Communication and education are more than just buzzwords

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The message couldn’t be any clearer that employers want and need more communication and education; their business growth depends on it. If you listen to your clients — and I mean really listen to what they’re saying and not saying — you’ll know exactly what they need and what they’re willing to spend money on.

Clients have big goals, and here’s the reality check: They’re going to pay someone to help them. They’ll pay a consultant, pay for software, or hire an employee. In some way they’re going to spend money to achieve their goals. You can determine if you’re the one to receive that payment.

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What exactly are employers looking for? Employers spoon-feed wants and needs year after year in Zywave’s Broker Services Survey. They want more communication, interaction, strategy and stewardship. And unfortunately, employers have to say it year after year because apparently not enough brokers are listening and taking action.

As an agency, with access to significant client information, you can be the most valuable relationship that your client has. You can pursue deeper, wider projects with them, and they’re willing to let you play that role.

What does more communication and education look like? Employee Benefit News magazine spoon-feeds ideas each month. I mark article after article that spells out what employers want for their employees and from their brokers, including details on how they’re doing it. They make it very easy for you to run with these ideas in your own practice.

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Read through an issue of EBN and you’ll see that employer success is completely dependent on strong, effective, consistent, educational communication that is based on strategy:

  • Benefit strategy with emphasis on face-to-face communication
  • Recruiting by emphasizing benefits and employer brand
  • Strengthening culture by aligning corporate values with benefits offered
  • Wellness programs engaging employees and improving overall wellbeing
  • Financial programs helping employees secure finances and futures
  • Cyber security and identity protection to protect company assets and employee identities

While you likely consider your company an insurance agency, I challenge you to think about how, as a result of these growing client needs, you are becoming a communication and education consulting practice. Sit with that thought for a while.
There are a multitude of companies looking for help creating new ideas, thinking through a plan, making selections, implementing programs and sometimes just being a sounding board. Those are the clients for progressive, consultative independent agencies.

Don’t let “free” and lack of time be your enemy

No excuses. Yes, some employers want “free” services and a DIY approach. Let them have that with someone else.

Kill the prevalent misconception that companies won’t pay fees. Business owners spend reasonable money on services they see as valuable.

And don’t tell me, or yourself, that you don’t have time to read or make changes to your business. Make the time. Your clients want more from you. Read through a few issues of EBN to gather ideas and formulate your plan for becoming the feared competitor in your market.

Keneipp is a partner and coach at Q4intelligence, driving agency transformation. Learn more at Reach her at, on LinkedIn, or Twitter @WendyKeneipp.

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