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What Have You Heard Lately?

Photo on 2010 05 05 at 12.34 150x150 What Have You Heard Lately?

Rick Gilman, Executive Director

I recently read an article called 3 Social Media Band-aids for Your Broken Business Model that drives home two points that I’ve been talking about for some time that bare repeating.

First, as the title of this post infers, you no longer control your brand. You can still have a significant impact and help shape it but ultimately it is your customers and various stakeholders that will define what your brand truly is. This shift in power is directly related to the growth in social media. The sooner you recognize this, the sooner you can engage them more effectively and participate in shaping that brand.

Second, and this point is difficult for many businesses to understand, social media is less about marketing and more about listening. I often advise agents that are new to using social media be it a networking tool like Twitter or Facebook, or even blogging, that the best first step is to surf the web for blogs and Twitter accounts that you find interesting. They should read them regularly, then begin to engage the writers with your thoughts. This step-by-step process introduces you to the environment, teaches you what a good and appealing blog or Twitter account is like and lets you begin your own foray into the social media world at your own pace.

In that same sense, even when you are fully engaged in the social networking environment spend more time listening to your customers and markets than talking at them. This way you can learn exactly what your customers want from you, expect of you and how best to serve them. It puts your agency in a much better position to demonstrate your “Unique Selling Proposition” and can move the discussion away from bottom line price.

Jeff Yates, executive director of ACT, recently published an article about this very idea called Taking Back Personal Lines. In it he refers to a concept by futurist Dan Burrus whereby he advocates “going opposite” as a way to distinguish your brand from everyone else. If your competitors are pushing price as their selling point, go opposite and tout your unique selling and service qualities. For independent agents, it’s a perfect perspective.

So, if you’re out there on the social media circuit, what have you heard about your agency lately that you didn’t know? What insight into your customers and prospects have you uncovered? And, what are you doing with that new found knowledge?

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