by Scott Morgan, Demand Media

Insurance is a competitive market. Standing out among your competitors to help clients with their most important decisions takes dedication, hard work and a little outside-the-box creativity. If your marketing plans are in a rut, give some different ideas a try. Your client book might just grow faster than you think.

Host an Event

Getting the word out about your business usually starts with networking. But don’t dismiss the idea of hosting an event — maybe even hosting a networking night at your insurance office. Hosting a small, local event puts you in direct touch with potential clients who will now know how to find your office. If you are a specialty insurer, such as auto, consider co-hosting an event with an auto dealership or another complementary business.

Offer Referral Rewards

Referral rewards are nothing new, but they still work. Let your clients know that for every new client you bring in, you will pay them a sum of money, say $100. Or maybe you will offer them discounts on their policies, or tickets to concerts or sporting events. Whatever you offer, it will be a pittance compared to the money you would spend on old-fashioned ads and printed mailers — although those still work, too.

Sponsor a Health Fair

If you deal in health and life insurance, sponsoring a community health fair could be just the thing to boost your public profile. Community and nonprofit organizations abound in cities and more densely populated areas, and many host health fairs throughout the year. Also, many pharmacies and supermarkets provide free and low-cost flu shots and health screenings. Partnering with these businesses and organizations as a sponsor can put you right there among potential clients.

Access Trade Groups

Insurance covers a wide range of subjects and industries — everything from auto and life to travel and earthquake. And if there is a category to insure, there almost surely is a trade group or association for it. Get in touch with trade groups in your area of expertise. You may be able to share the cost of cross-promotional advertising or co-sponsor an event. The possibilities are as limitless as the number of things you can insure.

Social Media

Everyone today, it seems, has a social media presence. Make sure you have one, too. Get onto social media sites and reach out to your customers directly with online polls and quizzes. The answers to your questions will let you know exactly what potential clients are thinking — and exactly what their insurance needs are right now. Also consider promotional contests that allow you to collect contact information from participants and keep in touch with them.