Insurance Advertising – Discover How Independent Insurance Agents Generate Leads

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Each day, more and more Insurance Agents are leaving the captive corporate world to venture into the realm of independent insurance agent. Rather than being locked into selling one major insurance carrier’s branded product line, they opt to offer a larger variety of policies, services and costs; coinciding with the demand of consumers wanting to have choices and options at competitive prices.

As we are well aware, this is no longer a “seller’s market”, but an “informed buyer’s”. People, in general, are armed with more information than ever before. So, how do you, the independent insurance agent, stand out from the other 100’s of agents in your city? What marketing avenues are available to you so that you capture the prospective buyer’s attention and convert them into a prospect and ultimately a long-term client? And which ones work?

Regardless of your target audience, whether you have niched your focus to be product specific, or if you are targeting a certain population segment; you need to investigate the various forms of advertising available to you, the costs of such programs and the pros and cons.

Below is a breakdown of the most commonly used forms of advertising for the independent insurance agency, and the pros and cons of each.

Television Advertising

As the average American spends more time in front of the television, it should be no surprise that this is one of the most sought after forms of marketing available.


  • Ability to reach a larger and more diverse segment of the insurance seeking population
  • You can specify time of day and network, reaching your intended audience easier
  • Since most consumers are engaged by a combination of movement, color, what they see and what they hear, this gives most businesses a platform to achieve full sensory contact
  • Gives a business instant credibility and prestige
  • Cons:

  • Cost for the commercial air time and/or multiple runs
  • Cost for hiring a marketing agency to lay-out and film your insurance commercial
  • Consumer expectation – no longer are we impressed with someone reading off a teleprompt, they want to be entertained
  • Competition for the consumer’s attention
  • Popularity of digital recorders has increased, giving consumers the ability to fast-forward through commercials when watching their favorite shows
  • Many experts would agree that if you have the extra capital in your marketing budget to incorporate television into your advertising that you should. However, it is important that you research different advertising firms to help you explore your options with regards to creating your on-air advertisement, the best way to target your audience and keep within your planned budget.

    Newspaper advertising and local weekly shoppers

    With regards to print advertisements, some independent agents turn to local newspapers and weekly shoppers to advertise their agencies. Since many households either subscribe to at least one newspaper, or pick them up at their local newsstands, it is a fast and simple way to gain recognition by consumers.


  • Ability to reach more than one target audience by placing various advertisements in the different sections of a newspaper
  • You have the choice of large or small circulation papers to advertise your insurance agency
  • Consumers who turn to the newspapers and weekly shoppers are looking for advertisers who offer deals or bargains
  • Multiple advertisement ad sizes to correspond with various budgets
  • Cons:

  • Newspapers and weekly shoppers are usually read once and discarded
  • Smaller advertisements have a more difficult time standing out when placed next to a larger ad
  • Quality of the print may distort images and photos in a way that can hurt your marketing rather than help
  • Ads, regardless of size, have to compete for the reader’s attention
  • Like television advertising, it would be prudent to consult with a professional marketing firm, preferably one that specializes in insurance marketing, to help you design an advertisement that best captures your targeted audience’s attention. The smaller the ad space the less detailed and complicated the ad should be.

    Also keep in mind the days the most sought after papers and weekly shoppers are printed. The rates for a large advertisement over the weekend will be greater than the same sized ad featured all week long.

    Billboards and Signs

    While most forms of outdoor advertising are contained within billboards and large signage, some independent agencies have broadened the term to include park benches, posters and seat rails at public transit stops. This form of marketing has become a popular, less costly way, when compared with television and print advertising, to reach a larger audience in major metropolitan areas.


  • Potential clients cannot simply discard or “turn off” outdoor advertising
  • Name recognition is higher with those consumers who walk or drive the same route each day
  • Billboards and signs vary in price due to size and location making it is easier to find one in your budget
  • Cons:

  • More often than not, outdoor advertisements do not fully engage a consumer’s attention for more than a few seconds
  • Advertisements have to be simple and interesting enough for the consumer to remember
  • Outdoor advertisements are usually contracted for a longer period of time than most independent agencies had anticipated securing them for
  • Posters and bench signs at public transit stops work well in major metropolitan areas where lower, middle and upper class alike share the same transportation systems, however, not as effective in areas where public transportation is not as common
  • If you feel various forms of outdoor advertising would be a compliment to your business and marketing plan, consider placement wisely. Consult many firms for input and advice on the best way to stretch your marketing dollar and how they can help you create eye-catching and simple designs for your sign.

    Phone Book Directories

    Since exposure to the advertisements in phone book directories is voluntary, meaning consumers actually turn to the phone book for its ads, this form of marketing for independent insurance agencies has become an industry standard.


  • Certain targeted audiences utilize the phone book regularly to find businesses in their area
  • Many phone books also have an online directory giving agencies a more broad exposure
  • You can tailor your exposure to cover a large metropolitan area, or just the city you work in
  • Traditionally, consumers will keep a phone book versus discarding it like a newspaper
  • Cons:

  • Cost – as more consumers turn to the internet, the cost for print ads in the phone book has increased to cover profit loss
  • Marketing ineffectiveness – with so many insurance agencies buying ads, it becomes more difficult to capture the consumer’s attention, and once again, stand out from the 100’s of other agents in your market
  • There are so many phone books in which to advertise, which one do you choose to feature your agency
  • As with any form of advertising, be sure to read all the features and benefits that come with your paid advertisement. Does it include a featured ad online, or is that separate? What is the target area or audience of the phone book you are looking at? Is the cost monthly, quarterly or annual? Is there an automatic renewal clause or will you have the option of not renewing your contract? Where will your advertisement be placed in comparison to the other featured ads? Will someone employed by the phone book assist you with an eye catching advertisement, or do you have to hire a marketing agency to do that for you, and what is the cost?

    Internet Advertising

    Roughly 90% of all the households across the United States have access to the internet either at home, at work or at school; making advertising on the internet the fastest growing marketing medium for independent insurance agents. That household percentage goes even higher for those families with a combined income of $100k or more. However, internet advertising gaining its strength only in the last decade or so, there is still a lot an independent agent would need to research, as with any form of advertising, before making a financial commitment.


  • Cost- you can spend much or as little as your budget allows
  • Levels the playing field – the internet gives the independent agent a chance to compete with the large insurance carriers with regards to search engine placement
  • Whether a web site, a PDF brochure, an affiliated network or a video; any and all forms of advertising can be featured and found on the internet
  • Advertisement exposure is voluntary. Only the websites relevant to a consumer’s online search will pull up for them to look at. Someone searching for insurance agents in their area are more often than not, looking for an agent to speak with
  • Cons:

  • People expect to be educated or informed by an agent’s personal website – having out-dated information or poor graphics can actually hurt your credibility
  • The ever changing internet – each of the major search engines change what they search for on websites constantly with regards to how well they rank. Staying on top of these changes can be very time consuming or expensive if you pay a firm to do this for you.
  • Fear of identity theft – consumers are becoming skeptical of entering their personal contact information online for fear they will have their personal information stolen or sold to telemarketing companies and be subject to unwanted emails or phone calls
  • There are so many options and services available to the independent insurance agent to effectively market themselves and attract more leads. The form of advertising you choose will depend largely on the audience you intend to target, the area in which you do business, and ultimately your budget. Be sure to ask questions. Know what you are getting and what you are not with whatever forms of marketing you decide to use.

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