List the Power of Your Brand
By Dr. Sally Wright
Have you ever wondered why people seem to love lists? There are many reasons for this phenomenon. The first is a purely physiological one: The left side of the human brain processes information in a linear, sequential way.
Consequently, we are programmed to respond to sequences, just as we are programmed to blink our eyes. But lists are also important psychologically, because they provide order in a world of language chaos. With the plethora of information available from every conceivable medium today, listing has become the most important way to provide ordered information to people with data overload.
Lists also cut to the chase. Want to see who’s rich? Read Forbes magazine’s "100 Richest Americans." Want to check out who’s great-looking? See People magazine’s annual "50 Most Beautiful People." These lists are engrained in the brands of the publications they represent.
Independent insurance agents can use this proclivity to create a competitive advantage. Your marketing strategy should include several value-laden information lists, written by you, for your clients and potential clients. These pieces can showcase your expertise, position you as a thought leader in your business, provide immediate, practical help to your clients and show that you care about their welfare. Where else can you get such a great return from such an inexpensive investment?
You should use any form of listing you can think of—templates, checklists, tip sheets—to give your clients information that they need to know and will appreciate receiving. And as management consultant Alan Weiss notes, since your name is your brand, your lists should include your name and agency name to build brand credibility. In other words, don’t title your list "Ten Tips for Buying Car Insurance." Use "Joan Freedman’s 10 Tips for Buying Car Insurance" instead. This guarantees that the client associates the value with the person who gave it to him.
What can you use as inspiration to create a list? Anything and everything that provides value to your current and potential clients. Since you also want to reinforce your method of doing business, why not start with "Larry Jones’ 10 Benefits of Working with an Independent Insurance Agent"? You could cite the trusting relationship, the personalized service, the rapid response questions and concerns, customized policies and anything else you can think of to provide information and value.
Or how about "Janet Gemming’s 10 Ways to Lower Home Insurance Costs"? Your clients will love you for trying to save them money in a recession, and potential clients will be impressed by your caring attitude. You can discuss the pros and cons of raising the deductible, the importance of maintaining a good credit history, the benefit of ramping-up home security and the need for reviewing insurance policies after large purchases.
These lists can be used in many ways. Copy them to use as handouts, or mail them to current clients with a "just-thought-this-might-be-helpful" note. You can publish them on your website under a "Free Resources" tab, and keep updating them so that potential buyers go to your website to read the refreshed content. You can use them as flyers, insert them into newspapers or mail them to potential buyers. You can publish them in online newsletters or post the content in your agency’s social media outlets. You can turn the lists into podcasts or YouTube videos to advertise your expertise in your business or incorporate the information into your blog.
And every time you use them, you’re building the list of customers who will look to your agency’s brand first for their insurance needs.
Dr. Sally Wright is president of Alliance Consulting Group. Reprinted with permission from the September 2010 issue of Independent Agent magazine.