Dear Big Insurance company,

I am sad to say this but you are likely severely under-performing.  Every day the people of the United States and I are reminded how much you covet their business but never how much you appreciate the business you have already.  Every day we see you continuing to waste the money we give you by advertising to us like we are a bunch of uneducated, dollar crazed idiots not interested in value.  Behind the scenes you continue to “add” useless endorsements that are rarely paid out on.  You continue to ignore the premise that value trumps price.  When the rest of the world is being successful advertising and working for a particular niche or even a large group but not “everybody” yet you still market to the masses
You don’t need to get any bigger but you do need to get better.
First step is cleaning up what you have.  By that I mean, you inspect or at least should inspect every property you write as new business but might have just started doing this.  Obviously things change but fact is I have been asked to insure several homes and autos and have actually politely turned them down.  Remember the goal is not to be bigger it is to be profitable.  Do you even know what you insure at this point?  Why not?  If your broker partners are paying attention to what they insure why aren’t you?  Reality is you are hurting all of us but you are the one taking the biggest hit.
As far as your advertising, unfortunately you are paying a bunch of people to produce content that does not have a measurable result.  If it does, the metric was likely introduced by someone who helps support advertising and marketing firms so why pay attention.  A few ideas; Did your gross premium dollar volume increase because you raised rates or because the households you insure went up?  If it is not because the households you insure went up you need to rethink your strategy.  Are you advertising at the very expense of the people you already have?  Seriously, have you not caught on that the single best form of advertising is word of mouth?  Why not focus on what you have, turn them  into raving fans and see what happens?
Some random ideas I bet you will not implement;
STOP advertising.  Instead apply that money to programs to help your existing customers.
 As the value of the car goes down so should the rate.  You know how many times agents have to answer this question.
If you really want to do a rate increase you should put last years rate right next to this years rate.  Now this one will take some intestinal fortitude, got some?
Seriously, just include glass.  Who takes comprehensive without glass.  Now I know this varies in different states but this is an actual practical thing to  do.
Set a standard of coverage and don’t waiver.  Now I know this is tough because you feel like you are risking more but the reality is you aren’t.  Be the first one to do better and see how well it works out.
This is getting long and can keep going.  Call me some time I would be glad to chat.
Billy Van Jura

What do you look for in a college?

I was at a light behind a car with a big sticker announcing that they were an Alum of New York University.  Pretty regular, unremarkable thing to see.  But I am wondering, what does and what should someone be looking for when you look at a college?

My initial thought is check in with the alumni office first with the career/guidance office a close second or even in a tie for first.   Even if you do not know what you want to study the reality is these two places could be the best tools any college has to offer.  I appreciate the fact that the name on some pieces of paper carriers more prestige than others but the reality is it is a piece of paper.  You can read all the books you want but if you do not do anything with the information it isn’t really knowledge.

If you do have a major it probably makes a ton of sense to then check in on the professors in whatever department you are looking at.  Do they actually have experience beyond the campus or are they just teaching courses?  Have they had a career and now are teaching or did they just keep going to school without actually applying any of the “knowledge” they gained.

**Disclosure, I did drop out of an MBA program when I realized what was being taught was not how the information/concept was actually used.**

I am sure that there are some highly specialized curriculum programs for pretty specific majors throughout the college landscape.  I am also sure there are lots of people with highly specialized degrees who are either unemployed or working in a different field that would not have required a degree.  No sense in being that person.

Does my college have a solid alumni network? See there events calendar, LinkedIn, Facebook groups.

Does the career office regularly bring in outsiders to talk?

Do they regularly do job fairs where not only do you get to meet prospective employers but you also see a wide spectrum of companies?

Have you met other Alumni who can give a testimonial about the school and programs beyond things like “it’s a great place to go to school,” and ” You’ll have a lot of fun….”

Either way, just a thought.

Overseed the lawn let it grow then weed it..

I suggest always starting from a genuine position.  Preferably a position that makes you want to help others and be a solid resource for everyone you know.

So over the last several years I have taught myself a lot about LinkedIn.  It started about four years ago as a way to make sure I am keeping in touch with people.  It has grown into a very useful tool for not only keeping a rolodex somewhat organized but also has allowed me to become more valuable for the people I value.  The following is a little experiment I had done once before and just did again.  It worked well the first time, I learned some lessons and here you go;

12/28/13 about 6 a.m. I invited everyone I could to “LinkIn” with me.  Now on the surface some people would think this is spam but if you look beneath you realize on some level, some deeper than others, I have had contact with all the people I invited.  Many were people I knew on some level we just never “Linked”

Now the starting point was 804 connections.  Within  24 hours I was at 923 .  This is a 14%+ increase in contacts and is almost a 6% return on the invitations sent.  Really solid numbers.  BUT remember this really just makes me more potentially valuable to the people that hire me, choose to work with me and see me as a resource.  41 of these new 119 actually looked at my profile, not sure where the value is in that  stat.

Now is is a full 5 days later.  5 weird days on the calendar considering a weekend between Christmas and New Years, New Years eve and New Years Day and that much of the world is semi hibernating.  Now the number is 1020.  A solid 10% return on invitations and 25% increase in contacts.

But where is the value in this?

  • In theory I am more valuable to my contacts because I have more contacts.
  • I have shown up in 216 new feeds which have potentially been seen by 26,000+ people.
  • LinkedIn’s software now presents new opportunities based on who is in my network.
  • Anytime I put something out the odds are higher that my “buyer” will see it, better yet a new buyer.
  • Etc.

Well now what? Here are some tips I share when the opportunity arises.  Reality is if you make the people around you better you’ll become better.

1. make your profile as complete as possible.  Be human.  Keywords help, especially colleges and location.  Also, somewhere in your profile simply write your last name as it is commonly misspelled.
2. I love the LinkedIn phone app.  Fun experiment was letting it invite all my phone contacts.  I liken this to over seeding a lawn.  You’ll get some goofy grass but you can always…
3. Weed the garden.  I know everyone I am connected to.  Some better than others but I do not connect with everyone I meet.  Why?  I want to be able to refer/introduce these people to others.  BUT for the sake of the above experiment I went a little beyond my usual.  No worries though, I had many great things happen when a month or so after “seeding” I go back and start weeding the garden.
4. 10 minutes a day; Linkedin tells you who has updates and who has anniversaries.  Likeing a status is quick and puts your face in front of that persons  contacts.  When taking the congratulations route.  Write a full sentence.  So easy to personalize and stand out.  Scroll through your updates and pick one or two to comment on.  It is quick and really effective. ** Please read the first two sentences of this post again**
5. PHOTOS  Get a solid head shot.   Personally prefer a basic head shot.  What an awesome missed opportunity for most people.
Thanks for considering.