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Branding Your Agency

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  • 1. Volume XXII, Number 7 June, 2006Branding leverage this brand for more knowledge of who you are as an effective marketing results and agency, knowledge of yourYour Agency increased revenues. competitors’ brands, and an intimate knowledge of yourAs the soft-market continues and Branding specific marketplace.competition for growth escalates, ____________independent agencies need to Many agencies confuse brandingwork harder than ever to write with marketing. As a rule of “As a rule of thumb,new business and increase thumb, Branding begins at home,retention rates. With the while marketing begins with the Branding begins atinformation technology explosion customer. Defining your brand is home, while marketingin the insurance space, many an introspective process by begins with theagencies are looking to new which you define your list of customer.”technologies to increase their values and beliefs, as well as the ____________marketing savvy. But remember, unique attributes that differentiatemost marketing efforts will fail if your agency in the marketplace. Know Thyselfthey are not executed under the Branding occurs when theseumbrella of a comprehensive and beliefs, values and attributes are To determine what makes yourcoherent branding strategy. consistently communicated to the agency unique in the marketplace, over time. marketplace and separates youThe following discussion will from your competition, you do notfocus on how to define and refine Knowledge is a key component need to hire marketingyour agency’s brand and how to of the branding process: consultants. Instead, talk to your ANNUAL MARKET & FINANCIAL SURVEY Included with this months newsletter is the Annual Market & Financial Survey form. The data we receive from agencies all over the country provides invaluable insight into agency finances as well as what is happening in the marketplace. Please take the time to fill out the survey and return via: Fax: 708-354-0977 - or - Mail: P.O. Box 2315, LaGrange, Illinois 60525 Or complete the survey on-line at www.MarshBerry.com Completed surveys need to be returned no later than July 17, 2006. All information sent will remain totally confidential. Results will be published in the September 2006 newsletter. Thank you!The MarshBerry Letter Page 1 June, 2006
  • 2. clients. Ask your employees. Know Your Competition Finally, gather all of the input thatSolicit input from other you have solicited and create a To fully understand your brand,relationships in the industry. Your standard message describing you must examine it within theagency already has some type of who you are and what makes context of your overallbrand recognition. You just need you different than the marketplace. Study yourto figure out what that is and competition. This message, competition and the market towhether that is how you want which should be driven from the determine what opportunities oryour agency to be known. top down, will be the heart of obstacles are present. your branding strategy goingYour clients do business with you forward. Have your producers define whatfor a reason. Ask them what this they are up against in thereason is. Ask former clients. Ask Make sure all of your employees marketplace. Have them list theprospects. You may be very not only know, but also buy into, things the competition is doing tosurprised to learn that your your message and realize their steal business away. Also, workclients may not necessarily role in building the brand. Every together to determine the brandidentify with the 60-year old employee, from producers to identity of each of your keyagency name as much as they CSR’s, needs to be able to competitors. After determiningdo the personal service / answer the insured’s question: the size and strength of therelationships you afford. “Why should I do business with agencies serving your market, ____________ your agency?” you might discover some hidden“To fully understand your opportunities. Creating Brand Awarenessbrand, you must Now that your agency has Know Your Marketexamine it within the created a consistent messagecontext of your overall Examine the trends in your local that describes your unique brand, market to find additional your challenge is to make thismarketplace.” opportunities. Demographic ____________ message the core of all of your statistics are widely available and communications – creating brand can shed some light on how the awareness.Producers are on the front lines population in your particularevery day, working with market is changing. Keep Work to create a standard lookprospects and clients to win abreast of local business news to and feel that communicates yourbusiness by communicating what see what types of business are core brand message. Be suremakes your agency unique. entering your market and assess that this “look and feel” is appliedHave all of your producers listwhat they see as your whether you have the markets to all of your marketing collateralcompetitive advantages and and expertise to meet their pieces, including agencyselling points. Have your service specific business needs. brochures, direct mail pieces andand support staffs do the same. web content.Just as there is a reason thatclients do business with you,there is a reason that your Chart Aemployees work there. Find theanswers to that question. To Agency Revenue Size <$1mm $2mm $5mm $8mmaugment this, compile a list ofniche markets that you serve, Average Advertising Expenditures 2.1% 1.9% 1.5% 1.3%any unique carrier relationships as % of Total Commissions & Feesthat you maintain, and any value-added services that you offer. Source: MarshBerry DatabaseThe MarshBerry Letter Page 2 June, 2006
