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Who Are You?

Who are you? It's a question you may not have asked yourself in a while, but it's at the heart of your agency's success...
January 15, 2007

By Alexi Papandon
Assistant Vice President, Communications
PIA National

Who are you? It's a question you may not have asked yourself in a while, but it's at the heart of your agency's success because it's at the heart of your agency's brand.

As the core question that determines your agency's brand, who you are - or better yet, who you are perceived to be - determines the framework by which others think of you. It's a coat hook that they can hang their hat on. The stronger that hook, the more likely that your agency will rise above the din of a crowded marketplace. Like a well-crafted coat hook, it must be forged with care and precision. Furthermore, if you don't take proactive efforts to craft it, it will be crafted for you, and you may not like the results.

Building Your Brand with the PIA Branding Program

If you're serious about making sure members of your community know how you differ from the competition, PIA can help. Through the PIA Branding Program, PIA members now have access to numerous print advertisements and flyers that spotlight the many reasons that local, professional, independent insurance agents are superior to captive agents and direct writers' 800 numbers and websites. In particular, the ads focus on the combination of choice and personal support and service that only Professional Insurance Agents can provide.

To learn more and download your advertisements, please click here.

Everyday you and your colleagues add to your agency's perception in every interaction you have with clients, prospects and others. Are these interactions part of a planned, thought-out response - based upon the perception you want to build - or do they meander, responding to the challenge of the moment but varying course too much to stick in the minds of your clients and prospects as a cohesive identity? To put it simply, is everyone singing from the same page?

Without a clear understanding of who you are, commonly understood, accepted and supported by everyone in your agency, your agency will suffer from a lack of identity. Prospects will have less reason to judge you favorably over the competition, and customers will have less reason to stay.

A strong identity brings customers through the door. More importantly, a strong identity acts as a magnet. For the same reason it attracted a customer in the first place, it keeps them attracted to you through the years, provided you nurture it and honor it in everything you do. In a world where customers are bombarded by marketing messages and do not hesitate to abandon satisfactory relationships for others that they perceive as potentially being better, a well formed identity is your key to strength, growth and longevity.

Answering the Question

That brings us back to the question, "Who are you?" While there are many facets to this question, with different answers for every PIA member, one commonality is that PIA members are all professional independent insurance agents. But what does that mean to you? Equally important, what does that mean to your insureds and those who you would like to attract as clients? You probably represent more than one insurance company. How does this make you better than agents who don't? You're local. Why is this better than the call center located across the country but accessible 24 hours a day?

Answers to questions like these can help you succinctly summarize your identity in a way that can be commonly understood by everyone in your agency. Once you have defined your identity, you must determine how to shape it. After all, perception is reality. As a PIA member, the print advertisements available to you through the PIA Branding Program can help (see box).

To be successful, your identity must become part of everything your agency does and every interaction your agency has. It must guide you, even when a particular transaction might favor another identity. It is times like these when your commitment to your identity is tested. Stay true to your identity and you will win the war, even if you must lose a few battles. By staying true to your identity, it will ultimately be transformed into the brand that you have envisioned. Your coat hook will be firm.

Alexi Papandon alexipa@pianet.org is Assistant Vice President, Communications, for PIA National.

PIA Connection

This article originally appeared in the January 2007 PIA Connection.