When I ask you to quickly describe the stereotypical insurance agent, what comes to mind?
As a whole, the industry is pretty conservative, buttoned up, slow to change, and, dare I say it, boring. I know there are exceptions out there, but this is basically what a prospect who is meeting you for the first time is expecting, whether they are meeting you in person, via social media, or on your website.
And, I have been in this industry long enough to know that as accurate as the first stereotypes I mentioned might be, most in this industry are not boring, at least not when they are letting their personality come through. And the power of letting that personality come through cannot be overstated during the sales process.
I was reminded of this recently when I spoke at a conference of independent insurance agents. However, the reminder didn't come from the agents themselves, but rather from the hotel at which the conference was held.
The hotel was the Hotel Palomar in Chicago. While it is a part of the Kimpton network of hotels, it very much has an independent, boutique feel. The décor is just enough on the trendy side to feel sophisticated. The hotel staff are all ready to serve and very professional in their demeanor. The meeting facilities are clearly meant to help those using them be productive. I immediately liked the hotel, but it wasn't until I had a chance to experience its "personality" that it really kind of stood out for me. And that personality came through in a slightly unexpected place.
As I was trying to connect to their Wi-Fi, I saw they offered two options. The first was to pay for the service, and the second was to enroll in their loyalty program and get the Wi-Fi for free. I opted for the latter.
As I signed up for program it was clear they wanted to collect information about my preferences to make future stays as pleasant as possible. They wanted to know what newspaper I like to have delivered, what type of pillow I prefer, my ideal room location, etc. Not unexpected, except this is where their playful personality came through.
The options they offer for a pillow:
For room preference they ask, "How you would answer? I prefer a room that is . . ."
Yes, it was a little thing, but I appreciated the humor and the personality they put into their questionnaire! For me, it was a great example that professional and fun don't have to be mutually exclusive.
Insurance agents don't have to be boring. Don't be afraid to let a little personality come through. Sure, you need to be professional, but have a little fun on your website, when your participate in social media, and even when you're meeting face-to-face. I think being able to do so actually shows a level of confidence, makes you more real, and will put your prospect/client more at ease. And when they are at ease, that's when they will open up and discuss honestly how you might be able to help them.
Photo by Jukka Zitting.
Choosing partners for your business is difficult. It's difficult because there are so many things that can make it either a good fit or a bad one. Some nuances you can live with, and some are deal breakers. Sorting through those details and knowing what works for you is critical to managing a successful branding effort.
We announced a while back that we were renaming and rebranding Benefits Growth Network, and let everyone know that our new name would be Q4intelligence. Part of the project scope for a rebrand includes finding the right people to make it happen.
We don't just want a vendor to provide some services in a vacuum. We want partners. We want to work with people who understand our business, the industry, and know what we're trying to accomplish. And we want them to be the ones leading us with their expertise rather than relying on us to tell them what to do on our behalf.
We've worked with a number of technical people since we've started BGN and have been running our multiple web sites on two different platforms – one we could easily update ourselves and one we couldn't update without contacting the developer. Choosing the self-serve option was the easy decision; finding the right partner to do the scope of work we needed for the project, plus the ongoing work moving forward, was the difficult part. Our self-managed site is built on a Joomla! platform, and we wanted to stay with it, so finding an experienced Joomla! developer was the next task.
We met Tony Sova, owner of Softwired, and we knew this was a good fit and would be a lasting one because he's exactly the type of person with whom we like to work. First of all, he specializes in Joomla!, WordPress, and Drupal so he's intimately familiar with the technology, and we're in good hands with his technical capabilities. Beyond the technical, he's also a business partner. He believes in developing long-term relationships and makes sure that his clients get the most from their investment. He is continuously educating himself and staying current/ahead of technology, and he uses his experience and insight to advise clients on quality long-term decision-making.
At the pace of technology changes, it's critical to have someone who's in this with you for the long haul.
Here are some screen shots from the very beginning of the web site build when we started copying content over from the current site to the new platform. The first is the design template in its out-of-the-box colors and format with some added menu items. The second one shows modifications to the template to add in background photos and change the colors. Still a long way to go, but we've got a start!
The other major part of any rebrand is the graphic work that represents your company and speaks on your behalf. The communication this represents is critical. Senses are very strong influencers in how we perceive and react to just about anything, so not putting in the time to get this right can be setting your business up for a negative reaction from the get-go.
