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  • Writer's pictureSteve Pieroway

What am I selling (or what are brokers buying)?

(This post is part 1 of 2)

In the last post I said that I’d dive into my model for messaging.

I’ll get there. But we have to take a journey, first.

So, I arrived at insurance brokers as my target market. I went from ‘all types of services’ to ‘white collar professional services’ to ‘insurance brokers’.

With what? What am I selling? What are they buying?

‘Marketing services’, I told myself. I’m a marketer. Offer marketing services.

Seemed a little generic, but I was going with it. Surely there must be brokers out there who needed help with marketing. I wasn’t really sure how to package up what I could do, because I wasn’t really sure of the problem I was solving.

‘Marketing services’ is so broad that it could mean anything.

So in May of 2022 (about a year from this writing), I decided to act as if I was working with a brokerage (without actually working for a brokerage).

My thought process: if I’m working at a brokerage doing ‘marketing’, one of the first things I’d like to know is, “What is everyone else doing? What is everyone else saying?”

So that’s what I did. I analyzed 111 broker websites across Canada.

(I used websites as a proxy for a brokerage’s brand message. Two reasons. #1: websites are our virtual store, office and billboard wrapped into one. #2: websites are publicly available for anyone, like me, to access.

I studied and compared the language used. The images used. The home page, above the fold messaging (which should really be the strongest messaging about any brokerage).

And what I found was that brokerage website messaging converges on a handful of similar themes.

(If you’re interested in those themes you can grab the report Where’s the Brand? here. It’s free and you don’t have to enter your email).

The main point is that I thought, “okay, maybe there’s something here”, maybe I can help brokers with their messaging.

Well, I put Where’s the Brand out there. Promoted it. Had some conversations.

And I came to realize that brand messaging wasn’t at the forefront of brokers’ minds.

‘Why?’, I asked myself.

Here is a highly competitive market. With a commoditized product. And seller messaging converging on 4-5 themes.

I felt like the world should’ve been my oyster.

But it wasn’t. (Or more appropriately, I didn’t make it so).

5 Wrongs Make a Right

So I took a step back. Analyzed the situation.

And came to the following realizations:

  1. I didn’t have a clear offer. At the time, my website had three different offers. As a consultant starting out, I thought I needed more “things” for brokers to buy. I was wrong.

  2. I didn’t understand the problem. I’m a marketer. Everything I see is a marketing nail waiting to be driven home by a marketing hammer. ‘Of course’, I thought, ‘there was a branding problem’. I was wrong.

  3. I didn’t fully understand the sales-marketing dynamic. Principles are concerned about sales. Not marketing. Everything I’d heard was more about helping producers sell. And because I’m a marketer, I kind of tuned this out. “I’m not in sales” I told myself. I was wrong.

  4. I didn’t understand the product. I thought insurance was the product. I was wrong.

  5. I didn’t get to the root of my target market’s desire. Again, being a marketer… I thought it was better marketing. I was wrong.

Being wrong forces you to rethink things.

After having a couple of more conversations, what I’d heard was that principals were really concerned about organic sales growth. I know. Seems obvious. But when you’re wired to see the world through a certain lens, the obvious isn’t so obvious.

Okay, organic sales growth.

This became my new problem. The focus. The 1st principle. Sales growth.

With problem in hand, I thought, “How do I connect my marketing skill set to sales?”

My mindset challenge, though, is that I’m not a salesperson. Marketing, yes. Revenue generation, yes. Sales management, some. But direct sales, no.

So I started talking to producers, those who are tasked with making sales.

How do they build funnel? What are their challenges? How do they market themselves? What is their unique selling advantage? Their unique brand advantage? How do they differentiate themselves from the competition?

Now I had narrowed in on a sales problem (lack of organic growth) that I could see as a marketing problem (and opportunity).

Next, I rethought what was being sold. It’s not insurance. And I had to move beyond the ‘benefits’ like better coverage or trusted advisor.

Applying what I know, I thought, “What is the product in this equation?” Turns out, it’s the producer.

Principals will tell you that “relationships are what makes us different”. Relationships, though, are an outcome.

What is being sold is the individual. The producer.

It’s really a “Product, You” situation.

And this is where my view, and ultimately my model, started to take shape.



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