s I watch agencies on social platforms and look at agency websites, what I see repeatedly is confusion: agencies with an identity crisis putting it out there for the whole world to see and watch on a daily basis.

Here's the problem. Many agencies with multiple lines of business don't segregate their messages to the appropriate audience and end up delivering one big jumbled messy message that speaks to no one.

Advising on both the employee and risk sides of the business doesn't really pose a problem because the audience for that information is made up of businesses that are working to improve their operations. As long as you keep the message focused on operational efficiencies, these two messages are very compatible.

It's the personal lines and individual health mixed with the business lines that throw the kinks into the message.

Look at the breakdown of audiences

Business owners are interested in improving the profitability and company value and are concerned with issues on the horizon that could positively or negatively impact the life of their business. This is a great audience for big picture business conversations.

Managers are interested in things happening in the organization today – problems they're facing that need immediate attention. This is a great audience to talk to about safety, work comp, wellness, benefits, attraction/retention, communication, etc.

Individuals are interested in things directly relevant to their day-to-day lives. For example, things like healthy lifestyle, benefits-use tips, home care, and driving tips resonate with people when they are in "personal" mode.

While I realize all business people are also individuals, it doesn't mean the two messages should be mixed together in the same places and on the same platforms.

Here's why: if you're trying to gain the attention of the executives and they show up to read your blog, or follow you on Twitter or LinkedIn and they find shared articles and/or your own blog posts about safe driving tips and effective sunscreen use, you'll immediately lose their attention.

A few ideas on separating and targeting messages

What I'd recommend is doing some research to understand who is responding to your various messages and on which platforms.

For example, if Facebook posts about individual lifestyle get a lot of traction, then that might be a good place to focus your individual messages.

If your business-related advice is getting picked up on LinkedIn, then use that platform to communicate to your executive clients. Here you even have the option of posting Company Page updates to targeted audiences by company size, industry, function, seniority, and geography.

If you see your business-related blog posts are gaining more traction than your personal posts, then consider focusing your blog on business topics. Or vice versa. Or think about splitting the posts into separate blogs directed at the appropriate audience. A great way to separate messages on a website is from the very first page. When a reader comes to your site, you could have obvious entry points for Personal and Business. All of the information in each section is then targeted accordingly.

If you Tweet, then consider having different accounts, one clearly labeled for individual ideas and one for business ideas. Or better yet, have your CEO take up the business-focused activity and have team members manage personal, and/or HR/Risk focused accounts.

Whether you're a broker speaking to both individuals and businesses or a provider working with both brokers and employers/individuals, the idea across all platforms is the same. Split your messages. For example, providers could give brokers tips to help them more effectively connect with their clients, and alternately give employers tips to more effectively manage their operations. Everyone has the option to follow both streams, but this way they also have the option to only follow one.

One "don't" I'll throw in – don't post on Facebook and have it automatically pushed to Twitter. First, these are often not the same audiences. Second, the links often don't work correctly from Twitter and make the reader go to Facebook first before seeing the intended media file. This is a very quick way to lose readers, especially those busy execs.

Bottom line

Opting for the "easy" route in marketing is tempting. But easy doesn't equate to an effective use of resources and it certainly won't bring you the results you're looking for.

Instead of doing what's easy for you, you're better off doing less and doing it the right way to attract the audience you really want to connect with. So, think first about whom you want your audience to be, and then develop your plans accordingly.

  • If you want to talk to executives, you need to talk big picture business concepts that will help them grow a successful business.
  • If you want to talk to HR and Risk managers, talk about things directly in their wheelhouse that will help them run effective benefits and risk management programs.
  • If you want to talk to individuals, talk about things that will help them in their daily lives.

But just don't mix all these messages into one stream. It's confusing for the reader and creates a frenetic and distracted image and brand for your company. Take advantage of technology and segregate your messages accordingly.

Defining Your Business Brand