from about £15,000. It’s not a big spend. I would certainly be the one to advocate that you need to promote that brand and get yourself known in the town.
“But you have to be careful with that spend. If you’re just sponsoring a tiny kids football team in the town then that’s going to cost you £1,000. However, as an example, I am from Rochdale, and for £2,000 I could probably have a billboard for a year at the back of the goals at Spotland at Rochdale’s ground which would be seen on the TV on the football highlights program.
“A lot of people tend to spend on what they like or love or have a particular interest in. But you have to be hard-nosed and say ‘no a local amateur team isn’t going to get viewed like a professional football team’ – and if the differential is only hundreds of pounds then you have to be hard-nosed and turn the local amateur team down and go knocking on the door of the professional team.”
Rising broker opens in Swindon – adds up to 350 jobs