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The Birth of

Author: Gary Savelli

Yes, they're failing... the DotComs are going under by the droves, and if you've been reading the news, you're even LESS inspired than ever to build a web site, or to keep struggling to make your agency website succeed than ever before. Right? WRONG!!
Here's why....


I'm more inspired than EVER! Why? Because nearly every one of the principles I teach in my book, "Selling Insurance on the Internet", was violated by these online companies in part or in total. They are dying because they are not listening (not just to me, but to many others who have been saying the same things for years now.) If you are an insurance agent, NOW is the time to get on the Internet if you are not on it already! Now is NOT the time to roll over and die. Now is the time to "be born!"

"What Went Wrong?"

Why are these Internet companies failing? There are several reasons, and if we can learn from them, we can make OUR insurance websites successful. Let's look at some of the reasons for these failures, and what we must do to succeed and to start making money on the web.

Wrong Move #1: Large Amounts of Capital Spent on Advertising

These companies were spending millions in advertising. The truth is, that you will NEVER get your money's worth in advertising on the Internet. However, the good news is that you don't need it to be successful. There is no need for an independent agency to develop a "brand name recognition," and that's mostly what web advertising will do. Of course, with that recognition will come some internet traffic -- and that's what it's all about. But there are a variety of ways to get traffic to your site for little or nothing. The easiest way, and the cheapest way, is through the search engines, many of which are still "free." There are a few that now require fees, are worth paying for (Yahoo, LookSmart, and Inktomi to name some of the prominent ones), but by and large, you can get traffic to your website for free. Enough to keep most independent agents busy every day.
What an insurance agency needs to get web site traffic is good web page layout and coding, hard work in submitting your pages to the search engines, and taking the time to make contacts, improve flyers, advertising, yellow page ads, and other avenues, which will get people to visit your site. And no insurance web site will produce sales without a good assortment of insurance products that are competitively priced, good sales strategies, and "niche" marketing for specific insurance types and needs.

Wrong Move #2: They made the Internet Their MAIN Source of Revenue.

At this time, the Internet will probably NOT be your MAIN source of revenue. It needs to be an adjunct to what you are already doing. At our agency, about 25% of our monthly revenue comes through the Internet. That percentage is on the increase, but we realize it is an ADDITIONAL source of income, not the main source. Sites like "e-Toys," "," who were Internet earning ONLY companies, learned they could not survive that way.
Even companies like "" would not exist through their retail Internet sales alone. You need alternate sources of revenue, whether you are a small or large company. Companies that are successful because they see this (like JC, K-Mart's, etc.), realize that the Internet is a TOOL, not a SOLUTION. Spend a good deal of time and resources on your site NOW, so it will be ready for the FUTURE. But realize that you cannot drop everything else for it. Keep improving what you are doing at your site, and make sure that your site succeeds. If it improves what you already do well, that is success from an Internet standpoint.

Wrong Move #3: Huge Amounts of Capital Spent on their Hardware and Software.

What do you need to succeed on the internet? A very simple array of things. A computer, an Internet service, a hosting company, and a basic selling-oriented web site. The computer you probably have already. The Internet Service you can get for only $20.00 a month or so (America On-Line, etc.). The web host should cost you between $10.00-$20.00 a month, and the website should cost you no more than a $500.00 one time charge, with very minimal charges for updates. That's it. Everything else is "fluff." If you spend more than what I have told you, it's over-kill, and it will be wasted money by and large.
I hear horror stories of agents spending large startup fees ($1000's and beyond), large hosting fees from some insurance web site hosting vultures (in the neighborhood of $100.00 a month and up), and other needless fees like paying for useless quotations and leads, paying hundreds of dollars for links on web sites, and on and on. You don't need it! And if you are in such scams, try to get out. (If you need help starting a site, we can get you going for only $500.00 at With your hard work after the site is running, you will sell. I have not met one who has not, if they were serious about making it happen.

Wrong Move #4: They Tried to Do Everything Electronically or Automatically.

I have found that the sites which are making money are those who have the ability to work via the internet AND which have customer sales and support people at an 800 number, especially "service" type sites (which insurance agents are). You MUST have personal contact with your customers. The LESS personal interaction I have with my clients, the less I sell. There is NO budging for me on that issue. Over three years of experience has proven this to me, without controversy. If you don't TALK to people, it is hard to sell.
One example? The other day a man contacted me about earthquake insurance. Asked for a quote. I gave him the figures via e-mail. He contacted me by phone and asked why he should buy the insurance from me, rather than from the company directly (he even named the company before I told him who it was because he had gotten the figures from the carrier's web site which were identical to the quotes I provided!). Never mind what I told him. He bought the policy from me. That was a $70.00 commission I made in 3 minutes of talk. I am better to him than any insurance company web site, and so are YOU! People still want people...and if you don't like people, you won't sell too much.
Lastly, if you need help with your web site endeavors, just ask. The selfish won't tell you anything. The greedy will charge you huge sums for information. Stay away from them. The people that really care about YOU, will help you for a fair and reasonable price...that's how you will know who to trust. (And when you ask, make sure you ask ONLY the people that are doing it successfully. Most of the things I read in insurance magazines are written by "consultants" who have never sold an insurance policy on the Internet in their life!)
So what I am asking you to do, is refrain from making the mistakes most agents and failing internet companies are making. It's time to be BORN! Don't get on the Internet hoping it will do your work FOR you. Get on the Internet so it can work WITH you...and you will see a big difference!


P.S. If you'd like to know more about our services to help agents, or would like to purchase our great "nuts and bolts" book (geared to the small to mid-sized agency) entitled "Selling Insurance on the Internet" (a great agency addition for only $25), visit our web site for agents at: (you can also view a short video clip on how to make your agency web site a success). If you are an agency and need some serious "consulting" to make a go at a web site, or fix what you have so it will do something for you, I am available for special consulting projects if you email me at:
Copyright 2001 by Gary Savelli. Used with permission.


​127 South Peyton Street
Alexandria VA 22314
​phone: 800.221.7917
fax: 703.683.7556

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