Partners have the unique challenge of balancing the scales of productivity with recruiting. Often times when productivity is high, recruiting is down. And, when recruiting is high productivity often falls short. Well, the starting place to help balance those scales lies in establishing the right brand for your office. A common mistake many partners make about branding is that they don’t develop their own office brand at all. They assume that national already created the brand and making any changes to it would change the national corporate brand — untrue. By only articulating the national corporate brand, you are simply offering a general commodity — which makes it difficult to compete and differentiate.
Here are 5 basic steps to help you and your team develop the right brand for your office:
STEP 1) Select a focus group who will help you develop your winning brand strategy. Ideally, it is helpful to have someone who is long established in the insurance industry; someone who is a rookie, an agent in the 10 year category and several who have recently gone through the job search process in the insurance field. In addition, select a few agents who are what I like to call high “high-flyers”, a few who are “mid-flyers” and a few who are “low-flyers”. The differing perspectives will help define just how compelling the resulting positioning strategy will be.
STEP 2) Take a good hard look at the competition. Ahh, the enemy. Those people (or companies) we love to hate. In order to develop your brand you need to also determine what their brands stand for and how they position themselves in order for you to strengthen your strategies. What are their strengths? What are their flaws? Where are they inconsistent with their brand? As the great generals once said, “Know thine enemy.”
STEP 3) Utilize market research. Survey past and current applicants. Survey your past and current agents. Find out what they cared about the most and what they cared about the least. What motivated them to become and agent? What motivated them to produce? What were their hot buttons? In this step you will discover brand positives and negatives – both of which will inject a dose of reality into the process.
STEP 4) Discover what your corporate brand stands for. What is your local corporate ideology? What core values do you stand for as a team of partners? What is your highest driving mission? Again, your national corporate brand may have already established some answers for these questions, but you can personalize your ideology at the local level. Your potential recruits and agents aren’t just working for the national insurance company — in the end, they really work for you and specifically for what you stand for. Why does your office team exist and why should any of your agents care? It is within this step that you will mine your opportunities to see what truly differentiates your brand from the competition.
STEP 5) Roll out your brand strategy. Rolling out your brand strategy is probably as challenging as developing it. Have a plan at every stage of the business where you can communicate your brand. Mastermind with your key players and with your focus group how your brand — your local corporate ideology will be articulated to both potential recruits, to your current team of agents and also to your books of clients.
With today’s recurring lay-off’s and downsizing there are much bigger and higher qualified pools of candidates to recruit agents from. The benefits of branding have a great impact on recruiting. Contrary to popular belief, people aren’t wooed to industries and companies by salary figures alone. The culture, the philosophy, the attitude, the tempo, the atmosphere, the people — all balled together as the brand makes a profound impact on a person’s level of fulfillment and happiness.
Establishing the right brand and successfully communicating that consistently to your team of agents will also have a strong impact on their productivity. In any company, it’s rarely about selling the actual product or service that is being transacted. The starting place for achieving high productivity is getting buy-in to a greater cause that you have created with your brand. That crusade goes beyond simply selling more of product X. It’s not about the product; it’s all about the crusade. And, that gets created by your brand.
Yoon Cannon is a systemic business growth coach, consultant and speaker based in Philadelphia, Pa. She specializes in helping entrepreneurs take their companies beyond the Million Dollar milestones through branding, sales & marketing, hiring and training.