Hey guys and gals! Q4 is officially here! How have things been going for you? I hope you’re all finishing up the year strong at your agencies. While I mention the end of 2015, this blog post is going to be all about the beginning of something.
—the beginning of something great perhaps?
The future of Advisor Evolved is looking bright folks.
That simply wouldn’t be the case without the early adopters who put their trust in us when we were brand new on the scene. I’ll be forever grateful for those people (you know who you are), and as a token of my appreciation, I’ll be telling you shortly about how I plan to “re-pay” you for your greatly appreciated leap of faith.
To my early adopters:
Although you might not realize it now, or feel as though you did anything special by signing up with Advisor Evolved, you are helping to pave the way for a potentially life changing situation for me.
If I can be candid for a moment, I want to say that I like being an insurance agent. I’ve been in the business for 10+ years as a producer, principal and marketing officer. This industry has kept food on my table, bills paid, and fulfilled many other things for me both professionally and personally.
While I was brought into this world lacking many qualities & talents, there are a couple that I’m proud to say I was given — a creative mind, and the desire to help others.
While I like being in the insurance business, and still plan to be for the immediate future, I love design, development, marketing, and helping my fellow agents change their businesses and lives for the better.
This is without question my true calling and passion in this life — a life that we only get one of right? It’s something that I can do, and talk about until I’m blue in the face. It never feels like a chore, or a job, and as the old saying goes, “If you find something you love to do, you’ll never work a day in your life” and that’s what I mean by “life changing”.
Thank you for being you, and joining forces with me and my company!
Okay, enough about me, let’s get to the good stuff right ?!
You’ve noticed by now that our website looks completely different. When I first launched Advisor Evolved, I honestly didn’t know what to expect in terms of interest in our platform. For that reason, I launched as a M.V.P. (minimum viable product), or what some people refer to as a “beta”. Basically it means you do the bare minimum necessary at first until you know you have a viable product on your hands that you can reinvest in.
My plan was, that if there was interest and AE began to generate some revenue, that I would go full-tilt and “blow the doors off” our brand. Well, thanks to my awesome users, and some incredible relationships that I’ve forged over the past several months, that has happened, and this site redesign is the first step in that process.
It goes without saying, that I am unbelievably stoked and down right lucky to be in this position.
Our goal with the new site was to go with a more mature, yet new-age “techy” look, while maintaining the clean, open design that I’ve always been a fan of. There’s still a few things that need to be cleaned up as with any redesign, and of course, being a designer, I have severe O.C.D. when it comes to this stuff, so don’t be surprised to see more tweaks in the coming weeks and months.
Humble Beginnings and 2016 Outlook
Like any other business that’s ever been bootstrapped from the ground up without any outside funding, scaling can be a difficult process. As we site here right now, I’m quite literally the chief cook and bottle washer here at Advisor Evolved.
I handle everything from customer on-boarding, to marketing, to website setups, tech support, design, and development. Many of late night and early rise has been spent doing these things, and honestly, I love it, so again, it never feels like work to me:)
While in the process of doing all this, I’m proud to say that not one penny of revenue has been allocated to anything other than improving our products and services (as should be the case right?). Being completely honest with you, I didn’t even know how to transfer funds out of my payment processor for the first month we were in business! LOL #startupfail
Every penny the business has earned thus far has gone directly back into it to provide you with the absolute best product and customer experience possible — and that’s obviously the plan going forward as well.
Speaking of which…
We have multiple updates and upgrades on our road-map for 2016 including an upgraded server infrastructure to make our client websites load even faster. While this might not seem like a sexy upgrade from the outside, it’s extremely important to have a fast loading website.
So much so, that Google actually uses the page load time of your website as a ranking variable, meaning that one of the many ways they prioritize your ranking position in search results is by the load speed of your website.
Our current server configuration is already very good, and continues to be our largest overhead expense, but I’m very much of the belief of having the strongest possible foundation, which is our network, so I’m not afraid to spend money on bleeding edge technology if I know it makes a tangible difference in your website’s performance and your bottom line.
We also have four new site designs in development, which is pretty exciting if you ask me. Many people may not realize it, but a lot of thought and testing goes into our designs, because at the end of the day, your conversion opportunities can be made or broken based on the visual appearance of your site.
Having a high conversion percentage is the perfect combination of art and science, both of which are a huge part of our design philosophy.
Every design goes through a rigorous quality control process, which includes heat-map observation (click tracking) and A/B Split testing (to see what call-to-action converts better).
My plan for our designs has always been, and will continue to be, “quality over quantity”. We’re never going to be that company that releases 30 different templates to pick from. We’d rather have 10, that are super flexible and powerful. You can rest assured that any design we release has passed our strict, and borderline snobby standards.
That’s right, we’re design (and coffee and beer) snobs here at Advisor Evolved 🙂
There are also three new plan offerings in the works for agents to choose from.
At the time of this update, only our Core plan is available, but as you may have noticed by looking at our plans page, we also have what’s called the “Premium” plan which is an additional $100/mo. In essence the Premium plan built on the same chassis as the Core plan, but includes access to our private marketing coaching community.
When this plan is complete, Premium plan members will be able to login to a member dashboard, where they will have access to a robust library of marketing coaching and instructional videos.
Things like keyword research & SEO, email & marketing automation, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn marketing, blogging, starting your own agency podcast, seminar marketing, webinar marketing, and much more will live in this dashboard.
