In our latest video series, The DBL Center marketing team turned the tables on Michael Cohen to interview the DBL Center President about recent initiatives and how The DBL Center has coped with the pandemic.
Now more than ever, The DBL Center remains focused on providing our brokers with free tools they can use to stay competitive and remain profitable in these challenging times.
Read on for excerpts from our three-part interview with Michael Cohen and be sure to check out the videos and subscribe to our YouTube channel to see our video content as it goes live.
Dawn Allcot: What’s been the reaction to The DBL Center’s recent marketing content – the videos, blog posts, and direct email campaigns?
Michael Cohen: Our read ratio is triple what it used to be. You always say it’s a matter of putting out good content, but it’s also a matter of not putting out redundant content. In the beginning of the [pandemic], we were getting things out quickly, but we didn’t want it to be laborious. There’s only so much people can understand about the loans and about unemployment. There has to be a shift. People got accustomed to reading the same things everywhere.
Dawn: The content we did was targeted to our audience, so it wasn’t the same things they are reading everywhere else. People can follow links to find out how to apply for the PPP loans. The Covid qualifying software you came up with really set DBL Center apart.
Michael: It’s an antiquated business and people know it. I’ll be the first to say it. These tools help set us apart. I’m happy with where we’re going, and I do think it’s going to be a unique, creative year. Everything I’ve done, and am doing, and have been building over the past 36 months has come to the point where it will be a differentiator in a very positive light. I feel very strongly about next year and I’m excited.
Dawn: On the topic of tools and resources, how does the Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker help your brokers?
Michael: No one really had a great grasp on where their business was. Because most people were elephant hunting and chasing things that my father would always tell me would be top heavy.
One of the things I’ve been able to do is use the software to help show brokers the profitability in the smaller accounts. Those are the companies that are predominantly relying on the PPP loan, and have people who have been furloughed due to unemployment. What happens when the money runs out?
The tool has been able to help brokers understand the retention aspect. Now on the cusp of unemployment maybe being a month from being over, the real question is how much of the relief and aid will stick and help the businesses survive?
Dawn: And you’re offering the Broker Dashboard completely free of charge to your brokers.
Michael: I don’t want to charge anybody so they can track their business. It’s been terrific during the pandemic in helping people know where their business is down to the dollar, because we don’t know what’s going to stick.
Dawn: Besides the Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker, what else are you doing to help your brokers thrive and grow?
Michael: I’ve been giving away free advice from friends of mine in the business who are influencers, including your interview with Kelvin Joseph from Kool Kel Marketing. The point we were trying to get across there is the power of relationships.
My business has expanded greatly in other states, predominantly because of my LinkedIn strategies and how many people I know. Between myself and my buddy Kelvin, we reach 100,000 individual touch points on LinkedIn. Every day, I get a lead in some form, that I can help give back [to our brokers].
The advice I’ve been given from my father, I’ve been able to funnel through our content marketing strategy and give back to the brokers’ community in my own words. The Broker Dashboard, LinkedIn, and our website resources are the three primary ways we’ve been able to give back for free to our brokers.
Watch the full three-part series of videos here:
by Dawn Allcot
With news of the Massachusetts Family Leave Act and PFML benefits now mandated in Massachusetts, The DBL Center is seeking ways to scale our high-touch business model and give Massachusetts brokers selling PFML even better access to our personalized service, knowledge, insight, and relationships.
Kelvin Joseph, Founder and CEO of Kool Kel Marketing, has helped companies from new startups to Fortune 500s maximize their sales by executing a marketing strategy that communicates their “Kool.” By working with Kool Kel, The DBL Center seeks to duplicate President and CEO Michael Cohen to build a legacy.
Kelvin, a marketing strategist who has specialized in sports marketing and built relationships with C-level executives across both New York and Massachusetts, recently shared his thoughts with The DBL Center on marketing Massachusetts Family Leave Act benefits successfully.
Let’s get right to it: How do you plan to help Mike duplicate himself to build a legacy?
We’re in the relationship business. Short-term disability or PFL is mandated in New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts [through the Massachusetts Family Leave Act] right now. I believe other states are going to start mandating it, too.
The DBL Center is going to have to learn how to expand into different states, where we can be as high-touch as we have been, especially here on Long Island, which is our strongest community.
What steps can The DBL Center take to bring that level of service we provide to Long Island brokers into Massachusetts and then other places?
