November 25, 2012

Rachel Strella

Think You Can't Make Your Brand Exciting? Meet Justin Leader from Special Risk!

Every other month, we interview one of our management clients to ask them about their experience in social media. This month, we are delighted to interview, Justin Leader of Special Risk Insurance Services, Inc. Be sure to connect with Justin on LinkedIn and follow Special Risk on Twitter.

Justin, tell us about your business, your industry, and your experience with social media.
Special Risk is a niche employee benefits brokerage firm founded in 1985. We specialize in Non-MedicalEmployee Benefits that are paid for by the employer such as Group Life Insurance, Disability, Accidental Death & Dismemberment as well as Global & Domestic Travel Accident Coverage. Our typical clientele consists of Fortune 500 companies; however, we recently expanded and are working with employers who have fewer than 1,000 employees. We work with HR Directors, CFO’s and Benefits Managers to save companies money and frustration by utilizing a very unique underwriting approach.

Until last year, we had not dedicated any time to social media. We merely had a website that was up to date for 1996. We knew we were behind the times in regards to social media.

There are still businesses who have their doubts about using social media. What is your take?
I believe that social media is extremely important now more than ever in regards to our marketing and sales strategy as well as building a reputable brand. I believe most would have some doubts in regards to exactly what can be accomplished, but the fact of the matter is, if you do not utilize this avenue of marketing nor capitalize on what can be accomplished from a sales perspective with social media, your business will be left in the dust over the next decade.

What made you decide to hire a social media manager? What qualities were you looking for?
After various meetings internally and speaking with colleagues across multiple industries, we decided it was time to implement a social media strategy. Considering the time obligation involved and the complexity of social media, we knew it was best to hire a social media manager. First, we wanted someone who was reputable and knowledgeable. It just so happens that when we found Strella Social Media, we attained what we see as a partner with personality and creativity.

How has social media impacted your business?
We have seen an upswing in brand recognition and contacts both on LinkedIn and Twitter. One of our clients happens to be IKEA, and recently their HR Director referred to me as “Mr. LinkedIn,” which I took as a complement. We are seen as fresh, sometimes entertaining and engaging. These are all qualities that you wouldn’t typically see in an insurance agency let alone an insurance brokerage firm, according to our friends, who are experts with their own firm. We are very enthusiastic about our work and that carries over into our social media strategy.

How have you been able to blend traditional marketing with online marketing?
As we gather data and potential new business leads from our social media presence, we continue the traditional methods of placing calls to prospects as well as utilizing email to contact them. It really has been a mesh of old and new tactics to engage not only our current client base but also potential clients. Just like any business owner, it’s about effective and intelligent engagement of those you would like to do business with as well as those you are currently working with.

Anything else you would like to add about your experience?
Overall, our experience has been great. We have been learning so much from an online marketing standpoint and Strella Social Media has opened our eyes to ways of engaging people that we may not have thought of in the past. The best part of the whole process is that it has been fun. It is great working with a social media manager who is a professional and also “gets” people. I would love to share my story with anyone who would like to contact me!

Past client interviews:
Batbayar Damdin  of Tian Shi Acupuncture
Mimi Reeves, Owner of Balloons and More
Susan Pera, Owner of The Cornerstone Coffeehouse
Ann Dennison, Owner of Advanced Physical Therapy and Fitness
Mike Kushner, Broker and Commercial Realtor® for Omni Realty Group
Cheryl Garman, Co-Owner of Pazazzz
Sylvia Hepler, President of Launching Lives, LLC

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2 comments on “Think You Can't Make Your Brand Exciting? Meet Justin Leader from Special Risk!”

  1. Great article from someone with persnal experience in his biz with Social Meia. There are some great quotes here to be remembered.

    "We are seen as fresh, sometimes entertaining and engaging. These are all qualities that you wouldn’t typically see in an insurance agency let alone an insurance brokerage firm." That's a good message to some businesses who think social Media is not suited to their business.

  2. Hello Rachael

    I have developed some slides referencing your article that I will be using in my presentaiton to ASHE on Dec. 3.

    If you'd like to see them, I can send them via e-mail. You can contact me at

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