At this unprecedented time where businesses fear for their future and individuals worry about their families, your customers need reassurance and support. This presents an opportunity for you to fill this void and differentiate your agency. How you reach out to and communicate with your customers at this critical time will help you to build your agency brand and grow your agency’s mindshare.
First, a quick refresher on your brand. It’s not your logo or your slogan or your mission statement. In simple terms, you might think of it as your agency’s reputation earned over the sum of all your communications and actions as an organization over time. But it’s more than that.
Exceptional brands create powerful connections with customers. Take the study that compared the reactions of Apple buyers vs Samsung buyers when they heard unfortunate news about their respective products. For Apple buyers, their brains showed activity like brain activity that occurs when people learn something bad happened to a friend or loved one. In contrast, Samsung buyers showed no such brain activity. This demonstrates the tremendous loyalty of Apple customers. It’s less about the product features and capabilities or price and more about the space Apple occupies in their customers’ minds. The “mind share” that they have earned.
Michael Platt and his partner Leslie Zane are the founders of Trigger, a growth strategy firm that helps Fortune 500 companies with brand building. They say that every business, whether a startup or an established household name, has the untapped growth potential and the ability to become the automatic choice of more consumers. They talk about The Brand ‘Connectome’ in their fascinating article Cracking the Code on Brand Growth in Knowoldege@Wharton.
A connectome is a map of neural connections in the brain. You can read about connectome research they’ve studied and how they apply this to branding. They say that brands must create multiple positive associations with their customers, which then have the effect of establishing a progressively stronger root system in the mind, referred to as a “connectome.” These associations create long-term customers who are unlikely to leave your agency unless significant negative experiences replace them. They say:
“No matter where they fall in any demographic, customers choose the brand with the more robust, developed connectome in their minds over and over, without knowing why. Elevated by their abundance of positive accumulated associations, these brands rise to dominance and salience in our minds. We reach for them instinctively, whether on the shelf or on Amazon.
This finding gives all new meaning to the term “share of mind.” What was once a figurative term describing the amount of influence a brand had on its customers is now a scientific imperative indicating that leaders must continually nurture and grow their ecosystem of associations. If they fail to do so, new companies will take root and displace their brands. To become the brand a prospective customer favors, your Brand Connectome must be larger and more positive than that of your competitors.
What’s your agency’s mindshare?
What’s your “brand connectome” or mindshare? Why do your customers buy their insurance from your agency? What do your customers associate with you? As insurance agents, we can’t advertise a sale, there are no BOGOs on homeowners, and no 2-year warranties. How do customers make their way to your doorstep and why do they write the check to your agency?
Many agents say it’s their service, but your customer had little or no experience with your service before their purchase. Others say it is their locality and their connection to the community.
In this time of customer need, how are you exemplifying “service” or your “community connections”? Unfortunately, all too many agencies create the impression that they are taking the concept of a shutdown literally via a canned “out of office” email response or an automated phone recording saying the office is currently closed. That’s not the way to create positive brand associations for service!
Challenge yourself to think like a customer: What is the ideal customer experience in the current environment? Then challenge your team to rise to the occasion and provide the solution. This is where you are strengthening the roots of the tree. Our priority is to be there at times of insecurity for our clients. We reduce risk for our clients and help them sleep at night. When anxiety is high, this is the time when we need to shine and build those positive associations.
How can you be that resource that stands beside them in their time of need and creates positive associations? Small gestures can be the difference between a long-term relationship and competition at the next renewal.
- Let your customers know that as an essential business, you are fully operational even if your storefront hours are temporarily limited or suspended.
- Make sure your customers know how to reach you.
- Call your clients to let them know you are there for them. If you can’t call all customers at least reach out to your “A” client list.
- Be a source of information for your clients. Share the CARES Act information with your commercial clients. Let your auto insurance customers know if insurers are offering discounts.
And what about your community connections? Agencies say that locality is important to customers and a differentiator from the large direct insurance companies. How are you embodying that in this crisis?
- Are you visible in your community?
- Have you done something to support the first responders or healthcare workers in your town?
- Have you taken a leadership role with your town leaders and the small business community?
- Have you reached out to your business neighbors? Whether they are a customer or not, reach out to find out how they are doing and if you can help in any way.
It’s great if you are doing any of these things – let people know through your social media channels. Social media is a great place to share your everyday experiences. Everyone’s working at home and everyone is hungry for information, so people are checking social media more. Your insurance agency needs to have a strong presence to build your brand connectome and your agency’s mindshare with customers and prospects.
Creating those positive associations is vital. We’ll leave you with this excellent related quote from the poet Maya Angelou:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Lisa M. Johnson – Senior Vice President, Marketing Communications, Renaissance Alliance
Related posts from our blog:
- COVID19: Virtual Insurance Sales: An interview with two of the best
- How is your agency giving back to your local community?
- Spreading your ideas