Product hawking is out. Compelling ideas and advice are in.

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People don’t buy what advisers sell. They buy the adviser and their ideas. And when all an adviser talks about is their products, they’re losing potential buyers.

No one wants to buy insurance. They only do it because they have to for some reason: They want to attract and retain talented people at their companies; the government tells them they have to; their employees ask for/demand it.

When employers decide to look for a consultant, they start talking with people, asking around, searching online, and essentially window shopping various agencies/consulting firms. What they see for the most part are agency websites that say the same, dreadfully boring, product and service-focused things. Everywhere.

Also see:Top 10 business practices that can get an employer sued.”

Half of the websites are at least five years old. The other half have been freshened up in the last couple of years and look more modern. But the message is the same, regardless. They all talk about the type of insurance products they offer, the great relationships they have with the carriers, and that they “personalize” their service to their clients.

Selling ideas
There is often a major disconnect between that product-focused website and what advisers are actually doing for clients. The agency offering has changed and now adviser marketing needs to change. It’s no secret that the independent agency model has shifted from being a product-selling business to being an advice-and-results driven business (which really means brokerages are becoming consulting firms). And in that shift, advisers also need to seriously reevaluate their method of marketing and selling this advice-and-results model.

Advisers should get started by looking at websites for consulting firms, and they’ll notice a drastically different experience. They have always been in the advice-and-results business. Go to McKenzie & Company or Booz Allen Hamilton or Accenture and what appears is a virtual magazine of thought-provoking content. They aren’t selling or pitching products. They are prolifically sharing their ideas.

If potential clients don’t connect with a broker’s ideas and the way they think, they’ll never appreciate and follow their advice, or get the results they need and want.

When employers love the ideas a firm is sharing through articles, videos and white papers they’ve created, the employers will start wondering how to become a client of theirs and have this type of information directly as a part of the brokerage’s brain trust.

The national brokerages are beginning to move toward this content-forward approach. And keep in mind that these are the comparison sites all advisers’ prospects are seeing when doing their research.

Hawking products
If employers come to an agency’s site and all they see are a bunch of product-hawking pages, it establishes zero trust. And the firm has left readers with the perception that all the company can do is be a distributor for the insurance carriers.

Promoting products doesn’t sell an adviser’s capabilities as a professional services company. Promoting ideas does.

This is a reality very few agencies have recognized, which means there is nothing but opportunity for the taking. Employers are craving a new broker experience, and the industry is not delivering to employers what they want and need in today’s environment.

Product hawking is out. Compelling ideas and advice are in. If advisers do any writing, they should share the articles on the home page of their website. And realize that LinkedIn activity is closely related to website activity because people doing research will be looking at both. So advisers should be sure they are spending time on LinkedIn every day, sharing ideas in micro-posts and as lead-ins to relevant articles.

The more advisers let others see how they think, the more opportunity the right buyers will be drawn to them.

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