How Small Insurance Agents Can Compete with National Insurance Companies

National insurance companies are ubiquitous in their advertising. I’m willing to bet that any American with a TV, computer or radio can’t go a full day without hearing from the Geico Cavemen, the Geico Gecko, Flo from Progressive, Mayhem from Allstate, the spastic goose from Afflack, or the World’s Greatest Spokesman from Nationwide.

I probably left a few out. There are frankly too many insurance gimmicks to remember off the top of my head.

That just goes to show that you have a lot of competition out there. And they are spending millions every day solely on advertising and marketing.

Local insurance agents such as you probably don’t have that kind of spare change around. You may be up against an army of Goliath-sized competitors, but there are ways you can minimize the strength of their name recognition. In fact, you can turn that name recognition against them.

Another national insurance company, Erie Insurance, does exactly that. In a radio ad the company is currently running, it unequivocally states that it doesn’t spend its time and money creating gimmicks and jokes. Instead, the ad says, it provides affordable and high-quality insurance.

And that’s it — so simple and effective. Just hearing that ad was refreshing and inspiring. It made me envision a ticked-off goose or a talking lizard actually trying to sell insurance to me.

I know that’s extreme, but how a person or company chooses to represent themselves is an important statement of its priorities, something local insurance agents should know.

That, in effect, is a subtle line of attack you can incorporate into your sales presentation. Doing so will level the playing field and detach the good feelings that prospects may attach to a national insurance company just because a bubbly, makeup-caked spokeswoman named Flo made them laugh.

Here are some ways to market yourself as the underdog local insurance agent fighting the good fight providing quality, gimmick-free insurance.

Tell clients and prospects that while those national ads are good for a laugh, insurance is one of the most important possessions a person can have. A decision to buy a certain company’s insurance shouldn’t be influenced by the quality and frequency of jokes, but for every practical reason imaginable.

  • Create your own slogan that casts you as – in State Farm’s terms – a neighborhood agent rather than a talking head for a national insurance company. Put that slogan on business cards. Make it the signature for your e-mails. Make it so if there’s one thing people know about you, it’s that your products don’t hide behind a veil of jokes from sketch-comedy characters who wouldn’t know a lick about insurance if they weren’t paid to shill it.
  • Tell clients that behind a national ad gimmick is an army of faceless third-parties – phone operators, IT technicians, etc. – that have access to your personal information. With their local insurance agent, their information is safe and secure.
  • Remind clients how annoying and time consuming it is speaking with a robot operator and punching in numbers, especially during an important insurance-related event such as a car accident. Whereas, when your office is called, they speak to a person. That goes a long way with younger people who value their time and older folks who prefer a human element to their customer service.

Good selling,

John McCarthy
Managing Editor,


Related Article:

3 Ways to Baffle Your Competition

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Brian J. Kay, Executive Director, Leads4Insurance
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