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Small talk can lead to big marketing payoffs

December 16, 2021 / Katharine Gebhardt

If you do an online search for “relationship marketing”, you’ll get lots of suggestions on automating your customer relationships. Big businesses spend a lot of time and money trying to create a real connection with their customers. And that can lead to a big advantage.

Your superpower – being able to build face-to-face or personal relationships with your customers – can be a big boost to your business

People choose to buy from companies and brands they trust and like. 84% of customers say that the experience a company provides is as important as its products or services. And, as an extra bonus, customers you’ve built relationships with tend to make larger purchases.

So, relationships can be pretty big business builders and give you an advantage over large corporations. Since conversations build relationships, this is one way everyone on your team contributes to your brokerage’s success.

Every time you talk to a customer, you find out more about what’s going on in their life

Conversations offer clues about what customers need, before they know they need it. For example, maybe they’re:

  • planning a vacation and will need to know if they’re insurance covers a rental car, or if their home insurance covers a long absence,
  • celebrating a teenager’s birthday (and that teenager will soon be driving),
  • doing a home renovation that could affect their home’s value significantly, or
  • preparing for a new home, a new baby, or have had a change in relationship that affects their coverage.

They may not have called you to buy more insurance, but when you ask them what’s new, they may offer clues to what they need. Anticipating their needs can reinforce that you are looking out for them.

Conversations answer important questions about your business

Unlike chatbots and ‘contact us’ forms that are available 24/7, a conversation is only available during business hours. But it gives the customer (and you) so much more.

You can answer specific questions and get their feedback. You’ll get a better sense of whether they’re happy or not (and you can deal with it right away).

You may feel like you have to invest in tools that provide service 24 hours a day. But if the tools don’t answer the right questions or help build a relationship, they can’t compete with the immediacy of a true person-to-person experience. Even if that experience can only happen the next business day.

Opportunities may be organic, but you can also create opportunities for conversation

Some customers are happy to reach out to you. But what about the ones you don’t hear from often? There are ways to jump-start the conversation with those customers, too.

  • Sending an article with a personal message shows you understand their interests.
  • Asking for their feedback on a project, like your new website, customer service, or a product lets them know you value their opinion.
  • Notifying them about a new product that fits their profile reinforces that you understand their needs.

This type of approach offers another advantage. If you have customers who don’t like to chat, start the conversation electronically. You might not glean as much from the interaction if they don’t reply, but you’re still building the relationship by keeping in touch.

Make sure you know your customer, before you get to know them better

Your regular conversations with customers can make a big difference to your business. But they aren’t without pitfalls. While it’s nice to keep in touch and follow up with customers on big events in their lives, you have to be careful not to cross any lines. Privacy is a bigger issue now more than ever.

Knowing your customer is important. Knowing their expectations around conversations and what you can follow up on is even more important.

Why not make your everyday conversation into business builders?

Unlike large organizations, you don’t have to mimic the feeling of a genuine relationship. The conversations you’re having all day, every day, are a great opportunity to build relationships that last.

Yes, a call centre is open 24/7, but when it comes to my own insurance, my broker emails or calls me back with exactly what I need and I’m confident in the answer. She’s there for the basics, so I’m confident she’ll be there for the big stuff.

And that’s what builds better relationships.

Related articles:

Loyalty: You can't buy it, but you can build it

Online reviews: What others say matters (a lot)

Stories make you stand out


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