Are you just getting started in Insurance Content Creation? Do you secretly worry you may be doing it wrong and it might come back to bite you? Enlisting a Digital Mentor can go a long way in helping you learn the ropes — which is why I am posting 7 Interviews with “Insurance Leaders in the Digital Space” each Monday (Jun 16 – July 28).



Let’s get this party started with an Insurance Thought Leader who has:

  • 10,785 Google+ Followers
  • A Podcast recently featured on the homepage of iTunes
  • A New Hardback Book about to drop
  • And a wealth of knowledge on all things Content Marketing



Ryan Hanley, Insurance Thought Leader




It’s not every day you get to interview someone you both deeply respect and have learned a ton from. In this conversation with Ryan Hanley, I got to do just that. I had 7 Questions, we talked about all things Content Marketing, his new book “Content Warfare”, and why all his high school friends call him when “Game of Thrones” comes on Sunday Night.


I learned a lot. 


Insurance and the Emerging Digital Space


I have looked forward to picking the brain of Ryan Hanley for quite some time. When I saw his new book “Content Warfare” was coming, I knew I’d found my opportunity.


Recently featured on the 1st page of iTunes of podcasts, further confirming what I have known for a long time….that Ryan Hanley embodies what he teaches. He has built an Audience, He is a great storyteller, and He is getting noticed online. Any one doing great content creation in the insurance space can learn something from Ryan Hanley..


Ryan Hanley is in the trenches with Insurance Agents leading the fight against ineffective marketing strategies. His mantra “Find your audience, Tell your story and Win the battle for attention online” rings as true as anything you’ll find.


In my interview with Ryan Hanley, he mentions his first social media experience, where he learned the invaluable lesson that the content creators rise and over time he was able to convince his agency principal of the same. How he launched “100 Insurance Questions in 100 Days” and how his agencies web traffic has never been the same since. Each is an example of learning, creativity, and how content creation works in the insurance space. I also took this opportunity to ask Ryan some things I’ve really been wanting to ask. I hope you enjoy our conversation and that it gives you a solid start or a shot in the arm as you continue to maximize the digital space with your Insurance Agency.


Interview Highlights


We talk about:

  • The Biggest Mistake Insurance Agents make in Content Marketing
  • Why Building Trust and an Audience must come first
  • The book he was reading loooong before anyone else
  • A hint about what to expect from Ryan over the next few months.


Memorable Quotes


  • “There is a battle taking place online every day…a battle fought with content.”
  • “Everyone throughout the organization has to understand the importance of sharing meaningful content as a part of the culture of the agency.”
  • “Build audience and trust first…then tell your story.”
  • “7 years ago I was a producer knocking on doors.”
  • “Most insurance agents that I work with want to spend all of our time talking through the “how” and no time on the “why.”




The Interview

Duke Revard: Some of our readers aren’t as familiar with your background. So perhaps you could share some shaping experiences that have contributed to you unique perspective in the Insurance Space?


Ryan Hanley: 7 years ago I was a producer knocking on doors. I was new and I was trying every old trick in the book. I was young and didn’t get as much momentum as I wanted. I was at a chamber of commerce event and in a discussion … a mortgage broker and a real estate agent said “let’s connect on LinkedIn”. I didn’t know what LinkedIn was. I signed on. I realized pretty quickly that the people who were leading out…were the people creating content. So I created Ryan Hanley content. The Albany Insurance Professional-Blog. Then I started blogging.



Duke Revard: When and how did you find your stride in the digital insurance space? (when did things start to click…where you realized “I think I can be really good at this”)


Ryan Hanley: The turning point for me was writing an article “Buy Me”, (buy the independent agent) and I got 3 calls from people who had been reading my stuff for a few months. Can we talk about doing my business insurance? I wrote all three accounts. I walked into our sales meeting and showed my results. I explained that I got these three accounts from the internet. That’s when it clicked for me. Communication is taking place online, people are making buying decisions there. If you ignore it, you are saying I don’t need that segment of the population of the market. They are ignoring the future. It’s a whole different revenue. My online leads then begin to exceed outbound leads (through traditional channels). This was when I made the switch to The Murray Group. At the Murray Group I launched our content creation efforts with “100 Insurance Questions in 100 days.” (Watch Ryan describe how this effort revolutionized the agencies web traffic). Once people know you and trust you it makes sense that they would buy for us. Do we neglect traditional sales strategies? No. We still ask for referral, we still do some targeted cold calling, we just have added content marketing to the mix. A lot of insurance agents feel like you are asking them to replace their traditional marketing approaches with content marketing. That is not the case. We are supplementing the traditional marketing channels with digital content. We are reaching out to the younger agents who don’t shop the way older generations have. So you hit the baby-boomers with traditional channels and the Gen Y with great online content. You have to be in both spaces or you are deciding to give up on a huge and growing segment of the population. We weren’t prepared to do that and neither should you.



