Let Them be the Brand!

I have been following a thread for the last day or two from agency principals that are blown away that a producer would want to brand themselves and advertise themselves as the brand. In fact, they have gone so far as to say that this person is setting themselves up to open their own agency. People, you got to change the way you think. Because that thought process is what’s going to drive away the most talented and entrepreneurial producers in your organization if you can’t let go of a little bit of control. I’m going to give you all the reasons why.

One of the things that drives me insane is agency owners running off their best talent and don’t even realize what they’re doing. I can’t tell you the number of times I have participated in discussion threads online with agency principals who want to give their producers zero latitude in how they brand and market themselves.

You are Creating the “Problem”

Let me be very, very clear, people. If you have an entrepreneurial producer and somebody that wants to go out and get after it, and you try and tie them down, you are creating the very problem that you perceive to exist. You are envisioning them starting their own agency. You’re imagining them leaving you. And guess what? That’s precisely what they’re going to do if you don’t let their creative juices flow.

If you don’t think that a producer should build their own brand, don’t hire any producers. People on the streets buy from other people. They’re not buying your agency. As much as we want to feed our ego and make it think that it’s our massive overarching corporate brand that people buy, let’s face it. Let’s dial in the humility a little bit and realize that people buy from people, and people that they like, and people that have a good brand and a name that goes behind it. That name can be yours, but you have to let that happen.

How Much Latitude Should I Give Them?

In our firm, I give my producers 100% latitude for how they brand themselves, how they market. Now, most of the time, they want the stuff that I’ve used because I’ve been successfully doing it. But I don’t think I know everything. I like their feedback. I want them to do what’s working in today’s day and age for them. And if it’s a healthy blend between the two, that makes my agency brand stronger.

Why do you Hire Producers?

But here’s the real question. If you’re concerned that if a producer is building their own brand to produce for you and that eventually, they’re going to take that and leave, I’d have to question your hiring process. How did this person get through all of the interviews if they’re that sleazy that they’re just going to build a brand under your shingle and then take off and make it their own? It’s not about that. It’s about you, 100% of the time. You either make a mistake in the hiring process or make a mistake once they get hired.

We have got to stop trying to control and begin to do a better job of collaborating. If you don’t, and if I don’t, the very producers we think are building their own brand underneath our roofs are going to start doing that. Not because that’s their original intention, but because that’s what we drove them to do. Please give them the tools they need, support them with the advertising and the marketing tools they need. Please give them a good value proposition at the point of sale. Help them at the point of sale. And you’ll never ever lose your producers.

The Real Reason Good Producers Leave

The reason people leave is that we give them a reason to. And most of the time, it’s because we’re overbearing and controlling and so absolutely just skeptical about anybody and everything and overprotective of our brand that they can’t take it anymore. So rather than help us, they’ll do it for themselves. And you know what? I don’t blame them. Quit trying to control. Start collaborating. Give them what they need. And you will build a production force that is second to none. And the best part is they’re going to be doing all kinds of crazy branding and marketing stuff that’s only going to make your agency stronger as long as they’re there. But you have to let them. If you can do this, you and your team will absolutely kill it in commercial insurance.

Responses