starting
  • What to Know to Market at AEP

    While AEP is the source of most of an agent’s Medicare Advantage business for the year, it’s also the time of year when every agent is working, including the ones you might not be competing against during lock-in. This means it’s that much more important for you to make the most of the marketing opportunities you have available.

    Brand Yourself

    Insurance is, more than anything, a relationship business. Think about what sets you apart from an agent down the street who could offer a client the same products. Have you been involved in the community for a long time? Do you have a deep knowledge of a particular set of products? Do you offer a wide variety of products to provide a one stop shop for clients? Once you figure this out, incorporate it into your advertising, office signage, business cards, and your introduction to potential clients and colleagues.

    Generate Leads

    If you’re still building your book of business, simply buying leads from a direct mail or online lead company is a great way to get started. Direct mail leads are generally the least expensive, but have a lower response rate, whereas online leads are more expensive but are more likely to lead to a sale. In many cases you can narrow down the demographics to particular zip codes, ages, and income levels to help you focus on exactly the prospects you want.

    If you already have an established book of business, whether from Medicare or other products, AEP is a perfect time to get in touch with them. By sending your clients a letter or even giving them a personal call to let them know that you’re available and can help them with their Medicare plan needs, you can help your retention with any existing Medicare plan business, as well as generate referrals from your clients’ family and friends. Remember that you should also be planning a review with your existing Medicare Advantage clients during AEP, since their plan availability and benefits can change every year.

    Another option for generating new business is to hold sales events in your community. These are public events where you invite prospects to either come to a presentation on Medicare and the benefits of a particular plan or plans, or to drop by a table or kiosk during a particular time to ask questions or get information. These events need to be filed with CMS through carriers with which you’re contracted, and you must follow the CMS guidelines for registering, advertising, and conducting these events. Each carrier’s requirements for conducting sales events can vary, so it’s important that you’re familiar with the process for each carrier with which you work. You can view our guide to deadlines and other info about registration here. If you have any questions about sales events, feel free to email our team at events@agentpitstop.com.

    Leverage Your Community

    Are you involved in your local Chamber of Commerce, small business association, Lion’s Club, or other community group? Those groups and relationships are a prime opportunity for you to reach out and market yourself as an available resource. That kind of visibility and good will can be a great way to generate referrals as well as making your other marketing that much more effective. People are more likely to want to do business with someone who is seen as a trustworthy and active member of their community than someone with whom they’re not familiar.

    AEP will be here before you know it, so get out there and sell!

  • Time to Get Certified!

    Here at Agent Pitstop we want you to have a successful AEP, and getting certified is the first step. Below you will find tips to get you started on the right foot and get you ready to head into AEP with minimal hiccups.

    2018 AHIP certifications are now available, so if you haven’t completed it yet, don’t wait! It will be much easier to get it done now instead of when we get closer to AEP. Make a date and time for yourself where you clear your schedule for a few hours to get it done. Did you know that most carriers will provide a $50 discount if you complete your AHIP through them? Some carriers also offer reimbursements for even more of the cost if you write a minimum number of applications. Check the agent portals of carriers you work with to see what they offer, and watch your email for announcements of any special programs.

    If you’re not already, you should make a habit of checking out our certifications page. Here you can find links to the online carrier certifications, as well as schedules and information on in-person certifications. For certain carriers you can RSVP through us by e-mailing rsvp@agentpitstop.com. You’ll need to send us your 2018 AHIP, current license, and current E&O to RSVP. Even if you’re not RSVPing for a training, we appreciate getting your current documentation as soon as possible so that we can keep our records up to date.

    If you don’t complete your certifications on time, there can be some real consequences for you and your business. If you don’t certify, you cannot write that product at all for the upcoming plan year and you won’t be paid on your renewals, which is enough reason for most of us to go ahead and get it done! So, even if a plan has left your area or you just no longer want to write for that carrier, you still need to recertify or risking losing out on renewals that should be yours!

    It’s also worth it to get certified as early as possible, because until you’ve finished your certification, you can’t access enrollment kits, marketing materials, or other resources provided by carriers. Plus, certifications are one of the simplest things to complete early.

    If you have any questions regarding certifications, please give us a call at (800) 723-5228.

  • The Impact of the Election Year on Medicare Marketing

    The results of the upcoming Presidential election could bring about a host of changes, but even before that, the election year itself can mean new marketing challenges for agents during AEP. So what should you be prepared for?

    Fear of changes – Because Medicare is a major campaign issue, seniors are likely to be more concerned about potential changes and less certain about their options for 2017. With the promise of a new administration reforming Medicare, clients may be worried about making a decision, only to have things change.

    Congested advertising space – Remember that the election is smack in the middle of AEP! In the final lead up to the election, people will be inundated with campaign related direct mail pieces, television commercials, and print ads, making it harder for yours to be seen.

    Limited advertising available – Due to the volume of political ads being scheduled in the lead up to the election, television networks will almost certainly run out of available advertising space, and print publications may as well. Both will likely charge a premium, particularly on the specific networks and publications that best reach seniors.

    So, how do you combat this?

    Be prepared to reassure clients – Clients may be more cautious with their choices or less sure about their options because of potential changes to the Medicare program. Have some talking points in mind to remind them that any changes as a result of a new Presidential administration will take time and they should make the best choice they can based on where things stand now.

    Plan for advertising early – Get in touch with your contacts at television providers, newspapers, and direct mail houses earlier than you think is necessary to make sure you can get your advertising out when you need to. There’s likely to be longer turn around time in addition to less availability, so getting in early will be key.

    Be as creative as possible – There will be so much advertising, it will be more important than ever to find ways to stand out from the crowd. People are going to have red, white, and blue postcards by the dozens in their mailboxes and wall to wall ads in their newspapers and magazines, so start thinking now about how to make yours stand out.

    While planning marketing for AEP is always a significant undertaking, remember that this year will bring with it unique challenges. Plan ahead and save yourself some headaches!