Are You A Brand? From Marketing To Branding, From Visibility To Credibility

… by Personal Brand Grader, and Adrian Chira.

If you key in “agent” in search engine, there are at least 432 million websites containing the word agent. If you narrow down to ‘insurance agent’, there are not less than 9 million websites about insurance agent. Assuming you are from California, you can easily find more than 2.9 million websites if you further zoom into ‘insurance agent California’.

It is always at the top of your wish list that whenever your customers think of insurance, they think of you. When they want an insurance cover, they would get it from you. This is only possible if your name appears top at the mental search engine of your customers. Essentially we are talking about branding.

What is a brand?

When people think of mobile phone, Nokia rings their bell; when people think of soft drink, Coca Cola pops up in their mind; when people think of personal computer, they visualize Apple; when people think of coffeehouse, they smell Starbucks. Ultimately, you want people to think of you when they think of insurance.

Branding is not just for business organizations, people can brand themselves. Hollywood celebrities and TV personalities do so. Many world renowned sportsmen and sportswomen do so. Nothing will stop you from branding yourself. In fact, if you don’t brand yourself, others will do it for you and they may not do it to your advantage, if you get what I mean.

At the beginning of your business, you may focus more on selling and marketing. Once you set up your business, you may like to work on personal branding especially if this is the business you want to stay for long term. Marketing is about establishing your presence, it is about increasing visibility; branding is about establishing your reputation, it is about credibility.

You have to make your presence felt and your name recognized in the eyes of your customers. Marketing is about breadth; branding is about depth. Marketing is about letting people know your name and your service. Branding is about letting people know the stories behind your name and recognize your unique strengths and qualities.

Marketing is about product feature; branding is about your character. People would like to know not only the products or services, but also the character of the persons delivering them. It is the character of the salesperson that decides the quality of the services and whether the customers are going to have an enjoyable or painful experience with the salesperson.

Why is branding important to you?

A strong brand is synonymous to an endorsement. It communicates your competence and confidence in your business or profession. It creates trust and eases the pain and the stress of making a purchase decision for the customers. We are all under the influence of brands. You can command bigger sales since the customers are willing to pay for the value-added advice and unique services you offer. A reputable brand helps you build loyal customers because the customers expect you to stay in the business for long.

How to do personal branding?

First, do some self analysis. Find out your distinctive qualities and your unique strengths. Ask yourself some soul searching questions. For example: What is the purpose of your existence in this business? What do you treasure in life? What is your passion? What are your moments of glory? How do you want people describe you?

Once you formulate your brand identity, it will be the basis for everything you do. You align your image and conduct in parallel with your values and mission. Next you may like to coin a few words that best describe the values or identity portrayed by your brand. It can be a tagline that helps people to evoke a positive image. For example, “Insurance Solutions from A to Z” by Allianz, “We keep our promises to you” by Amica, “Taking care of what’s important” by Aviva and “Because Change Happenz” by Zurich.

You need to blend your brand identity and values into your business cards, your speaking style, your sales presentation and your website. Your business card tells a lot about you and helps you stand out from the crowd. Use a professional design who understands your branding needs. Use color printing to make your business card visually captivating. Personify your sales presentation. Let your customers experience the difference in your sales approach and services.

You need to make yourself visible. You want people to know you. You want people to see and meet you. You want people to talk about you. You need to do networking. You want to know more people not only from within your industry but also outside your industry. You may volunteer to be a guest speaker in seminars organized by professional associations. You want people to form a positive perception about you and recognize your contributions.

To reach out to more people, you can write articles for periodicals, magazines or newspaper to share valuable information to the readers. Writing articles, ebook or newsletter also helps you brand yourself as an expert. You can write blog to let people understand more about you. Write from the bottom of your heart. Inject your soul into your blog that forms your identity and shapes your personal brand.

In the age of the internet and with the readily available media and advertisement, the market place is flooded with many similar products and services offered by many insurance intermediaries. If you don’t brand yourself, your name may follow hundreds of thousands of the rest becomes oblivious. Branding is not an option if you want to stay long in the business. As you build your brand, you are building the true value of your business.

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