How do clients and prospects distinguish you from other agents? Sure, they might associate you with your agency, but what then? How do you even set yourself apart from anyone within your own agency? These are important questions to ask, and if you can’t answer them, then you need to work on building your brand.
If branding isn’t the number one way companies draw interest from their target audience and then build loyalty from that audience, it’s a close second. So what does it mean to build a brand? Think about Mountain Dew. The words “Youth” and “Extreme Sports” are probably the first things that come to mind. While you’re probably not targeting young skateboarders (unless you’re really pushing accident insurance), the point remains the same. Branding is developing the abstract, deeper meaning of your business. What do you stand for? What, other than the product, is your customer really getting from you? In other words, what are you really selling?
The first thing you need to do when developing your brand is come up with a list of words that describe you and your business. These can be core values, products you offer, personality traits, anything. From that list, create your brand statement. Ideally, this will convey what you offer both in the physical sense and abstract sense. For example, a life insurance agent’s brand statement might be “Rest easy, my friend.” The insinuation is that this agent will provide financial peace of mind so you don’t have to worry about money when the end is near…and he is more than just a cold, calculating salesman. (I promise I thought that up on my own before Google-ing it and seeing a thousand different life insurance companies already using some variant of it.)
One of the major elements in developing your brand is consistency. You need to stick to your message and reinforce it whenever possible. It may take time, but a repetitive, confident and clear message will give your clients and prospects more of a sense of security and comfort than if you were all over the place with your message. If you can’t commit to your brand, how can your clients?
As always, the more media outlets you use to promote your brand, the faster you’ll distinguish yourself from your colleagues. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, your Web site, local print media, e-mail and direct mail campaigns- all are viable means of spreading the word.
Again, even if you’re with an agency, you need to differentiate yourself from other Agency X agents. It’s great to be able to play off the company’s brand, but that doesn’t say what makes you worth a prospects time and money.
Have you had any particular successes or failures in an attempt to create your own brand?