To Drive Growth, Benefits Consultants Must Rethink Their Brands

How to differentiate in a crowded - and increasingly complex - marketplace.
white arrows pointing upwards

The benefits consulting industry is at an interesting inflection point: with the unrolling of the Affordable Care Act and the extension of services to include private health care exchanges, the sector is rapidly expanding, growing in both size and complexity. From a brand strategy perspective, this creates an interesting challenge, and opportunity. After all, firms that are able to clearly define and differentiate themselves in a progressively crowded – and increasingly complex – marketplace have an opportunity to position themselves for growth.

Watching the benefits consulting industry evolve in real-time got us thinking: how are these companies positioning themselves – and their new offerings – in the marketplace? We took a look at how top firms are presenting their benefits consulting services and found several common threads – three to be exact:

1. Value: How hiring a benefit consultant will impact budget is at the forefront of messaging. The emphasis is on cost-reduction and savings.
2. Simplicity: Between compliance issues and all of today’s changing regulations, benefits consultants acknowledge how overwhelmed employers may be with updating their benefits packages. These firms therefore concentrate on the ease of compliance.
3. Employee Experience: As the most vital component of any business, benefits consultants also tend to focus on improved employee satisfaction. By supporting employees in choosing a plan that’s right for them, those employees feel that much more empowered at work.

Understandably, these three messages are important. At a time when some employers do not yet fully understand the changing landscape, providing an offering that is value-added but also easy to understand and use is vital. However, these attributes have become what we consider to be “table stakes.” You need them just to be in the game, but they don’t ensure a winning hand.

To drive growth and increase market share in the coming year, firms need to stand out. To do this they must identify and articulate that which makes them unique. The process for building a differentiated professional services brand is outlined in this whitepaper, but it’s worth noting that research plays a fundamental role. Getting to the heart of what your customers really care about, and ultimately, what drives their decision when choosing a benefit consultant, is critical and will provide the building blocks you need to develop a powerful brand platform.

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