I've had the privilege to co-teach a class for Employee Benefits Consultants called “Marketing Your Agency in a World Gone Crazy” with Wendy Keneipp from Q4intelligence.
What did we mean by “world gone crazy?” Health care and employee benefits have gone through a generational change, all while the American consumer has completely shifted their buying behavior. With the advent of technology, buyers are well into their decision-making process before ever talking to you.
Our premise: there are MANY activities to be completed before you get to start choosing logos and setting up your Facebook page. As Wendy laid out in this article, you must clearly define your business strategy: culture, purpose, values, ideal client, value proposition, client challenges and vision. “Without a plan for your business, everything is random and left to the whim of the moment when faced with a decision. You can’t effectively share your ideas with your team, clients, business partners, prospects – because you don’t really know what they are.”
ONLY after this groundwork is laid, are you ready to start determining your brand and brand strategy. Below are the 4 rules I’ve followed as I’ve built brands…
RULE #1: Remember your audience
In the step above, you should’ve clearly identified your key client – we’re talkin’ crystal clear (for example: IT companies with 300-3000 employees in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area). Then, as you build your brand and messaging, you have that specific audience to keep in mind.
It’s imperative that you build your brand FOR them. It’s not all about you. It’s about them and how you help them. All your messaging should be about this.
Have you ever heard the saying, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”? It works in branding, too.
I challenge you to look at where you can talk more about what you do for your client and less about you. Are your website or marketing materials a litany of information about you…
- Your agency’s years of experience
- Your agency’s carriers & gold/platinum status
- Your agency’s list of products
Most clients care about all your stats AFTER they know you can relate to them and feel like you’re going to take great care of their needs. At first site, they care about what YOU can do for THEM.
Which of these are you more likely to respond to?
Option 1: AllAboutMe Benefits is a Dallas-based insurance agency that has been in business for 50 years. We are highly experienced and specialize in employee benefits insurance. Renowned as one of the leading area experts, we provide a superior level of benefits consulting, analysis, advice and support.
Option 2: Are you small to mid-size employer who’s looking for help with the rising cost of healthcare …on your bottom line? …for your employees? AllAboutYou Benefits can help! We make employee benefits easy and we offer plans that are unique and custom-built for your needs.
RULE #2: Be Memorable
There’s a sea of brokers, insurance carriers, products, plans, and advice out there. What makes you different? How do you stand out?
Is your logo the only real distinction on your website or marketing pieces? Or, would your clients still know it was you because of your brand?
Look at the images below. I bet you can name more than half of the brands to which they belong…
So, what’s the point? We know who they are, we remember them, we’re more engaged in their message. If the world’s largest P&C insurance agencies can sell their product using a gecko, cavemen, the Mayhem Guy and “bum ba dum bum bum bum bum,” then gosh darn it, you can be memorable, too.
I’m not saying you need some crazy character or that you need to “yuck it up” with your brand, but what can you do that makes you stand out? Leave stodgy to the big agencies. What makes you memorable?
RULE #3: Earn trust
Fake, cold and corporate no longer works – people want to do business with other people they can connect with. And, when I say “connect,” I mean emotionally and literally. There are hundreds of “tells” that make you trustworthy to your customers/prospects. How about these?
- A solid LinkedIn profile
- Showing your credibility and expertise by blogging or publishing content on LinkedIn
- Having a blog that’s consistently updated with helpful, grammatically correct, well-written articles
- Showing that you’re “available and transparent” by being on social media
- Fast response times to emails or social media posts
- Testimonials from real clients
- A quality website with real pictures – not corporate façade pictures of fake buildings, fake meetings, fake people and fake customer service reps
What can you do or change to earn trust of prospects quickly?
RULE #4: Simplify
We work in a complicated industry, and it’s getting more complicated by the day and statute! It’s your job to simplify the complicated for your clients. Lest you say it can’t be done…
Apple took one of the most complicated pieces of machinery on the planet and made it simple for anyone (even a 2 year old) to use. I don’t know about you, but if I forget my wallet at home, I won’t go back for it – but, I will to get my phone. So, your argument is invalid. It IS possible.
Here’s the deal: we’re living in a time when people aren’t impressed by your knowledge of the complicated. They’re impressed and will do business with employee benefits professionals who can simplify the complicated. So, be on the lookout for small and big ways - how can you un-complicate what you do?
And that’s it. No big deal. Just kidding. Right now, you’re saying, “OK, well that’s all great, Heidi. Now, what do I actually do?” Good question. Check out this article for 5 tips to build your brand.
Now it's your turn! How have you created a simple, stand-out message that hits the real needs of your clients? Comment below or drop me a note to firstname.lastname@example.org!