Personal Brochures

How does an insurance agent "stand out from the crowd"?  In a perfectly competitive market -- that is, one with many buyers and sellers competing over interchangeable products -- one wouldn't have to ask that question.  Price alone would determine success.  But we do ask that question, because insurance agents, like many other providers of services, operate in a marketplace that can be characterized as "monopolistically competitive".  It is competitive because there are many sellers in the market.  It is monopolistic in that each seller is unique -- offering clients their individual talents and skills and a slightly different set of products than any other agent.  Agents and others in the  financial services industry are often interested in differentiating their practice from that of other agents or agents.  A personal brochure can be used to highlight their differences.

The guiding ethical principle when developing a personal brochure is that -- at the very least -- the brochure must provide information sufficient to allow the reader to understand the:

identity of the agent
business or businesses the agent engages in
products sold to accomplish the objectives stated in the brochure
companies represented, their addresses and telephone numbers, and
agent's address and telephone number.

 The typical brochure highlights personal achievements, education, professional designations, membership in civic and professional associations as well as the products and services being offered.  As in so many other communications, the ethical requirement is to avoid anything that would mislead the brochure's reader.  Areas in a personal brochure that may be abused include:

claiming to have a professional designation, expertise or education not really possessed
misstating personal or professional accomplishments
failure to include important information, such as that the services offered or results claimed are provided through the use of stocks, bonds, life insurance, mutual funds, annuities, etc.

Personal brochures can provide a big lift to an agent's marketing efforts.  It is important for ethical and legal reasons, however, to follow these guidelines when creating a personal brochure.