  • 3. Find out which publications yourclients read and advertise in those Chart Bmagazines and journals. Be sureto incorporate your standardized Agency Revenue Size $800,000 $2mm $5mm $8mmlook and feel into your Retention Rate 80% 85% 90% 95%advertisements to maintain yourbrand. As it is often difficult to $ Value of Lost Business 160,000 300,000 500,000 400,000measure the effectiveness of anyadvertising campaign, make sure Value of Increasing Retention Rate by 3 Percentage Points 24,000 60,000 150,000 240,000you track where new businessprospects learned about you andfocus your efforts on those thatare the most productive. Remember – a consistent existing business is not growing. delivery of your core brand Take a look at Chart B whichYou can use Chart A to gauge message is the key to building a illustrates the importance ofhow much you are spending on bond with your customers and focusing on customer retention.advertising versus your peers. increasing awareness of yourHowever, you also need to agency in the marketplace. Chart B shows that the sampleconsider that any re-branding agencies each lose a sizeableand market awareness Customer Service portion of their revenue eachcampaigns may easily result in A brand is only as good as the year by letting their currenthigher than average expenses in customer service that supports it. customers walk out the door.the first year or two. It would be futile to spend the ____________ ____________ time to refine and market your brand if you are not capable of “Be sure to document supporting the new business that“Make sure that your you attract to your agency, while what you plan to do andcustomer service maintaining a high-level of monitor your progresssupports the brand image customer service for your current throughout the year.”that you have created in accounts. Make sure that your ____________ customer service supports thethe marketplace.” brand image that you have The good news is that by ____________ created in the marketplace. increasing your retention rate as little as 3 percentage points canConsider publishing articles in The old axiom, “your best mean substantially more revenueyour local business journals and customers are your current for your agency. In fact, if yournewspapers or speaking to local customers” seems trite, but there agency is paying a higher newbusiness or civic organizations. is a lot of truth to it. The cost of vs. renewal producer commissionYou may even host your own acquiring new business is much rate (i.e. 40/25), your agency iseducational conference for greater than the cost of actually losing money by sellingclients and prospects at a local maintaining existing the same amount of businesshotel. This will establish you as a relationships, so make sure you that you lose. In the abovecommunity-minded business are doing everything you can to example, the agency wouldleader, further strengthen your keep your existing customers realize flat revenue, increasedbrand awareness and expose happy. Remember that an payroll and less profit. So,you to new business agency that writes $100,000 how do you keep youropportunities. worth of new business in a year, customers happy? but loses $100,000 worth ofThe MarshBerry Letter Page 3 June, 2006
  • 4. Out-serve Your based on size and account consuming part is ensuring the Competition profitability. Consider the following content is relevant and valuable examples: to your customer. Simple things like returning phone calls promptly, getting quotes ♦ Offer a risk-assessment at Finally, take the time to call the turned around in a timely manner, the time of renewal accounts that you lost and find and proactively communicating ♦ Make quarterly visits or out why they left. Most people will separate you from the phone calls will let you know what you did to competition. Great service and a lose their business, or what personal touch breeds top-of- ♦ Sending an industry you did not do to keep it. This mind awareness and satisfied overview / update 100 days exercise will provide some customers. These customers, in prior to renewal valuable insight for your firm and turn, will create a “word of mouth” may open doors for you to bid on marketing campaign, telling These things will demonstrate that the business again in the future. friends and colleagues of the you are serious about customer excellent service they received service and doing things your Elevating your level of customer and increasing your exposure in competition is not. Be sure to service will increase the chances the marketplace more effectively document what you plan to do that your current customers will than any advertising you could and monitor your progress trade on factors other than price. ever buy. throughout the year. When you The byproduct of better service is meet with your customer at the more satisfied customers and Work with your producers to time of renewal, you can illustrate higher customer retention for create a list of your top prospects what you did, versus what you your agency. and define a strategy for touching promised. You may also include each of these prospects once a a proposed stewardship program Defining your agency’s unique month. More sophisticated in your prospecting efforts as a brand is an exercise that will agencies might consider utilizing way to differentiate yourself while engage your employees in your an account tiering system, justifying your compensation in business and help you determine whereby you divide your clients the new era of transparency and the core message that you will into A, B, or C tiers, in order of disclosure. take to market. Consistent their importance to your agency. communication of this message, Devise a strategy for reaching Another low-cost, high-impact over time, will build brand each tier of clients each month, idea is to send out a monthly e- awareness. And, if you work to with a special focus on your newsletter to your current ensure that your customer service “A” accounts. customer base. You can write reflects the brand you are trying to about issues faced in the create, you will realize increased Consider implementing value- insurance market overall, or if sales and higher retention rates. added service timelines and applicable, write more specifically stewardship programs by account about your local area. Even * * * * * size. Create a menu of value- easier, there are several services Craig Niess is a Product added services that your agency available that let you create a Manager / Consultant at can offer. The services do not customized e-newsletter by MarshBerry. Contact him at need to be expensive. Then, offer simply selecting various pre- 888-429-0161 or by e-mail at these services to each customer written articles. The time Craig@MarshBerry.com.The MarshBerry Letter Marsh, Berry & Company, Inc.P.O. Box 2315 / LaGrange, IL 60525 7466 Auburn Road / Concord, OH 44077(708) 354-0344 (440) 354-3230 / (800) 426-2774Patrice@MarshBerry.com MarshBerry@MarshBerry.comCopyright June 2006 www.MarshBerry.com The MarshBerry Letter Page 4 June, 2006