When looking for the artist, your search can take you literally anywhere and in many different directions. It can be a single artist or a whole team who works on your branding. We've done some of both and were open to ideas on the right fit, but tend to prefer the intimacy you get with individuals or a small agency. After exploring some of these options with different graphic artists/marketing firms, we finally found our gem.
Between her portfolio, the recommendations, the process she uses to uncover client needs, and the way she manages the whole creative process, we knew this would be our new partner. Julie Riley, owner of j. riley creative, came in with an attentive ear, took copious notes about our business and our vision, and delivered an excellent first round of ideas for us. We picked two designs that we wanted to explore a bit more, and the answer became very obvious. It was an easy and unanimous decision on the design and the colors for our new logo and the foundation for our brand. In this logo, she captures the combination of both the structure and the fluidity necessary to successfully manage and grow a business.
When you're looking for people to help you develop your brand, take your time and do your homework. Making a quick decision just to make a decision generally turns out to be a bad one.
Having a defined process for working with clients and uncovering their needs is critical in any consulting business. Good marketing and web development firms should take you through a comprehensive process to review and understand what you're trying to communicate with your marketing messaging. They should provide the guidance and suggestions to help you craft your visuals, messages, and web presence to support your business model.
So, if you've recognized that you need to make a change to your business and you've decided to rebrand to align your new model with the needs of your clients, the next step is to find the right people to help you manage that process. Finding that right match between your company and the people you chose to hire is critical to the success of the project and the future marketing of the business.
Here are some questions and ideas to carefully consider:
The face of your company is critically important; people do judge books by the cover, and they're judging your branding in the same way. Taking the time to do your research, finding the right fit of skills, ideas, and personalities is time well spent. Sometimes these projects get derailed or slowed down in a way that might not meet your initial idea of completion, but being patient and putting the time in to get it right is well worth the effort and any frustration you may meet along the way.
Note: We're working with individual companies for our marketing services. However, another option is to work with a full-service marketing firm that provides all the resources you’ll need – web development, artwork, copywriting, etc. The premise of choosing the right fit is still the same regardless of which route you choose. Style, personalities, capabilities, and longevity of the relationship all hold true.
We'll be sharing more behind-the-scenes looks on Twitter (@kevintrokey | @wendykeneipp) and on LinkedIn. And as we get ready to make the change from our Benefits Growth Network website to our new Q4intelligence website, we'll let you know about it right here.
Photo by Frank Kovalchek.
We recently announced that we're changing our name, and we're keeping you up-to-date on the process as we go along. Plus, we're also sharing some of the lessons we've learned for you to use in your own agency evaluation.
In the last post, we talked about realizing you've outgrown your name because your value proposition and/or purpose have changed or expanded. In this article we're going to explain a bit about how our model has changed and how that led us to choosing our new name:
An Agency Transformation Network
The original focus of BGN was to help benefits agencies, departments, and producers sell more effectively through a benefits-specific sales system. The more time we spent coaching around the system, the more we realized it wasn't a complete answer. Not only did our clients need sales help in the non-benefits part of their sales operation, they needed deeper help in the execution of the sales system by way of more resources and guidance. And once we built out a more robust, multi-lined sales system, we saw the inner-connectivity of the sales system to the rest of agency operations and the need for complementary resources and guidance in those areas as well.
It became apparent that only focusing on the sales department was a band-aid approach. Instead, we needed a way to treat the entire agency for what it is, a "sales organization". This became our mission: to bring the whole agency system and client experience together to improve the overall performance of the business. This meant taking a broader approach to building a healthy organization where the entire team becomes involved in the selling and reselling efforts and delivering on the client experience.
Our goal has since become even more focused on helping agencies transform from the traditional model of brokering an insurance product to taking control of their business model. We want our agencies to forego the dependence on getting paid for the placement of a product and instead embrace an ability to get paid for the value they create.
It became obvious that our original name no longer reflected our value proposition or business model. And, as difficult as it is to let go of a name and a brand, we knew we wanted (and needed) to rename our company to reflect more accurately who we had become through our own transformation process.
This idea of the whole agency integration has taken us to reviewing the entire agency and focusing on the importance of strategic planning as the blueprint of the transformation process. The role planning plays for any agency/business is critical. However, it is never more critical than when a agency/business is working to transform itself.
Strategic planning, done properly, is what allows us to step away from the myopic view we have in the day-to-day operations and spend time looking at the bigger picture. It is only with the perspective of the big picture that we can start to see the potential and vision of who we can become. It is only with an appropriate level of introspection that we can identify what is working well and not so well. It is only with this clarity that we can lay out a plan of action that will put us on our desired path. And, it is only with this detail of plan that the leaders can communicate effectively to the rest of the team and build the collective confidence.
