Crafting a Powerful Message

By Alan Katz

I’m writing this shortly after California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a statewide shutdown to battle the COVID0-19 virus. I hope you are safe and healthy.

I do not know what the status of the pandemic will be when you read this. However, I assume working from home is still the order of the day. If you are like many shut-ins, you are using this time to clean house. (And, of course, thoroughly washing your hands).

This is also a good time to take stock of your marketing message. In last month’s article I laid out how to identify your added value. Knowing your market position is one thing. Effectively communicating it is another. This month I offer a way to build on your position to craft a powerful marketing statement. Use it to improve your agency collateral and your web site.

About those websites. For many prospects, your site is their first impression of you. For many agencies, this is a problem.

Too Common Websites

A friend of mine, Susan Cotton, did a study a few years ago on health insurance agency websites. Susan looked at over 100 sites (she is very brave). She found the vast majority relied on one or more standard messages:

  1. Expertise: usually how long the agency has been in business.
  2. Partnership: these agencies do more than sell policies, they are trusted advisors. This statement is popular with larger agencies.
  3. Service: agencies with friendly and responsive staff. This one is big with smaller agencies.
  4. Cost Effective: these folks shop the market to find the best value.

There is a lot right about these four attributes. But they are simply table stakes. All agencies should apply their expertise to be a trusted advisor delivering great service and finding the best value. Another problem is these are common messages. If every agency makes the same promises, none stand out.

Life and health agencies pretty much sell the same products at the same price. If they describe themselves in the same way they are commodities. As noted last month, being a commodity is kryptonite for sales professionals. Sales are the result of luck. Success, however, goes to the standouts.

Elements of a compelling message

There are many ways to shape a persuasive message. I like Doug Hall’s approach from his book “Jump Start Your Business Brain.”  Hall’s formula identifies three attributes marketing messages should include: An Overt Benefit; a Reason to Believe; and a Dramatic Difference.

  • Your Overt Benefit says how you solve prospects’ problems. It answers their question, “What’s in it for me?”
  • Your Reason to Believe explains why prospects should rely on you to solve their problem. It answers their question, “Why should I trust you?”
  • Your Dramatic Difference is what makes you special. It answers the question “Why you?”

Identifying your market position (as we did last month) is a strong start to answering these questions. Still, crafting your message takes work. And identifying your dramatic difference takes the most work.

There are several ways to be different. You may find you truly offer something unique. For example, onsite enrollment support – in four languages. Or you may choose to do something just to be different. This could be providing a free wellness audit to prospects or using your dog Spot as your spokesperson.

There are perceived differences, too. You may be an award-winning agency. By itself this would not make you different, but prospects may think it does.

Two Examples

You can use Hall’s formula to craft any message, even a generic one:

  • Overt Benefit – We help you find the right health plan to meet your company’s needs and budget.
  • Reason to Believe – We have been in business for 20 years.
  • Dramatic Difference – We use this experience to find you the best policies for your unique needs.

Better still, apply the formula to a standout message to make it even stronger:

  • Overt Benefit – We improve the health of your bottom line by improving the health of your workforce.
  • Reason to Believe – As Georgetown University showed, every $1 invested in wellness returns $3.27 in direct savings.
  • Dramatic Difference – We do a free wellness audit of your company before we recommend a thing.

Take Action

Once you’ve identified your position and your sharp, effective message, use it to create unified, consistent marketing material. This includes any communications from your agency. And it definitely includes your website.

For example, my company’s positioning statement is that NextAgency promotes that “we save life and health insurance agencies time, money and clients.” That is front and center on our website. We then organize the benefits of our agency management software by how they save agencies time, money and clients. The positioning and messaging become the site’s framework.

Crafting your value statement and message takes time and thought. Unfortunately, you may be finding yourself with plenty of time. While staying healthy, I encourage you use some of it to think about how you communicate your value.

We will get through the nation’s current challenges. When we do, be ready.


Alan Katz is a co-founder of NextAgency, an agency management system with CRM, marketing and commission tools for life and health agencies. Learn more at Alan is a past president of NAHU and CAHU. He is a nationally known speaker on sales, marketing, business planning, and health care reform. Alan is the author of “Trailblazed: Proven Paths to Sales Success,” available through Amazon. Follow Alan on Twitter (@AlanSKatz), connect on LinkedIn ( and contact him at