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The PIA Branding Program: Everybody Wins!

Edmund Kelly, the CEO of Liberty Mutual, thinks that insurance should not be sold like Chicken McNuggets. In a recent address, Kelly recommended that...
December 11, 2006

PIA National Executive Vice President & CEO Leonard C. BrevikBy Len Brevik
Executive Vice President & CEO
PIA National

Edmund Kelly, the CEO of Liberty Mutual, thinks that insurance should not be sold like Chicken McNuggets. In a recent address, Kelly recommended that insurers need to move away from a price-driven, commodity-based business model - like the one used by fast food giant McDonald's - and toward one of "differentiation based on service rather than price."

The preferred business model Mr. Kelly describes is the one that has powered the success of professional independent insurance agents for many years. PIA agents differentiate themselves from their competition (direct writers and captive agents) based on the unique combination of strengths they provide insurance buyers: Personal support and service. Choices in coverage. And a personal relationship with the customer.

We've already got the best business model in the insurance industry. It works well for us and it works well for the companies we represent, who have made the independent agency system their distribution system of choice for more than a century.

So what's the next step? Expanding agency market share and with it, the market share of our carrier partners.

The best way to do that is by establishing differentiation. By telling more people who we are, and what we can do for them that others can't. In other words, by advertising and promoting the fact that PIA members are Local Agents Serving Main Street America SM.

The PIA Branding Program that you see highlighted in this issue of PIA Connection is the culmination of a year-long effort to build a brand for PIA members - but not create a new identity.

Our research indicated that professional insurance agents already have a strong, positive image. So, rather than building a campaign around a new image, the PIA Branding Program extends the reach of the positive image professional insurance agents already have through a coordinated, high quality advertising and promotion program that PIA members can use in their local communities.

One of the strengths of the PIA Branding Program is its straightforward approach. The messages are clear, direct and unmistakable. The ads themselves are attractive and compelling.

The PIA Branding Program was rolled out to PIA affiliates and members beginning in November. Then, we announced the program to the industry in December. Already more than ten carriers have endorsed the program and hundreds of PIA members have responded.

"I reviewed the new PIA ads and think they are terrific," said PIA agent Chester Butler, President of The Butler Company, Inc., an insurance agency in Nashville, Tennessee. "They tell our story well. In an advertising field that is overrun with gimmicks, this straightforward approach is refreshing. Indeed, I like the PIA ads so much, I already have one at the printer. These ads are really 'on the mark!'"

Use of the PIA Branding Program is free to all PIA members everywhere. It's a part of your dues, another advantage of PIA membership. There is also no fee for carriers that wish to participate in the PIA Branding Program. We are telling carriers that we would rather they hold onto their money and use it to support the advertising initiatives of their PIA member appointed agents with cooperative advertising dollars.

I encourage all PIA members to get on board the PIA Branding Program, and use it to expand your agency's book of business. And I urge all carriers to endorse the PIA Branding Program, and use it to help your PIA appointed agents expand your company's market share. To get started, simply click here.

Everybody wins!

Len Brevik lenbr@pianet.org is Executive Vice President & CEO of PIA National.

PIA Connection

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2006 PIA Connection.

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