It pains me to write this.  Technology is sexy, fun and exciting, which our industry needs more than anything.  Yet, after years of projecting some technological changes to the insurance agency world, The year comes, the year goes, and insurance agents don’t change.  

The question “Why?” has been thoroughly examined and would just add to the noise.  So this article will do it’s best to answer the depressing question, “WHY NOT?”

3 unremarkable common sense reasons why digital marketing & technology IS NOT changing the way insurance is sold.  

(Beware- These answers are not cool nor sexy and may be offensive to agents that equate cool and sexy with results)

Social media this.

Data analytics that

Ooh, I see a cat in a hat

Insurtech disruption here,

2-minute quotes there

Noise, noise everywhere

At the risk of sounding like the typical version of a stale, male and pale insurance agent (thanks Ash Fitz for that phrase.)  I’d like to throw a wrench in the ever spinning wheel of insurance marketing craziness that has distracted a generation of bright agents from their true purpose… protecting their clients.  

Sometimes common sense isn’t so common and can get lost in the noise, especially on social media.  Here are the three most unmistakably obvious reasons why insurance agents don’t see results from social media and digital marketing.

1-Insurance Is Boring.  That’s right, I said it.  Nobody wants to talk about, read about, learn about or tweet about insurance.  It’s boring, it’s confusing, and it’s scary. Three things that cause extremely strong “run-away” reactions in most animals, especially humans.  We might as well come to grips with it.

Extremely important information that changes my future forever… boring, NEXT!

Ooohhh… Cat Videos!!!! 

Why do you think the loudest, most memorable insurance ads have nothing to do with insurance?  Marketing good insurance is both extremely difficult and extremely expensive. So, let me be Debbie Downer and say, if you are incredibly creative and have an unlimited marketing budget, Go all in on digital marketing and kill the gecko.  For the other 99.9% of the insurance agent community, your time and money is much better spent taking your clients and referral partners to lunch and asking them about their dog.

2- The Big Bad Big Data Assumption.  Data analytics, in all its consumer marketing power is based on one gigantically humongous assumption, “The customer knows best.”  This assumption works incredibly well when dealing with clothing, home design and children’s play things. However, the customer’s knowledge is disturbingly lacking in things like complicated legal documentsrisk and well… the future.

NEWSFLASH:  Insurance is the service of handling risk of future events using complicated legal documents.  

Anybody see a problem here?  

Least likely insurance marketing message:

Survey says low price is the most important customer driver when purchasing insurance.  

We say… You’re wrong.

We can’t trust the general public to make decisions on how best to handle their insurance decisions.  They need you as their consultant. Unfortunately, we won’t sell many policies walking around yelling, “Sorry general public… You’re wrong!”

3-The Prevention Paradox. We all notice the one idiot driver that cut us off while never giving any attention to the other 5000 drivers that went by exactly as they should.

But yet, drivers here suck!!  

Think for a moment about your ideal client.

Most agents would say this client:

-trusts them enough to be honest about all of their risks

-takes their advice to purchases policies that will cover everything

-implements risk control and prevention techniques and never have claims

-always pays their bills on time and service communication is smooth and easy

What do all of these ideals have in common?… NOTHING happens.  No uncovered claims, no billing problems, no angry customers, no frustrated employees… Just simply business as usual.  

This is known as the Prevention Paradox where the clients that have the best experience don’t even notice it.

In contrast, marketing is about one thing… attention.

Marketers crave attention

“Business as usual” does not get attention

The best insurance agents intentionally provide “business as usual”

What a dilemma?!!!

In Conclusion, I clearly see the hypocrisy of using social media marketing technology to propose to the insurance agent community not to use social media marketing technology.  I also see the dilemma that everything I said is, at best, sad and, at worst, disturbing and deflating. That is not the intention of this article.

The intention is to bring common sense perspective to the many agents wandering from one marketing guru to the next without seeing real results.  I’m hoping to prevent more confusion, distraction and deflation.  

Earning your client’s trust is hard.  Use technology intentionally and with care to build trust with your clients and prospects, but don’t expect technology to do it for you.

Until humans can effectively;

–prioritize the boring, scary and important stuff over the fun, sexy and cool,

-tell the future, and

-notice all the stuff that didn’t happen,

We are left doing the hard jobs of preventing problems from the shadows, protecting the innocent and providing powerful resources to an oftentimes ungrateful public.  

Sorry, sometimes the truth hurts. 



Who was your best teacher?  Was it the college professor that had impressive control of the classroom with their perfectly presented PowerPoint presentation?  Was it the 4th grade teacher that seemed to care about every kid personally? Or the online course that you could direct on your time and at your pace?  There are so many teachers that are overlooked in the value they bring to your life. But all of them pail in their results to the best teacher of them all… Failure.

Honest Deceit

By Brett Thompson

I’ve been deceived, by the truest of friends

With best intentions, I’m sure.

Those teachers that meant to guide me,

led me down paths impure.

The struggles this detour incited

has caused much reflection indeed.

Hind anger, fear and mistrusting,

Faith attain, must we succeed.

For nobody knows where they’re going,

Some assume higher their path.

If direction ahead were for certain

then destination we presently hath.

The guide knows no more than the guided.

The shepherd, no more than the sheep.

Together, the path we must travel,

none knowing the path we must keep.

To follow and lead become equal.

student/teacher on the journey do meet.

Due to shadows of life unforeseen,

we all impart honest deceit.

Teaching now seems quite hollow

since teachers teach lessons untaught.

And when the test in the end seeks perfection?,

Then failure‘s indelibly sought.

Our hope, then, can only be failure.

Then swift recov’ry the goal.

The teachers we veritably learn from?;

Mis-steps ingrained in our soul.

Here are my 5 greatest failures teachers and the lessons I learned from them.

