When you’re in the insurance business, you’re in the business of selling something that everyone needs: protection for their families and assets. As good a sales proposition as that is, selling insurance can be a challenge - you’re under pressure to stand out from the many competitors who are offering virtually the same product.
So what can you do to convince insurance prospects you’re the person they should buy their homeowner’s, automobile and/or life insurance policies from you – and not the competition?
One of the most important things you can do is to build your own agency identity through branding and proper insurance agency marketing. It’s a long-term venture, and one that needs to be done whether you’re an independent agent or part of a larger company. Brand building should one of your highest business and marketing priorities.
One of the characteristics that all great brands share is they are consistent. In their looks, their services and those more intangible qualities like “attitude” or “voice,” successful companies know the importance of consistency.
The key starting point? Defining your brand. Know how you want to look, sound and serve, and work every day with those concepts in mind.
Here are a few more ideas for successfully managing your brand:
- Make it the Cornerstone. Branding should be one of the most important things you do of all your marketing activities. If brand management becomes a regular business activity, then it becomes a habit, not a chore. However, if your brand identity seems like the wild west, you could be confusing your potential clients or worse yet making them feel as though you are not professional or trustworthy.
Some things you can do to keep branding top of mind include putting signs up around the office that highlight your company’s brand and slogan and committing them to memory; adding your tagline to stationery and all marketing materials that leave the office; and having the receptionist answer the phone by saying the name of the company and slogan.
- Invest and Manage your Brand. A lot of your budget will likely go toward advertising. Among the places an insurance agent needs to be – store signs, car dealerships and home improvement stores – are places where people who need your product are spending a lot of time. When potential customers see your unique logo or marketing campaign in those places, it will help keep your agency on their minds - but only if it stands out.
Concerned about the cost of investing in your brand identity? Consider the biggest insurance carriers and their 2011 advertising spend: (figures cover advertising, public relations and other promotional activities, according to SNL Financial, McKinsey's data source.)
- Geico = $1,000,000,000
- State Farm = $813,500,000
- Allstate Corp = $745,300,000
If designing your own logo and brand identity is not your bag of chips or you don’t have access to a student designer in the family or a cheap resource, check out these online resources to help make your insurance brand more professional:
- Position Yourself as an Insurance Expert. Write articles that position your company as an industry expert and submit them to local newspapers or online publications to increase your exposure. Even if they don’t print your articles, you will achieve the goal of letting editors know you are available for interviews the next time they want to do a story about insurance.
- Protect your insurance agency marketing and brand. This is important because you don’t want someone else to benefit from a brand you’ve spent time and money building. There are several online tools you can utilize to track who is using your brand and who has mentioned you in social media. This also allows you to assuage any negative feedback immediately or just keep an eye on brand control.
Consider for a moment cable/internet provider, Comcast/Xfinity. They suffered a backlash to their Comcast brand years ago by not securing or monitoring related domain names attributed to their company. The outcome was a less than desirable, anti-Comcast site and URL when users were searching for Comcast on the web. The site ranking just behind Comcast was associated to the feeling some had about their products, customer service, and ultimately their entire brand. Since then, they have clearly learned a valuable lesson and now monitor their brand in many different channels.
You’re not Comcast/Xfinity but marketing an insurance agency and brand is no different. You may not be able to monitor or respond to thousands of tweets or less than desirable comments but knowing when and where to engage and protect your brand will pay off in the end.
Insurance, by nature, is a highly competitive industry, but if you put in the effort to differentiate your agency brand, you could get a foot up over your competition.