No other marketing campaign compares to the Trusted Choice Statewide Branding Initiative.

As an advertising professional who has developed campaigns for independent agents for the past 15 years, I have seen firsthand what works and what does not. By far, the best advertising program for independent agents I have ever seen is the Trusted Choice statewide branding campaign. In terms of value and exposure, no other ad campaign I know of even comes close. Putting aside my obvious bias, since I have coordinated Trusted Choice advertising campaigns in Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine for over a decade, let me share with you why I think it is the greatest campaign value for independent agents.

First, we eliminate the barrier for many agents to advertise on TV, which is the creation of an agent’s own television spot. Agents are able to feature themselves and their customers within the ad as well as showcase the communities they represent. When you consider these ads are included in agents’ sponsorship fees, this is a tremendous value since a television ad costs a minimum of $1000 to produce.

Our central philosophy has always been that frequency and placement trump high-end production. We have produced spots at cost to afford agents the opportunity to have more of their ads placed on TV and radio. The formula we have developed allows for a multitude of ads to be produced in a short period of time at a low price point. The ads are professional, and more importantly, they work in raising the recognition level of agents in their community.

Whether we are placing ads in the media markets of Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont or Maine, we focus the lion’s share of our budget on broadcast TV. Based on our experience and understanding of the marketplace, our spots run on top broadcast stations. Many agents have run their own cable TV ads, but broadcast TV has often been out of their reach. To put this in perspective, the average broadcast TV spot costs $350 – $500. A top level sponsor of a Trusted Choice Campaign often receives dozens of ads on their respective broadcast TV station, which would have cost over $10,000 if purchased directly by the agent. When you add in spots on cable TV as well as the production value of the ad itself, we easily reach over three times the value ($15,000 for a sponsor who invests $5000 in the campaign).

Agents also are encouraged to run their ads on their own. As many agents already have seen by placing ads directly on their own during such high performing cable programming as Monday Night Football, the Red Sox on NESN, and the NCAA Final Four, great exposure can be achieved by running ads beyond the selected schedule of the campaign. At the same time, agents can supplement their current sponsorship by running additional ads independently in their own cable zones.

It’s for these reasons that all stakeholders win with the statewide Trusted Choice campaigns. The Trusted Choice grants, issued from IIABA to the state associations, help its members run campaigns that better promote the brand in local markets. The maximum Trusted Choice grant of $75,000 to a state association results in a total campaign that ranges from $150,000 – $250,000. Insurance companies that support the independent agent network are also able to participate and brand themselves with Trusted Choice to support the marketing initiative of many of their agents.

It is through this combined support of the state associations backed by national Trusted Choice grants, insurance companies supporting the effort of their agents, and agents looking for a competitive advantage, that the local independent agent is able to compete at the highest level in the competitive insurance marketplace.

John Houle is the president of JH Communications, a Providence based integrated marketing agency, and can be reached at 401.831.6123 or at john@jhcom.net.