Our goal in helping agencies plan for their future isn't just about ensuring survival, it is about creating opportunities and finding new levels of success. We understand that any product or service (not regularly analyzed and improved) will eventually run a course that leads to irrelevance, either because of commoditization or antiquation.
Using that business life cycle as a foundation for understanding where to focus time and efforts, we break this out into quadrants for planning. It is through this planning process that we take agencies off of the irrelevance path and instead help them create a path of innovation. Contrary to the typical agency planning, just adding more products or reducing costs is not enough to maintain and grow a business. Instead it requires always remaining on the forefront of emerging trends and offering clients services that are valuable to them at the time.
The key is to recognize that irrelevance is not inevitable. Knowing how to put focused time and effort into each quadrant is a critical piece for ensuring long-term survival, growth, and opportunity creation.
Businesses owners everywhere crave advice and insights that can make them more successful at whatever they do. They don't crave another vendor, but they all hunger for advisors. They want to be around people who can teach them how to be more successful.
It becomes obvious: the most effective sales organizations are teachers at heart. And, knowing you can't teach until you have been a student yourself has driven us to a very strong belief in education and constant learning.
This has become an increasingly important theme; one that we believe agencies must adopt and develop as a part of their culture. The information you learn, the insights you develop, and the advice you give are the foundation of a consulting business. In order to deliver on a model like this, agencies need to be fueled by the confidence in their abilities to offer advice and make solid recommendations. That confidence comes from constant learning, challenging, developing, and practicing your ideas both internally and with others outside the agency.
Finally, a key part of the transformation process is due to the networking and exchanging of ideas with other agencies. The power of networking with a purpose cannot be overstated: sharing ideas; discussing them; refining them; expanding on them; gaining the confidence to take on new challenges; and transforming at an accelerated rate by working together. These are some of the incredible benefits of working in a group to help propel your own vision of change.
Putting all of these key ideas together form the basis of how we work with our member agencies and where we're going with our business model: combining the business planning quadrants, continuous learning and insight to help clients build more effective businesses, and capitalizing on the power of a peer network committed to similar transformations.
Rather than starting with a name and seeing if it was a good fit, we started by evaluating our model, our value proposition, and our purpose. Those evaluations developed into many options that would be representative of our business. Choosing Q4intelligence came down to personal preference, however; we repeatedly asked ourselves the following questions to be sure it was a right fit, not just a comfortable fit:
We believe this name does all of these things for us, and we hope that you do as well!
What clients want and need can be a powerful influence on how to run a business. How you respond should be largely determined by what you choose to pursue as the purpose of your company. If you're in the business of selling employee benefit or commercial risk packages, then adding services outside the scope of those products might not make sense. If you're in the business of helping clients run more efficient and profitable companies through effective employee and risk management, then stepping outside of the products and into related consulting services might make all the sense in the world. Only you can determine which direction to go.
Here are some questions to consider as you make that determination:
After you've gone through a thorough evaluation, take a look at what the expanded model looks like, and create a name that evolves from the purpose and reflects where you're going. The name should be about your future, and not about your history. You can preserve and honor that history on a history page, but it doesn't need to be in your name.
Instead, having a modern, forward-looking business that clients feel is in alignment with what's happening in their businesses is important for your future growth. Especially in an industry where competitive businesses tend to look and sound alike, and have names that are usually more reflective of their ownership teams and their product rather than the value they create for their clients.
Next up in the rebranding series....the people we're working with to bring this vision to life and some behind-the-scenes looks.
Photo by Betsy Weber.
We've decided to undergo a rebrand and change our company name.
This is no small decision. It's a huge project to take on and will require us to transition all of the awareness and recognition we've built thus far onto the new identity. But we see this as an important move for our company today and moving into the future. So while it's a lot of work, it's important and necessary work for us as a company and for our members as well.
As we are going through this rebranding process, we see many lessons that can be shared, lessons which might prove helpful for anyone contemplating the current state of their business – and really, that ought to be all independent insurance agencies. Just because something was right when you started doesn't make it right today or tomorrow. Self-reflection and evaluation should be a regular part of working on your business.
We'll keep you updated on our progress through blogs posts here, as well as on our Twitter (@kevintrokey | @wendykeneipp) and LinkedIn (Kevin | Wendy) accounts. Our updates will include progress on where we are in the process, but more importantly will also include a healthy dose of Why and How for each of these stages.
