WelheadInsurance.ca once had cheeky headlines with scantily clad women and messaging like the below plastered across the site.
“We know you’ve earned the mud on your boots. You’ve work hard to build a successful company and we at wellheadinsurance.ca want to help protect it.”
But the site developer, Darren King, knows that the ‘Chive-esque’ site wouldn’t appeal to everyone, and at the time it didn’t faze the fifteen-year veteran of the insurance industry. When he set out to distinguish himself from his colleagues, he had only one thing in mind: appealing to potential clients.
And isn’t that what any savvy marketer does?
“I knew that I had to stand out and I was looking for a different marketing strategy,” said King. “I took a look at what existing brokers were doing online (brick & mortar type companies) and though they had a lot of standard information, nothing stood out.”
For a couple of years, King contemplated the site and even had to pep talk himself into buying the $10 domain that would eventually send him down a newfangled path.
After finally pulling the trigger back in July 2014, the site sat on page six of Google (and we all know that no one checks there.) Now, what makes King stand out from his colleagues is a keen appreciation of search engine optimization (SEO.) He was acutely aware that in order to top Google, having an ‘edgy’ site wouldn’t be enough. He knew that he had to continually add valuable information. Modelling other insurance broker blogs, he looked at what his demographic was interested in and set out to share things that would appeal to them.
For several months he had steady but low traffic. That was until an underwriter (unbeknownst to him) happened to stumble upon the site and sent it out to a couple-hundred insurance brokers. The big question: who was responsible for the site?
King got a call from a broker asking him who it was and if he had launched the site saying: “Well, you’ve pissed off a whole lot of people.” Sure enough, King checked his site analytics and saw a huge spike in traffic; from there the traffic grew.
Now, you’re probably wondering whether the site was all buzz and no action, especially in a market where the barrel is sitting at $30:
Despite the down market and massive layoffs in the industry, King is fielding at least two calls a day directly related to the site offerings. Of those calls he’s closing commercial leads more than 80% of the time. (All of it from organic search, as in, he hasn’t spent a dime on advertising!)
In fact, while in a meeting with his boss he took a call and bound a policy right there in the chair. His boss was curious how he landed a hot lead so easily and moved through the process so quickly. King showed him the website.
What about pushback?
Originally the site tagline was: ‘making insurance sexy’. However, after a year he was approached by a colleague at an industry event, who told him that the site was ‘degrading & wrong‘.
He took the feedback into consideration and ended up changing the tagline, but continued with his marketing plan.
Now, I’m sure we’re all familiar with the never-ending debate of whether sex sells. Who remembers the Old Spice commercials with Isaiah Mustafa? Or what about the Kraft commercial with the Italian guy wearing nothing but an apron? How about the ‘diet Coke break’ commercial? Or again, diet Coke gardener ad?
When asked if he was worried about being called out on his tactics by clients, he noted that of the calls that come in for quotes nearly 20-25% were female callers and he hadn’t yet had a client complain. He added, “From the regular daily calls, the response has been positive: ‘Oh man, I really like your website,’ and even, ‘I check it monthly to see what else is up there!’”
King knows that these marketing tactics aren’t for everyone, nor every insurance broker. “The key was understanding who I wanted to attract.” But he said that if clients expressed concern, he wouldn’t hesitate to rethink his marketing strategy. He ended the interview with this advice for other insurance brokers interested in improving their marketing:
King has developed a provocative site, with a dash of shock value and it has people talking. But no one can really argue with the fact that the site has succeeded in getting him to attention.