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Is Every Insurance Agent Like a Snowflake?

March 14, 2013

snowflakeThey say every snowflake is different. As David Bradley points out on his blog sciencebase, this is true of larger, fully formed snowflakes. But not necessarily true of smaller, “simpler crystals that fall before they’ve had a chance to fully develop into the familiarly evocative hexagonal flakes.”

So, then, it could be true that every fully developed insurance agent can be different like a snowflake?

I’m pondering this analogy because it’s clear that the most difficult thing for most agents to do is to figure out what makes them unique and differentiates them from their competitors.

Truly understanding how and why you and your agency are unique is a business imperative today and essential in terms of your agency’s success and continuing survival.  Differentiationhelps agentsbuild a compelling case for why people should do business with them instead of their competitors.

Unfortunately, many “fully developed” agents in the U.S. today — probably the majority of the more than quarter million —don’t know why they’re unique. Most of them have fallen victim to mass commoditization and price wars.  They find themselves in these lowest-price battles every time they try to win the 90-day bidding process.  To me, this means the agencies and producers are not standing out from one another.  They aren’t differentiating themselves effectively.

Obviously, the humble snowflake has an advantage in this regard; it doesn’t need to know it’s unique. But it doesn’t have a website or need a competitive marketing plan either.

I maintain, however, that like a fully developed snowflake, every fully developed insurance agent is unique. And the sooner such an agent figures out how unique he or she is, the sooner he or she will start becoming even more unique.

Let’s look at few simple ways to discover your uniqueness:

Demographics. This is the easiest way to differentiate yourself. Specialize in a particular industry group, like restaurants, architects or wineries. If you sell individual and personal insurance products, specialize in young families, young professionals or senior care. Find a group with insurance needs and become the expert. Can you specialize in several industries or demographic groups? Sure, just create a different positioning strategy and website landing page for each group.

Geography. If you work in a small town or rural area, there may not be a large enough population for you to specialize in one or even two or three target markets. You have to be generalist. Fine, your specialty is knowing the needs of your community, being active in it and understanding its unique subtleties. On the other hand, if your business is in a large metropolitan area, you can become the 94044 (Pacifica, California) specialist in auto insurance.

Product knowledgeProduct knowledge or specialization. Maybe you’ve acquired deep product knowledge and sales skills in a particular area of insurance, such as cyber liability, wellness, business interruption or long-term disability. You are the expert and you write articles, blog posts and give speeches and presentations on the subject all the time. This doesn’t mean you don’t sell other types of insurance, too. Your specialty knowledge is the magnet that pulls clients and prospects toward you. By the way, this comment goes for any of these ways to be unique.

Personality. Is there something special about you, something unique about your interests or personality? Do you wear a kilt? Do you always play Santa at Christmas? Were you formerly a high school football coach who took your team to the state championships several times? Are you an avid golfer, skier, mountain climber, whatever, who’s got stories to tell and knows everybody that’s anybody in your vocation? Well, I could go on, but you get the point. Build your professional brand around your personal brand.



Jim WhitakerJim has worked in marketing communications for over 24 years. He started out in the insurance industry as an underwriter; he has been a broker, an insurance agency consultant and a marketing executive. In 1988 he opened his own public relations and advertising firm, focusing on the insurance industry.  That firm eventually became SmartsPro Marketing.  The author’s opinions and posts in no way reflect the Beyond Insurance brand or any other affiliate within Addis Intellectual Capital.

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