And here's the first lesson we'd like to share...
We felt we had outgrown our name and were really feeling the limits we had placed on ourselves with it. We have added additional services, tools, and curriculum that expanded beyond a benefits selling system. We knew what direction we were moving with the business and thought that a name change would likely be important at some point, but had to decide when it would be the right timing.
And we knew the time was right when the feedback started rolling in from all directions – it was like everyone could sense it coming. We had clients and partners telling us we were more than the limited name implied. We had prospects telling us we needed to drop the niche focus because, even though we offered services for an entire multi-lines agency, our name was a barrier to selling it internally to the whole team. And then when you start to see your own company name and cringe a little because you feel it's become outdated, you know the time is now.
Words are incredibly powerful and can influence how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us. But how do you know when/if it's the right decision to make a change? As you evaluate where you are as an organization, also spend time evaluating what your name says about your company, your offering, and your team.
What does it say today and how does it reflect your future? Does it allow growth or is it simply reflective of the past? Does it hold you back from moving into a new model? Whether you're in the middle of changing your business now or thinking about it in the future, now is the time to start working on any potential name changes. Do an honest evaluation of your name. Ask other people in the agency, your peers, clients, and your own business partners/advisors what they think, as well. It can be very eye opening.
Here are some questions to carefully consider:
Company names can be beneficial, detrimental, or just inconsequential. Look at any list of businesses and you'll immediately be able to start placing them into these three categories. While you're at it, place your own business into the right category as well. It's an interesting exercise.
If you see obvious disparities and you've determined that you need to make a change, another big factor to consider is timing. Start out by recognizing that there never will be a perfect time. Instead, ask yourself how much longer can you afford to project an image that doesn't properly reflect the value you bring to clients. That will determine your timing.
If you don't feel good about what you've got for whatever reason, it's up to you to change it. No one else will do it for you. When you make the commitment, do it with a purpose. Make the commitment and go all in – even if it's going to be a lot of work.
People are watching and possibly making decisions to contact or buy (or not) from you based on their perceptions. The amount of business you are potentially missing out on because of those misperceptions may be substantial. Instead, make it easy for those potential clients to want to contact you. And make it a point of pride for your current clients and employees to want to be a part of what you offer.
Next up in the rebranding series...the new name we chosen and why we've chosen it.
Photo by Mads Bødker.
Your company brand is not what you think it is or would like it to be, but rather it's the set of ideas and feelings that a prospect or client has when they think about and interact with your company. And that interaction can often be with only one or two people in your organization.
And because of that one-on-one interaction, that one singular person who interacts with your clients IS your business in their eyes - regardless of what your overall company intentions are.
A recent experience at a local company brought this whole idea home to me, and I was really surprised at how my feelings about this company were so directly tied to two people.
I regularly go to one place for service on my car and these two people are my main contacts. They greet me by name, always with huge smiles and with a knowledge of me and an interest in what's happening in my world. They are always willing to educate me and eagerly engage in conversation with me about car or non-car related things.
I rave about my service every time I go in. I feel like they do such a good job taking care of me that I've wanted everyone to know.
And then it happened. I went in recently and one of them wasn't there. I asked why and what happened. Apparently my favorite cashier left for a job with more responsibilities.
So sad for the customers!
But life goes on, and they had replaced her – with two people - who could perform the functions of the job. But they didn't do it with a smile, or with friendly chat and there was a new level of formality that was completely off-putting. And when I came back to pick my car up they were apparently "done" for the day because I was clearly more an annoyance than anything. This job would be great except for the customers, right?
I like this company, but these decisions are very disappointing. They had amazing and now it's gone. And so are my long-held feelings about their brand.
One person. Who knew one person, probably the lowest paid person in the company, could change the face of your company so much?
They obviously didn't hire these new people for their personalities and ability to engage and endear customers. Sure the company processes might be taken care of efficiently, but I think in each new hire you need to look much deeper, beyond the ability to perform the functions of the job. Ask yourself "How does this person fit culturally? How well do they exemplify the brand we want to project?"
If you don't have amazing staff right now that is actively making believers out of your clients every day, then it's time to make some changes.
Start first with your culture and expectations. What have you created that guides people in their behaviors? Is it great customer service at every level of the company? Or is it sticking to the processes as defined in the training manual?