We’re essentially putting anything and everything you would ever need to know about digital marketing in one place, so you can learn these strategies and skills at your own pace, and implement them into your business to see real results and ROI.
The cost to hire or contract an experienced marketing consultant or in-house employee even on a part time basis, can be in the neighborhood of $30-40,000 per year if not more.
We think paying $1200 per year (an additional $100 per month over the Core plan) is a pretty good deal if we don’t say so ourselves, and we hope you do too 🙂
What’s more, you can use our training videos to train in-house CSR’s, or other employees who might be in charge of managing your agency website or online brand.
“Site Plus” Plan
In the short amount of time we’ve been in business, we’ve already had numerous agents ask us if we can handle multiple websites for them. Some agents want both their main agency site with us, but also niche sites for lines of business they want to laser target.
We’ve yet to set the pricing for this plan, but we’re leaning towards doing half off the monthly cost for each additional site, as well as half off the activation fee for those additional sites.
That’s written in sand at the moment though.
“Done For You” Plan
As you know, the more quality content you can produce, the greater chance you have of ranking in search engines, getting links, and generating leads and revenue.
Quality content is quite simply the backbone of your digital presence. Without it, Google simply won’t trust your site, and neither will anyone else.
With that said, creating unique, quality content is by far what a majority of agents struggle with the most, so we want to provide some level of service in this area for our customers.
The Done For You Plan is just what it sounds like. In this plan we will in effect, go into “brand management” mode for your agency, and function very much like an internal marketing department within your agency.
Some of the things we’d be doing for people who sign up for this plan is creating unique and long form blog content, managing social profiles, as well as assisting agencies with more short term marketing projects like Facebook and Google ads.
Pricing terms and release dates haven’t been set in stone, but we’re thinking this plan will be in the $500-1500/mo range depending on exactly what agency owners need help with, and how frequently they need it.
Due to the laborious nature of managing multiple agencies’ brands, this plan probably won’t see the light of day until Q3 or possibly even Q4 of 2016, but nevertheless, it is in the pipeline.
New Team Members!
So I was saving this news for towards the end, and this is maybe the thing I’m most excited about.
Advisor Evolved is now home to 2 more team members. #boom
I wasn’t expecting this to happen this fast, but honestly I’m glad we’re at the point where we can add people to our team, even if it’s only on a part-time, contractor basis.
I’ve learned first hand from running an insurance agency for the past 8 years solo, that it’s very difficult to work on your business when you’re working in it. To compound that issue, I’m very much the type who is reluctant to delegate because I know I can already do it the right way, so why waste time asking other people to get involved?
Over time, I’ve learned that not delegating is actually what wastes time.
With that said, I’m proud to introduce Pete and Alex to the Advisor Evolved family. These are two guys who I am not only unafraid to delegate to, but who I literally cannot wait to get involved in future projects at AE.
So let’s learn a little about these two guys shall we?
Pete Hughes – Tech Support Ninja
I met Pete about 4 years ago when he was hired at my current firm to be a Junior Advisor, and knew right away we would be tight. Pete is one of the most genuine, and nicest people you’ll ever meet, seriously. I mean look at that mug!
His role with AE will be on the support side, helping new and current customers with their websites, and also doing a little bit of content creation when we launch our “Done For You” plan.
Pete is now currently working in his father’s independent agency which is about 40 minutes from my firm. Aside from having a great grasp of insurance, he’s also a very tech savvy dude, so when it was time to bring someone on to help out, Pete was the first person that came to mind.
You’re likely to see Pete on our blog, and replying to your support tickets as well. When you see him, give him a warm welcome!
Alex Mangini — Developer
Alex comes to Advisor Evolved as maybe one of the most talented developers I’ve ever met (and I know a lot of them).
Having a deep knowledge of WordPress and theme development, Alex is a guy who I’ve admired for quite a while, and I’m honestly lucky to be able to lean on him for some of our future development needs.
Alex got his start in web development and marketing at the ripe old age of 16, and has been referred to by many in the WordPress community as a prodigy. He’ll be the one making most of my mock-ups come to life, and needless to say, we’re excited to be able to utilize his skill set going forward!
If you see him around, give him a holler! Chances are you’ll be looking up, because he’s deceptively tall.
Early Adopter Special Deal
Okay, so I’m saving the best for last here. As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the awesome agency owners who have come on board here at AE.
In an effort to pay it back, and pay it forward at the same time, I wanted to reward those who have signed up with us, and those who might sign up with us before the end of 2015.
So, here goes…
Anyone who has already signed up with us, and for those who sign up with Advisor Evolved between now, and the end of 2015 will automatically be grandfathered in to our Premium plan for life, at the same monthly cost as the Core plan. So in effect, you will save $1200 per year, while getting access to private marketing content tailored specifically to insurance agents.
Pretty sweet right? If it’s not too much trouble, help us spread the word by tweeting this out for us!
[Tweet “Looking for a better insurance agency website? Check out this special deal from Advisor Evolved”]
In the end, we not only want to offer great products and services, but we want to be the kind of company that gives back, and who people genuinely want to do business with.
I can tell you now, that I never want AE to get too big. I think there are a lot of companies and vendors out there who are simply too big to actually care about their customers, and that’s something I simply won’t let happen in my business.
So with all that being said, to my current customers: thank you so much for being a customer, and to folks who are thinking about coming on board, just know that every single client means something to me and my team, and we’ll do right by you if you decide to sign up.
Enjoy the rest of your Monday, and don’t forget to drop us a comment below if you have any questions or comments!