Are people not doing business with you because they don’t like the way you look?
The harsh reality is, consumers are judgmental and even downright shallow when it comes to purchasing decisions.
People will simply not give you a chance if they don’t like the way you look. I’m talking about everything from the way your insurance agency website looks, to the way your office looks, to the way you physically look. Sad, but true folks.
In a competitive space like the insurance industry, it’s critical that your brand looks good at all times. Sadly not enough agency owners invest the time or resources into the branding process.
Thousands of independent agencies with the same type of name, same type of mission statement, the same offer, same products, same everything and thus, it becomes harder to differentiate yourself from the agency down the street — an agency who might provide an inferior service, but because you both look and sound the same to an un-trained consumer eye, you don’t get the opportunity.
Does anyone know rule number one when it comes to branding? Anyone? I’ll give you a hint: it’s defining your audience.
1.) Define your audience
Before you spend money on a logo, sign, billboard, or website, if you are going to be a successful business owner, you need to take some time, sit down with a pad and a pen and figure out who your avatar client is.
You can’t build a brand until you do this first — period.
Who is it that you want to do business with? Who would get the most use out of your services and products?
I know what you’re thinking: You’re thinking, “I’ll sell insurance to anyone with a pulse. Everyone’s money is green right?”
This classic branding mistake is made in our industry every single day. Yep, I said branding mistake because ultimately that’s what type of mistake it is, and yes, it’s an actual mistake to not care who you sell to.
Instead, figure out who truly want to do business with and build your brand around that type of person. If you don’t, you’ll have a mash up of dozens of different types of households, risk types, and customer personalities.
Defining your audience is about building brand loyalty
Is that the end of the world? No. But you can’t truly build a tribe of loyal customers unless you define who that customer is. Key word — loyal.
In the insurance industry loyalty equals a lot of money.
Look at Apple for example. You have people that will camp out in parking lots for the next iPhone release. Apple has a carefully crafted brand strategy and they have identified the exact type of person who will be a raving fan of their brand and products. They then laser target their messaging, advertising and products to that person.
Branding, marketing and sales is all about appealing to the right audience with the right offer at the right time.
Few do it better than Apple.
You don’t often see Soccer-Moms and Grandpops waiting in that Apple parking lot. It’s typically young to middle aged men, 18-30 years old, who are into technology. You think that’s on accident? It’s not. Apple has defined their audience with the iPhone, and that brand loyalty is one of the reasons why Apple is worth so much money.
Obviously the awesome functionality of their phone is appealing to people of all ages, but it’s that targeted demographic that carries their brand. This brand loyalty also allows them to create scarcity for their products, which only drives more and more sales.
I can tell you right now, when I first started in the independent side of the business, I fell into the trap of selling to everyone no matter what they needed.
“Oh you need a mono-line auto with 50/100 and refuse to use EFT? Let’s do it.”
Over time, I realized the people I wanted to work with were families where the parents were in their early to late 50’s, who had 3 or 4 vehicles, a nice house, and maybe kids in high-school or college.
This was my avatar client, and the exact type of household who would value my advice because they had assets and family to protect and were still of the age where they truly valued the small business owner relationship and had that “buy local” mentality.
Once I knew who it was I wanted to do business with, I could then build my brand, both visually, and internally, around this demographic. Everything from the way our company looks and feels, to the way we answer the phone, to the other products and services we offer to that demographic.
Speaking of visual branding….
2.) Step your image game up
One of the common themes we see here at Advisor Evolved after setting up a ton of agency websites is that agencies struggle hard core with imagery. Whether it be images of their team, office, community, or volunteer activities, most agents we’ve worked with have really nothing for us to work with in the image department.
If you are an insurance agency owner (or financial firm) reading this, hear me loud and clear on this:
It’s time to hire a professional photographer
Seriously, this is not a luxury in the digital and visual media age we do business in today. In a world where mobile apps like Snapchat and Instagram rule, great photography can do so many good things for your visual brand, and the cost is an investment in your business.
Many times when we have clients sign up with us, it’s hard for us to even get head-shots from them for their About page, let alone any other type of imagery.
This can make it super challenging when setting up their new website, because in many cases we are making something out of nothing, and often times have to resort to stock photography to fill out their site, which is a big no-no in the design world.
If you’re an agent and unsure of what good images look like, head over to one of my favorite image sites for some examples of solid candid shots and poses you could replicate with the help of an experienced photographer.
Great images can take an average website and make it look great!
Good imagery helps humanize your brand
As independent agents, we preach that we’re local, family owned, and a trusted advisor for our clients’ insurance needs. However on the outside, especially with their website, many agencies try to look like they’re a 2500 employee global corporation.
When you do that, you’re taking a brand that a very small number of people have heard of, and playing in the same space as the big boys who everyone knows. If you’re small, local and independent, it’s perfectly fine to look that way. That being said, there’s definitely a right and wrong way to do it.
Rule number one: never use stock images of fake business people on your website.
Real, genuine, up to date images of your staff, agency, and community really helps you humanize your agency which is so important given the fact that most people view insurance as a super boring thing. It lets people know that there are real community members behind your company, not a bunch of white collar executives who feel rigid and unapproachable.
Update: to make it even easier to incorporate awesome imagery into our client sites, we’ve built a custom integration with Instagram that allows our users to easily display their business or personal Instagram feed at the bottom of their insurance agency websites just like you see on the bottom of our home page on this site!
3.) Redesign your logo
Your logo is such a big part of your visual brand. If done correctly, it can convey trust, and really give off a great first impression about your company. The notion that your logo has to be the same forever is simply not correct.
Companies tweak and change their logos all the time, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing it. In fact, I encourage you to re-evaluate your logo. Is it simple and modern? Does it truly represent you and your agency? Is it easily noticeable and readable?
Take a look around and look at the big brands out there. They all have dead simple logos. One thing you don’t want to do is over complicate your logo.
A lot of people who don’t have design experience want to add every little shiny feature to their logo, or some crazy font that’s hard to read. It’s the simplest logos that are the most impactful, and brand-able.
After setting up hundreds of agency websites, we began to see the need for visual design services, so we created a Insurance Agency Branding Package. We’ve already had several people take advantage of this service, and the compliments they receive have been amazing!
Remember that consumers are shallow beings.
They will compare you against other brands in their mind, and their decision to do give you an opportunity largely hinges on the visual appearance of your brand. However if you don’t first identify who your target customer is, it doesn’t matter how pretty you look — your message will fall on the wrong eyes and ears regardless.