Reading time… 9 minutes
This story is the second in a five-part series (read Part 1 & Part 3) to help agents develop a personal brand. We are all “branded” by those around us based on their experiences with us. While simple on the surface, developing a personal brand is a multi-step process that starts with defining who you are. The second step is defining what business you’re in. We hope you enjoy the series and would love to hear your comments.
“While we are a coffee company at heart, Starbucks provides much more than the best cup of coffee. We are a community gathering place where people come together to connect and discover new things.”
Howard Schulz, Chairman, Starbucks
Starbucks started with one store and a wildly different idea of how to present the customer experience. Based on results it sure appears Starbucks nailed that one right between the eyes.
Why do we go to Starbucks? Maybe it’s the quote of the day on the side of the cup. Maybe it’s having a quick conversation in line with the same people at the same time every day. Maybe it’s the banter with the barista (yes, we actually said the word barista out loud). Maybe it’s just having the cup in your hand at work so everyone else knows you go there.
Think about this: Does anyone really like the coffee?
This series is about helping you create a personal brand. Starbucks did it EXACTLY the right way. First, it had to define what it stood for (the subject of #1 in this 5-part series). Second, it had to somehow convince us that what poured into that cup was a lot more than twice the recommended daily dose of caffeine.
Redbird Advisors helps agents develop personal brands. We use a seemingly simple five-step process to do this:
- Who are you?
- What are you (what business are you in)?
- What are your target clients’ special needs?
- What makes you different?
- What unique benefit do your clients get from you?
Ultimately, the specific answers to these five questions will allow you to create your own personal brand promise. Today we focus on Step 2, “what business are you in.”
Step 2: Defining “what you are (what business you’re in)”
We are constantly looking for brand inspiration. Sticking with coffee, we heard about this small coffee shop in Davidson North Carolina, called Summit Coffee. Summit is a fixture in this small college town north of Charlotte. Summit had applied for a small business grant that it ultimately did not win. The application, however, required entrants to describe their business. Read on.
“So, we didn’t win $250, 000,” said owner Brian Helfrich in a blog post in 2013. “But during the application process we had the opportunity to think about what we are. And because of that, we sat back, took a breath, drank decaf (just kidding, of course) and looked at it (what we are).”
Here are just a few of the ways Summit described itself:
“We are a coffee shop. We are a bar. A music venue. A meeting place. A day care. An office. A bathroom. A water break.”
“We are Davidson. We are Main Street. We’re old and rustic. Modern and creative.”
“We are good morning, good afternoon and good night.”
“We are Tim and Beth. Becky and Dave. Alex and Jesse. Chris and Jim and Michael.”
“We are a neighbor. An escape. A welcoming. A friend. A Thank God it’s Friday at 5:00. A large coffee no room for cream… right?”
“We are home.”
“We are Summit. We are lucky.”
So, now you’re thinking what in the Sam Hill does this have to do with me? I sell insurance. Period. That’s it. No special flavors. No music. No neon sign. No cool names for my products. Insurance.
Well, we hate to break it to you but that’s what everyone else sells. That’s the bad news.
The good news: the VAST majority of agents have no clue WHATSOEVER that they could be presenting themselves in much more powerful and client-focused ways.
First, think like a client and ask yourself:
- Why am I buying insurance? (Possible answers: protection for my family, security, my peace of mind, my family’s peace of mind)
- Why does it matter who I buy it from? (Possible answers: they’re local, friendly, trustworthy, smart, timely, encouraging, creative, thoughtful)
Second, answer these from your perspective:
- What is insurance? (Possible answers: safety, smart, financially wise, you never have enough, something I love)
- What is your function? (Possible answers: sales person, creator, collaborator, organizer, friend, informant)
- How do I want my clients to feel after working with me? (Possible answers: satisfied, delighted, relaxed, comforted, enthused, safe)
- What one thing would I like my clients to say about me to a friend? (Possible answers: He did what he said he would do. I was surprised at all the options he showed me. He made me feel comfortable. I actually understand what I’m buying regarding insurance for the first time ever.)
Write everything down next and compare this list to the answers from the “who are you” exercise in Part 1. There should be a pattern developing of both what you want to be and what you’re providing to clients. Like the first exercise, the one or two most important attributes don’t necessarily represent everything about you, just the things that you will consistently communicate and reinforce to clients… the things you say to someone if you only have 10 seconds to describe who you are and what you do.
Remember, you can’t be all things to all people, so focus on defining those attributes that best fit what you want clients to believe about you.
- Inject these attributes into your regular discussion with clients and take note of how clients react.
- Role play different ways to present them.
- Test different attributes if you’re having trouble prioritizing.
- Conduct some quick market research with clients if time allows:
- Did they recognize and understand your attributes? If not, why?
- Do they see your attributes as unique and/or distinctive?
- What attributes do they most value when purchasing?
- What advice would they give you about how you present yourself?
Next: What are your target clients’ special needs?
- Focus on Mom… not just this weekend. A recent story from Gleaner Life reminds us of the important and sometimes under-appreciated role of a mother as we head into this Mother’s Day weekend. More importantly, mothers underestimate the impact their sudden passing would have on the family. Keep the following in mind as you speak with families:
- 1 in 3 women believe they don’t have enough life insurance.
- 7 in 10 women agree that everyone should have life insurance, yet 43% have no coverage.
- Women’s life insurance coverage is only 69% of the average coverage for a man.