Duke Revard:  Now I know you have a new book coming out (I pre-ordered the book and look forward to reading it) Talk to me about why you wrote the book and what you hope it accomplishes for those who are aspiring to become more effective content marketers?


Ryan Hanley: The reason the book “Content Warfare” is simple. I have been writing it about 2 years ago as I started to see some new patterns. I was forming a strong conviction that there are bedrock principles that undergird effective content marketing. The principles have shifted from what used to be true with other marketing strategies. The subtitle for the book lays it out: “How to Find your audience, Tell your story and Win the battle for attention online.” It used to be that “the best story wins.” And people trusted that it was correct if it was on Radio and TV. But now with the internet, we don’t trust things. We don’t trust the president. We don’t’ trust anyone. We need to flip-flop the order of things. Build trust and an audience before telling your story. There are lot of examples of how this is working in the insurance space that I include in the book. Patience and consistency are rewarded. People need to build the trust first and if they do, they will outsell everyone. The guy who is quick on the trigger, wrongly assumes trust is already there. This guy will under-perform in the new world order of digital marketing. Be known first. Be trusted. Then and only then, you will be successful in your content marketing.  


Watch the Book Trailer





Duke Revard:  What disciplines do you have in place to ensure you are customer-centric; that you have the pulse on what your potential clients and clients really believe and care about?


Ryan Hanley: I spend as much time with the sales and customer service teams as I can. The business that are really killing this, they are the ones who empower the entire organization to create content. This is the agency that posts a “Bro shot selfie” from a producer outside a client’s office right after landing a big commercial account. Take some shots of some vendors that you are with at an industry event. Get everyone involved. Realtors do this when someone buys a house. Why not insurance agents? Everyone throughout the organization has to understand the importance of sharing meaningful content as a part of the culture of the agency. It difficult to pull off with one marketing person doing all the work.



Duke Revard: I know you coach several insurance professionals on Content Marketing. What are some common mistakes that you see local agents making?


Ryan Hanley: Too many Local Agents are preoccupied with tactics. Most insurance agents that I work with want to spend all of our time talking through the “how” and no time on the “why.” For example, Agents are all the time asking me “how many times should I post on LinkedIn every week?” Or “Should I be on Instagram? Do I need to start a podcast? Everyone is focused on tips and tricks when in reality they need to back the truck up and ask more fundamental questions. Tactics are downstream from clarity about the “why.” This is Simon Sinek stuff. (Watch Simon Sinek’s TEDs talk “Start with Why”) They need to be asking “Why” am I putting out this content? Who is my target persona? What action do I want them to take online? When you do the hard work to answer those questions, then and only then are the tactics appropriate. Every agency is different. If you are focused on commercial accounts in New England there are different tactics than the guy focusing on high risk Texas auto. People don’t realize that they need a lot more context…they have do some hard marketing work…before the right tactics will become clear. You don’t need to be everywhere. You need to understand the “Why” then you will better know how to execute the “What.”




Duke Revard: When you’re not creating great content, how else do you keep yourself busy?


Ryan Hanley: I am a bit of Fantasy Book nerd. I was reading The Game of Thrones 3 days after the release date back in 1996-1997. My friends were all like “Hanley reads books with maps” and “Hanley is a fantasy book nerd.” The books are 900 pages long, but I loved them…they are such great stories. Flash forward several years and “Game of Thrones” is a HBO original series. Now all my buddies that used to bust my chops are calling me on Sunday night asking me for more context as they are watching the series. The tables have turned.




Duke Revard: That’s great. Who knew that Ryan Hanley was a “Game of Thrones” Hipster. You heard it here first. As we wrap things up maybe you could tell us a little bit about what next for you? Where are things headed for the Ryan Hanley Media Empire?


Ryan Hanley: I am in the process of starting something new. It’s called the Hanley Media Lab. I will be writing, speaking, and consulting with insurance agencies primarily (and perhaps some other industries here and there). People in insurance wrongly assume that the problems that exist are unique to insurance…but there are a lot of similarities in other industries that we can learn from. We can leverage their learning for insurance. Combining offline and online work. Things are happening simultaneously. Trying to help insurance agents grow. The Murray Group where I am currently will always be a client. But in order to see growth I am branching out to serve several other agents.



Duke Revard: Thanks so much for taking part in this interview Ryan!

Ryan Hanley: Glad to do it. Thanks. 




Check out other Great Content from Ryan Hanley


View a Great SlideShare from Ryan


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