We’re in the relationship business and Mike cannot be everywhere. It’s not possible to keep the same model we have in New York and New Jersey for every state. But this has been done before, and we have the strategic partners to help.
We’re building systems and situations to create warm leads without needing Mike to be everywhere.
How did you and Mike first meet and what made you decide to start working together?
I’ve known Mike since high school. We’re just two regular guys from Huntington who are CEOs of our own companies, and we’ve stayed friends.
We’re always talking business, but it was never the right moment [to collaborate.] What I was selling at the time was really kind of one-dimensional. My core business is sports marketing. Now, because of the pandemic, I can’t really have big events. So, I’ve been helping a lot of companies with their marketing strategy.
Can you share some of the details of the upcoming marketing strategy for The DBL Center?
I always feel like it’s better to be introduced [to someone] than to introduce yourself. That’s why referrals are so powerful. And a lot of the brokers reading this blog understand the power of referrals.
Instead of going in cold into a new market like Massachusetts, where we don’t know anybody, I actually do know about 800 people there. C-level executives.
It made sense to start with people I had some kind of relationship with and see what comes of that. We’re in the relationship business. If people already know me, and I introduce Mike, that’s a win. That’s the strategy we’re starting with – referral marketing and warm introductions.
Here’s the thing about Massachusetts: On June 15, most of the companies there are going to get a bill that they don’t understand [for Massachusetts Family Leave Act premiums]. The DBL Center knows how to help those companies save money by privatizing their state-mandated paid family leave plan in Massachusetts.
On your website and your LinkedIn, you describe a company’s “Kool” as the passion and unique value proposition that fuels consistent and reliable revenue growth. How will you help DBL Center communicate its “Kool?”
Mike not only has passion; he has a great value proposition. These benefits are mandated in New York, New Jersey, and now Massachusetts. And Mike has a way to save people money. Right now, businesses are looking to increase their revenue and reduce their expenses.
If we can reduce their expenses, we’re helping them. And it’s probably something they’re not going to be able to figure out on their own. We’re going to help them avoid that pain and get help from an expert who’s been doing this pretty much his whole life. It’s something with a lot of value.
I posted two teaser posts on Linked In over the last three days, and we already have 20,000 views on the two posts I made. I built up a strong LinkedIn base of c-level executives who also have a reach, so our message is going far. In two days to get 20,000 views is amazing. Because we know how important even one client can be.
It seems pretty obvious, but how will this benefit DBL Center brokers?
Mike knows his brokers are the lifeblood of his business. He asked me to figure out how we can help his brokers in this time. We hope they’re all using the Broker Dashboard they have. That’s a key.
A lot of brokers are entrepreneurial and driven, but don’t have the kind of marketing budget they want. I’m going to be available for consulting. When we can have events again, I’ll be able to invite some of the brokers to some of the things we’re doing together.
But the reality is, Mike knows how to take care of his people. And the more that’s on the table, the more there is to share.
What single tip would you have for brokers looking to reinvent their marketing strategy or approach this new market in Massachusetts? I would advise brokers to make friends before you need anything. That’s super-important. How do we get people to know us, like us, and trust us?
There’s still some negativity associated with the insurance industry and insurance brokers. It’s almost a necessary evil to a certain extent.
So, if we know that our clients are trying to increase their revenue and eliminate their expenses, we have to be careful that we don’t look like an expense. Business owners are trying to eliminate expenses.
Sometimes, brokers go in and start talking about how this will be good for your employees. In these times, with something like 40 million people unemployed right now, just keeping your employees employed is the best some business owners can do.
If you’re a broker, you need to be talking about how you’re either increasing revenue by passing some business along to your clients and giving them referrals, or you’re reducing expenses. You better have something in your back pocket to save them money.
The approach is: “This is the business I can bring to you.” Because insurance brokers know other companies. They should be introducing their clients to one another and helping their clients make more money.
And the other thing they should be doing is making sure they’re talking in the language a CEO can understand: Either my revenue is going up, or my expenses are going down.
Thank you for all this information, Kelvin. In closing, do you have anything you’d like to add?
I would like to say that the reason I’m working with Mike Cohen is because he thinks big, he follows through on his promises, and his humility exceeds his ability.
I think he is going places, and I think any broker reading this should understand that you need to surround yourself with the right people. I challenge you to find a DBL guy better than Mike Cohen in the whole country. That’s why I’m with him and I think brokers around the country, specifically New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, should be happy to work with him as well.