This is part one of two posts on insurance and employee benefits agency messaging.

This might be hard to accept, but I’m going to put it out there: People are not choosing to do business with your agency because you’ve been in the local community for a hundred years. People don’t care. I promise.

Using the local story and the “we’ve been around a long time” story as part of your marketing message was important at one time. It was important to distinguish yourself from the large national brokers, plus, having a strong connection with the local community is an important part of being a local business. And that part still holds true.

But things have changed. That’s no longer the whole story. Consumers are looking for a different type of relationship with their service providers. It’s not about “How long have you been around?” It’s about “How can you help me solve my needs? And how quickly?” To say that your agency has been in business since 1923 is not helping build your case that you’re a viable business solution to solve the problems of today’s consumer. In fact, I would argue that it is going against you as a marketing message.

Today’s consumer – the ones you need to be actively targeting to build a strong base to offset the aging boomer population who is likely your current client base – can’t even relate to 1923. That was 88 years ago. Or in web years, it’s like 264 years! And it’s irrelevant to today’s consumer.

Who wants to entrust their modern business needs to a business they associate with their grandparents, or great grandparents? They might want to have a chat and reminisce about old times, but talk about insuring their web strategy and design business against cyber liability? Or engaging employees with wellness programs managed online? Or communicating with staff via blog posts and Twitter updates? It just doesn’t mix well.

The message you need to be communicating to your potential clients should be about them and how you’re going to help them. When they go to your web site to begin their research about your company (because that’s the first place today’s consumer goes), sure they want to know about you…how you are going to help them. They want enough information to understand that you’ve got a legitimate business, you know your stuff, and you’ll be able to help them fix what’s not working in their world.

Yeah, but my agency isn’t really doing that, so I don’t need to worry about it.

Well, let’s take a look and see. I’d like to give you a take-away assignment in between part one and part two of this agency-messaging topic.

Assignment: Gather up all of your marketing materials, and take the time to read through them. All of them. Read them with the eye of a business owner who is struggling with his or her staff of 100 employees and is actively looking for a business partner to help with benefits, plus address employee engagement/attraction/retention issues they are experiencing.

Read your brochures, articles published about you, ads you’ve placed, business cards, plan and policy materials you give to clients, and read your website - page by page. Look at your taglines. What does it all say? What is it talking about? Is it answering the questions of that business owner struggling with employee management issues?

Or is it about you, your business history, your family history in the business, the carriers you represent, or explaining the meaning behind your logo that hearkens back to the 1800s? If it’s not directly answering the questions of that business owner, and it is talking about you and your history, then it’s time to redo…everything.

In part 2 of this series, I’ll outline the next steps you should be taking to make your insurance or employee benefits agency a more attractive and modern business option for your prospects and clients. Read it here: Two Steps to Getting Your Agency Messaging in Sync with Your Clients' Needs.

Photo by derrypubliclibrary.

Defining Your Business Brand