FARMERS INSURANCE AGENTS GET FRIENDLY WITH CUSTOMER NEWSLETTERS
An independent survey conducted in 2004 reported
high consumer readership and recall rates, as well as
a 16 percent consumer response rate.
Farmers Insurance Group of Companies is based in Los Angeles, California, and its agents sell insurance throughout the United States.
Previously, Farmers had made limited efforts to control and coordinate marketing among its exclusive agents. As a result, more and more agents were choosing to adopt, adapt or simply ignore the corporate brand and message, and these self-produced communications were neither endorsed nor reviewed on the corporate level. Funding for any type of program would have to occur through the agent, so it was essential to build participation among agents accustomed to doing their own marketing materials.
Enhance customer retention.
Promote consistent use of the Farmers brand among all agents, coast to coast.
Support individual agents’ earlier marketing efforts, while allowing content to reflect specialized service lines and regional differences.
Strengthen and expand communications between agents and the customers.
Increase customers’ awareness of Farmers products and services.
Build referrals and cross-selling efforts.
Appeal to potentially thousands of agents, with as many thousands of individual communication needs, while maintaining cost efficiencies. Supplying completely customized content for so many agents was impossible on a corporate level, but there was an opportunity to focus on the three primary geographic regions represented.
Engage agents in the program. Making the production process agent-friendly and illustrating the benefits of a consistent corporate brand were among the key considerations for any proposed solution.
From a creative standpoint, produce reliable and relevant information for an extraordinarily broad range of Farmers customers — the end users of the marketing materials — whose response would ultimately drive agents’ willingness to participate and define the program’s success.
First Marketing created a customer newsletter program, personalized with each subscribing agent’s name, address, photo and signature. This publication was sponsored by Farmers exclusively for use by Farmers agents, with three regional versions: California, Texas and Midwest/West.
The program was introduced at the company’s Championship meeting in May 1990, and many of Farmers top sales representatives bought into it immediately. Then, First Marketing initiated a campaign to promote the newsletter program with marketing materials, distributed from the corporate office, encouraging agents to sign up.
A 16-year partnership between Farmers and First Marketing testifies to the newsletter program’s sustained success. Approximately 1,600 agents, representing 10 percent of Farmers nationwide agent sales force, are enrolled in the program and distribute 4.8 million newsletters annually. An independent survey conducted in 2004 reported high consumer readership and recall rates, as well as a 16 percent consumer response rate.
Over the years, Farmers confidence in the newsletter program has prompted the development of additional products, including:
An online newsletter order site, linked to the Farmers intranet, where agents may order newsletters and select articles
The Friendly Review en español, a Spanish-language version of the program
Your Financial Solutions, a newsletter program for Farmers Financial Services in 2002
Friendly Invitation, a newsletter to help district managers’ efforts to recruit new agents
A newsletter for independent agents who sell Farmers along with other carriers
In 2003, First Marketing added a field representative to sell directly to Farmers district managers and agents, resulting in another surge of participation and growth in all versions of the newsletter.