Next, I'd take a good long look at the team and make some difficult decisions. If you've got people who just don't embody the spirit of what you want for your client experience, then they need to go. I'm always a believer in giving people a chance to improve/change, but it would be a quick one...because every interaction with the customer IS your brand to that customer and to the people they talk to.
Creating a reputation can be a slow process of one interaction at a time over time. But ruining that reputation can happen at the speed of one singular interaction. And reversing that reputation can take a lifetime.
We can all get mediocre service at nearly any business in town. But exceptional service that makes you really, really want to work with someone? Now that's a brand to invest in.
Photo by KB35.
Before you read any further, I want you do a little exercise with me. No stretching or running or anything like that. However, this exercise may actually be a little more painful.
Here's what I want you to do: Pretend like you are your own prospect and research yourself. You know, Google, LinkedIn, website, the whole bit.
So, what did you learn about yourself?
Did the Virtual You give yourself a compelling reason to take a meeting?
I'm not sure I can adequately stress the importance of the Virtual You. The exercise you just went through is the same exercise your prospects will take themselves through when deciding whether or not to agree to a meeting. This same exercise will also set their expectations for any meeting they might take.
What you communicate through Virtual You, you will either tell your audience how you are different from your competition or reinforce the perception that "you are all alike". This second perception is one you can't afford to have applied to you.
I was recently having lunch with a friend who is an insurance broker. Over this particular lunch, we were catching up with one another, but also because he was looking for some advice on a hostile prospect he was meeting with the next day to talk about employee benefits.
He had met with this prospect a couple of months earlier on their P&C coverage. His first meeting had been with the owner, and everything seemed to be great (at least on the surface). The owner seemed to love him and was anxious to introduce my friend to the person in charge of all of their insurance. Turns out, she wasn't nearly as excited as the owner.
Thinking things were initially looking positive because of the owner's seemingly enthusiastic response to their meeting, my friend was more than a little surprised to be accidently cc'd on an e-mail from the owner to the benefits manager. Basically, the email said,
"I'm not sure if this guy is full of [crap] or whether or not he can/will do anything he says. What do you think?"
To which the manager responded,
"I've been doing this for 25 years and the brokers are all the same. None of them are worth a [crap], they'll tell you a bunch of lies, and then deliver nothing."
So, is that a fair stereotype of our industry? Maybe, maybe not. Unfortunately, it doesn't matter whether or not it's fair. It's an all too common perception and one you have to overcome.
If your online presence and your in-person reality don't clearly demonstrate what makes you different, you're going to be lumped in with everyone else. If you Tweet about the same topics, promote the same skills/expertise on LinkedIn, and have the same conversations as everyone else when you show up for a meeting, then don't be surprised if you are assumed to be just like everyone else. And, unfortunately, that's not necessarily favorable company to keep.
We have spent quite a bit of time in this space talking about how you establish the brand you want. A big part of the brand revolves around the things you need to be talking about and where you need to be talking about them. What you also need to consider and be equally aware of is how much what you don’t say affects your brand, as well.
I don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems the general rules of professionalism and communication protocol have become very loose, or abandoned altogether. All too frequently, I experience the following:
When I experience these behaviors, it tells me a lot about the individual; it tells me that they are unorganized, less than professional, and lacking the confidence to state a position. It influences the “brand” I assign to them.
I realize that most of the time, this probably isn’t a true reflection of who they are, at least all of the time. I’m sure that in their minds they would never behave this way when “it really matters” for them (like with clients). However, I would caution though that they are on a slippery slope. Bad behaviors have a way of becoming bad habits and habits become who we truly are.
I’m sure that most of them also excuse their own behavior because they witness it in others around them and believe, therefore, it must be a new acceptable standard. If that’s true, it’s very sad commentary on our general state of professionalism.
If this lack of professional courtesy in communication is the new standard, think about how strong your brand could be by comparison if you are the exception who:
Photo by humboldthead.
First impressions can have a pretty big impact on what happens next – or doesn’t – in a relationship. When you contact a potential new client, what is the first thing they’re going to do after they get off the phone or back to their desk? They’re going to search your name and your agency name. What they find is that first digital impression.
Search yourself and search your agency. Look at it from an outsider’s perspective, someone seeing those results for the first time. What will they learn from the results of the search?
I see three likely scenarios based on how you participate in online activities. Take a look through these and see which one best describes your participation and subsequent search results.
You have profile accounts with virtually no information. Your LinkedIn profile or Twitter account was forgotten almost as soon as it was set up.
Either there are no search results for your name or maybe just an old outdated press release about your CIC designation.