(In chronological order)

1-  7th times the charm

I ran for and lost every school election from 6th grade through my Junior year of high school.  0 for 6 is a pretty pathetic election record. I was scrawny, quiet and very “not cool.” But for some incomprehensible reason, I continued to put myself through adolescent misery.  

I continued to run and lose…BIG…in front of the whole school.  

So, of course, I did what any normal, nerdy, high school loser would do after losing six times in a row…  

I ran for the highest position in student government, Student Body President.  

Why stop the streak now, right?  

With a campaign full of posters with my face glued onto a superhero’s body, I surprisingly won the election.

You know what they say; “7th times the charm.”  

That one win put me on a pathway to a full-tuition college scholarship, multiple leadership and service opportunities and added a sense of confidence I had never felt before.

Loss(Approx. $100 high-schooler dollars and major adolescent embarrassment)

Lesson Learned:

You never fail if you never quit

EasyHard Come, Easy Go

Upon completing college and a one year insurance internship, I joined the insurance workforce in a small town agency.  Five years of history is too much to explain in one short paragraph, so I’ll sum it up this way.

-4 1/2 years of great growth,

-My boss got nervous that corporate would give her job to me

-The economy fell apart & growth stopped

-I was the perfect scapegoat

I could have gone over her head to defend myself, but I didn’t.  I passively took it up the (insert body part), mistakenly thinking it was noble.  As a result… I got screwed and lost my entire book of business with very little to show for it.   I failed to stick up for myself and my family. EPIC FAIL.

(Approximate Loss $150,000)

Lesson Learned:

When the pressure is highest, It is noble to stand up and fight

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Jobless, Homeless & FREE

We built a home in 2007, at the height of the Utah housing bubble.  Soon after we moved into our house, the market collapsed. The next few years have been well documented as the worst economic collapse since the great depression.  Our home lost $150,000 of equity and we needed to move. Short sale was our only option. Before that, only screw-ups and losers had to short-sell their home.

We must be screw-ups and losers.  Right?!!!

Looking back, we lost a lot of equity and cleaned out our savings.  I distinctly remember the feeling that night after everything happened. We felt an overwhelming and surprising feeling.  

We were jobless, homeless and…


We realized that our losses were just numbers on a computer screen.  But our kids were healthy, we were moving back near family and we were escaping a toxic work environment.  The pain and fear, that had been building over the prior year, washed away in an instant. It was all in our heads.

(Approximate Loss $150,000)

Lesson Learned:

Most pain is temporary and all fear is imagined

Can you have your cake and eat it too?

In 2012, a friend approached me with an idea for a website that sold gift certificates for restaurants and offered a free dessert as the incentive.  I loved the idea and the numbers seemed to work out. So, as in most things in my life, I jumped in with both feet. The process was fun. Collaborating, planning, building, branding, etc was addictive and thrilling.  It wasn’t until we launched the website that I had a strange epiphany…

I don’t want to sell dessert coupons.

I think my partners felt the same way and the idea melted and died much faster then it started.  

(Approximate Loss $10,000)

Lesson Learned:

A good idea does not a good business make.

I am my own weakest link

5 years into my second insurance agency, my frustrations with the industry reached a boiling point.  I realized something needed to change, so I started writing.

At first, it was a way to release my frustration. Over time it morphed from a release, to a passion, to an addiction, to a mission, to a community.  I started spending more time and money on this mission (much to the worry of my boss and my wife) but I couldn’t stop.

Too many people needed this.  

I needed this.  

However, I was hypocritically talking about teamwork, specialization and collaboration while still trying to do everything by myself.  I am not a web developer, marketing expert, business strategist, operations manager, video editor, designer or even a very good sales person.   

I am exceptional at 2 things:

-Consulting companies about risk and insurance, &

-Always getting back up after getting knocked down  

Once I realized that, I started practicing what I preach.  I searched long and hard for a team. That search is paying off as much of my previous work (that took me months or years to build) is now being replaced by my team with much better solutions in a matter of weeks.  I have never felt so humbled and relieved. It’s hard to picture how I survived without an incredible team. Too bad it took me nearly 3 years and a lot of money to learn this lesson.

Approximate Loss $30,000 + nearly 3 years of hard work

Lesson Learned:

Just because you think you can do it, doesn’t mean you should do it.  Find a team you trust and get out of their way.

Every one of these lessons have led me to where I am now.  Never have I learned such strong lessons as I did through these and innumerable other so-called failures.  There is a lot of talk about the power of discussing and learning from failure. But very few people are vulnerable enough to do it.  

Now that my biggest failures are out there, we’ll find out if sharing them will be failure #6…

To be continued…


Note to self every time I get bogged down by the agent vs agent civil war. The insurance sales battle can be brutal. I heard a very successful agent say:

“It’s not a dog eat dog world, It’s an eat your children world”

I hated that comment when I was a fresh-faced intern and I hate it now, fourteen years later. But is it true? Is the world of insurance sales a brutal battle, zero sum game, I win-you lose fight to the death?

If yes, then we better get to know our arch nemesis intimately in order to exploit their weaknesses right? So who is your Arch Nemesis?

Is it the agent down the street?

Is it the big city guy poaching business from your community?

Is it the up and coming Insurtech monster coming to take over the world?

The answer is none of the above. Your Arch Nemesis is…

None other than…

We have the resources to conquer your Arch Nemesis. Those resources are the other agents inside the Agent of TrACTION Community



Yep, YOU are your own worst enemy!!!

Who gets in the way every time you see a big opportunity?


Who ties you down when you’re inches away from victory?


Who stops your progress when you are succeeding?


Stop letting FEAR get in the way of your success.  You have a secret weapon to conquer your arch nemesis and you know who that is?…


Take ACTION & Become ELITE

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton