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Is Your Benefits Agency Adrift in a Sea of Sameness?

Do a quick search online of health insurance brokers in your area and like as not you’ll see the same websites and imagery over and over again. You’ll see visuals of wealth, of prescription drugs, of serene mountain views and of older men wearing suits, shaking hands with other older men wearing suits. You’ll see language like “quality” and “value” and “controlling costs” and “administrative efficiency.”

The standard visuals and language that seem to indicate one is a health insurance broker have seen little change over the last few years, and if you’re an employer looking for a new broker relationship—good luck finding one that stands out—even just a little.

The sea of sameness doesn’t end at website design—it continues into how an agency sits down in front of a prospect for the first time. “Hello Mr. Prospect—before you tell me what you want and need, let me run down this list of tools I can offer first. Here’s a flyer I’ve developed with a matrixed grid of products, solutions and carriers that I’d like to run thru with you—line by line.”

Consider also tradeshows, golf outings and sponsored business networking events. The industry is still years behind others that no longer use fish bowls with enter-your-business-card-to-win a “free” benefits consultation or, my personal favorite, a logoed flag on the 9th tee.

The main reason agencies don’t stand out as unique in their market “sea of sameness” is usually due to three things:

  1. You think your reputation is enough

The truth of the matter is this--your legacy of excellent customer service may build your reputation in your market, but not recognition of your brand. And if you do great work but nobody is aware of it,how will you grow? Isn’t that a little like the question, “If a tree falls in the forest, but nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound?”

Sure, your current clients may be happy, but at some point your reputation for excellent service will fall prey to any number of variables. Say you lose your top account manager, or a hungry new competitor appears in the market. Marketing helps keep your clients sticky by reminding them on a regular basis what they get from working with you. It also keeps your brand top of mind so that when a competitor dangles a shiny object in front of them, your clients remember that they already get that fancy thing from you.

  1. You don’t think you have the budget for full-time marketing support

Having a dedicated marketing professional on your team can help you define your brand—your story in your market—as well as the visuals that you use on your website, signage, collaterals, etc., to help you stand out. If your agency is of a certain size, you may not have decided to invest in a strong plan to brand yourself in your market—either thru a vendor marketing agency or by hiring an in-house marketer.

The truth of the matter is that you can always justify the expense that marketing support provides in terms of retaining clients or warming the soil for new ones. The marketing support doesn’t have to be hundreds of thousands of dollars out of your P&L, but just enough for a marketing specialist who knows how to tell a great story, run an excellent event, shine a light on your thought leadership and support your growth overall. The return is exponential.

  1. You underestimate the value of a well-defined brand

When your top producer is at a networking event and they have that three-minute opportunity to leave an impression with a prospect—what do they do? Do they define features and benefits? Lead with your latest HRIS tech? Or do they tell a story about your shop by making a connection to your brand and your value proposition? When they walk away from the conversation, will the prospect have had a memorable experience that keeps your shop top of mind?

Marketing, above all else, defines the story about your team, how they show up and why they are different. Marketing makes that story authentic—by connecting it to your people in a way that creates a natural, memorable moment for their audience. The story isn’t told through logoed golf shirts or business-after-hours sponsorship signage. The value of a strong and authentic brand is undeniable. Just ask your strongest competition who does invest in marketing.

The good news? OneDigital’s marketing machine is acutely focused on building a superior, national benefits-only leadership and consulting brand. The team is highly aligned with client services and sales leadership across the organization and the content approach is influenced by market trends, innovation and real-time feedback. If you are considering joining our organization, you will have become a part of a well-defined and relevant brand story—a new generation of health and benefits consultants focused on delivering fresh thinking, peace of mind, and optimism in a sea of sameness—that you are no longer destined to down within.