“We are not where we hoped to be.” When I hear these words, I have to cringe a little. The speaker is intelligent and well-meaning, but doesn’t understand that hope is not a strategy. A successful business strategy is usually the result of a well-thought-out plan to capitalize on an opportunity.

So how should you start to build a powerful strategy? First, know your customers extremely well. Customers might include individuals (the potential policyholder), commercial clients, employers or agents. Do the research to learn about their needs, wants and behaviors in order to understand their buying requirements. Then divide each customer group into segments based on meaningful differences. For individuals, you can segment them by age, education, occupation, ethnic background, family status or lifestyle. For businesses, start with size, location, years in business, number of employees or type of business.

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