For many brokers, time is money. While getting involved at the local soup kitchen or assisted living facility seems like a great idea, you might put it off for another day or keep it on your to-do list.

It’s understandable. You’re so busy seeing clients, completing paperwork, chasing leads, and trying to keep up with family and friends that undertaking a volunteer project or other charitable endeavor probably feels out of reach.

But what if I told you making community involvement part of your integrated marketing strategy can win you new business?

Listen to this article:

Branding on a Budget

Marketing on a small business budget can be a difficult task. Community outreach allows you to gain visibility, build relationships, and bring in new business with minimal investment. It’s also a great way to set yourself apart from the competition!

Sponsoring sports leagues, volunteering at non-profits, joining associations, even briefly appearing at a local event, school, church, or library — all these initiatives help build your brand as a trusted and engaged member of the communities you serve.

Although the people using the food bank you volunteer at may never be your clients, you should look at the bigger picture.

Although the people using the food bank you volunteer at may never be your clients, you should look at the bigger picture.

Localizing Your Business

As a small business, you already have inroads to people in your local community, giving you a competitive advantage over larger corporations based elsewhere. Are you leveraging your connections and targeting your outreach to what resonates the most with your local clientele?

Serving your community is a great way to meet new people and hear what others feel and think about insurance trends, issues, and decision making. Even on a slim budget, you can find new ways to create a sense of place and tailor your business strategy.

The people serving with you — that person putting bags of beans in the boxes with you — they could be your next lead, referral, or mutually beneficial relationship. It’s likely prospects and clients will eventually hear about and admire what you do in the community via social media and word of mouth.

Gaining Trust

It’s a fact. Prospects don’t choose who they do business with based solely on product. They look for someone who reflects their core values — someone who they can rely on not to mislead them.

Prospects don’t choose who they do business with based solely on product. They look for someone who reflects their core values.

In a world where insurance has become transactional (online, phone, or kiosk), you have the power to stand out as the local, human connection clients need to navigate health care choices. Your community involvement is a strategic way to humanize insurance, improve public perception and build awareness of your brand, and acquire loyal clients.

Remember, people do business with people and make decisions emotionally. In the end, generously offering your time and establishing yourself as a local mainstay helps show people they can trust you to handle complex insurance decisions and management.

Sharing Your Story

So, you’ve decided to get involved… now what? Keep others in the loop!

Publishing press releases, blog posts, and social media updates are all great ways to raise awareness about your activities and how you’re setting yourself apart. Spreading the word is how you turn your kindness into a marketing component that builds your brand and your book.

Keep in mind, community involvement is not something that you should look at as a transactional event — it’s all about building relationships. Seeing it only as a cash cow will lead to initial disappointment, as profiting from it will take a while. Where and how you spend your time should mean more than the business it may bring.

Community involvement is not something that you should look at as a transactional event. It’s all about building relationships.

If you’re unsure on how to structure your community involvement plan, follow the lead of some of the nation’s top companies. It’s easy to research ideas and learn from today’s most influential brands. One of America’s largest online retailers sends volunteers to local food banks. And, almost every insurance company across the nation donates funds and time to improve the health and well-being of members in their local communities.

Now it’s your turn! Find a cause you believe in, make a difference, and share what you’re doing to make your community a better place. Then, enjoy the results of increased trust, credibility, and clients.

● ● ●

A modified version of this article was previously published in the December 2017 issue of California Broker Magazine.