Scenario #1 tells the prospect that you’re serious about your business, your career development is an important part of the business, and you are interested in and likely capable of helping the client with their business. And you believe the Internet offers powerful tools for conveying your message and conducting business.
With #3, it’s a mixed bag. There are many possible speculations about those without any results, but we can’t know for sure. A likely possibility is that you don’t believe in social networking as an effective tool for business development. And we don’t have anything to go off of in terms of rating you as a businessperson, so it’s all just unknown.
Now, #2. This is the most dangerous and damaging of the possible scenarios. You know what I mean – you created an account and didn’t finish completing the profile (no photo, no bio, only 3 connections, no experience or only the most recent listed, etc.) or you got really excited and started using it…then stopped. Like 6 months ago. We call these ghost town profiles that have obviously been abandoned. And what this tells that potential new client is that you don’t take Internet tools and networking opportunities seriously, you don’t follow through on what you start, and you leave half-finished projects just laying around.
Does #2 sound familiar? If so, then go fix it right now.
As you go through your search results, make a list of everything that you need to clean up, then go do it.
Avoiding scenario #2 is definitely in your best interest. Cleaning it up will be time well invested in your personal and agency reputation.
While #3 is actually better than #2, understand that clients and prospects who are looking you up online must believe in the power of the Internet as a business tool. So if you are falling into either of these two scenarios, you’re already at a disadvantage with those prospects before you even get started.
Take control of that first impression and put your own positive message out there for people to find.
Photo by Bill Marrow.
LinkedIn is such an amazing business tool and it’s getting more robust and more useful all the time. If you do nothing else to promote yourself online, I cannot stress enough the importance of having a complete and professional LinkedIn profile. Even though profiles are completed on the individual level, it is a critical tool for promoting yourself and your insurance and/or benefits agency.
I look at many, many profiles, and I’ve seen them all across the quality lines. It’s quite simple to put a good profile together, but there are a few things of which you need to be aware that will make it a much more useful tool for you.
Take a few minutes to review your profile in comparison to this list, and see if you need to make any changes.
This is quite possibly your first impression – let’s make it a good one.
Continuing the topic of integrating social media tools into business operations, here we take a look at how to begin thinking about what that might look like.
If you’re looking at social media as a sales channel, you’re going to be very disappointed and give up, rightfully so. Instead, take the time to explore what it could mean to each of the functional areas within your company. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Sales team: Connect with clients, prospects, centers of influence. Share relevant articles and ideas with them, promote their activities, help them make necessary business connections with people you know. (Social makes amazing relationship management tools!)
Customer service: Answer client questions (obviously some things need to be off-line for privacy, but there are plenty of generic issues that arise), conduct employee communications for your clients (host a benefits communication platform for all client employees or feed that information for clients to post on their own platform), provide information on local issues that people need or might want to be aware – like risks and hazards, or health related events.
HR: Search the platforms for talent – find people who fit the profile for your ideal staff. Connect with them and keep a running pipeline of potential future employees. Find out what they like in an employer and in a job. Watch their interactions and see how they handle themselves. Be sure they know what’s happening in your company that makes it a great place to work.
Marketing: If you have a marketing person, they should be scouring the airwaves for any company mentions, industry trend discussions, conversations that are happening about any relevant topics – not necessarily about your agency (e.g., company benefits, open enrollment, wellness programs, hazard risk, business risk, etc.). Watch these conversations for trends, and gather ideas from the complaints and praises you hear.
CEO: This is a biggie. The CEO should definitely be participating online. In fact, if no one else does, it should be this person. The head of your company is the name, the face, the person most closely associated with the company. It’s such a great opportunity to have your top person talking online because your clients and prospects are able to make the direct connection with him/her, and from that, the CEO can then perform the most important role for your sales organization – rainmaker. They set the tone, share the company ideas, philosophy, values, culture and promote people within the company who are making it the great organization that it is.
Social media tools should be integrated into the big picture of what you're trying to accomplish. They should be tools you use as tactics to help you accomplish your strategic objectives, rather than "social" being the end game itself. There are as many ways to use these platforms as you can envision. And that’s a great place to start. Even if you’re already on Facebook or blogging or Tweeting, it would be beneficial to think about this, and have some team discussions for (new) ideas on how to connect with your audience instead of just talking at them.
I’d love to hear some ideas you’ve got on how to use social media effectively for your organization – feel free to share with the rest of us.
Coming up next in this series will be some ideas for getting a team together to tackle this business evolution.
Photo by Lenore Edman.